Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 68

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Released in August 1978, as 10cc's reggae-inflected "Dreadlock Holiday" commenced its rise to the top of the U.K. chart, Top of the Pops, Vol. 68 has a lazy late-summer feel to it, exemplified not only by a superb cover of that particular song, but across every groove of a truly feel-good LP. Pulse-racing renditions of Cerrone's "Supernature" and the Who's "Who Are You" join the previous year's "I Feel Love" as further evidence of the Top of the Pops team's affinity for electronica. But not only electronica. The series' earlier uncertainty about taking on the new wave finally falls behind it as both the Jam's "David Watts" and the Stranglers' seismic drone through "Walk on By" are taken to the metaphorical cleaners. Both sound a lot more polished than their makers intended, but there's an edgy delight to be drawn all the same. Similarly, the obligatory silly season novelty song, "Jilted John," is executed with a bratty panache and juvenile jauntiness that makes Jilted John's own version sound positively constipated by comparison. Elsewhere, the doo wop fervor of Darts' "It's Raining" does come as a bit of a cropper, but only because there are few vocalists anywhere who could truly match the demented dynamism of Den Heggarty and co. in full flight, while the usual smattering of more mainstream fare -- the Commodores' "Three Times a Lady" and Foreigner's "Cold as Ice" included -- are zealous, but little else. All, however, is forgiven as the team launches into the Rezillos' own "Top of the Pops." The original, of course, was written for the BBC TV show that first coined the name, as opposed to the albums that merely borrowed it. But still there's a self-affirmative glee to the performance that surely was no accident.

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