The decade that taste forgot

Remember those naff TOTP compilations? Well now they're back. Sort of. Angela Lewis reports

top of the pops, like Radio 1 FM, wages a never-ending battle to shake up its fortunes. So perhaps it's not surprising that, in an effort to recapture its Seventies heyday, the programme is reviving one of its erstwhile defining features. No, not Pan's People (but close, if you remember the women). The TOTP compilation album is back.

In an effort to seduce fresh-faced, pop-hungry Oasis teenies into splashing out on the records, the anodyne Mark Goodier will promote the album on television. It is unlikely, however, that he will convince the over-30s to buy them in droves - memories are long and they don't forgive. The original cover records were unfailingly, unapologetically terrible. The Seventies was the decade devoted to bad taste, and TOTP was in the eye of the storm.

Evidence that the pop show traipsed in where sophistication and common sense feared to tread comes no starker than at the home of designer Steve Rumney, a veritable tack evangelist who recently appeared on Good Morning with Anne and Nick. The 34-year-old's Lewisham abode is quiet but his vast, lovingly cared-for archive collection of Seventies items is very loud indeed. On the ground floor there are wall chests laden with day- glo Dinky toys by the hundred and, in the kitchen, vast arrays of vintage products from fizzy-drink cans to washing powder boxes. Head up the stairs where blindingly garish psychedelic togs hang from the walls. Meanwhile, rows of three-inch platform boots weigh down bedroom shelves. But down in the basement, we hit gold. In a grey cabinet neatly stuffed with around 1,000 albums purchased solely for their kitsch covers, we find proof of TOTP's crimes against the discerning pop world. We uncover a veritable stack of their disgraceful, once top-selling records.

Blonde nymphs parade themselves on almost every one; sometimes pouting, sometimes in mid groove-tastic jig, always semi-naked with gigglesome eyes. Pink bikinis, brown hot pants, burgundy tinsel draped around a model like a strip of mink... boy, did TOTP know how to rope in the male attention.

As for the sleeve notes: well, shucks. "Every single pop fan in the country has been screaming for our next issue of TOTP. Well here it is, brighter, breezier, beatier than any of our previous issues, and packed with 12 of the current hit tunes. So you hip hip hippies, you yippies, go grab yourself a handful of rhythm and beat its brains out on your player until the next issue is out." Well, maybe Sid Vicious did die for our sins after all. Glory days? Purlease.

"The cover versions are all rubbish," Steve ruminates, asserting, not for the last time, that he loathed the recordings. "They were churned out and sold in their millions. I just archive anything that's in bad taste. And there were a lot of things in the Seventies that were really bad taste." Why do you think these records sold so well? "Every one follows the same formula: a woman on the front cover baring as much skin as possible, looking very seductively at you... blonde hair was a must. I don't know whether you've noticed, but it's exactly the same formula that sells girlie mags: a girl in skimpy clothes with bum out to one side, trying to sell a product."

Some of Steve's friends think he is touched for turning his home into a mind-boggling enclave of post-war consumer junkets. A casual perusal of his treasured goods fails to reveal a selection of anoraks. However, while you rest on a three-piece suite (green, Fifties, bought for pounds 20 at a Kent market recently), your eyes fall on the face of a blow-up doll attached to a mannequin body that's clothed in a purple shirt and a medallion- cum-radio set. "The blow-up doll has never been used, I must stress that," Steve insists. "I was going to use it as part of a Royal Academy Exhibition."

But far from being a mere nostalgist, Steve - the bus ticket-collecting, bus-spotting Seventies child who turned DJ in the Eighties under the pseudonym Too Damn Funky - has a big, conceivable dream. The intention is to build "a museum of modern urban archaeology". His years of trawling around markets, boot sales and vinyl outlets will have been for a reason: to let people know that yes, things were once as bad as his accumulated artefacts suggest.

In the meantime, Steve is concentrating on the launch of new club, Bus Stop, at Maximus in Leicester Square next week, which will play outlandish but cool Seventies funk. The more outrageously dressed the clientele, the better. As for the launch of the new TOTP compilations, well, Steve isn't terribly interested. At first he had thought they would feature Seventies songs in new sleeves and confessed that he might buy them. But even this weak enthusiasm dropped off at the news that the records will feature original recordings by the Celine Dion-types who currently file through the desperate-to-be-hip pop show. "The new ones will probably sell to the kids as they sold to the kids the other time," he shrugs. Now the babes in bikinis and the tunes by ceaseless ranks of session musicians unburdened by talent are gone, he's moving on. Tack ain't what it used to be.

'Top of the Pops - The Album' is on release through Sony Music

Bus Stop at Maximus, 14 Leicester Sq, WC2 (0171-734 4111) Mon 12 Jun

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game