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
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
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.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...