Rip it Up, BBC 2 9pm, BBC iPlayer, produced and directed by Pete Stanton.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bbbv4w/rip-it-up-series-1-1-blazing-a-trail

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bc3ljs/rip-it-up-series-1-2-success-and-excess

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bc3ljs/rip-it-up-series-1-2-success-and-excess

Rip it Up and Start Again. Rip it Up and Start Again. That’s the lyrics to an Orange Juice song.  I don’t know my contraltos from my tomatoes. Doesn’t matter.  I loved Rip it Up, three hours of nostalgia and the good old days that never existed. My favourites were KLF, the millionaires who burnt a million quid (alledgedly). I forgot how bonkers and how good they were. Watching clips of them made me laugh. I did quite well, in the quiz accompanying the series, which is equally bonkers, out of the five billion vinyl sales of records I bought three albums. Saturday Night Fever, Bat out of Hell and something else, but not with Pan Pipe music. Fuck off Pan Pipes and Fuck off with The Birdy Song.

The last episode ‘Success and Excess,’ was a bit out of my league, it was all about indy music and independent record labels, as a person that doesn’t listen to music and hardly listened to music when I was younger, I’d never heard of them. What it reminded me of was that old trope that anyone can write a book and get it published. There was that self-congratulatory feel from the falling faces of established stars. Guys and girls in their bedroom are going to make music and make it in the music industry.

That’s called the exception to the rule, rule. More commonly known as bullshit.

The first episode ‘Blazing a Trail’ had a more honest narrative appeal. In other words, I liked it. Lulu and Donovan. Nazareth, are a bit like The Jesus and Mary Chain to me, never heard their music but the names have that familiar ring. I’m more a Middle of the Road kinda guy. Here we find they were a precursor to Abba (I liked the blonde one).  And when you listen, it’s all there, under all that hair. Loved it. From the Skiffle of Lonnie Donniegan to the Bay City Rollers.

Now we’re hitting my childhood. My sister fancies Alan because he looked quite quiet. I can see her point. John von Neumann, I think it was who helped to develop Game Theory and had other side-lines in Dangerous Minds, suggested when you were trying to get aff with somebody don’t go for the A* lister, which in my time was Pauline Moriarity, go for the cast off, ugly duckling. Then you’ve got a chance. So logically, my sister fancied Alan because she’d no chance with Les. In the same way I didn’t fancy Farah Fawcett, but the ugly Charlie’s Angel because if we ever met, that was it. The Bay City Rollers sold over 100 million vinyl records. I bought zero. They ended up skint, but that wasn’t my fault. I didn’t get pocket money and if I did I bought a packet of caramels, which lasted longer.  So much for the big music industry.

‘Success and Excess’, the second programme featured that well know band from my neck of the woods, Wet, Wet, Wet. The Clydebank Group hit a virtuous circle, a number 1 hit tied in with the soundtrack of a successful film. That’s international success, and breaks the American market, right away. See Glaswegian  Jim Kerr, Simple Minds and that coming-of-age movie The Breakfast Club. For any band this is called the licence to print money club.

I was talking to my brother about this. Marty Pellow’s brother was called Kojak. That wasn’t his real name. We got into a fight when I was younger and he tried to steal my carry-oot. Nobody puts Baby in the Corner. Really? Yeh, I stole that line from Dirty Dancing, which was the complete opposite of what most of us were doing. Real disco dancing was a bit of awakward-larity elbow movement, looking at your feet and appearing as if you’d just shuffled out of a dark wardrobe and was hoping for a girl to give you directions, preferably a pretty girl. And nobody steals my carry-oot, even Marty Pellow’s brother. Right enough that’s not his real name either. He’s dead now. (RIP) The summer of 1976 was the hottest summer until now and well, when it’s pissing down these programmes take you right back to your childhood. Terrific TV.

Saturday Night Fever on a Tuesday

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You can see the shell of the La Scala from Second Avenue. I can’t remember the first X-rated movie I went to see there, but you can bet the fear on my face was real enough as I got to the turn at the top of the stairs and I expected the woman taking the tickes to eye me up and say, ‘Nah, son you look about fifteen’. Which would be about right, even though I did have a proper suit jacket on and open-necked collar to somehow make me look older, the more mature kind of man that wanted to see Saturday Night Fever.

My mate Burnsie went all the way with the white suit and black shirt, aka, John Travolta. I wasn’t that stupid or that daring. In a rare sighting you might have seen me falling out of the emergency door of a moving bus in Ramelton, somewhere in Donegal, with a white-jacketed jounce, and giving  it skid marks in all the wrong places, but let’s face it that’s what drink does to you. That’s Saturday Night Fever on a Tuesday or Wednesday or whatever the hell day it was. Now Nik Cohen has come clean and said Saturday Night Fever didn’t exist. In fact he just made it all up. I need to re-think my whole life and my propensity to wear parachute material for all the wrong reasons.

My first stop was the off sales. Only then could I think myself into Night Fever falsetto. Then I read Nik Cohen’s story which was the truth of Vincent and his crew’s hand gliding and foot finding. Published in ‘New York’ magazine  7th June 1976 it inspired  those in the disco scene to cut their balls off and dance, dance, prance and with the right kind of parted hair and with the right kind of clobber to take a bullfighter’s stance. Inspired Hollywood to go after the next blockbuster that would gross almost $300 million at the box office in 1976, and me to fall off a moving bus, while swearing it wasn’t really my fault.

I do a lot of reading for a little known group called ABCtalers. A weird bunch that insist we never meet anywhere but on the page. ‘Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night’ by Nik Cohen.  No cherry for you Nik. I’ve nothing against making things up. I do it all the time and imagine I could rattle something like this off in a few hours. But ‘Tribal Rites’ is so damn boring it makes you glad you’re not fifteen anymore and not a proper writer. New York that prestigious capital of magazines and books must have been a simpler place in those days.  Or I’m simpler. I no longer fling myself from buses. There, I’ve done it. Admitted it was my fault and not the feckin drivers. Like Nik I feel better for it. I’m a fraud.