Queens of British Pop, BBC1

Did we like it?
With the current charts crammed full of solo female chanteuses, this timely documentary showed how there is nothing new in the music world, and how its all been done before. We had a glimpse of the lives of the beehived blonde and the girl with the drug problem and tangled love-life – that’s Dusty Springfield and Marianne Faithful, rather than Duffy and Amy Winehouse. With a knowing voiceover by Lisa Tarbuck, the only real issue was that some of these Queens could have done with an hour’s programme each, rather than just 10 minutes.

What was good about it?
• The clips of the wonderful Dusty Springfield – whose troubled personal life was encapsulated so perfectly by her vocal performances.
• Unlike some of these retrospective programmes, there were some heavyweight contributors involved – Tom Jones, Burt Bacharach, Peter Gabriel, Martha Reeves.
• The great clip of Sandie Shaw writhing on the Top of the Pops studio floor whilst performing ‘Hand in Glove’ with The Smiths.
• The clips of Suzi Quatro’s keyboard player in calf length white boots doing a choreographed dance routine. Badly. Imagine a skinnier Peter Crouch crossed with Todd Carty ice-dancing’s skills, and you’ve got a pretty accurate picture.
• Siouxie Sioux doesn’t seem to have changed since 1979 – though the heavy face make-up probably had something to do with that.
• The bizarre sight of John Lydon waxing lyrical about Kate Bush.
• Seeing how groundbreaking Bush was from just 18 years of age, it is hard to believe how much she changed the musical landscape for subsequent singers, and how risky and diverse her musical output has been. The songs and videos from the ‘Hounds of Love’ album are just wonderful.

What was bad about it?
• Was Marianne Faithfull really a ‘Queen of British Pop’? Five top 40 singles seems stretching the point a bit – as much attention was focussed on her relationship with Jagger as on her music.
• Marco Pirroni is looking more and more like Buster Bloodvessel as the years go by.

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One thought on “Queens of British Pop, BBC1

  1. Lynsey de Paul should have been included instead of Marianne Faithfull since she was the first woman to take control of her career byt writing and producing all of her hits as well as album tracks. More notably, at the same time she was writing songs for male artists too like the Fortunes, Barry Blue, Ricky Martin, The Real Thing etc. She also held up well against former manager Don Arden (who managed to frighten many of his male artists) in a mega legal battle that she eventually won. She is now on the board of PRS, using her business acumen to demand a better royalty deal for song writers. Of course, this all belies her public image as a beautiful, petit blonde.

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