Back Stabbers (Rehearsal) _________________________________________________________________________________
Performed byThe O'Jaysand reaching number 14 in the UK charts _________________________________________________________________________________
Original broadcast date28/09/1972Duration of dance - 2.46 mins _________________________________________________________________________________
Dancers: Andy, Babs, Dee Dee, Louise, Ruth _________________________________________________________________________________
A link to the dance:
The roots of the O'Jays go all the way back to 1958 when five friends founded a group called The Triumphs. In 1963, as a tribute to Cleveland radio disc jockey Eddie O'Jay, the quintet changed its name and started to release several singles and a few albums as The O'Jays. Their biggest hit during that era was a song called "Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)" which peaked at No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. After two members had left, the remaining trio was signed by Gamble & Huff for their new Philadelphia International Records label in 1972, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The O'Jays first single on the PIR label, "Back Stabbers", featuring PIR’s house band MFSB, became a million seller. The story about false friends fooling their fellows was obviously inspired by The Undisputed Truth's 1971 US hit "Smiling Faces Sometimes" (the title of that song is even incorporated into the lyrics near the end). "Back Stabbers" is instantly recognizable by its famous intro and already displays most of the characteristics that would become the trademark of the upcoming "Sound Of Philadelphia/Philly Sound". The single crossed over to the UK where it reached a respectable No. 14 in a chart that was dominated by glam rock. The relevance of the song is emphasized by the fact that record producer Tom Moulton chose it for one of his famous mixes in September 2011 (released on this fine box: Philadelphia International Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes).
The record had just entered the UK Top 30 when Pan's People performed their routine on TOTP 28/09/1972. We can count ourselves lucky that it has survived as one of just seven routines from 1972 (including "John I'm Only Dancing" from the same show (!) and "The Persuaders"). I'm even more happy as "Back Stabbers" is one of my favourite songs from that era and reminds me of the late evenings that I spent listening to Casey Kasem’s "American Top 40" on AFN Radio.
My feelings are mixed, however, as this recording does obviously not show what went out on TOTP. Instead there are several indications that it was taken during a rehearsal. For instance, the girls seem to be wearing no make-up. There is no audience to be seen. Or have a look at Louise running her fingers through her hair at 2.02. It's quite easy to spot more imperfections here.
But make no mistake, this is still a great performance. My favourite part is easily the sequence of energetic solos between 1.02 and 1.18, and Babs smile here really does it for me.
It may not be totally fair to rate a rehearsal but as this is all we're ever going to see of this routine, it should be given the chance to be included in our favourites list. I really love the song, and I'm sure the dance did look stunning in its final form, so I'm going to use my imagination and try to ignore the small imperfections of this rehearsal. Nevertheless, I can't quite award full marks as I might have done for the broadcast version, but still this will receive a healthy rating of:
9 / 10
For Dancer of the Day, I have chosen Babs even though she seems to lose her way more than once. As this is a rehearsal, I won't be so strict. And if you look carefully, most of the others don't fare much better.
The wind blew some luck in my direction, I caught it in my hands today
This routine would be almost perfect, but for those skirts, I mean really, they don't actually go with their blouses do they, it looks like the ladies are wearing rolls of carpets around their waists, & this really distracts one from really getting into the actual dancing, which is actually most enjoyable, especially with the random high kicking, & Babs, rather amuses me as she, at one point seems to look as if she's about to fall over, but she manages to stay on her feet, & continues to be in the thick of it all, there's just one more niggle, & that's with the stage prop that gets in the way of the dancers, at about the one-minute mark of the routine's duration.
Well I quite like the colourful skirts and the ladies sure got their moneys worth out of those silver boots! With this being a rehearsal there isn't quite the intensity and concentration of a final performance but it still makes for a good watch and one that I'd like to score as an 8.
Yes it would be nice to see the actual recording from the show, as the girls here are quite clearly in practise mode, but we are fortunate this clip survives. Still its pleasant enough and very watchable. Ones eyes are drawn to the skirts which i find a little over bearing, all the hair swishing which ive always liked and also to the casual nature the girls are going about there business. DOTD for a rehearsal is rather a hard task. Im going to go with `Dee Dee` as she still seemed to be giving it her all.
Rating, well its a good song and the routine that goes with it is good too, well goodish ! `7.75 out of 10`
Hmmm. Well I do lilke the song and I quite like the outfits although I can see why the skirts are a source of some debate. No such doubt exists regarding the tops and signature boots though I trust! Although this is a rehearsal and we're darned lucky to have it I do find this detracts a little compared to the finished article for me and the sight of the lovely Louise completely lost at one point is almost shocking to one who is used to idolising her visual perfection. As our host notes however just about all the ladies have their moments in practice mode. The Dance is classic early Pans for me and I do like the close ups and hair swishing. Overall I think 7/10 is about right as this is worth watching but well short of my favourites. DotD is tricky once again but I like Ruth here and see less errors from her too (consistent with the tales we have heard of her pre-performance nerves but on-stage proficiency)
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment on this dance in spite of all the excitement going on (deservedly!) on a different thread at the moment. I realise that the song is a special favourite of mine and so my rating is a bit biased. I think all the comments so far are well balanced and the observation that a rehearsal routine does not quite have the same effect on us as the finished product is just fair.
The wind blew some luck in my direction, I caught it in my hands today
For a piece of rehearsal footage - and the last intact footage we're aware of to feature Andy in the PP line-up - this is quite a precious clip to have. Yes, the routine isn't 100% polished, but there's nice moves on display. The solo bits to camera are nice, but I feel for Louise for not getting her moment.
Yes, it's obviously a rough but well worth featuring. The polished product doesn't require a leap of imagination. There's a lot that's off, but I guess this was par for the course and it demonstrates how much intensive work must have gone in to produce the usual high standard routine that was broadcast.
I'm not a soul enthusiast and the song is a minus. Sorry Vin! And I don't like the long skirts with domestic tones. The tops are rather pleasing though and on cue and otherwise we see plenty of Back. There's nothing wrong with the routine per se. It suits the song and because of that it fails to excite me. DOTD is Andrea. I like her mini solo the best and it's definitely final take material.
im one who also likes the skirts on this routine ,very trendy for 1972 ,lots of movements involved in this routine ,and ive got to say even if it is the reheasel version ,the girls facial expressions ,smiles etc are what id expect them to look like on the tv version ,anyway an 8 goes for this one
Now, you may think I'm biased, but I quite like this dance, tho' now Vin has mentioned it, I can see it may well be a rehearsal. The mini-solos to camera are great, though, and much used in clips and in compilations, make-up or not; this is where we see the directing hand of Flick. The skirts haven't dated well, but girls did actually wear this kind of thing in the early seventies; normally Pans routines and costumes are pretty timeless, but there are going to be exceptions. So I'm going to say 9/10, pretty good for a rehearsal if it is one. And favourite dancer ... need you ask ... is Dee Dee
class song agreed, the skirts I am not keen on and yes the lack of make up is odd so probably is a rehearsal of some sort. I see lots of hair swishing around which gave me a bit of a chuckle. 6 for the routine. DOTD Dee Dee
As I was watching this I was surprised by the slip-ups in it, Dee Dee missing a kick, Babs a jump and Louise doing her hair right at the front are the most noticeable, with a few late turns and what have you. But now having read all this, it being a rehearsal makes perfect sense and I'm sure the final performance would have been much more polished - spot on no doubt. That is after all the point of rehearsals! Rehearsals which were of course never meant to be seen by us mere Joe Publics, but see it we have and it is (pretty much) all we've got to see so we must talk about this. I reckon!
But for a rehearsal with no audience I wonder who the three Grumbleweeds-alikes are gawping at Dee Dee at 35" in. Just some studio-hands who have coincidentally decided to have a tea-break at the same time Pans are rehearsing?? Beats dunking a Rich Tea!
Firstly the skirts are lovely, maybe not ideal for dancing in but pretty good for looking at. Perhaps they don't go with the little halter-tops or whatever they are, but they're still good skirts. And anyone who says different knows nothing about skirts! ;-)
And I didn't notice any lack of make-up, but as these young ladies are so blessed with natural beauty - they don't need it!
But the dance itself... I'm not that crazy about it. Maybe it's the boring song, or maybe not, but it just doesn't seem to flow. It's not too bad but it does seem to be more or a series of random jumps, twirls, kicks, ducks, and other text-book movements thrown together - not with complete abandon I hasten to add.
The shower curtain at 55" is a bit stupid. The solos are lovely though - all raunchy and gorgeous.
It doesn't seem fair to mark this down for errors as its a no atmosphere rehearsal, so i'll overlook all that and say that this one is great. The outfits are a bit strange, silver boots (yum) with those table cloth-esq skirts and white tops, someone call the fashion police!
The routine for me just flows really well with no overly literal moves, the obvious highlight the rapid close ups starting at around 1 min in, with lots of wild hand movements and hair swooshing esp from Dee Dee, although Louise seems oddly missing.
Another great song, and a bit sad there isn't currently a lot more from this particular year.
8.5/10 DOTD not many chances to choose Andi, so Andi it is.
Babs hair swishing into candy floss
the blonde dancers together
tweedy table cloth skirts let down the gorgeous white tops
Not really exciting enough for me - maybe they aren't trying so much in the rehearsal as others have said.
hard to mark a rehearsal
7.5 and dotd Babs
Having seen the rehearsal and transmitted footage for Island Girl, in that case the transmitted footage is far superior. So I'm guessing that the same applies for this routine but unfortunately we will probably never find out. But I expect it will be worth at least an 8 and I'm quite impressed with Ruth in the rehearsal.
I'm sure that the final broadcast version was a lot more polished but this is still a good effort. I would like to think that in the final version the camera managed to avoid getting obstructed by the stage set, but judging from later dances they probably didn't solve that problem.
Quite a nice song as well.
I will score it 8 out of 10 with Andrea as DOTD.