I'm A Man _________________________________________________________________________________
Performed byChicagoand reaching number 8 in the UK charts _________________________________________________________________________________
Original broadcast date29/01/1970Duration of dance - 3.28 mins _________________________________________________________________________________
Dancers: Andy, Babs, Dee Dee, Flick, Louise, Ruth _________________________________________________________________________________
A link to the dance:
Chicago Transit Authority, as they were originally called, released their first self-titled longplayer in 1969. Quite unusually, it was a double album consisting of an eclectic mix of jazz fusion, progressive rock and hard rock, all popular genres at the time (how times have changed!). The band really loved hitting the extremes which isn't only demonstrated by the track lengths varying from just under one minute to the 14 ½ minute closer, but also by some very extraordinary musical experiments like the nearly 7 minutes long "Free Form Guitar" with its use of heavy feedback. Hard to believe that this was the same group that gave us "If You Leave Me Now" seven years later.
At first, the album failed to produce any hits, but in early 1970 a truncated 3 ½ minute version of the track "I'm A Man" (which clocks in at 7.40 mins on the LP) proved to be their first chart success in the UK. "I'm A Man" was the only cover version on this album and had been a single by the Spencer Davis Group just three years prior, peaking at #9 in the UK. While the original was already far from being a ballad, it still sounds rather tame compared to Chicago's high energy version.
I don't know if Chicago ever performed this song on TOTP (probably not), but the Pan's People routine from the 29th January 1970 is definitely a contemporary document. One of the earliest surviving dances, it perfectly captures the spirit of its time like no other routine from that era, even if we can only view it in black and white. This isn't the Go-Go dancing of the 60's anymore, it's a new kind of dance, psychedelic, groovy, experimental – just like the music.
I find it hard to describe what we are actually seeing in this dance, there are so many different parts, solos, jumps, kicks, turns – you name it, it's there. The sheer energy of this routine is just amazing. All the girls are in such a good shape, you do wonder if they are high on something (I hope not!). I always liked this performance, but have come to appreciate it even more now that I am preparing this post. It's been running in continuous loop for the last 15 minutes now….
My only criticism is that too many stills and pictures of band members and their logo have been used in parts of this routine, and unfortunately we're missing part of the action as a result.
Picking a Dancer of the Day is nigh on impossible, but after many viewings I decided to go for Babs, not least for that iconic look at 2.28 mins. As far as the rating is concerned, this is definitely a good one even if it can't quite keep up with their best:
9 / 10
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
This is indeed an interesting outing for the ladies and is really progressive. I wonder if this was the first time they performed this kind of dancing or whether any of the sadly lost 1960s routines were similar in any way. It really has that artsy feel to it. I have to confess I don't like this music and prefer the Spencer Davis Group version by far but the interpretation is very good and it certainly highlights the ladies' fitness and gymnastic prowess. They are all in the running for DotD and I really like Ruth with her headband and Flick's signature splits leap but it is Babs who captures it for me too, looking quite stunning and seeming to do solos within the group often (this time on purpose!) I'm giving this 8/10 for its energy and inventiveness and also for the "look" the ladies have here which is somewhat hypnotic I think. Not one I watch much but maybe I should
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
This would've been an awesome routine, if it wasn't for the almost constant fading to darkness, & slide images of the artwork for the record sleeve of the single, interrupting, our view of some magnificent dancing, which had an aerobics class feel to it, now if only a more literal scenario had been applied here, in other words, the dancers had dressed up as men, just as Legs & Co., would do several times, by the end of that decade, that would certainly have been rather thought-provoking , given that a feminism movement was starting to really gain momentum.
Terrific sound and a high octane routine to go with it. Just image how this would look in colour, it would certainly be near top marks if it was. At least this footage survives and for that we are grateful. Very difficult to pick a DOTD, but `Louise` certainly catches my eye.
Rating `8.75 out of 10`, add another point on if the colour version turns up !
Too often like a martial arts class for my liking, although fewer stills of the band and a colour survival would probably have boosted my rating a bit. All the girls are in great shape and show no signs of flagging, the dance fits the song, but as neither have much semblance of nuance this isn't a favourite.
Flick's splits win her my Dotd pick but for the routine only a 6.
I would never identify this a a Pans routine in fact with everyone seemingly doing their own thing , bad lighting and cutaways it comes across as a bit of a shambles. However it may not be to my taste but its great to see different dance styles adopted by the girls as the musical times change. 6/10
Well I never knew this wasn't a SDG original. The things you learn on OFTDs!
I have to agree with PBP - the shots of Chicago and other artwork is very annoying. Flick must have been thinking what's the point of me doing all this if they're just going to cut away from us?!
As a dance it's all very frenetic and freak-out man! Which is very apt for the pace of the song. And the bits where the song is nothing more than just drumming must have a bugger for Flick to think of some moves too - but the wild 'jungle native' (for want of a better word) works really well. And the girls' very serious looking faces adds to the wild-ish edge of the routine.
I'm going for 7.5/10 and Flick came close for DotD and Ruthie got a look in, but in the end I plumped for Babs.
Babs - I'm a man, yes I am and I can't help but love you so!
Not a fan of black & White clips, and TOTP had that annoying habit back then of inserting random shots over clips and routines.
The 'Macho' disco version of this track is a classic, the Chicago track is dull as dish water and can be considered in my opinion a 'pile of poo'.
Nonetheless, the girls on show do their damn best to keep up with the tempo, straight change of dancing style and forerunner to the later Pans style, not a favourite of mine, and yes would like to see in colour at some point (if the colour clip exists of course).
This is in my top 5 routines of all time - love the tempo and a routine that's away from the 'norm'......a sort of 'improvisation' air to it..... and it works in my opinion! If only we could see it in colour!
Thank you for all your comments so far. I'm pleased to welcome Angie to the Pan's People Comments Thread, and I am looking forward to your further comments! Good to see Old Bill back as well!
It seems to be the consensus that black and white is an issue here. Several clips from this edition of TOTP have been restored to colour, so it is possible and all is not lost.
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
I have to say I don't mind the B&W, but like others, I do mind all the stills robbing us (presumably) of some of the dancing. It's fascinating just because it's such an early routine, and very much of its time. Partly on rarity I'll award 9 and favourite dancer Flick, for the splits!
Great stuff! Those 1970 shows are just fab and I wish I was around at the time to experience all that stuff. As VV says it captures the time brilliantly I just wish more shows from 1970 survived and in colour. As for this routine it is a 9 and DOTD is Flick
Although I wish we had 'You're So Vain' in colour, it's old-fashioned decorum is well-suited to the surviving black and white video. But this is a different kettle of fish altogether and we lose a whole lotta grooviness without colour. The record is ok, but that's all. I'm not really one for hard pyrotechnic rock, even when it comes to Hendrix or Cream. As for the dancing though, it's a great rise to the challenge. It's on the cusp of wild abandon and they appear possessed by the intoxicating music, which was a common characteristic of rock audiences of the era. So stylistically they were following rather than leading, but it must have seemed to many quite daring and avant-garde for Pan's People to be performing like this. And to bring it into the mainstream like this perhaps it was.
Though the girls are great and it's dynamic it doesn't however do a lot for me in terms of enjoyment. So 7/10 DOTD Louise
Thanks for the comments, guys, and it's nice to know this routine is appreciated by quite a few. As I said before, we may be lucky that one day this performance will be restored to colour just like other performances from this show (e.g. Badfinger & Rare Bird). I've no doubts that this would boost the ratings way above an average of 8.5.
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
Originally a powerful blues track from Spencer Davis Group but here we have after being given a psychedelic tweak and some hard edged guitar riffs thrown in for good measure by Chicago we are left with a child of its time. Pans People literally lay themselves on the line for this track in between kicks, spins, and high jumps. It looked like hard work out there but everyone seemed to be on their game. 9/10, Dotd Louise
Well this is a total racket, but i've got no problem with that. I like the relentless tribal drumming that drives the track with some sort of ticking sound off in the background. The dark and grainy footage actually serves the music quite well and those overlays are brief enough, and could just have been an experiment, i can't see it working on other routines. I have no idea what Flicks process for developing these routines was but i can just imagine someone walking in on her during one of the more raunchy bits and wondering if she was ok . Its got a style all of its own, a very controlled 'freak out' if that makes any sense. Too many highlights to list them all, but Flicks jumping splits is a nice touch and Babs looks great in close up here.
good result for a not very dancy song
Babs close up
60s to 70s transition though more 60s
Babs close up
proximity of audience
hair styles - silly small buns with long hair
too much like an exercise class
some movements seems a bit unco-ordinated and random
probably one of the routines that made Flick want to concentrate on choreography and camera control not really pulled off for me.
Louise dotd and a 6.75- maybe a bit mean with this and it might score higher in colour but there are far better
An energetic routine with a very interesting mix of movement including robotic head turns, hip grooves, spins, twists, kicks, cartwheels, moody stares - it's almost freestyle in many places brilliantly matching the cacophony of the percussion and rock guitar. A definite departure from the more go-go style routines of the period, obviously dictated a fair amount by the track itself, but the complexity here makes you wonder if Flick had more time for this one. It was unlikely Chicago would make a live studio appearance, the track was climbing the charts and it had already been featured the previous week as a film. Buy why on earth they thought it was necessary to run the same film again and use sections of it during this Pan's People performance god only knows! Luckily we didn't miss Flick's incredibly acrobatic mid-air split.
Unbelievably this performance contains a moment when Louise loses her footing after a spin - an extremely rare occurrence but it's possible a factor was the stage feeling a little too crowded for a routine of this type with six dancers.
From the 22nd of January to the end of September, Pan's People also appeared at the very start of each show dancing to the Top of The Pops theme tune alongside the title sequence. As the theme didn't change neither did the dance steps, but the way they were shot and integrated into the titles did in order to vary things a bit each week. On this episode (the earliest example of three) they didn't have a costume change before the main number in the show.
However, some of the girls are wearing extra items later discarded for the main performance (which had additional karate style belts) - a psychedelic waistcoat and floppy hat for Babs, a wide studded belt for Andrea and what I can only describe as a mid-riff scarf for Ruth. Also, due to this being at the very top of the show, Flick wears her glasses in order to be able to see any cues given in the studio.
An energy filled 7/10 (I expect a colour recording would help matters) and with that jump, DotD has to be Flick.