Let's See Action _________________________________________________________________________________
Performed byThe Whoand reaching number 16 in the UK charts _________________________________________________________________________________
Original broadcast date18/11/1971Duration of dance - 3.49 mins _________________________________________________________________________________
Dancers: Andrea, Babs, Dee Dee, Flick, Louise, Ruth _________________________________________________________________________________
A link to the dance:
Please the people, audiences
Celebrating their 50th band anniversary this year, The Who are certainly one of the most important British rock bands. Artists claiming they have been influenced by The Who include U2, Queen, Pearl Jam, The Police, The Jam, The Clash and Green Day. Their songs are still used in TV series and films (e.g. CSI, Apollo 13, Austin Powers). Surprisingly though, none of their single releases have ever made it to No. 1 on the UK or US singles charts.
But at least they made it to the top of the UK album chart once. The LP in question was "Who's Next", released in August 1971 as only their fifth studio album. Much of its success was owed to the song "Won't Get Fooled Again", originally an 8 ½ minute album track, but edited to 3.40 mins for single release in June 1971 (thus preceding the album by two months) and peaking at No. 9 in the UK.
For the follow-up single, The Who did not choose another track from their bestseller but opted for a non-album song called "Let's See Action", written by Pete Townshend. It has been noted that the lyrics take ideas from the teachings of Meher Baba (as in "Baba O’Riley"), encompassing "Soul searching and the utilization of positive impulses from within." "Action" was a slow mover though, finally reaching its peak position of No. 16 in its eighth week on the charts.
Pan's People danced to "Action" on TOTP 18/11/1971 when the song climbed from No. 27 to No. 24. As most of the early TOTP shows, this episode was wiped by the BBC and subsequently seemed lost forever. However, back in 2008 it was discovered that Polydor Records (Slade's record company) had recorded this show (and 2/12/1971) on a Philips 1500 and that the tapes still existed. The recording was recovered and is now held by the BFI while the BBC also have a copy. The bad news is that it is in black and white only. This is the earliest surviving show to feature Jimmy Savile's "twin brother Percy" (possibly Percy's first appearance?).
With a running time of 3 mins 49 seconds, "Let's See Action" is the second longest Pan's People TOTP routine in my collection (the only one that is longer is "My Sweet Lord"). Here we have not one, but three different performances, with cheerleaders Louise, Babs & Dee Dee starring as Action, People and Freedom, respectively, Flick as the wild hippy-ish solo dancer and Andrea and Ruth as an elegantly dressed couple. In keeping with the theme of the song there is some audience participation but not too much. Since I've first seen this routine it has become a firm favourite on my playlist. I really love the different parts and the versatility of this dance. Furthermore, here's Pan's People dancing to a great rock song and a timeless classic. Yes it's just monochrome and the picture could certainly be sharper but I know we will most probably never see the original colour version again so why mourn about it? I'd rather enjoy what is there, and boy, do I enjoy this routine! This is my favourite Pan's People performance from 1971 and as such deserves full marks:
10 / 10
Dancer of the Day was a tough call again. Flick is the obvious choice as the solo dancer but somehow I'm more inclined towards Ruth & Andrea. I can't help but notice that my eyes are mostly drawn to Andrea here so she will be the one.
P.S.: If you're watching the routine from the link at the top of this post, please note that the second (lower) clip of "Let's See Action" is slightly out of sync.
P.P.S.: Currently only the first clip is available on the blog.
The wind blew some luck in my direction, I caught it in my hands today
Thanks Vin some action at last.
its the who but its pans people
3,2,1 dancer split
changes of pace
andy and ruth filmed from low angle
audience backdrop and following the dancers towards the end really works well high clapping included- sense of camaraderie with the songs message and the dancers
gets played a lot at BB towers
dislikes - well obviously colour would be better
desert island 10 awarded dotd still under consideration
I believe this is one of those Pan's classics - a multi-faceted routine with the line-up of six girls split into a threesome, soloist and a pair, in what must be one of the longest performance spots afforded to any of the dance troupes clocking in at close to 4 minutes.
The Cheerleaders - Louise is Action, Babs is People, Dee Dee is Freedom - accompanying the main body of the song and brilliantly emphasising the three key things that are asking to be seen. The outfits and the dance moves perfectly match the up-tempo beat and the usual clever use of camera direction allows the key words to be emphasised at the appropriate point by popping up into frame .
The Free Spirit - a solo spot from Flick shot against black, going for it in a frenetic style alongside the instrumental break of rock guitar, with lots of tinsel and tassles adding to the movement. You can't help wonder, apart from the different dance style, how similar certain parts of these shots may have looked to the lost Bridge Over Troubled Water solo performed without a set.
The Angels - This is what I think they appear to be... The slow flowing movements from Andrea and Ruth accompany the change of mood in the song... "I don't know where I'm going...". Shot at a slight upward angle and through a soft focus lens just adds to the floating ambience of this facet of the performance.
Towards the end of the song, all three elements are combined to great effect. Also for once, the audience seems specifically choreographed and actually makes a worthwhile contribution to the whole visual as opposed to the usual standing around looking glum and unappreciative of their privileged view of the dancers. Sadly, this performance only survives as a poor quality black & white recording but that is of course much better than nothing. Even in this form it is a fantastic piece of visual accompaniment to this track by The Who and I feel the original colour recording would have been nothing short of awesome!
I give this 10/10 and DotD must be Flick
There's plenty of action to be seen here, with all manner of deifferent dance moves, & it's all very upbeat, which is slightly more than can be said for the backing track, which sounds like a bland album track, & seeing as it's by The Who, a trashing of the stage set props, at the end would've been a sight to behold, but I liked the 'pitch' invasion at that point.
Not my favourite Who track by a long chalk. Why on Earth didn't they release Behind Blue Eyes or Baba O'Reilly as the next single after Won't get Fooled Again I wonder? Anyway the Dance is indeed really well-conceived and rousing too. Flick is great as some kind of tinsel rock goddess and seeing her smiling face is always hard to resist. With this appearance she should surely have become part of the Who brand. The APF cheerleaders put on a great show too and even if the Crowd wasn't coached they definitely would have got them moving anyway. The two slower dancing ladies are the weakest part for me but I can't deny that they fit the slower section of the song. It's interesting to me that others seem to have a bit of trouble explaining their part too whereas the other two sections are self-evident. Reading the Lyrics didn't help me here either BTW. Anyway it's not fair to penalise them as the whole experience is very enjoyable and the mob finale works very well too. I thought about giving DotD to Action honestly but I just can't withhold this one from the mesmerizing Flick and the mark for me is 9/10
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
Well it is different, I'll give you that, but to my eye no classic. Flick's own solo should have been the highlight but it is unnecessarily hampered by the use of camera effects which distract from her full on performance. And as ever I wish the people had not been given the freedom to join in the action! Consequently the Andi/Ruth segment appeals the most but Flick still gets my pick as Dotd and overall the routine is only a 5.5 for me.
PS. At this rate my 'Panning average' isn't even going to be good enough for the Second Eleven !
Well Suefan has said exactly what I think. Love Flicks Dotd solo but shame about the special effects and 6/10 for the routine. I would like to add that its a privilege to be able to see these old clips and thanks to the generous donors.
I dont know about anybody else, but for me routines in black and white certainly suffer regarding the score ratings i award. This in colour would be a sight to behold with so much going on. I love the cheerleading costumes, Flicks solo, Ruth & Andi's duet, the song with both Rog and Pete singing separately on it. I cant say im all that down with the three girls leading the audience Pied Piper of Hamlin stylee, totally naff that. But overall its not to bad, lets say a nice way to spend 229 seconds.
Not perfect, picture quality and monochrome do not help, but its cheerful and lively. 8 may be generous but there you are. Flick better filmed could have been DOTD but for her manic grin I select Dee Dee.
When Flick splits the routine into trio-duo-solo mode, I always look out for how the three parts blend together - and they do that effortlessly on "Let's See Action". The right dancers are picked for each part IMO, and the audience participation is pulled off successfully and feels more genuine than other times when it's roped in.
Three quite different sub routines that fit their section of the song well, its a shame that Flicks part is a bit of a blur, but the wild abandon she gives her performance is to her credit, and i'm sure she was the right person for the job. The cheerleaders are delectable, but the leaping about and pom pom waving is simplistic, the hardest part seemingly to get their leaping cue timed right which i think they just about manage. So to the final part Andrea and Ruth, just great, acting as a mirror of each of other, they spin, weave, link arms and perform a raised arm motion that looks strikingly similar to My Sweet Lord, but i won't dwell on that. This part of the song is slower and provides a nice interlude before it kicks back in again and the cheerleaders are back performing with gusto and leading a band of audience members a merry dance across the stage, lovely.
This looks rather like three separate routines bolted together to make one long dance. Of course it would be nice to see it in colour but we should be thankful that it exists at all. It is nice to see the audience getting involved and it is all quite uplifting.
I will give DOTD to Flick and my score is 8 out of 10.