Wedding Bell Blues _________________________________________________________________________________
Performed byThe 5th Dimensionand reaching number 16 in the UK charts _________________________________________________________________________________
Original broadcast date22/01/1970Duration of dance - 2.25 mins (app.) _________________________________________________________________________________
Dancers: Andrea, Babs, Dee Dee, Flick, Louise, Ruth _________________________________________________________________________________
A link to the dance:
The 5th Dimension were originally formed in the early 60's as the Hi-Fis. Even though their name will always be connected with their biggest hit, the "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" medley from the musical "Hair" which topped the US charts in 1969, their career took off two years earlier with the US No. 7 hit "Up, Up And Away". "Wedding Bell Blues" was their second – and final – Billboard No. 1. With an impressive streak of 20 US Top 40 hits, the 5th Dimension is one of the most prolific groups of the late 60's and early 70's and was inducted into the Vocal Hall Of Fame in 2002.
Married couple Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. left the group in 1975 to pursue a solo (duo) career. Their 1976 single "You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)" became another Billboard No. 1, but they were unable to achieve a further Top 10 hit record.
In the UK, the 5th Dimension was much less successful with only two of their records charting, "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" at No. 11 and "Wedding Bell Blues" at No. 16. Being a US group, chances were slim that they would appear on TOTP, so Pan's People danced to "Wedding Bell Blues" while the record was still hovering outside the Top 30.
We're quite lucky that this routine has survived as the TOTP episode from that week fell victim to the wiping policy. We're even more lucky that the survived performance was preserved in full colour when you consider that the remaining TOTP episodes from that era are all in black and white.
The routine is set on a simple white stage with lighting effects in the background. Pan's People are dressed in – very skimpy! – wedding gowns, each carrying a bridal bouquet. Yes it's all quite literal and the dance is quite basic. But who could resist these six beautiful young girls swaying to the music while Marilyn is cooing (pardon the pun), "please marry me, Bill"? If that isn't qualified to tickle any man's fancy…
8.5 / 10
Now for the hardest part. How could you possibly pick a Dancer of the Day in this performance? I certainly can't so I chose Ruth who has been a bit neglected on the DotD thread.
P.S.: Bonus points if you can figure out who dropped one of her flowers at 0:32. After several viewings, I'm still not quite sure who it was, although I have an odds-on favourite.
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
This is a classic in so many ways and a very important routine in the history of Pan's People. For this show, 22nd January 1970, marked these changes:-
1) The extension of the programme to 45 minutes duration
2) the pre-recording of the show the day before (previously having been rehearsed in the afternoon and then transmitted live that same day)
3) Troupe named in Radio Times from this point
4) Choreography credit in Radio Times from this point
It cemented Pan's People as the as the regular weekly dance troupe, as before they had made only occasional appearances, with these increasing in frequency. Therefore, the publicity shots in the outfits for this performance were coupled with the tag that they were now "married to Top of The Pops".
The routine, which itself is simply perfect for this era and the song, is also unique in that it is (as far as I recall) the only ever routine filmed with a single locked-off camera. Although there are some other single camera routines, where the camera glides about to a degree, here the only movement in the piece is from the dancers themselves. They all look gorgeous and the addition of the bouquets helps define the movements, sometimes holding demurely in front with both hands, other times at the end of the arm swirling about, then ending with the traditional throwing of the bouquet - this time at the audience.
I can't pick a DotD here as I love them all - I feel this is a perfect 10/10.
Well after such a reverent and well-informed review I now feel like a total heel for not really warming to this but I can't help it I'm afraid. Many thanks to Vin for his intro and PansLegs for the great supplementary but for me this boils down to a really irritating song with the ladies doing their best but ultimately not the most compelling result because the song keeps intruding, For God's sake Bill get it together and marry the woman or more sensibly dump her like the simpering nitwit she seems to be. I should be marking the Dance I know so I'll say the outfits certainly catch the attention and the combo of boots and shortie Wedding dresses is rather inspired but the unsion dances of this era in a kind of slow Go-Go style don't appeal to me that much at all. I do like the multicoloured Aurora Borealis background too however. Choosing a DotD is virtually impossible but I do notice Andi the most for some reason (and I wonder if it's she that gets "deflowered" in approximately 30secs too) so she's getting my vote. Overall mark for me is 6/10. Sorry but it's mostly down to the very late 1960s and the 5th Dimension, neither of which were really my cuppa cha.
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
Already, this early doors during the Pan's People era Flick was going down the literal route, here, the ladies are playing prospective brides, & soliciting for elegible batchulars to come & sweep them off their feet, & they're all ready to throw their bunches of flowers into the audience to find out which of the females in that crowd catch them, although we don't actually get to see anything being tossed from the stage towards the spectators, to have that occur at the climax of the dance routine would've enhanced it farther, but I still enjoyed one immensely, although I'd have preferred bridal-style shoes to be worn here, & full-length bridal dresses on display.
backdrop with rainbow fade out spots
andy and flick are there in colour
would you rather watch the band perform this on totp or this - I'm glad they couldn't afford the air fare
Loses marks for -
some girls show lovely white frilly knickers around 44 seconds but some don't - some consistency here please Flick ?
Picture quality stops this really reaching the heights it's sharp but lacking detail and sometimes i am not sure which dancer is who. Can only judge what is presented.
Not sure about the song- it has the lady wailing about Bill who I presume is the band member she married.
I prefer pans to have 5 girls
Vin I do hope Babs is not your odds on favourite for dropping part of her bouquet - she always gets blamed for these incidents unfairly. I think it is more likely that a crazed fan like myself threw flowers onto the stage.
I am drawn to Louise here and if you follow her in this she really is excellent - fast and on the beat gets my dotd vote
So a 9 from me and this far better than some of my other 9s and 9.5s awarded before.
Great intro thanks Vin and the poster who gave this ten gave a great post -welcome !
Thanks guys for the first bunch of comments. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to our new member PansLegs, who made his first comment on this thread today. It's always nice to see a new name posting, even more when he seems to be very knowledgable about our favourite subject. I am certainly looking forward to your further postings!
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
Yes welcome to the new contributor who replied first to Vin's post on this thread. I only wished i could share his, Vin's and other Pans stalwarts enthusiasm over this routine. Other than the fact this has survived, i cant find to much to get excited about on this. The song isn't one id chose to play, indeed if it wasn't for Pans dancing to it i don't think i could say ive ever heard it before. The choreography ain't up to much either and its difficult to chose a DOTD, infact i think i will pass on it on this dance.
Pans People never fail to put a smile on my face, with their amiable dance routines giving me a warm glow when watching them, part nostalgia and part just the sheer pleasantness of their performances. They certainly come across as the friendliest of the dance troupes, not as individuals but as an ensemble. Of course Flick’s choreography helps to project this to the viewer with its formation dancing, the all-together now period. Slapping an artsy label to such things I term this Flick’s Classical phase of choreography with Ruby Flipper displaying a Colourful Romanticism and Legs & Co being the Modernists, sweeping generalisations I’ll admit. Maybe it is just plain wrong to try and apply the classifications from one art form to another. I wonder was it a deliberate decision on Flick’s part to move from one style to another, to knowingly have her choreography move from the Group Style to gradually emphasising the Individual more and more so that in Legs & Co the dancers move together in twos and threes, rarely as a all in one synchronised unit or each are given their own isolated space on plinths, cages or whatnot. I am only trying in thinking out loud to grasp at something I believe could be hidden there in the whole body of Flick’s work. I suppose I am the kind of guy who looks for patterns were there really are none to be found. But you don’t known for sure until you look, do you ?
Wedding Bell Blues is a cutsie, girly dance with its gentle lilting movements, those slight but so innocent tail twitchings. Dee Dee midway in the dance makes herself noticeable by moving up to the front on our right, to the left of Louise who often catches my eye too and Dee Dee with oh such lovely legs to be seen, jerks her hips to delightful affect, on this viewer anyway. Eccellente Patricia !
The more I watch this the more I see Dee Dee so she is my DotD. Though this is a classic group dance, all blend in well together. I liked the knees bent inwards movement towards the end. There are no camera close-ups, just stay to a wide-angle set-up, which underlines Pans’ ensemble dance work. A basic staging again from the BBC but the black backdrop obviously emphasises the white dresses, the swirls of coloured light giving a welcome warmth to the setting which could have turned out to be too harsh otherwise.
Those mini wedding dresses and knee length boots are what every modern young woman from out of the Sixties would have worn, I’m sure if given the chance.
A pretty awful song frankly and a real let-down after their iconic No.1. Better had they doggedly kept the hippie dream going into the seventies than go all square and soppy. As usual we don't know what Flick thought of it but she's certainly come up with something appropriate. These early synchronous dances don't generally float my boat, this isn't one of the exceptions, and I'm afraid I find it particularly twee. Even the sexed-up bridal-wear can't save it. It has a bit of period charm but that's about it. I don't think it's ever a good idea to have no close-ups at all, it's cold. And the one shot camera-work makes it look amateurish to me. It's doubtful but perhaps the idea was to suggest longed-for wedding photos.
The view behind them from the bridge of the USS Enterprise is good though.