I'm starting with a trip back in time, 35 years ago, to the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest which took place here in the United Kingdom on 7th May, following Brotherhood of Man's historic win in 1976 with "Save Your Kisses for Me". Earlier that year I got my first cassette recorder and this was the first contest which I can remember taping the preview show when it was on the BBC (oh how we miss those days).
It's a long long way from the contest we know and love today: a "rattle your jewellery" audience, one solo presenter (Angela Rippon), an intro-postcard of some national stereotyping, and no messing about - straight into the first song after 7 minutes. I still have fond memories of Ireland's entry that year: "It's Nice To Be In Love Again" by the Swarbriggs Plus 2. Yes of course it's ridiculously cheesy and old-fashioned, but who cares?
Unfortunately the contest was also responsible for a clip-show regular - Austria's "Boom Boom Boomerang" which probably signified the worst type of Eurovision entry, and not for the first time did it try that old trick of putting a lot of English words together to equal a load of nonsense. The Spanish entry also makes it to the clip shows, purely for that jumper worn by singer Micky :)
Back in those days however there were still some countries singing in English, and two of them produced a couple of the best entries of that year, and indeed two enduring favourites of mine - both of them discotastic! Belgium's "A Million In One, Two, Three" sung by Dream Express and Germany's "Telegram" by Silver Convention - the latter were already known in this country thanks to their big hit "Get Up and Boogie". I'd have been happy with either of them winning - particularly "Telegram" which still stands up today as a great entry and one which I could still, in my fantasy world, imagine the credits rolling as the girls reprised their winning song.One major disappointment for me that year was the Swedish entry. After sitting it out in 1976 I'd expected them to come back with something worth waiting for - but "Beatles" by Forbes was, and remains, one of Sweden's weakest and poorest performing Eurovision entries. Of course in those days there was no Denmark (who rejoined in 1978) and Iceland (we had to wait till 1986)!
What about the host nation? Unfortunately, and I know some of you might disagree, but "Rock Bottom" sung by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran remains one of my most-loathed home country representatives.
"Promises Promises" by Rags - a three-person group which numbered a co-founder, manager and songwriter for later ESC winners Bucks Fizz - would have been a much better UK entry in 1977.
Even in those days it was all about the draw position. France were drawn to sing in final position, 18th to be precise. Marie Myriam, in a mustard-coloured dress, belted out "L'Oiseau et L'Enfant" which is a typical French-language 70s ESC entry, but even after all this time it remains a mystery to me why it won the contest that year.