Saturday, 26 February 2011

Top of the Pops LP

If you were to take a close look at my record collection back in the 70's (such as it was) you would have seen a few strange yet alluring compilation albums called "Top of the Pops".

In among the Bowie, T Rex and Slade were record covers that demanded your attention, and (to a ten year old boy) even appeared daring and risqué if a little embarrassing.

The record sleeves were great, but the music was rubbish; modern day hits played and sung by session musicians. I'm sure when I got these albums as gifts from various aunts and uncles I appeared grateful, but deep down I really wanted an "Airfix" model or a "Warlord" annual.

These days a full collection of these albums would bring a great price on "Ebay", but sadly the few that I owned are long gone.

Vol 36, 1974
They were first released in the late 60’s, (as an unauthorised spin off from the Top of the Pops TV show)  by Pickwick Records on their Hallmark label. 

The records contained anonymous cover versions of recent and current hit singles. The recordings were intended to replicate the sound of the original hits as closely as possible. The albums were recorded by a studio group comprising session musicians and singers who remained unaccredited, although they included Elton John and Tina Charles before their fame.

Record producer Alan Crawford conceived the idea for the Top of the Pops albums, having noted several UK labels such as Music for Pleasure pioneer the anonymous covers format during 1967 and 1968. 

Crawford's key idea was to create a continuous series of albums with the same title. The Pickwick label agreed to undertake Crawford's idea and the first volume was issued in mid-1968.

Vol 27, 1972

In 1969 new volumes began appearing at generally regular intervals, with a new LP released every six to eight weeks. Volume numbers were not stated on the record sleeves, each edition simply called "Top of the Pops", the name derived from the un-trademarked BBC television show with which there was no direct connection.

During the early 1970s, the Top of the Pops series enjoyed considerable success and buoyant sales. Budget albums were accepted into the main UK album charts for a few months in 1971, during which four Top of the Pops LPs charted, and two made No. 1. 

Vol 50, 1975

However they were disqualified in early 1972 since their budget selling price was perceived as giving them an unfair advantage in the market.

The albums continued to be released at regular intervals throughout the 1970s, with the general theme and cover art largely unchanged throughout. The cover designs are iconic, featuring female models in period attire, some with the models in skimpy clothing such as miniskirts and bikinis.