Wednesday, August 24, 2016

UK one-offs part 7: Request Time

Odd little album this. Never having heard it, we're only assuming it has some soundalike cover versions on it, so bear with us if this turns out to be a boo-boo.

It certainly looks like it should have some soundalikes on it! Just look at the track listing - 70s pop hits all, while on the cover we have one Beverley Pilkington, stalwart of budget albums from "Top of the Pops" to "Parade of Pops".

So what do we know about the "Request Time" LP? Well, the label is Tag - or to be more precise, T.A.G. - or to be even more precise, the Ten Album Group of Warrington. Odd name, that - the Ten Album Group, and this LP is sub-titled, "The best of our albums in one".

With the catalogue number, TAG 10, there is reason to believe that the Ten Album Group was formed in order to release just a decuplet (look that up, folks) of albums, this being the conclusion to the set. And in fact, it is a compilation from some or all of the other nine. Here are a few of them...

We'd very much like to hear more about this album - whether it's a bona-fide covers LP, a red herring, or part both. In any case, part of a curious project to release ten - and only ten - LPs, each with a little picture of itself in the top corner!

Monday, August 22, 2016

UK one-offs part 6: Soaraway Party Pops

Another "Top of the Pops" cousin we've known about for a while, but which deserves a fresh look. This one is quite unlike the other "Top of the Pops" spin-offs, and came out on the n.o.w. label in 1973.

Most peculiar. The album is, of course, a promotional item for the Sun newspaper. Down in the groove we find 14 standard songs from the Poppers, and - surprisingly - another seven which consist of the Poppers' backing tracks, but without vocals. Indeed they have been overdubbed with instrumentation!

Added to this are a further three titles from the Hallmark LP Happy Hammond Goes Pop, these being "For Once In My Life", "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "My Sweet Lord".

The source of the tracks is not mentioned on the record, but a few clues are there: the label credits "Special Products Division of Pickwick International", while the back cover carries a mock-up newspaper with the headline "Always Top of the Pops!" (hint, hint!) and the line "Britain's Brightest Daily Paper" is in tell-tale Cooper font, just like the regular Top of the Pops logo!

(Incidentally, this album is catalogue-numbered SUN 2. For the record, SUN 1 was an album of 14 original hits, put out in 1971. The tracks were selected from just four artists: The Move, Joe Cocker, T Rex and Procul Harum.)

Anyhoo - here's a track-by-track breakdown:

Side 1 
  • Band Of Gold (From volume 12)
  • Rose Garden - instrumental overdubs
  • Coz I Luv You (From volume 21)
  • For Once In My Life (from Happy Hammond Goes Pop)
  • Yester-Me Yester-You Yester-Day (From volume 8)
  • Beg Steal Or Borrow - instrumental overdubs
  • Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (From volume 18)
  • The Good The Bad & The Ugly (From volume 3)
  • The Pushbike Song (From volume 15)
  • Rocket Man - instrumental overdubs
  • Floy Joy (From volume 23)
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water (from Happy Hammond Goes Pop)
Side 2
  • Get It On (From volume 18)
  • Don't Let It Die - instrumental overdubs
  • Yellow River (From volume 11)
  • She's A Lady - instrumental overdubs
  • Honky Tonk Women (From volume 6)
  • Poppa Joe - instrumental overdubs
  • Sugar Sugar (From volume 9)
  • Lady Eleanor - instrumental overdubs
  • I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (From volume 22)
  • My Sweet Lord (from Happy Hammond Goes Pop)
  • Melting Pot (From volume 9)
  • My Ding-A-Ling (From volume 28)

Anyone got a copy of the paper this was sold through? We'd love to see what the ad says!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

UK one-offs part 5: Untitled, from Uni-Zel

We've known about this album for a while now, and had it noted on our Top of the Pops website. However, while we're running through our series of selected "one-offs", it seemed like a good idea to give it another outing, and highlight the perplexing nature of the record.

Completely, totally anonymous. No title, no act - just a producer credit for M. Zackariya. 

Who is he? 

Well, he appears to me the main mover behind the Zel label, which would morph into the Evolution label in the late-1960s. Zel in fact released three anonymous cover version EPs, and it will be noted that on this album, we have an imprint called Uni-Zel - so surely a direct link to those EPs is established. (ZEL, by the way = Zackariya Enterprises, London.)

Now to the nitty gritty - the producer credit conflicts with what we think we already know, since no fewer than 9 of these dozen tracks are the self-same recordings as featured on the very first volume of "Top of the Pops" - which, as everyone knows, was produced by Allan Crawford. (Interestingly, this album is in fully fledged stereo, whereas "Top of the Pops" only ever presented the tracks in mono.)

Now back to Zel: the three non-TOTP tracks, "Bend Me Shape Me", "Don't Stop The Carnival" and "She Wears My Ring" also show up on one of Zel's EPs:

This, and the other two in this short series, are all credited to producer, M. Zackariya - so the credits are legit - it's just a question of whether he really did produce all 12 tracks on the album, or just these three. If the former, we need to re-write the story of "Top of the Pops" volume 1!

Just to further stir things up, the three tracks on the "Top of the Pops" album which are not on the Uni-Zel album - "I Can't Let Maggie Go", "La La La" and "Something Here In My Heart", all appear on the next Zel EP (ultra-rare - we've never heard the recordings, so don't know if they are the same ones):

And there are more shared song titles in evidence too. So what's going on? Who produced what, and who's borrowing from whom? As per "Top of the Pops" volume 27, "There are More Questions Than Answers".

Saturday, August 20, 2016

UK one-offs part 4: Non Stop Pepsi Party

Biscuits, beer, petrol and polish - there's quite a diverse range of commercially branded cover albums. The one featured here, another installment in our current "one-off" series, proudly promotes Pepsi cola, in what purports to be a "non-stop party" (it ends after 20 songs!) by Denny Wright and the Hustlers.

The style is much in the Mike Morton Non-Stop vein, but this is of course on mfp and appears to have no links. As it says on the model's top, this 1974 album is Lipsmakinthirstquenchinacetastinmotivatingoodbuzzincooltalkinhighwalkinfastlivinevergivincoolfizzin stuff.


Friday, August 19, 2016

UK one-offs part 3: The Million Sellers


Our series of one-off covers LPs continues with this offering from Decca, issued on their Eclipse imprint in 1970...

Surprisingly little-documented, this rarity contains soundalikes which we've yet to find elsewhere. That being the case, there's every indication that this is an in-house Decca job - and indeed, the credits on the sleeve point this way.

On the back, it states, "Produced by M.A.M. Records Limited by Shaftesbury Productions". M.A.M are recognisable as Gilbert O'Sullivan's label, but who are the "Chartbusters Orchestra and Singers"? We'll probably never know, but M.A.M., as Wiki tells us, was "a British record label launched in 1970 by the management company Management Agency & Music Ltd. (MAM). It was founded by Gordon Mills and Tom Jones and distributed by Decca Records."

So, we can see this is an early project for the fledgling organisation.

The cover's great too! An old-time till stuffed with pre-decimal bank notes, and with the "LSD" inscription (that's pounds, shillings and pence, by the way). As for the tracks, a stack of blockbusters, although it's dubious whether "Gimme Dat Ding" and "Montego Bay" really did sell a million a piece!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

UK one-offs part 2: Hits of the 80s Vol 1

This post follows yesterdays, and features another LP about which we know not too much.

Here's it is.

Volume 1, it's called, but so far as we know there was never a volume 2. The album is credited to a fictional act called the Chart Invaders, but in fact, is 50 percent of the anonymous double LP we featured yesterday. In other words, it's an abridged edition - a best-of, if you will.

Maybe there was a volume 2 after all, made up of the other 14 tracks? We'll still count it as a one-off anyway. The label is Everest Records (with an incongruous snow-capped Union Jack for a logo), and Daga can just about me discerned in the small print. Interesting item - I wonder what the story is?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

UK one-offs part 1: Chartbusters

In my time, cataloging and documenting cover version albums, I've concentrated almost entirely on regular series - Top of the Pops, 12 Tops, Hot Hits etc - you know the ones.

But recently, collector, Ian Byrne, reminded me of one of the odd releases which don't fit into the usual mould. This got me thinking - isn't it time to celebrate (or at least, make note of) some of the one-off releases which occasionally appeared in between the more famous series?

I'm planning to run a series of short posts documenting some of them. To keep things in focus, I'm only looking at UK releases, and sticking to LPs issued between (roughly) the early 1960s and the early 1980s - soundalike cover versions, all.

Here's part 1.

Produced by Dave Howman for Daga Productions
Engineers: Richard Austen and Brian Evans
Recorded at: Majestic Recording Studios, London

That's what it says. Who are Cambrasound? Who are Daga? Tell us if you know anything about this release.

The year is 1981, by the way...

Great tracks. Blondie, Police, Lennon, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder ... well, not really, but a good song is a good song, whoever's singing it. The album, incidentally, is a double-LP, allowing for some 28 tracks in a single package.

The title, Chartbusters, is a familiar one, but we have no reason to believe this album is connected to any of the three regular Chartbusters series put out by Marble Arch (1960s), Pye (1970s) or Here & Now (1980s), but as ever we'd be happy to be corrected on that.

Watch this space for more of these one-offs.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Another Swedish Nonstop Top 20!

Just recently we posted some info on the Swedish editions of the Nonstop Top 20 albums (see here). Fortunately, Holger Schoeler was able to send us some great scans of volume 10 in the Swedish discography - an album we'd not seen before.

Here they are:

Another great cover, there. It follows the usual Swedish style of featuring photos of cars, but whereas all the others we know of depict racing cars, this one shows a stationary vehicle, with (more familiar) female model included.

The record itself matches the UK edition exactly, so far as we can tell. This fills in a gap in the known sequence - we now have positive knowledge of six successive volumes issued by Emidisc in Sweden - here they all are, next to their UK equivalents. (Only volume 8, which definitely exists, lacks a photo. Please contact us if you have one!).

Volume 5

Volume 6

 Volume 7

Volume 8 

Volume 9

 Volume 10