Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nonstop Top 20 volume 8 - in Sweden

Holger Schoeler has sent us some images of a great edition of Nonstop Top 20 from Sweden. This is one of a set which appeared there, with racing cars on the covers. We've featured them before (see here) but until now, volume 8 has been a gap in our discography.

The track listing exactly matches the UK album, and here are the scans:

The cover art is fantsastic, and unusual for cover version LPs. Below is the UK edition, with its more familiar - although just as quirky - sleeve:

Thanks to Holger for the images.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Discovered: another Brazilian Top of the Pops

Earlier this year we reported on a Top of the Pops compilation album from Brazil, which was called "volume 2" (see here).

Well, we've now found some images of volume 1 - and here it is:

This "volume 1" uses the cover photo from UK volume 27, but it's quite a bit later. Most of the 12 tracks are from the UK volume 32, which dates the album after August 1973.

Although we don't have a definite sequence of songs, we can see just about enough of the side 2 label to tell that they match tracks 7 to 12 on the sleeve - in other words, the playing sequence appears to correspond to the listing on the front. 

The album was issued by RCA-Camden, and tracks are as follows:
  • Get Down -- from vol. 30
  • Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting -- from vol. 32
  • Fool -- from vol. 32
  • Touch Me In The Morning -- from vol. 32
  • Me And Mrs Jones -- from vol. 29
  • Alright, Alright, Alright -- from vol. 32
  • Yesterday Once More -- from vol. 32
  • Tie A Yellow Ribbon -- from vol. 30
  • And I Love You So -- from vol. 31
  • Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose -- from vol. 32
  • Hell Raiser -- from vol. 31
  • Life On Mars -- from vol. 32

Here are volimes 1 and 2 side-by-side. I wonder if a volume 3 was ever released?...

Monday, September 4, 2017

When does a one-off become a series?

We had another interesting email from Clive Hetherington recently, in which he flagged up a couple of covers albums we'd not seen before. Both are UK albums on the World (?) label, an imprint of the World Record Club.

Which may ring a bell; we've featured this (supposedly) one-off from Word Record Club before see here:

This album appeared sometime in the second half of 1964, and so far as we knew, was never followed up.

Now Clive's research has thrown up two possible successors. The label is different, but the company the same. Fistly, here are a few images:

The top one is called "DJ's Dozen" and the bottom one is "Hot Pops". Although both contain his from summer and autumn 1965, in both cases the labels state 1966 as the year of issue, so they weren't released currently with the hit versions.

These are wonderful finds, but can we really consider the World Record Club releases to be a series? Probably not. Nevertheless, these new discoveries will be of much interest to UK collectors, and provide some more evidence of the cover version idea gaining traction in the mid-1960s.

Here are the track listings, and where the corresponding single entered the UK charts, the date is given as a point of reference:

DJ’s Dozen

  • What the World Needs Now
  • On My Word (12/06/65)
  • Ticket To Ride (17/04/65)
  • It Ain’t Me Babe (05/06/65)
  • Please Don’t Just Stand There
  • Help (31/07/65)
  • There But For Fortune (10/07/65)
  • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (29/05/65)
  • Colours (05/06/65)
  • You’ve Got Your Troubles (10/07/65)
  • Mr. Tambourine Man (19/06/65)
  • I’m Henry The Eighth I Am

Hot Pops

  • Satisfaction (28/08/65)
  • The Time In Between
  • Catch Us If You Can (17/07/65)
  • All I Really Want To Do (14/08/65)
  • I’m Alive (29/05/65)
  • Looking Though The Eyes Of Love (12/06/65)
  • And I Love Her
  • We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place (17/07/65)
  • You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (25/09/65)
  • Down In The Boondocks (09/10/65)
  • Don’t Make My Baby Blue (07/08/65)
  • Unchained Melody (14/08/65)

We must also mention the album below, chanced upon while looking for more info:

"Top Pop Song Hits Vol 2" is basically a compilation from the two UK albums - everything points to it being a US release. I wonder what they did for Vol 1??

Thanks to Clive for his scans and info.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Top Six EP - number (wait for it...) 48 !!

I had to get the blog out of mothballs for this one.

Regular reader, Clive Hetherington, has a knack of discovering hitherto unknown records, and he's come up trumps again with this.

You've probably seen EPs like this countless times - so what's the big deal?

It's this: The list of EPs in the series has for years been 'known' to run from EP 1 to EP 42. There's a hint that numbers 43 and 44 may also exist, although I've never seen anything proving it.

But this one is miles on from EP 42. It suggests there are no fewer than six more EPs in existence which have eluded us all this time.

The tracks are as follows:

  1. The Last Waltz
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Let's Go to San Francisco

  1. Ode to Billy Joe
  2. Flowers in the Rain
  3. The Letter

The vintage of the hits is autumn 1967.

If anyone knows anything further about these late editions, please get in touch.

Thanks to Clive, as ever, for the info and scans.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

More cover versions found on the T.A.G. label

Blog regular, Clive Hetherington, has discovered a few obscure additions to our ever-growing catalogue of UK cover versions. His latest find adds another LP to our small T.A.G. label discography:

Catalogue number is TAG 4, from 1976, and the track listing reads:

  • Music
  • Take Me To The Mardi Gras
  • One Of These Nights
  • Gonna Make You A Star
  • The In Crowd
  • December '63
  • All Right Now
  • Free Electric Band
  • He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother
  • In The Summertime
  • Rock & Roll (I Gave You The Best Years)
  • That's When The Music Takes Me

Interestingly, four of these titles show up on the other T.A.G. album we have, Request Time.

This one's called 45 Revival: Singles from the Seventies, which is a little misleading in that none of these were singles, at least not as far as these recordings are concerned. They are all cover versions, of course.

The title reminds us of Hallmark's Revived 45s, and it's clear that T.A.G. were well-connected with the cover version world, since Clive has identified several of these tracks as having come from other cover version LPs:

"'In the Summertime' is from Pick Of The Pops. 'The In Crowd', 'Free Electric Band', 'Alright Now' and 'Take Me To The Mardi Gras' are all from the 16 Chart Hits series on Contour."

So a bit of a compilation, really, and another impressive discovery. Thanks, Clive.

Monday, April 17, 2017

VFM - those Value For Money soundalike cassettes

On the heels of our post about the recently discovered VFM label's cassette releases (here), we were contacted by Adrian Chappell with some more info, and some fab scans of other tapes in the series. Adrian is lucky enough to have three of these in his collection, "Hit Parade '77" vol. 2"; "Hit Parade '77" vol. 5"; and "Hit Parade '78" vol. 4".

Before we go into this deeper, let's have a look at the tapes in Adrian's collection:

These are truly fantastic cassettes. When we first chanced on the VFM releases a few weeks ago, it was a bit of a puzzle as to what was going on - the cassettes are so rare that even finding out what was released was impossible. The burning question was ... were these tapes a regular series, or were they released as ready-made collections, like typical box-sets.

The answer, so far as we can tell from Adrian's scans, is more towards the latter - which is to say, they were not a regular series with new installments released at intervals. I'll give you my logic below.

This is the printed inner of VFM's "Hit Parade '77 col. 5" (click to enlarge):

It will be noted that several more tapes like these are advertised inside. This enables us to fill out several gaps in our listing. For the record, and with reference to the above listings, here's the discography of VFM's relevant cassettes, as known to us today...


THE BEST OF 1976 (VCA 013)

Dancing Queen / Don't Go Breaking My Heart / Rhinestone Cowboy / Una Paloma Blanca / When Forever Has Gone / Save Your Kisses For Me / Fernando / Beautiful Noise / Money, Money, Money / Sailing


HIT PARADE '77 vol. 1 (VCA 015)

Rock Bottom / Red Light Spells Danger / Lay Back in the Arms of Someone / My Kinda Life / Tear Me Apart / Another Suitcase in Another Hall / I Don't Want To Put A Hold On You / Going In With My Eyes Open / Moody Blue / Southern Nights / When / Sunny


HIT PARADE '77 vol. 2 (VCA 021)

The Shuffle / Free / Hotel California / You Don't Have to Be a Star / Sir Duke / Pearl's a Singer / Have I the Right / Whodunit / How Much Love / Oh Boy / Another Funny Honeymoon


HIT PARADE '77 vol. 3 (VCA 022)

The First Cut is the Deepest / I Don't Want to Have to Talk About It / A Star Is Born (Evergreen) / Tokyo Joe / Lucille / Too Hot to Handle / Lido Shuffle / Good Morning Judge / Got to Give Up / Rendezvous / It's A Game


HIT PARADE '77 vol. 4 (VCA 024)

Show You the Way / Baby Don't Change Your Mind / Telephone Line / So You Win Again / Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy / Sam / Rhapsody / Kyrila / Don't Let Go / Feel the Need / Disco Inferno / Ma Baker


HIT PARADE '77 vol. 5 (VCA 033)

I Remember Elvis Presley / Telephone Man / Oxygene / Wondrous Stories / I Remember Yesterday / Best of my Love / Cool Out Tonight / Lets Clean Up the Ghetto / Thunder In My Heart / Down Deep Inside


HIT PARADE '77 vol. 6 (VCA 034)

Silver Lady / Black is Black / Waiting in Vain / Sunshine After the Rain / Float On / Nobody Does It Better / Think I'm Gonna Fall In Love With You / Magic Fly / Another Star / From New York To LA


HIT PARADE '78 vol. 4 (VCA 066)

Giving Up Giving In / Darlin / Instant Replay / Eve of War / Picture This / Rat-Trap / McArthur Park / Sandy / Again and Again / Where Did Our Love Go


HIT PARADE 79 vol. 1 (VCA 080)

Forever in Blue Jeans / Heaven Knows / I Was Made For Dancin' / My Life / Can You Feel The Force / Lucky Number / Oliver's Army / I Will Survive / Tragedy / I Want Your Love / Don't Stop Me Now / Fire


By checking the vintage of the hits, we can see that they do at first seem to fit the pattern of a regular series. "The Best of 1976" is just that, and was presumably the first such release from VFM.

When it comes to "Hit Parade '77", we have listings for all six in the set, and the tracks cover successive periods in the charts of that year - vol. 1 circa April; vols. 2 and 3 circa June; vol. 4 circa August; vols. 5 and 6 circa November.

The others follow the same pattern. "Hit Parade '78 vol. 4" contains tracks from the very end of that year, so looks like it could be the fourth of four from 1978, while "Hit Parade 79 vol. 1" has hits which all date to around April 1979.

So, clear enough you may think - but...

What proves to me that these are not a regular series is that the same printed inner can be found on the VFM cassette, "The Hits of the Shadows". The catalogue number of this album is VCA 016. This means it was sequenced between volumes one and two of "Hit Parade '77" - and since it contains track details for volumes three and four (VCA 022 and VCA 024), they must have all been released at once; if three and four were yet to be, they could not be itemised on VCA 016.

This all but proves the hit covers tapes were not released sequentially. While it's possible they were released in batches (in fact, quite likely) my hunch is that the tracks were deliberately selected in chronological order, to make the story of each year as it goes.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about this, and if I am, I will be happy to learn more from anyone who knows! It would be truly amazing to find another regular series which has escaped us for so long, but personally, I think the odds are against. If you disagree with my logic, leave a message!

My thanks to Adrian Chappell for the scans and info.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

VFM label cassettes - a hint of more undiscovered sets

Last week, a cassette appeared on Ebay which I'd not seen before (thanks to Ian Byrne for the heads up). I'll show some scans first, then take a look at what it might be...

As you can see, this cassette goes by the name, "Hit Parade '77 vol. 6" - and it's that "vol. 6" part which makes you wonder... were there others issued as well? I did some digging around, and basically drew a blank. The VFM label is featured on Discogs as a minor budget outlet, but none of the other cassettes are of soundalike chart hits like this one (not that the listing is anywhere near complete).

Checking through the tracks on this one reveals something else - all ten were hits in August/September 1977, so this is more of a topical selection than a yearly retrospective. Like the other budget series, it has a snapshot of the charts at a particular point in time. So, volume 6 of a regular series, running through 1977 then?

Maybe not. One important note in the packaging is the date of issue - given as 1978. So if this is a selective collection, my hunch was that it was issued the following year as part of a box-set. The other volumes presumably covered different parts of 1977... and yet even this theory doesn't quite add up - look at the cover. It shows a price point of 99p - so it was probably on sale individually.

Strange that absolutely no info seems to exist about this! Let me do my bit to get VFM and "Hit Parade '77" on the map, with this blog post, and here, a track from the album - a version of Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vain":

Finding this tape set something off in the back of my mind. It looked strangely familiar but I couldn't place it. The cover art reminded me vaguely of the "Smash Tracks" tapes from Artisty, but it's clearly not a part of that set. A dig through my pile of unknowns, oddities and mystery tapes resulted in my finding another cassette from VFM - one I'd cast aside as unidentifiable, but which now sits alongside the above.

This one is "Hit Parade 79 vol. 1". The artwork is different yet similar (see the starburst lines around the edges):

Not having had a clue about this one before, I hadn't attached any significance to the "vol. 1" designation, but now of course it looks like part of a second set (or should we say, third, considering 1978 came between them).

The tracks on this cassette were mostly hits in March/April 1979, although a couple are a bit older. At the point these were released, Coombe Music had cornered the UK covers market, supplying recordings to both of the main series in production at the time - "Parade of Pops" and "Top of the Pops". The dozen tracks on this cassette are Coombe recordings, and many of them can therefore be heard on those albums as well (mostly, Parade of Pops volume 8, and Top of the Pops volume 72).

Again, that "vol. 1" nags at me. There are probably more - and as this covers an early part of 1979 - say, the first quarter - there's every chance that further volumes extend through the rest of that year. Were they released sequentially, or all at once? I'd love to know!

As before, I have copied over one of the tracks, a cover of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now", and you can feast your ears on it here:

I get tired of saying it, but here it comes again: please help us if you know anything more about these tapes. Drop us a line - we'll be most grateful and you will help us with one of the dark corners of UK cover version history.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Solid Gold ... on cassette

The "Solid Gold" series appeared in 1981-82 and is one of the briefest regular sets, with just three installments. The series was some sort of off-shoot from Chevron's "Solid Gold Parade of Pops", with which it shared a good number of recordings.

Until now, I'd always thought the "Solid Gold" albums were only issued on vinyl. Well, the grainy images below show I was wrong!

Nice gold box, too!

I don't have much else to add. I spotted this in an Ebay lot, and grabbed the images. Worth knowing these things exist. Maybe one day I'll strike solid gold and find one myself!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Top of the Spots

One we've known of for a while, but which fits in with our recent posts about Top of the Pops LPs turning up in various places. This one's a book cover, "Just for the Record" by Alan R Cox. It's about the turntable manufacturer, BSR, and the history the firm and its staff. Here's the front cover, and an enlargement of part of the main image:

You can see, just poking out from behind Elvis, a copy of Top of the Pops volume 42.

The inclusion of the LP was no accident. I once heard from the author, who told me (and I trust he won't mind me quoting), "These albums were an important part of pop and it was one of the many symbolic items placed on the cover."

Great to see a bit more recognition of this iconic series. It's likely that tens of thousands of these albums will have been slapped onto a BSR deck back in the day, so ubiquitous were they when 'suitcase' record players were all the rage. Here's a view of one, just like I remember when I was a lad. I can almost hear "Wombling Merry Christmas" rocking out from the built-in speaker...