Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reader's Digest - 6 covers LPs in a box

I've seen this box set before, but not taken any notice, assuming the contents were original chart hits (yuk!). But this weekend, I saw a copy in a charity shop for the knock-down price of £1, and had to have it. The box houses six individual LPs, all covering particular periods in pop history.

What is intriguing is that these recordings - 90 of them in all, following the charts from 1960 to 1975 - are all soundalike cover versions made by "studio musicians". It says so in the small print!

Of particular interest (to me, anyway) are the three LPs which account for eras which were also covered by the regular anonymous hit album series - which means the LPs, "1968/1971", "1970/1972" and "1973/1975". All three of these albums are packed with songs familiar to collectors of the genre, and it's perhaps worth listing them:

1968/1971: Mrs Robinson / Love Child / What A Wonderful World / Congratulations / Help Yourself / Mony Mony / Two Little Boys / Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town / My Way / Galveston / I'll Never Fall In Love Again / Sugar Sugar / Bridge Over Troubled Water / Band Of Gold / I Hear You Knocking

1970/1972: It's Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) / Wand'rin' Star / My Sweet Lord / Brown Sugar / I'm Still Waiting / Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep / Double Barrel / Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree / Blockbuster / Feel The Need In Me / Power To All Our Friends / You Are The Sunshine Of My Life / Amazing Grace / Take Me Bak 'Ome 

1973/1975: You Wear It Well / Metal Guru / Mother And Child Reunion / Tiger Feet / Devil Gate Drive / You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me / I'm Leaving It (All) Up To You / Rock Your Baby / The Most Beautiful Girl / Hold Me Close / January / Bye Bye Baby / Can't Give You Anything (But My Love) / I Only Have Eyes For You

So there you have it - three LPs packed with classic sounds, just like the cover LPs we know and love. But of course, the question which arises is, where were they sourced from? This is where things get a little tricky. Neither the labels nor the packaging reveal anything, but it surely stretches the imagination to think that Reader's Digest had them all made especially. Moreover, the dates next to the song credits show a range of years, implying they were recorded when the hit songs were roughly current. So where are they from?

I've done some sound comparisons with the known LPs but not got very far. From what I have compared, they don't match the Windmill recordings, nor the Pye recordings, nor the Avenue recordings. But I have pinned down the origins of two of the songs: The older "Anyone Who Had A Heart" is the same version as on the 1964 Top Six EP pictured below (although "Glad All Over" is a different version). And "Amazing Grace" is the bagpipe version from "Hot Hits" volume 11. Other than that, I have drawn a blank so far.

So, I throw the issue over to you, dear readers. Can anyone cast any light on where these recordings originate? Here's a sample track to help - this is the version of "Band of Gold" as featured in this box set:

Band of Gold.mp3


  1. The version of Band Of Gold is from Hot Hits 2, as sung by a young Tina Charles. I have also recently come across this box set at a car boot sale, complete except for the 1st volume which is missing except for the sleeve. I haven't played the set yet but will update you as I do.

    Richard Brooke :-)

    1. Great stuff - thanks. I should have spotted that one! I've not been through it all either, but with Amazing Grace and Band of Gold both from the Hot Hits series, there could well be others too. I'll do some more checking too, when I get time.

  2. All tracks contained on these albums are B.W.D Bill Wellings Productions. Made up from Hot Hits released tracks and spare tracks that were not put out on the series. Some tracks were salvaged from the early PYE Top Six recordings others from B.W.D Country Covers and even a few from the 1963 series of TOP 6. A real hotch potch of recordings but all in all quiet a good selection of tracks.Hope that helps.Colin Richardson

  3. Just had a quick listen to some tracks on the last album in the box. These are the albums each track appeared on:
    You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me - 12 Tops Vol 17
    I'm Leaving It All Up To You - 12 Tops Vol 23, Parade Of Pops (WPP 5017), Pye Chartbusters Vol 12, World Top 12 (Vol. 048)
    Rock Your Baby - Top Of The Pops Vol 39
    Hold Me Close - Top Hits Of The Year 1975(Windmill), Smash Hits'75 (MFP), 16 Chart Hits Vol 22
    January - 12 Tops Vol 26, Parade Of Pops (WPP 5020), Pye Chartbusters Vol 14, World Top 12 (Vol.049), Top Hits Of The Year 1975(Windmill)
    Bye Bye Baby, 12 Tops Vol 27, Parade Of Pops (WPP 5021), Pye Chartbusters Vol 15, Top Hits Of The Year 1975(Windmill)
    Can't Give You Anything (But My Love) - Top Hits Of The Year 1975(Windmill)
    I Only Have Eyes For You - Top Hits Of The Year 1975(Windmill)

    Richard Brooke :-)

  4. Thanks to both of you for your comments. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many of these are from the BWD stable, but as Richard's post points out, there seems to be more to it. (Fascinating thought that some might be unreleased BWD recordings!)

    I guess the only way to be certain of these is to sit and listen to every track and do some direct comparisons. I'd like to get all of them nailed, but it will take time. Interesting to see a Top of the Pops version in amongst them too.

    The very early ones (1960-1967) are probably budget EP recrodings, like the Top 6 ones mentioned. When I found that "Anyone Who Had A Heart" was from Top 6, I thought they all would be - but "Glad All Over" is definitely different, and so from some other source. Alas I don't have all the EPs to compare!

    Nice work with ID-ing these, Richard. If you spot any more do update us!

  5. Managed to check a couple more today:

    "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" is the same as mfp "Smash Hits 73"
    "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" is the same as mfp "Smash Hits 73"
    "Metal Guru" is the same as mfp "Smash Hits 72"

    This underlines an mfp/BWD connection. I checked a few against earlier Windmill LPs and found no more matches.

    I did notice that "Metal Guru", which was a hit in 1972, is on the 1973-75 LP in this box set!