A while ago, I posed the question of when the hit cover LP started. 1964 seemed to be something of a turning point, but I recently found the LP below, which dates to 1963 - and the first half of the year, at that.
This album was released on the Concert Hall label, which was mainly involved in releasing classical music, pressed in high quality, in short print runs. This digression into the world of the pop charts seems to have been something of an experiment; Concert Hall had a related label called Pop Parade, which specialised in EPs containing no fewer than eight tracks each, and these too contained chart hit cover versions. In fact, some are known from 1962 so they comfortably pre-date this LP.
It seems, from looking at the track listings and the artists who are claimed/credited on the sleeves, that this LP is partly or wholly compiled from the EP series. Below are four sample EPs on Pop Parade which contain songs also found on the LP - I've not had a chance to hear them, but I'll bet they are the same recordings...
The LP itself contains 16 tracks, including a fair few from Cliff and/or the Shadows. Of the 16 titles, no fewer than five entered the UK charts in March 1963, and none later than this, and so we can speculate that the LP was released in April/May of that year. Is this the earliest UK release of chart hit soundalikes? Tell us, if you know different! And were there any more released by the label?
I did consider uploading a sample track, but since the best thing on the LP is probably a version of "Bachelor Boy", I decided to spare readers. Thank goodness the Beatles arrived in 1963 to save the UK pop industry!!
I couldn't leave this blog post without reproducing the sleeve notes, since they are so similar in style to the later budget LP-style notes:
Here are some of the "top pops" of 1963, together with one or two "classics" like Samantha and St. Louis Blues, sung and played in the fashion of today. Needless to say, there's plenty of the ever-popular guitar, and The Highlights vocal group - famous for their numerous TV and radio appearances - are featured in several numbers. The Pop Paraders and The Timebeats include many of Britain's finest instrumentalists, and singers Rita Williams, Barbara Moore and Charles Young are much in demand whenever there is a "pop session" in view.