Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pick of the Pick of the Pops

I was contacted this week by a collector with some very interesting scans of an obscure Deacon label EP. I had heard of this before, but it's so scarce I didn't even know the songs on the B side! Thanks to these images, all is now revealed:

So what do we have here? Well, this is a 4-track EP which is taken directly from Deacon's "Pick of the Pops" album series. Volume 4 in fact, and the last quartet of songs on that album are the selections on this 7-inch disc - in the same playing order, too.

Notice that Deacon have titled the EP, Top of the Pops rather than Pick of the Pops. Whichever way you look at it, this is naughty, and Pickwick, issuer of the real Top of the Pops records, sued Deacon for infringement, winning the case in the first half of 1972. The upshot was that Deacon needed to back away from similar-sounding products. If the title "Pick of the Pops" was retired, Pickwick would drop its claim - and so the album series closed down at that point, or to be precise, transmuted into "Parade of Pops". (The Windmill label had already taken it over by then.) This little EP may therefore have been quite a significant release in budget cover version history.

Below is a report from Billboard magazine (12 August, 1972) summarising the outcome of the case (they accidentally say Pickwick's series is called "Pick of the Pops"! Oops!

Now, back to the record itself. If you like speculative theories with no hard evidence to back them up, you're in luck. I have two!

1. For some inexplicable reason, Deacon's "Pick of the Pops" albums went directly from volume 1 to volume 4, with no volumes 2 or 3 ever appearing. No-one seems to know why, but my first theory goes like this: The EP above has the inscription "volume 2" on it. Did Deacon in fact issue their first LP as "volume 1", then two EPs as "volume 2" and "volume 3", followed by the next LP, "volume 4"? The only snag is, I've never heard of an EP called "volume 3", but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

2. This is even more speculative: Since this EP contains the last four tracks from the parent album, in order, it hints that it might be one of a trilogy - tracks 1-4 on one EP, tracks 5-8 on another, and tracks 9-12 on another (the one above). Releasing whole albums on EP was not common, but equally not unheard of. Avenue were doing it with every album they released! Maybe there are two more Deacon EPs waiting to be discovered?

So those are my thoughts. One other point of curiosity: what kind of sleeve was it sold in? Did Deacon have their own ones with their logo on? If any readers have any info, or thoughts, please feel free to add a comment.

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