Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two new "Top of the Pops" albums discovered

Researching "Top of the Pops" releases from around the world has been an interesting little project, which I have been pursuing for several years now. In that time, I've discovered releases from every continent on Earth bar Antarctica, with more than a little help from fellow collectors and enthusiasts in several countries, so that we now have evidence of Top of the Pops in such unlikely places as Bulgaria, Lebanon, South Africa, Norway, Yugoslavia, Turkey and many more.

Researching all this can be done almost entirely online. It's a bit like stamp collecting - find examples and work out what they are and where they fit in. To the experienced eye, they are immediately recognisable, usually thanks to a viable track listing plus a tell-tale Hallmark logo or a label with known connections. This week, I found two new examples, which without hearing them, I am certain are overseas incarnations of "Top of the Pops". This is the first:

This LP has two titles: "Lo Mejor de lo Mejor" and "Top of the Pops". We know it is from Spain, and it's on the Olympo label who have released other "Top of the Pops" LPs there. "Lo Mejor de lo Mejor" translates as "The Best of the Best" - or, dare we suggest, "Top of the Pops"? (Any Spanish speakers out there able to verify?)

Luckily, the track listing is given on the front, and assuming it includes all the songs on the LP, reveals that there are only ten tracks. All of them appear on the UK volume 62 of 1977, so this must be a Spanish edition of that LP - with or without the two "missing" tracks, "Star Wars Theme" and "Yes Sir I Can Boogie". Nice bit of product placement on the cover too!

And so to my second find, below...

This is an LP from Mexico called "La Ola Inglesa volume 15". There's quite a history to this album series, which I will briefly outline:

It's 1964 and Bill Wellings has launched the first regular UK covers album series, "Top Twelve", which consists of 12-inch editions of the "Top Six" EPs. Cue Mexico, and their Diana record label, which started issuing their own versions from the EP sequence, giving rise to their "La Ola Inglesa" LP series. These would endure long after the UK "Top Twelve" LPs ceased, and in 1967, started including tracks from MFP, since the "Top Six" EPs were by then defunct. Fast forward to 1970, and the Mexican albums switched again, now featuring tracks from the "Top of the Pops" series instead. This example, Volume 15, is the second or third TOTP collection and is a compilation from the UK albums volumes 11, 13, 14 and 15 (plus one extra track from volume 4 - for some reason).

Check out the back of the cover and you will see a small picture of an album with "Top of the Pops" artwork, called "Onda Pop". This is one of an earlier Mexican series, of which perhaps only two ever appeared. We do not know if the songs themselves are from "Top of the Pops". And next to that is another installment of "La Ola Inglesa" - volume 13, which was Mexico's first "Top of the Pops"-sourced edition, from 1970.

So, that's two more "stamps" collected, as our knowledge of "Top of the Pops" around the globe continues to expand. Watch this space for more examples, which will be posted up as and when they come to our attention.

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