Monday, February 11, 2013

Top of the Pops release discovered from Kenya

Following the recent discovery of Top of the Pops LPs in Portugal (see this post), I was amazed to also find a Top of the Pops album which was pressed in, of all places, Kenya! To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement, and in fact this is only the second LP from the series I have ever heard of from Africa, the other being a South African pressing of volume 24.This one is volume 20, the album which hit number 1 in the UK album charts in November 1971:

At first glance, the LP appears to be the same as the usual British edition. In fact the sleeve is exactly the same - no doubt made here for the domestic market then shipped over to Africa for use there. The label is similar, but there are tell-tale differences, including - crucially - the inscription, "Mfd by EA Records for Phonogram in E Africa".

EA Records (East African Records) was a record manufacturing firm based in Nairobi, Kenya. It is noticeable that there is no mention of Kenya anywhere on this album, but this detail tells us what we need to know about the origins of the LP.  Nevertheless, the mention of East Africa implies that this might have been on sale in the region, rather than just the one country. East Africa has no universally accepted definition, but we might suppose that if this UK-sourced LP was marketed beyond the country of manufacture, then it would also have been sold in nations which formerly made up the rest of British East Africa, and which retained economic links with one another - Uganda, Tanganyika (Tanzania) and Zanzibar.

This LP also carries the date 1972, demonstrating that it was issued later than the UK equivalent. (It probably traded off the commercial success of the British edition, put out long before Christmas 1971.)

It is incredible to think that this budget covers series reached places like these. Confirming Kenya alone as the country in question here, that makes some 23 different nations to which we know Top of the Pops was exported - not including the pan-European editions, or, for that matter, Britain itself. Indeed, Antarctica is the only continent with no known releases at all. And what's the betting yet more territories will emerge in time?

Above: ET Mwamunga, Kenyan Minister of Commerce and Industry (left) with J Kinzi, Managing Director of EA Records, Nairobi.

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