Friday, April 26, 2013

Europe and the aliases

I've recently become aware of several cases where anonymous hit cover versions, familiar to UK listeners, have been released in various countries on the Continent - but with fictitious names attached to them (or, at least, names of acts which are not really responsible for the recordings). These are quite interesting and worthy of documenting for their own sake (and watch this space for some international Top of the Pops aliases, at some point).

The first one to mention is from the Avenue label recordings. We are looking here at a series of EPs from Europe, probably Sweden. These are essentially straight issues of the Avenue records, but put out under the name Magnus Banck, who was a Swedish entertainer. The EPs were made in the UK for export, and the six of them are basically the Avenue EPs, AVE 68 to AVE 73 inclusive, with different labels and covers.

According to the backs of the EPs, the recording outfit is "The Hit Parade Orchestra and Singers", but of course we know them better as The Clive Allen Orchestra and Singers! Each EP is identical in format to its UK counterpart. Here, for example, is the Magnus Banck EP 6, along with AVE 73:

Another example of this kind of (mis) appropriation can be found with the mfp ...Hits... albums. These were produced by Bill Wellings, and apart from his mfp endeavours, he was also busy managing the group, John Smith and the New Sound in the mid-1960s. Come 1968 though, Smith left the act, but Wellings was not about to kill a cash cow, and proceeded to release further singles under the group name - which in fact contained cover versions! So far I have located two of relevance here:

"Birthday" would feature on the mfp album Hit Hits in 1969, but it is interesting that the label above is dated 1968. Was it recorded first, then pulled in to the LP as an afterthought? The other track pictured above, "Return of Django", would appear on mfp's Hits Again album.

As noted above, the various fictional names applied to Top of the Pops recordings will warrant a blog post of their own at some point, but while we're on the subject of European singles, we may as well look at a couple of Spanish 45s. In all cases, these are the standard Hallmark versions, with a range of group names applied:

Above: "Goo Goo Barabajagal" by Tommy Sterne and "Baby Make It Soon" by Mickey Trounce, both from Top of the Pops volume 6; "A Boy Named Sue" by Jack London and "Good Morning Starshine" by The Young Idea, both from Top of the Pops volume 7.

 Above: "Cotton Fields" / "Brontosaurus" by The Bird Watchers, and "Honey Come Back" / "I Don't Believe In 'If' Any More" by Hal Prince. All four tracks are from Top of the Pops volume 11.


  1. A little info about Magnus Banck: originally a sports journalist at Swedish State Radio. He married Ursula Wirth (famous Swedish racing driver). From 1959 to the late 60's he hosted several different radio programs. He became a real radio idol in his typical chit-chat style with the listeners calling in hoping to have their favourite song played over the radio. In his heydays he was a "healthy" man around 130 kg as you can see on the record sleeve. But then he lost all his luck and suffering from a severe diabetes he died a lonesome 6o kg man in 1980.
    As far as I know the "MB Hit Parade" was released as volume 1 to volume 12 in 1969

    1. Thanks - some fascinating info! I thought there were only six of these EPs - but you think there were 12? Do you know anything about numbers 7 onwards? I've never seen them before!

  2. With regards to the MAGNUS BANCK series of disc's made and pressed in the PYE (Tranco)only six were produced those being AVE 68-73. I also have no knowledge of anymore unless they used recordings from another producer and were pressed at another plant