Friday, May 3, 2013

Marble Arch - stereo and mono releases

One of my recent finds was the LP below, not one of the mega-rare albums, but still one which was, until now, leaving a hole in my collection. "Spring Chartbusters" was released around April 1969, and was one of a run of Marble Arch LPs which were released in two different forms - stereo and mono. I've had a mono copy for some time, but it was nice to pick up this stereo edition, a snip at £1 from a local charity shop:

Marble Arch's "Chartbusters" albums began life as a mono LP series, but then moved to stereo in 1968. However they didn't make an abrupt switchover, preferring instead to release both mono and stereo editions of their cover version albums. The stereo copies had their own labels, but were slipped into the standard mono sleeves, which of course showed mono catalogue numbers, beginning MAL. The solution was some stickers - including one on the back of the cover, converting MAL into MALS - the stereo number format. Thankfully, this copy still has the original stickers intact, which as a collector, I think is pleasing to see.

The record labels themselves were printed especially for stereo - here's one of each edition of "Spring Chartbusters". Note "STEREOPHONIC" across one of them, and other amendments to the text...

In the end, Marble Arch abandoned the old mono format at the beginning of 1970, which was out of date anyway by then. So what was the extent of these parallel releases? I have identified around eight from the main series, plus one of the end-of-year collections which exist in both formats:

MAL/MALS 848  "Autumn Chartbusters"
MAL/MALS 868  "New Chartbusters"
MAL/MALS 896  "Chartbusters '69"
MAL/MALS 1114  "Spring Chartbusters"
MAL/MALS 1127  "Chartbusters Now!"
MAL/MALS 1148  "Chartbusters Summer"
MAL/MALS 1166  "Autumn Chartbusters"
MAL/MALS 1182  "Chartbusters Movin'"
MAL/MALS 1196  "Top Chartbusters of '69"

Some notes:

1. "Autumn Chartbusters" (MAL 848) I have not yet seen as a UK stereo LP, but I do know stereo copies exist as it was released that way in Canada!

2. "Chartbusters Movin'" (MALS 1182) I have not yet confirmed as existing in mono, although I suspect that it does.

3. "Top Chartbusters of '69" has the stereo catalogue number printed on the sleeve, with a mono sticker over the top on mono editions!

Please contact us if you can add anything to this listing - or if you can confirm the existence of UK stereo pressings of MAL 848 or mono pressings of MALS 1182.

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