Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Top of the Poppers in Uzbekistan!

Long-time Top of the Pops collectors will know all about the overseas pressings, from the specially made Europe Editions of the early 1970s, through to the Israeli LPs with Hebrew text, and coloured vinyl in Argentina... etc. One of the most fascinating regions for me is that of the (former) Soviet Union, and I am fortunate to be in touch with Moscow-based Konstantin, who has sent over several Poppers discs pressed in the USSR. The latest is one of my favourites, not least for the cover art:

The LP is actually by Various Artists, including no lesser luminary than Elvis Presley ("Gentle On My Mind" and "True Love Travels On A Gravel Road"). Other artists include Johnny Cash, but what interests me is the final song on either side - for it is our very own Poppers, with "Мой славный" ("Sugar Me") (side 1) and "Гармоничная жизнь" ("Living In Harmony") (side 2), both pulled from the standard volume 26.

The LP, incidentally, is called "Эстрадная Орбита" - which translates as "Variety’s Orbit". So far, with Konstantin's help, we have tracked down some 18 different editions, all from the Soviet Union, and pressed at various points over a period of perhaps ten years.

Soviet records were manufactured in several factories distributed throughout the vast territory, including Tbilisi (Georgia), Riga (Latvia), Leningrad, Moscow, and - as above - Tashkent in Uzbekistan. This, incidentally, is the only place in central Asia that any Top of the Pops recordings have appeared (so far as we know).

The key to identifying the place of manufacture of Soviet discs is in the small print. Uzbekistan pressings bear this inscription across the middle of the label:

As mentioned, there are lots of different editions of this LP, and the groovy psychedelic sleeve above belongs to just one of them. Below are two more Uzbekistan pressings of the same album:

There were also some spin-off EPs, and again Uzbekistan pressings are known. These discs contain "Living in Harmony" from the parent LP:

You can see the full Soviet discography as currently known here. Thanks to Konstantin (and a DJ friend of his, who located the LP). Another superb addition to the collection.

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