Saturday, February 28, 2015

Top of the Pops volume 1 - a cover story

The first ever "Top of the Pops" LP landed over the summer of 1968, and the cover art was such a success that it was barely changed in the 17 years and 91 volumes which would follow. It was put together by Bill Graham, employed by Pickwick and under instruction from the top man, Monty Lewis, for something "which could be seen from the other side of Victoria Station". Here's what he came up with, and it's no exaggeration to say this sleeve design has become something of a cultural icon:

So, who's that lady? Alas, I don't know, but I recently stumbled upon what at first seemed to be an unrelated LP, but which on further investigation, gives us a little more insight into how this sleeve came about:

This LP is called "The In Crowd" and is an American release on the Design label. It turns out that Design is an imprint of Pickwick International, who issued this album two years before "Top of the Pops" was launched - back in 1966.

Now, there's a myth to bust here. Keen-eyed collectors have frequently noted the somewhat unnatural outlines around certain "Top of the Pops" cover models, giving them the impression that the photos have been snipped away and glued onto coloured card. Not so! In fact what happened was that the background colours were painted on, right up the the edge of the model. And that's how we got this dazzling, almost day-glo orange, pulled from a rather dark and unexciting original photo - something which could indeed be seen for miles!

This image would surface once more in the "Top of the Pops" series, when the end-of-year collection for 1969 was issued...

You can just see her peeking out from the bottom corner, and the dark area between the models neck and hair is in its original state.

So there you have it - a design classic was born, Bill also creating that famous "Top of the Pops" logo, cleverly outlining every individual letter so that it could stand out clearly against any coloured background.

I just wonder who the model is...?

No comments:

Post a Comment