Monday, August 1, 2016

Copycat ... er ... Covers - part 6

Another installment of looky-likey album covers, but slightly different this time. Whereas previously we've concentrated on the photographs, this time we're looking at the overall design, and in particular how the "Top of the Pops" template has been so very influential.

It was Pickwick's Bill Graham who designed the first "Top of the Pops" sleeve, including the logo, and his work would be copied over and over in the years since. In fact, the sleeves of the albums are so iconic that imitations are not at all surprising.

Let's start with a reminder of the typical "Top of the Pops" cover:

Exhibit A is the album below, part of the "International Hit Parade" series from Italy. It's practically a "Top of the Pops" sleeve in all but title:

Meanwhile in Portugal, a short series called "Best of the Top Pops" was appearing. The sleeves were somewhat naughtier than their UK equivalents, but again the basic design idea is obvious:

This next one is our absolute favourite. What nutter thought it was a good idea to have the model wearing a great big crash helmet? The album, called "Top Hits", is in fact part of the same "International Hit Parade" set as the last-but-one example - note how title and lettering have been brought into almost exact line with "Top of the Pops":

It's down to South Africa for our next album sleeve - "Pick of the Pops" is a name we know from other British albums, but again here the styling of the letters can have only one inspiration:

It's a fact that Bill Graham's famous design was such a winner that it was still being used by Pickwick as late as 1985. Similarly there are later overseas albums which draw on it for their template. This example has a name which we've certainly seen before! And below the big, bold letters is the box of song titles, and with them a three-quarter-length model... (this one's from Portugal as well):

In 1991, indie band, Thrilled Skinny, released this 12-inch EP, borrowing the artwork directly from "Top of the Pops" volume 28:

And still it continued. This next installment is from 1995, and consists of a vinyl album of house music from Todd Terry. Note again the unmistakable borrowing of the "Top of the Pops" lettering - actually the Cooper Black font, with Bill Graham's patent outlines around each letter. We could have been back in the early 70s!

Let's end this round-up with Artistry's fab 2015 compilation CD, "Tops in Pops of the 60s" - full circle, really, as we're back with the original UK cover versions of old!

Drop us a line if you know of any more examples, and we'll look to feature them in future.

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