Sunday, August 21, 2016

UK one-offs part 5: Untitled, from Uni-Zel

We've known about this album for a while now, and had it noted on our Top of the Pops website. However, while we're running through our series of selected "one-offs", it seemed like a good idea to give it another outing, and highlight the perplexing nature of the record.

Completely, totally anonymous. No title, no act - just a producer credit for M. Zackariya. 

Who is he? 

Well, he appears to me the main mover behind the Zel label, which would morph into the Evolution label in the late-1960s. Zel in fact released three anonymous cover version EPs, and it will be noted that on this album, we have an imprint called Uni-Zel - so surely a direct link to those EPs is established. (ZEL, by the way = Zackariya Enterprises, London.)

Now to the nitty gritty - the producer credit conflicts with what we think we already know, since no fewer than 9 of these dozen tracks are the self-same recordings as featured on the very first volume of "Top of the Pops" - which, as everyone knows, was produced by Allan Crawford. (Interestingly, this album is in fully fledged stereo, whereas "Top of the Pops" only ever presented the tracks in mono.)

Now back to Zel: the three non-TOTP tracks, "Bend Me Shape Me", "Don't Stop The Carnival" and "She Wears My Ring" also show up on one of Zel's EPs:

This, and the other two in this short series, are all credited to producer, M. Zackariya - so the credits are legit - it's just a question of whether he really did produce all 12 tracks on the album, or just these three. If the former, we need to re-write the story of "Top of the Pops" volume 1!

Just to further stir things up, the three tracks on the "Top of the Pops" album which are not on the Uni-Zel album - "I Can't Let Maggie Go", "La La La" and "Something Here In My Heart", all appear on the next Zel EP (ultra-rare - we've never heard the recordings, so don't know if they are the same ones):

And there are more shared song titles in evidence too. So what's going on? Who produced what, and who's borrowing from whom? As per "Top of the Pops" volume 27, "There are More Questions Than Answers".


  1. Interesting. Maybe Allan Crawford was working under a pseudonym while trying to secure more long-term work with Pickwick. Or maybe Pickwick bought in for TOTP until they had a producer in a studio? My understanding is that Crawford brought Bruce Baxter in on volume 2 to arrange "Hey Jude" and was sufficiently impressed that he kept him around.

  2. Allan Crawford under the pseudonym, M. Zackariya? It's possible. My hunch though is theory 2 - that he didn't actually produce all of the album, and that they used some of the Zel recordings instead, which M. Zackariya really did produce.

    I once heard from someone called Gery Collins who worked as an engineer on TOTP volume 1. He mentioned an Andrew Jackman being in on the session - and Andrew Jackman is named as an arranger on the Uni-Zel LP - however Gery had never heard of Uni-Zel, implying the whole thing was done with Allan Crawford (who he definitely did remember!).

    It's all very strange. Gery also said Allan Crawford would likely not have recorded in stereo - and yet here are the stereo mixes. We may never find out the whole story - it was 50 years ago now! Curses to Hallmark for not putting credits on their sleeves!