Monday, April 17, 2017

VFM - those Value For Money soundalike cassettes


On the heels of our post about the recently discovered VFM label's cassette releases (here), we were contacted by Adrian Chappell with some more info, and some fab scans of other tapes in the series. Adrian is lucky enough to have three of these in his collection, "Hit Parade '77" vol. 2"; "Hit Parade '77" vol. 5"; and "Hit Parade '78" vol. 4".

Before we go into this deeper, let's have a look at the tapes in Adrian's collection:





These are truly fantastic cassettes. When we first chanced on the VFM releases a few weeks ago, it was a bit of a puzzle as to what was going on - the cassettes are so rare that even finding out what was released was impossible. The burning question was ... were these tapes a regular series, or were they released as ready-made collections, like typical box-sets.

The answer, so far as we can tell from Adrian's scans, is more towards the latter - which is to say, they were not a regular series with new installments released at intervals. I'll give you my logic below.

This is the printed inner of VFM's "Hit Parade '77 col. 5" (click to enlarge):


It will be noted that several more tapes like these are advertised inside. This enables us to fill out several gaps in our listing. For the record, and with reference to the above listings, here's the discography of VFM's relevant cassettes, as known to us today...

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THE BEST OF 1976 (VCA 013)


Dancing Queen / Don't Go Breaking My Heart / Rhinestone Cowboy / Una Paloma Blanca / When Forever Has Gone / Save Your Kisses For Me / Fernando / Beautiful Noise / Money, Money, Money / Sailing

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HIT PARADE '77 vol. 1 (VCA 015)


Rock Bottom / Red Light Spells Danger / Lay Back in the Arms of Someone / My Kinda Life / Tear Me Apart / Another Suitcase in Another Hall / I Don't Want To Put A Hold On You / Going In With My Eyes Open / Moody Blue / Southern Nights / When / Sunny

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HIT PARADE '77 vol. 2 (VCA 021)


The Shuffle / Free / Hotel California / You Don't Have to Be a Star / Sir Duke / Pearl's a Singer / Have I the Right / Whodunit / How Much Love / Oh Boy / Another Funny Honeymoon

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HIT PARADE '77 vol. 3 (VCA 022)


The First Cut is the Deepest / I Don't Want to Have to Talk About It / A Star Is Born (Evergreen) / Tokyo Joe / Lucille / Too Hot to Handle / Lido Shuffle / Good Morning Judge / Got to Give Up / Rendezvous / It's A Game

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HIT PARADE '77 vol. 4 (VCA 024)


Show You the Way / Baby Don't Change Your Mind / Telephone Line / So You Win Again / Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy / Sam / Rhapsody / Kyrila / Don't Let Go / Feel the Need / Disco Inferno / Ma Baker

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HIT PARADE '77 vol. 5 (VCA 033)



I Remember Elvis Presley / Telephone Man / Oxygene / Wondrous Stories / I Remember Yesterday / Best of my Love / Cool Out Tonight / Lets Clean Up the Ghetto / Thunder In My Heart / Down Deep Inside

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HIT PARADE '77 vol. 6 (VCA 034)


Silver Lady / Black is Black / Waiting in Vain / Sunshine After the Rain / Float On / Nobody Does It Better / Think I'm Gonna Fall In Love With You / Magic Fly / Another Star / From New York To LA

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HIT PARADE '78 vol. 4 (VCA 066)



Giving Up Giving In / Darlin / Instant Replay / Eve of War / Picture This / Rat-Trap / McArthur Park / Sandy / Again and Again / Where Did Our Love Go

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HIT PARADE 79 vol. 1 (VCA 080)



Forever in Blue Jeans / Heaven Knows / I Was Made For Dancin' / My Life / Can You Feel The Force / Lucky Number / Oliver's Army / I Will Survive / Tragedy / I Want Your Love / Don't Stop Me Now / Fire

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By checking the vintage of the hits, we can see that they do at first seem to fit the pattern of a regular series. "The Best of 1976" is just that, and was presumably the first such release from VFM.

When it comes to "Hit Parade '77", we have listings for all six in the set, and the tracks cover successive periods in the charts of that year - vol. 1 circa April; vols. 2 and 3 circa June; vol. 4 circa August; vols. 5 and 6 circa November.

The others follow the same pattern. "Hit Parade '78 vol. 4" contains tracks from the very end of that year, so looks like it could be the fourth of four from 1978, while "Hit Parade 79 vol. 1" has hits which all date to around April 1979.

So, clear enough you may think - but...

What proves to me that these are not a regular series is that the same printed inner can be found on the VFM cassette, "The Hits of the Shadows". The catalogue number of this album is VCA 016. This means it was sequenced between volumes one and two of "Hit Parade '77" - and since it contains track details for volumes three and four (VCA 022 and VCA 024), they must have all been released at once; if three and four were yet to be, they could not be itemised on VCA 016.

This all but proves the hit covers tapes were not released sequentially. While it's possible they were released in batches (in fact, quite likely) my hunch is that the tracks were deliberately selected in chronological order, to make the story of each year as it goes.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about this, and if I am, I will be happy to learn more from anyone who knows! It would be truly amazing to find another regular series which has escaped us for so long, but personally, I think the odds are against. If you disagree with my logic, leave a message!

My thanks to Adrian Chappell for the scans and info.


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