Saturday, March 2, 2019

Top of the Poppers ... featuring Alan Caddy ?!?

Surely some mistake? Well, read on...

Over in New Zealand, Top of the Pops recordings were originally issued on a local version of the Hallmark label. Then, in the mid-1970s, Music World took over - the label having been created by budget record entrepreneur, Hoghton Hughes.

Before and after the switch, New Zealand tended not to simply re-issue the UK albums, but instead create their own collections, many of which plugged specific artists in the titles - so, for example, we find albums with novel names such as, 15 Hits of Slade, T Rex, Sweet, 20 Hits of Abba and Other Great Groups, and 20 Hits of the Wombles and Other Pops for Children.

All good fun, of course, and fitting in with these was the 1973 LP, The Top of the Poppers Present Elvis Gold: 16 of The King's Greatest Hits. Here's the cover:

This album was issued by Hallmark New Zealand, before Music World became involved. What's odd, is that even by the close of 1973, The Top of the Poppers only had 13 cover versions of Elvis hits to compile. Yet the album promises 16 titles - so how did they do that?

The answer may surprise you - the album contains only three Top of the Pops recordings ("Polk Salad Annie"; "I'm Leavin'" and "Burning Love"). The rest of the tracks? One was borrowed from Hallmark's Revived 45s album (and was previously issued as a 45 on the Embassy label) - namely, "Surrender" - but the other 12 consist of the whole of this LP:

Yes, indeed. The bulk of the New Zealand album purporting to be by the Top of the Poppers actually had nothing to do with them! For those who don't know, Ross McManus was a modestly successful singer better known today for the fact that he was Elvis Costello's father. (This album was once re-issued on CD as Elvis's Dad Sings Elvis!)

(Bear with us, we're getting to the Alan Caddy bit...)

Come 1975, the Music World label had superseded Hallmark New Zealand, so far as Top of the Pops was concerned, and among the many interesting records which were issued, was this one - The Top of the Poppers Present Elvis' 20 Golden Hits.

Now, the proprietors of this blog, and the Top of the Pops fan website, have known about the LP for several years. But without full scans of the cover and labels, we did not know the track listing - until now. Buying Top of the Pops albums from such far-flung places is an expensive hobby, so when a copy turned up on Ebay from a UK seller, at a bargain price, we felt we should snap it up. What we discovered came as a surprise...

This LP contains all the material on the earlier New Zealand record, but contains four additional tracks: "Promised Land"; "Fool"; "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" and "Rags To Riches". All of these songs were to be found on earlier Top of the Pops albums, so one might suppose they were the source.

Well in fact, that was true for three of them - "Promised Land"; "Fool" and "Rags To Riches". But when it comes to "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", the Music World label eschewed the Poppers' recording from volume 15, and substituted a completely different soundalike cover version. Some intrepid detective work (ie, we listened to it) revealed this is none other than the recording by Alan Caddy, which was originally released in 1971 on the following Avenue label LP:

So what's the deal? We have to confess, we have no idea. Firstly, there's no obvious reason why the bona-fide Top of the Pops version would be ignored; and secondly, how did Music World manage to get the master tape of Alan Caddy's recording? And could the switch somehow have been a mistake? It's hard to see how!

Whatever the story, this is a possibly unique example of an Alan Caddy track being issued under the name The Top of the Poppers!

We might also mention that research into overseas releases is not always easy, and it's often the case that one discovery leads to more. In this instance, we were able to identify three other Top of the Poppers releases from the listing on the back:

 Hopefully, one day, copies of these will also surface.  Maybe they too hold surprises for us...

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