saucy cover?

Groove, groove, groove…

Come on then, own up! Anyone in the UK over 40 and into pop music as a kid probably remembers the Top Of The Pops albums. Nothing to do with the Beeb’s TV series, these were budget albums full of chart hits – albeit with a difference; they were all close cover versions recorded by session men, who would turn out an entire album’s worth in a day long stint in the studio. Two weeks later a finished album was in the shops. The label tried to predict which singles would be in the charts and transcribed them from disc. The volume shown here from 1971 includes their fascinating version of Strange Kind Of Woman, and gives you an idea of just what an oasis in sea of MOR madness a Deep Purple single was back then – up against the likes of Jack In The Box, Bridget The Midget, Rose Garden and many, many more. As a real rock snob at the time, I wouldn’t have given records like this house room, despite the very saucy sleeve photo (and the use of a purple colour theme for the design – perhaps the graphics guy was a fan), but at 75p for a lot of teenagers they were a way into the world of record buying, in the same way that 24 Carat Purple was a useful budget introduction to collecting Deep Purple. They were also so successful that they topped the album charts for a time, even keeping Led Zep off the top spot one time, until the big boys got together and got them banned from the ‘real’ charts.

Today it’s a different matter, and I own a complete run of all 91 volumes of this series, which is no small task given some of the later ones now fetch three figure sums due to their scarcity (I struck lucky on charity shop hunts!). And that’s why the record is here. If I see the albums in excellent condition, which this one is (most were owned by young kids and often got very bashed about), I generally pick them up, replace slightly less minty copies, and send those back to the charity shop. It won’t get me an OBE but it keeps the world ticking over.

Top Of The Pops (which began in the late sixties and ran through into the mid-80s) were the first album series to introduce a regular release schedule, and to flaunt the cover girls (which let’s be honest is for many the reason they are now such fun to collect).

Plus our new publishing venture are releasing a book on the whole phenomena at the end of the year, written by Tim Joseph, a long (long!) time DTB reader. He’s been beavering away on this even longer than Nigel’s DP gig diary, so it’ll be good to have it finally out. Tim and me were interviewed for a Radio 2 documentary on the albums late last year, there’s a Record Collector feature due soon and even an exhibition planned. So consider this a shameless plug as well! (www.easyontheeyebooks.wordpress.com)

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