Recently I was going through a pile of old vinyl albums, when I was rather surprised to discover a compilation that I didn’t realise was there. This was one of the Top Of The Pops compilations, which for a while were rather popular. I thought that the story was worth doing a piece about.
Top Of The Pops (which had no connection to the long-running TV series) featured some of the biggest hits around, but they were all cover versions, performed note-for-note by uncredited session musicians and soundalike singers. The first of these was released in 1968, and were produced at a fairly fast rate, with a release about every two or three months.
And to accompany these, there were also some spin-offs and best-ofs. This led to a wave of similar budget compilation albums. These are also rather famous for featuring a glamorous model on the cover. This was a popular series throughout the 70s, but this only just made it into the 80s, as sales were beginning to fall.
The arrival of compilations including Now That’s What I Call Music! were able to boast the original songs by the actual artists, and this finished off Top Of The Pops, with the 91st volume being released in 1982. There was a 92nd album released in 1985 in an attempt to try and revive the series, but this wasn’t successful, and it really was all over.
The one that I have is Volume 87, released in August 1981 (which it seems is rather rare to track down now!). This might seem a lot, but this has now been surpassed by Now, which is about to reach its 111th volume. 1981 is now considered to be A Great Time For Pop Music™, but will this be reflected in this release. All of them will come off second-best to the originals really, but some of them were rather good. All 16 tracks made the Top 40, this is what is featured (with the original act in brackets).
- “Hold Tight” (ELO) (actually called “Hold On Tight”)
- “For Your Eyes Only” (Sheena Easton)
- “Show Me” (Dexy’s Midnight Runners)
- “Ghost Town” (The Specials)
- “Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love)” (Third World)
- “Visage” (Visage)
- “(You Don’t Stop) Wordy Rappinghood” (Tom Tom Club)
- “Walk Right Now” (The Jacksons)
- “Lay All Your Love On Me” (Abba)
- “Can Can” (Bad Manners)
- “Sat In Your Lap” (Kate Bush)
- “Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)” (Spandau Ballet)
- “Body Talk” (Imagination)
- “Happy Birthday” (Stevie Wonder)
- “Backfired” (Debbie Harry)
- “Green Door” (Shakin’ Stevens)
Among my favourites are “Wordy Rappinghood”, “Sat In Your Lap”, “Chant No. 1”, and “Backfired”.