EVERYBODY seems to
remember these albums, some with fond memories (usually
the boys!), and others not so fond. When I was standing
at the microphone in DeLane Lea studios, (mid-70s)
singing, (in my best Norman Wisdom voice) theres
no point in asking, youll get no replyyyyy,
it would never have crossed my mind that, all these years
later, I would be taking part in a documentary on BBC TV
(shown on Xmas Eve 2000) to talk about that recording and
others, in the Top Of The Pops album series
from the 1970s. This followed on from the Mojo
magazine article, on the same subject, a few weeks
earlier. These albums regularly sold between 200,000-350,000
copies, every few weeks, and one, even reached the top of
the album charts!
"Weíre so pretty oh so pretty aahh!!"
This in turn, prompted
the major record companies to get together
and force the powers that be, to change the rules, so
that these budget albums would never appear
again in the regular pop charts!!!
Eventually K-Tel would come along with their original
artists collections, which in turn would lead to
the demise of the TOTPs albums.
To me, having just left Harmony Grass, and starting to
ease my way into the world of session singing,
they simply meant that I had a regular income, and great
experience (and a lot of fun) in the recording studio.
Twelve newly released records, chosen by a selection
committee as being potential hits, were
covered every six weeks!!
I probably gained more studio experience in five or
six of these albums than in all of the recordings we made
in the 60s.
In those days, more often than not, you had to do 3 songs
in 3 hours then you were out of there!! Not much chance
of getting good at it!
Bruce Baxter was the reason I
ended up doing the albums.
We bumped into each other at a recording studio in
London, sometime around 1970/1, and I suppose, got around
to talking about what we were doing etc.
We had met some years before, at Butlins Holiday camp at
Clacton in Essex. I was a stores clerk, and he was lead
guitar player in the Terry Young Six, doing the summer
season, in the strangely named Rock n
Calypso ballroom!! I would sometimes get up
and sing Ricky Nelson, or Cliff Richard songs with them,
and I was impressed with Bruce in particular, because he
could play the guitar solos just like James
Burton or Hank Marvin, oh, and on bass was future Shadow
Bruce told me he was now producing the T.O.T.P
albums for Pickwick, and having exchanged telephone
numbers, went our separate ways. Not too long after, I
got a call to come and do some vocals on one of these
albums. Im reliably informed (by journalist, Kieron
Tyler) that this was album number 22 (all the albums are
numbered) and I sang my first lead vocal, on a typically
duff British pop song, Chicory Tips
Son Of My Father.
I took along my team of John Perry (ex
Castaway and Grapefruit) and Ken Gold (who not too many
years later would write the classicYou
To Me Are Everything for the Real Thing, and some
great songs for Cliff on his Im Nearly Famous album).
I think the first sessions were at Elstree studios. This
turned out to be the first in a long line of recordings
beginning in 1971 (No.22), right through until at least
album number 64 recorded in 1978! (by this time we werent
always available to do the albums, having met up with
Bruce Welch, and Cliff, and things were starting to go
mad, touring the world with Sir Cliff, and recording with
lots of different artists, but if my sums are correct,
thats still at least 42 Top Of The Pops
albums, + The Best Ofs, i.e. Osmonds,
Simon and Garfunkel also the yearly Xmas Best
Itís number 1 Itís Top Of The Pops!
Ken Gold, John Perry, Tony Rivers