The Hallmark ‘Top of the Pops’ series was released in 1968, with the top session musicians and singers coming together to record the hits of the day. Fourteen years, 92 albums and millions of sales later the series came to an end, although copies of the originals continue to turn up at charity shops the country over! On 7th August 1971, the Record & Tape Retailer chart (where the official album was published) took the decision to combine both the budget and full price album charts, with the result Hallmark’s ‘Top of the Pops’ albums made an instant leap into the national charts. Four albums made the chart in all, with volumes 18 and 20 both hitting #1. So successful, indeed, was the ‘Top of the Pops’ series (and its rival ‘Hot Hits’) that on 8th January 1972, budget albums were excluded again.
In the meantime, Hallmark had also launched an annual Best Of the gathered the biggest hits of the year. Later editions were packaged with a calendar, usually featuring the same model that appeared on the cover of the album. All thirteen of these albums have been re-released, complete with an up to date poster of one of the top models of today, Katie Richmond.
Finally, after a couple of years in denial, Top of the Pops acknowledges new wave music on its 1979 collection, with covers of tracks first recorded by The Police ("Messgae In A Bottle"), Gary Numan/Tubeway Army ("Are Friends Electric"), The Boomtown Rats ("I Don't Like Mondays") and Blondie ("Sunday Girl").
And they weren't done there, also importing three new tracks for this LP, in the form of "Cars", "Ring My Bell" and "Heart Of Glass", making Best of '79 the most hard-edged LP to carry the Top of the Pops name. (These three tracks were not originally included in the main series.)
But it would be folly to suggest that 1979 was all new wave. Indeed the year's biggest hit was a gentle ballad about rabbits, Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes" replacing the disco-esque "I Will Survive" at number 1, which in turn had replaced The Bee Gees' "Tragedy".
And with Cliff ("We Don't Talk Anymore") and The Village People ("YMCA") also pitching in, it's fair to say 1979 was as varied as ever, this LP ranging across the styles as effortlessly as ever: Where else would you find Art Garfunkel and The Boomstown Rats rubbing shoulders so cosily?
On the cover: It’s like 1977 all over again! Page 3 model Carolyn Evans was requisitioned for this annual round-up, and was shot snuggling against that giant Labrador. Or is it in fact a room made entirely from shag pile carpet—into which her hair seems to be growing? Despite her revealing day job, Ms Evans made sure there was to be no repeat of the scandal of volume 16’s nipple furore by keeping her left arm securely bolted across her bosom. Phew! And to think, in that nylon roll-neck whatever-it-is, a slight movement of said arm could leave her dangerously exposed, leading to the widespread corruption of millions of teenaged boys.