Saturday, August 16, 2008

Top of the Pops

Some Top of the Pops albums in the U.K. so perfectly encapsulate the moment they were recorded that it's like having your own private time machine. Others, though laden down with flotsam you wish you could forget, simply remind you why you stopped buying records that month.

Donny Osmond and The Partridge Family were inevitable, as hardly a week went by in the western world when one or both weren't somewhere near the top. Then, there's David Bowie's Starman to nail the chronology into place.

The July 1972 Top 40 included Slade, Gary Glitter, the Sweet, Alice Cooper, Hawkwind, T. Rex, The Kinks, Free, Wings, and B Bumble & the Stingers. It is an alternate universe that would select Dr Hook, Johnny Nash, Bruce Ruffin, and the Love Theme from “The Godfather” as a representative sampling of what the top pops really sounded like. Song for song, there are some reasonable versions included, although it will not escape the sharp-eared listener that the Osmond vocal is the blended tones of both a male and female singer, nor that the person performing Sylvia's Mother sounds a lot like the guy who also handles Rod Stewart covers.

As for true highlights, only the Jona Lewie-led Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs' one-hit wonder Seaside Shuffle, which closely resembles Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime, and Brandy by Looking Glass truly demand to be heard more than once. That leaves the remainder to creep back into relative obscurity, where they can't mess with your memory banks.

Title / Artist
Sylvia's Mother / Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do / Neil Sedaka
Mad About You / Bruce Ruffin
Circles / The New Seekers
Brandy / The Looking Glass
Puppy Love / Donny Osmond
Automatically Sunshine / The Supremes
Join Together / The Who
Love Theme from "The Godfather / Hugo Montenegro
Starman / David Bowie
Seaside Shuffle / Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs