Monday, 9 April 2012

Longform history

As is occasionally the case when there's no better ideas, a look at the album chart from this week in 1977:

1 Frank Sinatra - Portrait Of Sinatra
Subtitled Forty Songs From The Life Of A Man, even though he wasn't dead yet. 40 tracks long, possibly UK only.

2 ABBA - Arrival
Released in November 1976, it had one week at the top in January, dipped out of the top ten and then had a sudden resurgence off the back of Knowing Me Knowing You and had another nine weeks atop, not falling out of the top 40 until May 1978. Is the cover meant to represent a jetset lifestyle or an unusual method of hostage taking?

3 The Shadows - 20 Golden Greats
No sooner had they split up then EMI put out a hits collection so successful it forced their hand into reformation. You'll see the Shadows quite a bit when we get to the early 80s.

4 The Hollies - Hollies Live Hits
Not just the hits, the hits played live! Recorded in Christchurch Town Hall, New Zealand too. Sounds more like a hopeful budget release than a top five album.

5 Various Artists - Heartbreakers
Another one off the K-Tel production line, 20 already superannuated weepies.

6 Leo Sayer - Endless Flight

7 Pink Floyd - Animals
Battersea Power Station iconising, Richard Wright annoying, Johnny Rotten hated.

8 Cliff Richard - Every Face Tells A Story
As you'll know from his last T-shirt.

9 John Denver - Best Of John Denver Vol.2

10 ABBA - Greatest Hits
You can get this on CD, surely rather pointlessly given the Gold franchise.

11 Status Quo - Live

12 The Manhattan Transfer - Coming Out
"The group downplayed the "nostalgic" tenor of their previous breakthrough album in favor of more contemporary songs". What must they have been like before, then? Ringo Starr and Dr John feature on one song.

13 Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
As we meet this leviathan for the first time it's, well, not doing so well, out of the top ten after six weeks. It'll take until September to break into the top three and January 1978 to go top. Just the 471 weeks in the top 100 to go.

14 Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel
His solo debut. Clearly.

15 David Soul - David Soul

16 Bryan Ferry - In Your Mind
His first solo album of original material, featuring what looks like someone else's hurredly reprinted album cover.

17 Studio Cast - Evita

18 David Bowie - Low
Entered at 2, basically fell like a stone.

19 Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

20 Glenn Miller - The Unforgettable Glenn Miller

21 Showaddywaddy - Greatest Hits
After only three albums, one of which peaked at 41.

22 Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works

23 Bad Company - Burnin' Sky

24 Eagles - Hotel California
The forthcoming release of the title track would take it back up to number two.

25 Lena Martell - The Best Of Lena Martell

26 T.Rex - Dandy In The Underworld
Their last album, out of the top 75 within three weeks. Steve Harley and The Dream Academy's Nick Laird-Clowes feature on backing vocals.

27 Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life

28 Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971-75
Sells in famously ridiculous numbers in America, but even here it didn't leave the top 50 between March '76 and November '77.

29 Original Soundtrack - A Star Is Born
The Streisand/Kristofferson version, which would eventually spend two weeks on top.

30 Iggy Pop - The Idiot
A new entry that immediately fell out of the published chart, of course, but Bowie's reputation still had some leeway.


Angelo Gravity said...

My mum had both the Abba albums so I ended up listening to them a lot. All the tracks on Arrival could have been hit singles, several were potential number ones ~ My Love My life; When I Kissed the Teacher; That's Me, in particular. A Fabbaulous album for sure :-)

Loved the front cover of the Greatest Hits album - with two of em snogging and the other two who can't even bear to look at each other.

Angelo Gravity said...

I meant some of the tracks that were not released as singles could have been big hits ~ I guess they did release three which was quite a lot in those days from the one album.

wilberforce said...

simon, i presume you're being flippant about "peter gabriel" being the man's solo debut - as rock historians well know, his first four albums were ALL called "peter gabriel"...

something else of note: the proliferation of best of/greatest hits compilations (sinatra/shadows/john denver/abba/glenn miller/showaddywaddy/lena martell/eagles), thus dispelling the perhaps misty-eyed notion that back in those days it was all about releasing original material...

Bobby Morrow said...

I felt Dandy In The Underworld was a bit of a return to form for T.Rex. The previous 2 albums, Futuristic Dragon and Bolan's Zip Gun, were a bit spotty, though the former does include the fabulously stupid New York City.

Always thought it strange that there seemed to be no sales increase at all for Bolan's stuff after his death in September. You'd have expected some of his old singles to get a re-release...

Great to see blockbuster albums like Rumours, Arrival, Hotel California and even Endless Flight beginning their chart lives. Cliff's newie charting high, though it didn't live to to I'm Nearly Famous LP from the previous year. Looking forward to the Green Light album/T shirt in 1978!

Arthur Nibble said...

I managed to get the "Green Light" album signed by Cliff in person. I'm not a Cliff fan, but the sadly long gone record shop in my home town doubled (trebled?) as the worldwide headquarters of the Cliff Richard and Shadows fan clubs, and he did an in-store signing. I also saved up some years later to buy a Shadows gold disc for "Ghost Riders In The Sky" on sale in the shop.

Bobby Morrow said...

Aren't all the record shops gone, though? Luckily we have Amazon and iTunes to take the sting out of our loss!

Good luck getting Cliff to sign Green Light. Was he wearing a green T shirt with the logo on?!

Arthur Nibble said...

I think Cliff was indeed wearing a T-shirt with the album's name. He was very much into self-promotion in those days!

In the halcyon days, we had two record shops plus Woolworths in my home town. The last single I bought from Woolies, just before they stopped selling seven inchers, was the Crash Test Dummies' big hit. The town's main record shop was a renowned seller of punk and new wave singles, which didn't go with the old Cliff / Shadows image, but the local 'wavers weren't too fussed.

Neil Barker said...

Surprised to see Lena Martell with a "Greatest Hits", over two years before she even had a hit single!

Arthur Nibble (again) said...

I reckon there's a subtle difference between albums titled "Greatest Hits" and "Best Of". The latter could well be a collection of album tracks or favourite songs at her concerts committed to record. Lena never managed enough hits to warrant a greatest hits compilation, being a true 'one hit wonder' - one single reaching number one and no other single ever bothering the chart.

Simon said...

That Lena album had actually been in the chart since January. She was basically a cabaret singer, right?

Cliff was big in self-promotion then - you may recall his 'I'm Nearly Famous' T-shirt last year, something he and his brief US label boss Elton John managed to get a good number of celebrities to don in an early form of viral marketing.

ximeremix said...

It's so funny to see all the Best of... and Greatest hits albums in the chart. I had totally forgotten that they were in the official charts and not had their own.
Dandy/Underworld was a return to form in my mind too. Celebrate Summer and the title track were really good "Rex-y" sounding songs.
I didn't know that The Idiot ever charted!!!! Nice to see Bowie fans were there in 1977 as they are now.

Bobby Morrow said...

Low is now considered a classic Bowie LP and it's interesting to note it didn't have an especially long chart life. It had a strong lead single in Sound And Vision and I always assumed it had done better. Perhaps it was all those instrumentals on Side 2!

A good comparison to Bolan as well. How much Bowie had changed in the previous 5 year while Marc seemed to tread the same path.

I remember Celebrate Summer, his final single. Couldn't decide whether he was taking the piss or not! It is exceptionally trite but maybe he was hoping for a heatwave ala 1976 and wanted to get in first with a summer 'anthem'!

wilberforce said...

i definitely agree with bobby m - bolan was very much a 3-chord one-trick pony who would probably languish in obscurity now were it not for his premature demise, whilst bowie was the proverbial chameleon... even if he did nick most of his "innovations" from more arcane practitioners! in my ignorance, side 2 of low was certainly a revelation for me...

when nick lowe released an EP later on that year, in a riposte to the dame's album he called it "bowi", and used the same typeface for the sleeve!

David H said...

First I'd ever heard of Lena Martell was at infants' school circa 1973 when someone drew a picture of a record with her name on it, so she must have been releasing records for at least most of the decade. Never heard of her again before One Day At A Time though!

Simon said...

The next recap wil be up tomorrow evening, in case you're wondering.

Matthew Rudd said...

Arrival is on LP at my parents' house to this day. My mum knew all the words to Why Did It Have To Be Me?.

Dyonn said...

greatest hits are still included in the charts of course. it's multi-artist compilations that are separate.

Terry Nutkins said...

Heh, Endless Flight.

Charity shop special: Buy one get 'No Parlez' free.

wilberforce said...

i was looking through the bargain bin in a second-hand record shop about 10 years ago, and came across a couple of lionel richie albums marked "free - take it away"!