Billed as “featuring live London performances of today’s top sounds”, the BBC launched Top Of The Pops in its radio version in 1964. No connection with the TV version of the show (oddly), the radio version featured bands, hit makers of the day, playing live versions of their hits and whatever other songs were deemed promotable at the time. This was in direct contrast to the TV version of the series, which capitalized on “miming” or lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks. The radio idea was to present a group of bands and artists, usually with three songs each per episode recorded exclusively for the BBC. The programs were made available worldwide via the BBC Transcription Service and were a huge hit at the time, becoming a weekly “must-listen” for fans of The British Invasion of the mid-60s.
I’m sure it seemed like a lot of hassle at the time, but it proved to be one of the most historically significant undertakings in popular music. The significance, aside from rare live performances by hit acts, was also the exposure of many lesser-known talents, in addition to offering material not otherwise commercially recorded.
Ironically, a lot had been destroyed. Master session tapes were wiped and the Transcription Service stipulated to most radio stations airing the shows that, after the license term had expired, the discs were to be returned to the BBC or destroyed by the individual radio station. So of the 500 or so discs pressed, not that many were thought to have survived over the years. Surprisingly, a sizable number have and more keep popping up every week.
Here’s a rundown of what’s on the show – see if any of the titles look familiar.
1.Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich:
4. Paul Jones:
I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing
6. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich::
The Laughing Apple
Rod Allan Interview
Thinking Ain’t For Me
12. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich:
You’ve Been A Bad Girl
13. Cat Stevens:
I Was Made To Love Her
15. Paul Jones:
Even The Bad Times Are Good
A slice of history, to be sure. Top Of The Pops from the BBC in 1967.