K SPECIAL - VA - Record Collector: The 70 Best Singles of the Last 70 Years  (4 x CD's)
Record Collector Presents... The 70 Landmark Singles of the Last 70 Years. In November 1952, the New Musical Express arrived, featuring the first published British singles chart. That same year, the first Dansette record player was produced, and the first 7", 45 rpm singles were released. To celebrate these revolutionary events, Bob Stanley, author of Let's Do It. The Birth of Pop and Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, picks the 70 pivotal singles of the last 70 years - just one per year, plus his favourite from 2022 - while Graham Gouldman of 10cc and producer extraordinaire Trevor Horn explore with Lois Wilson what makes a magic single. But first, Bob, and Martin Talbot, Chief Executive of the Official Charts Company, offer their thoughts on the subject...
"Look at the fuss Kate Bush created" by Bob Stanley.
The singles chart has been the central pillar of British pop music for seven decades. It has always seemed to mean more to this country than anywhere else, with the possible exception of America - there was no French chart, for instance, until the 80s. In the UK, it was initially used to revitalise a weekly pop mag. In 1952, Percy Dickins was one of the key players in rebranding the ailing Musical Express as New Musical Express, leaving Melody Maker to help the revived paper (he was the first, but wouldn't be the last, to switch trains). His jobs there included advertising, layout, and printing, and it was Dickins' idea to include a chart based on the sales of records rather than mimicking the sheet music charts published elsewhere. He even called the shops personally to find out what was selling, and remained on the NME's staff until 1982, by which time his singles chart had long become a national obsession.
It's gone through some changes over the years, mostly quite minor, with just the odd hiccough.
There was that week in 1976 when Manuel and his Music of the Mountains were No 1 at lunchtime but mysteriously relegated to No 3 by the time Radio One repeated the countdown at teatime. More controversially, the retrospective adoption of the Record Retailer chart as the "official" chart of the 60s first by Guinness in 1976, then later by the Official Charts Company, still causes Beatles fans - and Paul McCartney - to fume that Please Please Me was No 1 on every chart except Record Retailer's. For the record, Barry Ryan's Eloise and Acker Bilk's Stranger On The Shore was similarly denied, but Barry and Acker sadly don't have such rabid fanbases to argue their cases.
It wasn't until this century that the way the charts were collected and collated began to change quite dramatically. The UK singles chart had always been proudly based on sales, and sales alone, rather than the Billboard Hot 100 model of mixing sales with radio and jukebox plays. The UK model began to seem unfeasible by 2002 when Daniel Bedingfield's Gotta Get Thru This reached No 1 on a puny 25,400 copies sold. Within a couple of years, the Official Charts Company had begun including downloads; when technology moved on again, and iTunes suddenly became as relevant as the wind-up gramophone, streaming was incorporated, with weighting used against older songs, so that Bowie and The Beatles didn't have a constant Top 20 presence.
A chart single doesn't need any physical format these days, let alone artwork or a video, which is a shame for us record collectors. The charts can still be a news story - look at the fuss Kate Bush created this year with Running Up That Hill. And, streaming or not, the Top 20 remains the single strongest barometer of the state of pop.
Choosing one song from each year (and yes, a nomination from this year makes it 71 in total, but it seems only right to bring it up to date), I've gone for the representative as well as the purely enjoyable. So, I'm not saying DDDBM&T are better than Dylan, just that they better fit this brief.
"For every Mr Blobby there's a Bowie" by Martin Talbot.
When the Official Singles Chart emerged for the first time 70 years ago this autumn, the nation was in a state of adjustment not dissimilar to current circumstances. The first chart was published on 14 November 1952 (the fourth birthday of the then Prince Charles) and Queen Elizabeth II was only nine months into her record-breaking reign. As has been much discussed in recent weeks, the late monarch reigned through a period of huge change in British life and culture; indeed, she presided over the entire history of popular music to date, from Al Martino to Ed Sheeran, 78rpm discs to on-demand audio streams and spanning over 1,400 Official UK No 1 singles. For most of that 70-year period, the UK's "official" chart has been the countdown which featured on BBC Radio 1, formerly on Top of the Pops and now on MTV, and has always been proudly and loudly the UK's only industry-recognised, trusted weekly barometer of what is popular in music week after week. Through hits from The Beatles to Sir Elton, The Rolling Stones to Rihanna, Kylie to Miley, and Spice Girls to Little Mix, it has crowned artist success week in, week out, across seven glittering decades. Songs from some of these artists feature in this celebratory Record Collector feature by the peerless Bob Stanley. But Bob's list is very different to any chart of the biggest singles to appear on the Official Singles Chart.
The Official Chart has always been a reflection of the tastes of the nation, in all their varied (and sometimes surprising) glory. Bob's personal list of the greatest chart hits of all is fascinating in highlighting that, while the weekly verdict of the great British public might sometimes raise eyebrows, they are right more often than not - for every Mr. Blobby, Stars on 45 or Crazy Frog, the Official Singles Chart has given us iconic, ground-breaking music from the likes of Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, 10cc, Donna Summer, David Bowie, The Specials, Stone Roses, Madonna, Gnarls Barkley and Daft Punk among many others.
That Bob's list could reflect on both Elvis and Justin Bieber, The Beatles and Girls Aloud, perhaps says volumes about the eclecticism and joy of the Official Singles Chart. No genre or artist is barred from the Chart. It is, after all, the British public who decide.
Although it is promoted as 70 landmark singles, the list actually features 73 songs as a couple of records were double 'A' sides.
I've compiled these truly excellent choices into a 4CD set, making absolutely certain all tracks are the 100% original 7" and CD single versions as they originally appeared on the charts at the time in each year. Bob Stanley also lists three 'bubbling under' selections for each year, totaling 213 tracks, which will follow in a second set to be posted shortly.
The complete Record Collector magazine from November 2022, featuring write ups on every single in this list is included below as a high-res PDF file.
Following this great post will be VA - The Complete UK Number 1 Singles: 70 Years of the Official Singles Chart 1952-2022 . This is a massive set and will be split into decades.
BB says - "Please thank 'K' for his contribution of this K Special presentation"
01 Mario Lanza Feat. Constantine Callinicos And The Jeff Alexander Choir Because You're Mine 3:29
02 Frankie Laine Hey Joe! 2:22
03 Bill Haley & His Comets Shake, Rattle and Roll 2:31
04 Fats Domino Ain't That a Shame 2:24
05 Gene Vincent And His Blue Caps Race With the Devil 2:02
06 Lonnie Donegan Gamblin' Man 3:14
07 Eddie Cochran Summertime Blues 2:00
08 Cliff Richard And The Shadows Travellin' Light 2:36
09 Cliff Richard And The Shadows Dynamite 1:56
10 Elvis Presley A Mess of Blues 2:40
11 Elvis Presley The Girl of My Best Friend 2:25
12 John Leyton Johnny Remember Me 2:37
13 The Beatles Love Me Do (Original 1962 7" Mono Single Version) 2:22
14 The Ronettes Baby, I Love You (Original 1963 7" Mono Single Version) 2:50
15 Dionne Warwick Walk on By (Original 1964 7" Mono Single Version) 2:53
16 The Rolling Stones Get Off of My Cloud (Original 1965 7" Mono Single Version) 2:55
17 The Four Tops Reach Out I'll Be There (Original 1966 7" Mono Single Version) 3:00
18 Pink Floyd Arnold Layne (Original 1967 7" Mono Single Edit) 2:54
19 Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich The Legend of Xanadu 3:37
20 Fleetwood Mac Oh Well, Part 1 (Original 1969 7" Mono Single Version) 3:32
21 Deep Purple Black Night (Original 1970 7" Single Version) 3:25
22 Sly And The Family Stone Family Affair 3:05
23 T. Rex Children of the Revolution 2:29
24 Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes The Love I Lost, Pt. 1 (Original 1973 7" Single Version) 3:36
25 David Bowie Rebel Rebel 4:30
26 10cc I'm Not in Love (Original 1975 UK 7" Single Version) 6:00
27 Sex Pistols Anarchy in the UK 3:32
28 Donna Summer I Feel Love (Original 1977 GTO UK 7" Single Version) 5:55
29 The Human League Being Boiled (Original 1978 Fast Product 7" Single Version) 3:50
30 Blondie Union City Blue 3:20
31 Dexys Midnight Runners There, There, My Dear 3:15
32 The Specials Ghost Town (Original 1981 7" Single Edit) 3:38
33 Abc All of My Heart (Original 1982 7" Single Edit) 4:49
34 Shannon Let the Music Play (Original 1983 7" Single Edit) 3:33
35 New Order Thieves Like Us (Original 1984 7" Promo Edit) 3:56
36 Prince Raspberry Beret 3:32
37 Pet Shop Boys Love Comes Quickly (Original 1986 7" Single Version) 4:19
38 Terence Trent D'arby Wishing Well 3:31
39 S'express Theme from S-Express (Original 1988 7" Single Version) 3:55
40 The Stone Roses She Bangs the Drums (Original 1989 7" Single Mix) 3:42
41 Madonna Vogue (Original 1990 7" Single Mix) 4:20
42 Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit 5:01
43 Shut Up And Dance Feat. Peter Bouncer Raving I'm Raving (Original 1992 12" Banned Single Version) 5:08
44 Björk Venus as a Boy (Original 1993 7" Single Edit) 4:06
45 Oasis Supersonic 4:43
46 Pulp Common People (Original 1995 7" Single Edit) 4:05
47 Spice Girls Say You'll Be There 3:56
48 The Chemical Brothers Block Rockin' Beats (Original 1997 12" Single Version) 4:53
49 Brandy & Monica The Boy Is Mine (Radio Edit) 4:00
50 Christina Aguilera Genie in a Bottle 3:36
51 Sweet Female Attitude Flowers (Sunship Edit) 3:48
52 Outkast Ms. Jackson (Radio Mix) 3:59
53 The Libertines Up the Bracket 2:38
54 Kelis Milkshake 3:01
55 The Streets Dry Your Eyes 4:31
56 Girls Aloud Biology 3:36
57 Gnarls Barkley Crazy 2:59
58 Mark Ronson Feat. Amy Winehouse Valerie (Single Edit) 3:37
59 Britney Spears Piece of Me 3:32
60 Jay-z Feat. Alicia Keys Empire State of Mind 4:37
61 Rihanna Only Girl (In the World) 3:55
62 Chase & Status Feat. Liam Bailey Blind Faith (Original) 3:40
63 Lana Del Rey Born to Die 4:45
64 Daft Punk Feat. Pharrell Williams Get Lucky (Radio Edit) 4:07
65 Taylor Swift Blank Space 3:51
66 Drake Hotline Bling 4:27
67 Justin Bieber Love Yourself 3:52
68 Calvin Harris Feat. Frank Ocean & Migos Slide 3:52
69 Ariana Grande thank u, next 3:27
70 Aj Tracey Ladbroke Grove 3:10
71 Billie Eilish my future 3:28
72 Lizzo Feat. Cardi B Rumors 2:52
73 Beyoncé Break My Soul 4:38