12 Tops (1972 - 1976)
These albums were issued on the Stereo Gold Award label, which began life in (circa) 1969, courtesy of David Leonard ("DL") Miller, along with Monty Presky, formerly a director of Pye. Both are pioneers in the budget records field. The first relevant releases were the two “Chartoppers” LPs of 1970, which act as precursors to "12 Tops".
Eighteen months passed before “12 Tops” was properly unveiled, and it went on to become one of the most prolific covers series ever – with some 30 instalments, usually at monthly intervals. Many of the recordings on “12 Tops” crop up elsewhere – for example, the whole of volume 25 may be heard on “Pye Chartbusters volume 13”.
Early on, the contents of the albums were supplied by Coombe Music, who also supplied several other labels, accounting for the cross-overs. But in due course, Miller and Presky created their own Damont Records, who supplied Stereo Gold Award with recordings for some time, until late on, when tracks were sourced from elsewhere again – this time by Beatt International. In a few cases, Damont Records directly issued albums from the "12 Tops" series on cassette and 8-track cartridge (see below) - although the extent of these tape editions is not really known at present.
In addition to the main LPs, there was a short run of US editions with different songs. Stereo Gold Award was active until the late 1970s and had an exclusive arrangement with Woolworth’s for high-street sales.
Preliminary releases: Chartoppers 1 and 2
The first albums of this type to be released on Stereo Gold Award appeared over the summer of 1970, and were called "Chartoppers". Elton John appears on the first of these. The second and last one duplicated three tracks from the first, and not all the hits were current - indicating that the label was not too committed to the format at that point.
All Right Now / Lola / The Wonder Of You / Lady D'Arbanville / In The Summertime / Natural Sinner / Neanderthal Man / Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours / Big Yellow Taxi / It's All In The Game / Up Around The Bend / American Woman
In The Summertime / The Wonder Of You / Yellow River / Let It Be / Lola / Back Home / Spirit In The Sky / Wand'rin' Star / Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) / You Can Get It If You Really Want / All Kinds Of Everything / Two Little Boys
No standard end-of-year round-ups are known from the otherwise prolific "12 Tops" series. However we have discovered that at least one such collection exists on the 8-track cartridge format. It dates to 1973, and although a few other 8-tracks are known from the main series (see above), they are later. This may or may not be a one-off when it comes to annual round-up colllections - we do not know.
1973: "Top 20 1973" (Y8 DAM 400)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road / Young Love / Rubber Bullets / Can The Can / Blockbuster / Cum On Feel The Noize / Monster Mash / Yesterday Once More / Get Down / I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am) / See My Baby Jive / Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree / Goin' Home / Hello Hello I'm Back Again / The Twelfth Of Never / Tweedle Dee / And I Love You So / Daniel / The Ballroom Blitz / Part Of The Union
Comments: Released on 8-track cartridge, in both green and white plastic shells. Other formats not known. Contains 20 tracks from volumes 8 to 15. (Although volumes 16 and 17 were 1973, they are not sampled here, suggesting this may have appeared some time before the end of the year.) Label is Damont Records.