Tuesday, 31 March 2015

When Records Were Released In The UK

Dating 45 rpm Records

One of the big problems I have in sorting out the old Real Charts is knowing when a 45 record or single or EP, or for that matter a 78, was released in the UK. Often you can track them down to the month, but tracking them down to the week is another question.
Of course it's very easy to track down when a record made the official charts. As each chart is dated. But that doesn't mean that a record was released the week before the chart was published. In fact records might have been around for months or longer before they finally get a chart entry. So how do we find out what week a record was released?
Well there are two main ways. The first is the promotional record. These were sent out to Radio Stations and other places that could help sell the records when released. They were not for sale to the general public! Many of the carried a date or a sticker with the date on. CBS were very good at this. as this example shows. Note the different design to the normal single the public would buy.
The large "A" wasn't indicating the A side, but stands for "Advanced". This was common to all labels. But not all of these promo copies carried a date as this example shows:
And even if it does carry a date, it doesn't mean that the record company stuck to it. The release could be delayed by many weeks. Even sometimes being cancelled completely if feedback was negative or the record wasn't being played by Radio Stations or Club DJ's.  
The second method of dating records are new release sheets sent out to record stores. Again these are not always accurate as dates were changed again. An example from 1965 is shown below. The Trade Magazine's such as Music Week or it's former life as Record Retailer also carried new release information. But there is no On-Line source for these. And back issues are rare and expensive. You can view them, but only in the difficult to get to and "rule" restrictions of the British Library in London. I once asked them for the weekly Music Week new release pages for just 1976 and if they could be copied and sent to me. The quote back from them was several hundred pounds! 

The only other method is generally restricted to Label Catalogues issued on a commercial basis. However I have not seen any that date the release to the week, only to the month. They are not to dissimilar to the Record Labels of The 70's website - the link of which can be found on this blog. That also dates them to the month.   
One of the best on-line sites is the excellent 45 Cat. Many of their members have included the weekly dates of records, from the above methods. The one problem is that the information is not always easy to get. For you have to select the filter option, then select the date records were issued. So you need to which days records were issued on. Then select the UK from a long list of Countries. You can then press search. And it will come up with the results. Providing less than 100 records were released on that date, you should get the known release date for the day in question. However not all records are given the weekly dates on the site. So you might have to go for just the month, leaving the day blank. This will almost certainly give you more than the 100 records allowed, as it doesn't filter out the "dated" records. There is a way around this using the site options for display, earliest and latest options, but there is a lot of fiddling about to do it. Even when you have the results the format of the display isn't good for copying the text off the website, as names are links to the artists themselves. You have to click the record itself, to get to something you can extract text from. 
So what I've decided to do is extract the new release information from the 45 Cat website for you, and myself, with each week listed and the month ones also. The text is in the same format of what I do the charts with, with artist names then the title in italic. Also included is level of ownership by 45 Cat members, which is a good indication of how well a record might have sold! 
The first of the new release files is for 1970 and others will follow soon. However I should point there will be some records missing from this list. Mostly any records that only carry the year of release and no month or week. Due to the 100 limit it would be impossible to extract these. Also because a record was issued with a date of 1970 on it doesn't mean it was issued that year. Indeed many records were continuing to be released nearly halfway into the year of 1971 with that year on. And many records dated 1969 were issued in 1970 likewise. Also missing are records that were not issued or known to be withdrawn from sale early on and anything that wouldn't have made the charts anyway. Only A sides are listed with no record labels or numbers.
The second to be done is 1965 following on from the requests by users of 45 Cat as to which ones to do next. Featured are the Beatles singles, plus John Lennon's father!!! Plus of course John Barry's Thunderbirds Theme! 
I now have completed the releases for 1966. Since I started doing this 45 Cat have introduced an extra category(s) under the search procedure. One of which is the most "owned". On the 1966 list I was able thus to this on the weekly sections (but not the monthly one) so they are listed with most owns fist. As 45 Cat also states if the record entered the "Official" Top 50, I was able to make a note of all the owns to the top 50 positions. This information doesn't actually feature in the PDF file below, but it is interesting. For example records making number 50 varied between 11 and 21 owns. However one of the records that made 49 had 45 owns on it! Further up the chart the number 10 hits had between 46 to 90 owns on them. Ownership levels over 100 don't start till number 6, where one record had 112 owns, however another 6 hit had just 36 owns on it. Number 2 hits varied from 55 to 141.
Number one records clocked in at 68 to 151. The highest figure for a record for 1966 owns on 45 Cat. Belonging of course to the Beatles Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby.
Interestingly enough no records made the positions 35, 30 and 29 in the top 50 that year! 
There are again some real gems in the 1966 file, such as the weird group the Master Singers. Who perform odd things sung in the style of a church choir! They record the Highway Code first, then tried the Telephone Directory! But that record had to withdrawn when the Post Office objected to it for copyright reasons!! They didn't give up and sang the Weather Forecast instead!
The 1974 one also features the Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown calling himself Errol Flynn! And the big band Mud who released Tiger Feet, later in the year issuing a record calling themselves "Dum"!!!  The best thing about the 1974 one is that the "monthly list" is massively reduced and in some cases the month list has nearly all the records dated in some way. 
The latest to be added is 1967. The year of Flower Power and when Radio One started.     
If you know of any additions or correct dates for the above records, please comment below.

Early Record Dates
During sometime in the early 1960's new singles began to be issued on a weekly basis. The day set for this was a Friday, though it was not set in stone! I haven't been able to pin an precise date for when this happened, but it seems the new release sheets started being issued weekly around 1962. 
Prior to this it seems ALL records were issued in the first week (in some cases the second week) of each month for the entire month. 
This might cause a problem extracting the records from the 45 Cat website, with the 100 results limit.
I have asked by the way for the 100 limit to be increased. It was introduced to prevent website issues. But though it might have been fine when the site was small, but it has grown that much that it is a serious limit on the accessibility of the site now. I would say for certain that more than 100 records were released each month by 1959 if not earlier. So there would be little chance of getting an accurate list of any records from about 1955 to 1962 due to the 100 limit.
It seems that the closer to the present day release information days become harder to get hold of. I have done a test of the 1981 data. It's very confusing. For one thing the Friday date is joined by the new Monday release date. It seems both were operating at the same time! And the new release booklets seem less common, giving more "monthly" dates!   

Nevertheless these concerns aside I'm certain readers will be fascinated to see what could have made the charts and did or didn't!  

1 comment:

  1. It might interest readers to know that I did try to do the 1964 new releases. However the amount of actual dated records down to the weeks when records was released on the 45 Cat website is too small to bother sorting them. There are plenty on the month, but with the limit of 100 in place it would be impossible to extract them all.