The Missing Charts – 4 missing albums (Part 2)

This is a series of posts looking at four missing weeks in the UK Album charts from the 1960’s.  This week, the second error in 1969 and how this came to be found after fifty years.

Through The Past Darkly

An adaptation of UK Album Chart History, in light of some new evidence.

Written, researched and compiled by Lonnie Readioff

1969 was a tumultuous year for the UK Album chart.  It was turning 14 years old, having been started by Record Mirror in 1956, and entered the difficult teenage years rather badly.  In February the chart began to be referred to as the National UK Chart, compiled as it was by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB).  They had been tasked by Record Retailer, Record Mirror, Billboard and the BBC to produce an accurate countdown of the best selling singles and albums each week in the UK, as it was felt that an Official chart should be produced.

Initially the setup was that 300 record shops, spread throughout the UK, should fill in diaries with the catalogue number of the record they had just sold.  These would then be posted, at the close of Saturday, to the BMRB and they would, on the following Monday, type these into their computer and calculate a Singles Chart and then an Album chart.  This would be sent to the BBC on Tuesday for announcing on Tuesday lunchtime and then printed in Record Retailer and others by the following Saturday. 

Issues surrounding chart compilation are not within the scope of this work, but it was clear within a few weeks that the BMRB could not compile both charts accurately by the Tuesday deadline.  So a decision was reached to compile the Singles chart quickly, and then compile the Albums at a slower pace.  This appears, from conjecture, to have been done from 15 March, as the 15 March and 8 March charts printed everywhere are identical, once issues surrounding Budget releases are taken into account (But that’s for Part 3 of this series)

So by September 1969, a pattern had been formed.  The Singles Chart would arrive for publication on the Tuesday, and the Albums on the Wednesday or possibly Thursday.  Again, that it arrived at those times is conjecture, but seems a logical assumption to make.  Sometimes this would be before the publication deadline and sometimes it would not be.  And the sometimes before is the reason for this article.

On 4 October 1969 Record Retailer printed a Top 40 (the Top 20 and Albums 21-40 without last week positions, but containing weeks on chart.)  This chart stated that the Beatles were new at Number 1 with Abbey Road.   The top 10 of this chart is shown below.

# Artist Title
1The BeatlesAbbey Road
2Blind FaithBlind Faith
3Johnny CashAt San Quentin
4MantovaniThe World Of Volume 2
5The Rolling
Stones
Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)
6Ray ConniffHis Orchestra His Chorus
His Singers His Sound
7Bob DylanNashville Skyline
8Jim ReevesAccording To My Heart
9MantovaniThe World Of
10Val DoonicanThe World Of

The problem is that this chart contained, as printed, last week positions that did not correspond to the previous weeks chart at all and week counts that were all wrong by one.  One or two may be considered a printing error, as did happen. Many times in the 1950’s and 1960’s Billboard, printed the incorrect last week position for one or two placings across it’s many charts and no magazine or publication can be completely free of such errors.  Equally some records did have week count errors due to mistakes or forgetfulness on the part of the printers or compilers in the days before computers and databases.

But the chart had never been printed with the entire chart having the wrong last week positions.

The following week, 11 October, Record Retailer split the charts into two – a Top 25 “Top Albums” (with, curiously, no last week positions but a set of weeks on chart that where identical to the previous chart printed on 4 October) and a Top 15 “Bargain LP’s” chart, excluding Budget releases (again with no last week positions but week counts matching what had been printed the week before.)  Removing the Bargain LP’s form the printed 4 October chart produced the chart for 11 October exactly.  

The chart books have, over the years, taken the view (in my opinion) that the printed chart in Record Retailer is correct and it is the right chart.  But they did not look closely at the last week positions or the week counts and did not look at Record Mirror.

From 1962 Record Mirror printed the Singles Top 50 and Albums charts as compiled by Record Retailer.  In one or two instances they printed a chart that Record Retailer compiled but did not print itself and from 1969, as stated above, they also printed the official BMRB chart. On 27 September they printed a chart matching that printed in Record Retailer.  On 4 October they did not, instead printing a chart which is identical to the last week positions shown on the Record Retailer printed chart for 4 October.

Record Mirror Top 10 as printed on 4 October 1969.  From the authors personal collection.
Record Retailer Top 10 as printed on 4 October.  Note the last week positions corresponding to the Record Mirror chart. From the authors personal collection.

Chart history, therefore, shows that the Rolling Stones had a number 1 with “Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)” becoming the 72nd UK Number 1 album.  This drops the Beatles “Abbey Road” to only having 11 weeks at number 1 in 1969, instead of 12, and making it the 73rd UK Number 1 Album.  Although the readers of Record Mirror knew this since 1969 I’m happy that my research has finally brought to light the true number 1 album of 4 October 1969.

Graham Betts has also included this ‘new’ chart in his recent book ‘The Official Charts: The Sixties’, alongside the original and incorrect chart (Page 539 when you buy the book).  The change of chart was even mentioned in the official announcement.

‘For the first time, the Official Charts book also presents chart fans with possible alternative charts for two weeks in 1969; one which shows a possible breach of chart rules that led to budget albums being included in the chart for March 8 1969, and on October 4 1969 there is the inclusion of a chart from Record Mirror alongside that of Record Retailer which suggests a different album chart rundown.’

https://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/official-charts-announces-the-sixties-definitive-chart-books__27020/

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2 Comments

  1. 1. Excellent discovery, Lonnie! However did you find it?
    2. And how did Record Retailer manage to mess this up, and Record Mirror did not? Both of them getting the same info from BMRB. (I recall there were also issues with RR vs. RM dealing with singles breakers/bubblers that you previously uncovered)
    3. I wonder which version the BBC went with, if it mentioned albums from this week?
    4. I assume then that RR and RM agreed with each other the next week Oct 11, 1969?
    5. I wonder how many more glitches like this are out there. I guess all RR singles and albums charts should be compared against RM. You’ve probably already done that, ha…
    6. And I wonder how the Melody Maker charts in MM and Disc would compare against each other starting in 1967, and against that other music paper that began carrying the full Top 50 MM chart in 1969.
    7. Ha, should all charts be compared against the next weeks chart ‘last week positions’? This could go on forever…
    8. Cheers!

    1. I found it by going week by week and wondering why the 11 Oct was the same as 4 Oct minus Budget. Entering in the database means that I have a list of what was on the week before and the budget chart and the main chart accounted for everything that week.

      I suspect, as I said, that RR for got the chart and saved it for a week in most cases. However in this case they messed up (annual leave?) and printed the wrong one. It’s not the first time in the previous few months in 1969 that odd things had happened. A week in August had no week counts or last week positions for example.
      I don’t think the BBC mentioned album charts but I suspect that others would know if the recording existed.
      Yes both sources agree for 11 October.

      More glitches than you might imagine. For example in 1972 Jimi Hendrix and Experience was listed twice for two weeks in RR at different positions while RM listed the correct entry (Motown Vol 5 if my memory is right). Remember that in the 1960’s and 1970’s printing was not as direct as today and much had to be re typeset and so that meant errors could appear. And yes I’ve compared where there are instances I wasn’t sure about. Doesn’t always help as at times RM ran different rules to RR. Or it could be Sounds I’m thinking of here. I need to check 🙂

      Melody Maker and Disc compare very favourably. Not many errors. But then they shared a building I think so that helps minimise errors.

      Not all charts compare the last week positions – but if you think something funny is going on then yes. Be aware that all of the checking and comparison is, of course, guesswork without actual BMRB printed data. That said my article here is correct because of the logic held within.

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