New Books – Record Mirror and Billboard

One of the things I really enjoy doing is researching a chart that has either been overlooked or not researched in the same way that I can.  Both of these are true for the two new books I’m going to discuss today.  

Record Mirror

The first book is the third version – and definitive version – of my Record Mirror chart book.  My first version was issued in 2017, and was, I think, my second chart book. I created a new version in early 2023 and do not think I issued it as I kept finding issues with the book as new scans would come to light and new information and so I decided to scrap it entirely and start again. I have not done that before, but I think this was needed as this version that I have no arrived at is so much better, in my opinion. 

I am delighted to launch this new book, as it covers a whole new chart not previously researched and fully researches the Record Mirror LP chart, the first in the UK, which, again, has never been researched properly. This means that the book now covers the full history of the Record Mirror chart since 1955 right through to the end of March 1962 when they stopped compiling their own chart in favour of the Record Retailer chart. 

Record Mirror Singles

The Top 10, later 20, singles chart runs from 1955 through to 1962, covering pretty much the whole Skiffle era, the rise of Elvis, Cliff and a host of other artists, as well as the change from the acts who dominated the early 1950’s through to the period just before the Beatles snuck onto the charts at the end of the year. 967 records by 518 artists appear, some being unique to this chart. 

The British Artists Chart

This was not a new idea, as NME had run a British Artists Chart in 1954, covering a few short weeks until they expanded their main chart from a Top 12 to a Top 20 (See the 70 Years Series issue for 1954 for a full history of that chart). The idea was a good one though, and at the end of 1955 Record Mirror started a Top 10 British Artists chart, just at the right time to cover Rock Island Line charting for the first time where it would become a Number 1 – sadly not on the main chart. The British Artists chart was a Top 10 for its entire life, finally ending in 1961. This chart is one never before researched and I do find that a shame as, apart from giving Lonnie Donegan another number 1, it does provide an interesting snapshot, particularly in the lower region, of records not yet – or never – in the national chart. By mid 1956 NME would have a Top 30, so most of these records do chart elsewhere, but the early period does offer some interesting titles for perusal.

The LP Chart

Record Mirror produced the first LP chart in 1956, 2 years before Melody Maker and while those two years of Top 5’s are now part of the official chart canon, subsequent years are not, of course, as Melody Maker had a larger chart, and those years (1958-1962) have never bene researched – until now. Some albums appear for the first time, including two I have been unable to find the durations for sadly (so maybe a 4th version of this book will be produced?) and the full history and track listing of these albums is unique to this volume. 

The Book

I’ve had a great deal of fun putting this together, and researching from original scans of the charts as printed all the data.  I’ve had some of these scans for years, but a sizable chunk where missing and to find them all I am indebted to Brian MrTibbs from UKMix for providing scans of the missing charts.  His project on UKMix to use the Dealer Charts Record Mirror printed form 1954 through to 1961 to calculate a larger chart from these including other unknown hits is a fantastic one, and one I am happy to support. The resource has proved invaluable in the creation of the book, and in ensuring that the data is as accurate as possible.

So while that volume covers data that been long un-researched, my other book covers a set of data that has been well researched, just not in the way I have done it.

The Billboard Decade Series – 1940-49

Record Research have compiled 3 versions of the 1940-1954 era of their data. The first was issued in 1973 as a paperback, covering the Best Sellers In Stores chart only from 1940 to October 1955 and listing just Artist, Title, Label, Cat Number and of course Peak, Weeks and Entry date. The second was issued in 1994, adding the Juke Box and Disc Jockey charts and covering only the period 1940-1954, with a cut off at the start of their 1955-current Top Pop Singles series. In this listing peaks on the three charts were shown, but weeks and peak and entry date were an amalgamation of the data from those three constituent charts. I really love the Record Research books, but this is the one area I dislike – but each author has the right to make the books they produce as they wish, and at least he researched the data accurately which I always appreciate. I cannot fault his books in any other aspect.  This version also failed to list the B-Sides, and song writers.  However, the 2002 version, the third and most recent, fixes both of these issues and was one of the first Record Research books I bought.  It’s a wonderful volume, still on sale, and one I recommend purchasing.

However, I always like to see the full data for a single chart together, including writer and B-Side together, like Record Research’s more recent volumes including the new 17th edition of the Top Pop Singles book. So, to that end, I created the Decade Series for the Billboard Pop Charts, and include full chart data for each of the three main charts – Best Sellers In Stores, Juke Box and Disk Jockey.  I have also included full data for the four regional charts (East Coast, Mid-West, South and West Coast) Billboard produced for the first half of the decade. None of this data has been produced anywhere else in this form. 

If you’re interested in buying my volume, then check out this page here.

It is planned that further decade books will follow, right up to the present day, but readers should also follow my 85 Years Of Billboard Charts series, which began in August 2023 and which should end in mid 2025, and will cover, at one year per volume, each year from 1940 through to the then current 2025. 

If you are interested in purchasing, then please do, and keep checking back as I have other chart books on the way – including a Top 200 for the 1980’s for the very first time!

2 replies on “New Books – Record Mirror and Billboard”

    1. Yes, and it’s a wonderful resource. I have scans of all the Music Week charts and many full issue images as well, but it’s good to highlight that resource.

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