I’m standing in a circle with a group of other people, all of whom are shuffling anxiously. Everyone is looking at me. I clear my throat, and in a quivering voice say:
“My name is Stewart, and I collect records”.
Everyone claps at my honesty, and I feel relieved that my guilty secret is no longer a secret. OK, none of this is true, but it has a certain ring of authenticity, especially when I’m crawling around on the floor of a charity shop looking through a box of dusty old records. The thing is, no matter which charity shop I’m in, no matter if it is an affluent suburb of London or in a less affluent inner city or town, I see the same records time and time again. Where do they all come from? More importantly, why did people buy them in the first place?
So, I thought it would be fun to list the top 5 best selling albums in history, based on how frequently I see them in charity shops. I think it will be only a matter of time before the mainstream music charting organisations start measuring the success of an album in the same way! Come on guys, keep up!
In traditional Miss World fashion, I’ll announce the “winners” in reverse order.
No. 5 – Mantovani Golden Hits
This is a classic album full of his greatest hits..well, it must be, it says it on the front of the sleeve. If I had a pound for every time I’ve flicked through a pile of albums and found this gem, I’d have enough money to take a contract out on the music exec who thought it would be a good idea to release this album. Who actually went into their local record shop, saw this and thought, this looks good, I think I’ll buy it? I have no idea, but it is most definitely happened, and for that reason it is a solid No. 5 in this chart.
No. 4 – The Best of Top of the Pops 1973
Now, to be fair, I’ve picked the 1973 release, but in fact it could have been any number of different years, but the point is, there is no charity shop in the UK that does not have at least one copy at the back of a box somewhere. In fact, I think if you look deep enough in the small print of the rules and regulations of running and managing a charity shop, as published by the Charities Commission, there will be a clause that says if you sell records, it is a requirement that you must, at all times, have at least one Best of Top of the Pops album in stock. The other thing is, they are always in MINT condition!! I can only guess that, for some reason, they were bought but never played. Finally, and perhaps there is something slightly uncomfortable about this, everyone of the front covers has a scantily clad young lady emblazoned on it. As if the musical content was not enough to draw you in!!
No. 3 – BBC Sound Effects Effects Album
Again, there are any number of these to choose from. I assume, because they were such big sellers, the BBC churned them out for an adoring audience in ever increasing numbers. They must have been the mainstay of the BBC finances during the 60’s and 70’s, because there are literally millions of them lying around in charity shops from Lands End to Jon O Groats. It’s any wonder that The Beatles ever got to the top of the charts with the BBC releasing these bad boys every few months throughout the mid 60’s. You can just imagine John, Paul, George and Ringo celebrating the release of Sgt. Peppers only to find out that through some awful admin cock-up, its been released in the same week as the BBC’s Sound Effects 1967 block buster!!
No. 2 – Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass Christmas Album
Now, I really don’t have anything against Herb Albert or his Tijuana Brass, but why, oh why, are there so many copies of his albums in charity shops? I picked this one as an example, and also because you would be amazed at how often I have actually found it during my forays to charity shops. Again, it is always in immaculate condition, with the sleeve showing hardly any signs of wear and tear, the vinyl shiny and unmarked, and the useful and informative inner sleeve showing other releases on the “Music For Pleasure” label that you can rush out and buy, always present.
No. 1 – OST to The Sound of Music
Now, before you all start shouting that Julie Andrews is a national treasure, I totally agree with you, but this is an alternative chart of the biggest selling albums as measured by how many copies I fall over in charity shops. On that basis, this album totally deserves its place in this chart. This is a monster selling album, and it says a lot for the good folk of the UK that they have donated so many copies to so many worthwhile charitable organisations. I am no financial expert, but I would hazard a guess that many of the wonderful works carried out by charities large and small, would not have been possible without this album. I salute Julie Andrews and her band of Von Trapps, and thank her for this album. Did you know there is a singing group made up of members of the Von Trapp family called, originally enough, The Von Trapps? Will we, in years to come, find copies of their albums flooding our charity shops too? We can hope.
To finish with, let me say that I love rummaging through charity shops looking for long lost albums, but if you have a record collection you are thinking of selling, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to have a look. But please, if you have any one of these albums in your collection, the right and proper place for it is in a charity shop, and I won’t stand in your way!