Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Monday, 2 February 2015

Little Box Of Horrors - Part 3

This third part of Little Box Of Horrors is a bit later than intended due to a bout of the lurgi that absolutely floored me. So much so that I had zero desire to listen to any kind of music for a couple of weeks, and certainly not the type found in the scary Box. So, with strength now returned - and boy did I need it for this next record - let's resume.

First out was this rather dog-eared and much Sellotaped copy of 12 Tops - Today's Top Hits:

12 Tops - Today's Top Hits (1972)

Stereo Gold Award was founded by budget label giant David Leonard Miller, who was previously responsible for the gigantic 101 Strings series in the late 50s and early 60s, as well as other mega-cheapo releases that undercut the prices of the bigger labels. The 12 Tops series ran from 1972-76 and used cheesecake covers and a 50p price tag to sell exploito albums featuring hits of the day (much like Hallmark's TOTP albums, but even worse).

This particular record is the fourth volume in a series that put out an album every month or so during its run. You can see all 30 and read more about them here: (the site as a whole is well worth perusing, too).

It's complete dross of course; songs ruined by sub-standard sessioneers include the Bee Gees' Run To Me, Bill Withers' Lean On Me and Procul Harum's Conquistador.  The worst though are a horrible version of Rod's You Wear It Well, the singer apparently chosen for his husky voice but not his vocal ability (he sounds like he's being made to sing from beneath a thick blanket whilst suffering from acute asthma), and an atrocious Too Busy Thinking About My Baby that I'm sure even I could improve upon at karaoke.

This kind of trash sold by the truckload in the 1970s, which just goes to show that sex sells, as do pocket-money prices.

If you see it on your travels for pennies it's almost worth getting for the spiffy version of Popcorn, but otherwise best avoided.

Next out of the box was this offering from The Mike Sammes Singers:

The Mike Sammes Singers with Orchestra -
Love Is A Happy Thing (1968)

During the 1960s musician and arranger Mike Sammes, along with his troupe of trusty singers, was one of the most (if not the most) in-demand and prolific musicians of the period. They  appeared on countless pop songs, radio jingles and advertisements, TV themes and film soundtracks, most notably the Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds themes, The Beatles' I Am The Walrus and many Disney albums. The Mike Sammes singers were also the voices of Pinky & Perky and Ken Dodd's Diddymen. According to  "Virtually every "doo-doo-doo" to be heard on a pop recording made in the UK between 1955 and 1975 came out of the mouth of Sammes and his colleagues".

Singers in the group varied over time, but there were six core members (three guys and three gals) as well as Mike himself, and they specialised in delivering perfectly polished harmonies to order. Although they were terribly busy working for others (often putting in 6-day weeks with several sessions a day), they found time to make 7 albums under their own name.

Love Is A Happy Thing is chirpy easy listening of the best kind; a mainly up-tempo mixture of covers and originals, with a little bossa nova, pretty strings, a dash of big band swing and of course those oh-so-smooth vocal harmonies. It's the kind of record you'd be sure to find in the collection of Austin Powers. Have a listen to the irresistible title track to hear what I mean (I couldn't find it on youtube so digitised and uploaded it myself):

The record also features a lovely version of Up, Up And Away plus a far-out Summertime. Although it's from the Box Of Horrors, it's actually very enjoyable if you're a fan of the groovier end of easy, and if you are, you'll also love the neat album cover. Daddio.

Part 4 of Little Box Of Horrors is due shortly, but in the meantime if you missed the first two installments they can be found here:
Part 1:
Part 2:


  1. You're a brave woman, that's all I can say.

  2. have been waiting for this installment, glad you are feeling better!

  3. My experience of acquiring old boxes of records, especially if you start stumbling across Top Of The Pops albums, means there will usually be at least one copy of "The World Of Richard Clayderman" in there somewhere. How do I know? Somehow I have 4 copies on the shelf (plus sundry James Last and James Galway albums).
    Best of luck with future listening "pleasures"