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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pop annuals and the ghosts of Christmas Past

I came upon these two while sorting through some old books. The Radio Luxembourg Book of Record Stars must come from 1963 because the Beatles are in it, thought most of it's devoted to Peggy Lee, Frank Ifield and other artists who probably didn't get much Luxembourg play once they'd arrived. It's an awkward mix of PR shots accompanied by copy which purports to come from the performers and DJs. Jimmy Savile writes about his passion for country and western music. Nevill Skrimshire contributes a piece called "Categories in jazz don't matter".

Young people always looked forward to annuals but they rarely justified the anticipation. Publishers traditionally regarded them as money for old rope. The editorial was recycled from the files, the cover prices were high and they were bought by indulgent aunties for Christmas. I like to think we briefly changed that in the early 80s with the Smash Hits Yearbooks. When I look back it's amazing to see how much work we put into them: special photo sessions, very expensive "Look and learn"-style strips depicting the career of the Sex Pistols or how an edition of Top Of The Pops is put together plus features that looked back at what had happened in pop and what might happen in the future ("he'll be able to exchange video gossip with his girlfriend by computer", we wrote, looking forward to the unimaginably distant year of 1987.)

The interesting thing about them is that since they're an ephemeral item in more permanent form they tend to hang around long after the magazines have been boxed up and taken to the tip. Anyone else still got theirs?