K-Tel Soul Series

Goddamit, I’ve been after that Super Bad elpee for ages, for no other reason than I want to complete the set, reuniting the record with it’s younger brothers Souled Out (NE 508, 1975) and Soul Motion (NE 930, 1976).


Albums TV Related


As part of my ongoing mission to collect every dire TV theme record ever made in the 1970s, I present another three examples…




Modern Dance

No, not The Modern Dance by Pere Ubu, I’m afraid. This one is K-Tel’s stab at a New Romantic collection from 1981. The spirit of the Blitz Kidz taken to it’s ultimate commercial conclusion. Oh how Steve Strange, Rusty Egan and their gang of dandified misfits must’ve laughed…or cried…




May The Hits Be With You!

The big compilation labels of the period from roughly ’75-’83 were K-Tel and Ronco. Both labels seemed determined to avoid using ‘cheesecake’ photos of dolly-birds on their sleeves, perhaps to distance themselves from those cover version collections perpetrated by labels like Hallmark and Contour. So instead they dreamed up all sorts of visual concepts to entice passing trade in the music department at Woolworths. Some were a bit rubbish, in fact nearly all of them were. But some were kinda fun too, and this post offers three examples from the early ’80s with a distinct emphasis on sci-fi/adventure/movie imagery.

I feel sorry for the kids today…all they have are those boring downloads, or maybe a ‘Pop Party’ CD if they’re lucky. But imagine how much more exciting it would be to get one of these babies in your Christmas stocking?








K-Tel Disco (Not Disco)

I’ve already gone public with my secret devotion to K-Tel compilations, though one must call into question their somewhat dubious attempts to ride the disco bandwagon…


This example, from 1976, called ‘Disco Rocket’, does indeed feature some songs that one would call ‘disco’, including, Donna Summer‘s “Love To Love You Baby” and Tina Charles‘ “Love Me Like A Lover”, along with War‘s “Low Rider” and tracks from Jimmy James, Barry White and KC & The Sunshine Band, yet how could they justify inclusion of Pussycat‘s “Mississipi”, Randy Edleman‘s “Uptown Uptempo Woman” and other distinctly un-disco tunes from the likes of Smokie, Bay City Rollers and Manfred Man’s Earth Band? Could it be that the definition of disco was different back then? Did it merely indicate music that might be heard in a mid-seventies British night club? Or did the suits at K-Tel genuinely have no idea what they were doing?


From the following year, “Disco Fever” follows a similar course, with some genuine disco hits from acts like Baccara, Space, Rah Band and Heatwave rubbing shoulders with Brotherhood Of Man, Showaddywaddy and The Boomtown Rats (first murmerings of the New Wave creeping in there). But at least this collection did reacquaint me with Meri Wilson‘s “Telephone Man” and Joy Sarney‘s supremely bonkers duet with Mr.Punch called “Naughty Naughty Naughty”, for which I am eternally grateful.


And so to the following year, 1978, “Disco Stars” capitalises on post-Stars Wars sci-fi madness with the sleeve design, as well as kicking-off with Meco‘s discofied version of the Star Wars theme. Genuine disco is also represented by Chic‘s “Dance Dance Dance” plus the surprising inclusion of Giorgio Moroder‘s “From Here To Eternity”. But then we have 50’s revivalists Darts plus (once again) Showaddywaddy, Smokie and the Boomtown bloody Rats. And, in terms of sound, structure and sentiment, David Soul‘s “Let’s Have A Quiet Night In” must surely be the polar opposite of a disco tune.


From the same year, the “Disco Double” at least offers a package that is worthy of the title, collecting up most of the genuine disco cuts from the earlier compilations, and adding plenty more from such as Andrea True Connection, Silver Convention and Odyssey. Nice to see the inclusion of Hi-Tension‘s eponymous overlooked Brit-funk classic, and The Michael Zager Band‘s “Let’s All Chant” has aged remarkably well. I was also reminded how inherently strange and experimental Hot Chocolate‘s “Put Your Love In Me” sounded….there was a lot more to that group than just “You Sexy Thing”.

Interesting sleeve image: a firm American butt about to make contact with a pert British arse, against a Manhattan skyline. Well, I guess we always did have a special friendship with the Yanks.


Rock Anthems I & II


Those vivid Rawk Music invocations from my erstwhile colleague have had the desired effect – I need a drop of the heavy stuff, so I reach for my K-Tel Rock Anthems collections…

The ultimate thrifty acquisitions: I got these for free from my dear old mother, who bought them from new back in ’85. After her last turntable went tits-up, mum’s small collection of vinyl was gathering dust until I generously offered to take them off her hands, under the proviso that I make cd-r copies of her favourite tunes (so not really free, then – more like accepted in lieu of services rendered).

These two double-album compilations make a pretty good go of covering all the major acts and anthems – so we have Argent‘s “Hold Your Head Up”, Deep Purple‘s “Hush“, Black Sabbath‘s “Paranoid“, Blue Oyster Cult‘s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, Hawkwind‘s “Silver Machine” etc fact the only glaring omission would be Led Zeppelin (who probably refused to allow their music to appear on some shitty budget label, miserable bastards).

Looking somewhat out of place, but certainly most welcome, are Dr. Feelgood, with their pub-rock anthem “Milk & Alcohol”. But perhaps the most unusual inclusion must be “White Light, White Heat” by The Velvet Underground, a group who had yet to be fully acknowledged in the mainstream at that time. K-Tel definitely ahead of the curve on that one.

Nice gatefolds too…


Okay, I’m gonna go play these platters really loud and get down to some serious air-guitar action for the rest of the evening (or at least until the kids’ bedtime) then it’s back to the mirror balls tomorrow…


Mounting Excitement!!


I am a sucker for K-Tel compilations. This one includes Jona Lewie‘s synth ditty ‘You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties’ and Sue Wilkinson‘s ‘You Gotta Be A Hustler If You Wanna Get On’ which I remember was on heavy-rotation on the radio back in the day, but you never ever hear it anymore. That’s what I love about these compilations: they reintroduce you to those pop nuggets that you,  the world, and even Spotify forgot about. Plus I like the way that a bunch of disparate tracks get bundled together purely because they all happened to enter the Top 40 in a certain time period, resulting in a more pungent invocation of the tastes and textures of the era than any individual 7″ single could. The only drawback being of course that they cram so many tracks onto the records that they usually lack volume and punch, and the tracks are often faded-out early to conserve space, though this can sometimes be a blessing.

Maybe in 30 years’ time I’ll get the same kick out of Now That What I Call Music compilation CDs, but somehow I doubt it…