Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 10

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Spring 1970 saw the Top of the Pops series celebrate its second birthday with another of its occasional assaults on immortality -- both the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel were topping the charts with their farewell 45s, and it would be a courageous soul indeed who'd try and repeat their performances for a budget-priced pop album. The Top of the Pops team were that soul, and both songs emerge with flying colors; indeed, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was so highly regarded that, six years later, it was reprised for the series' 50th volume celebrations. Excellent, too, is the team's take on Bob & Marcia's "Young, Gifted and Black" -- time and again, as one plays through the Top of the Pops series, the sheer quality of their reggae covers leaps out with startling clarity, and this is one of the best. Elsewhere, the album cruises along the same breezy lines that dictated the layout of the U.K. charts of the day, from bright pop ("United We Stand," "Knock Knock [Who's There]") to maudlin balladeering ("Don't Cry Daddy"), and all are at least as impressive as the originals. How sad, then, that volume ten also packs two of the series' all-time lows. An almost painfully cat-yowling stab at the year's Eurovision Song Contest victor, "All Kinds of Everything," makes an absolute mockery of the original's hard-won accolade, while anybody who thought that actor Lee Marvin's laryngitic croak through "Wand'rin' Star" scraped new lows in the "don't give up your day job" stakes will surely be wondering what the Top of the Pops vocalist does for a living; even back in 1970, there couldn't have been much call for gargling gargoyles, could there?

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