Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 13

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It comes as no surprise to seasoned Top of the Pops collectors to learn that the highlights of volume 13 are much the same as the highlights of the last few editions, the spot-on re-creations of the day's biggest reggae hits. Both Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It if You Really Want It" and Bobby Bloom's "Montego Bay" are delivered with a sassy, sunsoaked laziness that utterly decries the reality of the actual recording sessions -- a bunch of white English sessionmen racing through a dozen of the day's biggest hits in a London studio on one dog-eared day at the tail end of summer. Built around the hits and hopefuls of September 1970, Top of the Pops, Vol. 13 was producer Alan Crawford's final contribution to the series, and he bids goodbye with vigorous glee. Few people would ever point to mid-1970 as a vintage period in British chart history, but Freda Payne's "Band of Gold," Hot Chocolate's "Love Is Life," and the Tremoloes' "Me and My Life" all rose from the mire to wrap some rose-tinted glasses around the memory banks -- glasses that volume 13 wears with undisguised gratitude. Two more soul-shakers, Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time" and Aretha Franklin's "Don't Play That Song," are lined up for reasonable interpretations, while even the songs that you feel duty-bound to hate -- a pre-"Seasons in the Sun" Terry Jacks and the Poppy Family pondering "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" and Blue Mink's mawkish "Our World" among them -- are delivered with straighter-faced competence than perhaps they merited. By no means a classic edition, Top of the Pops, Vol. 13 is, nevertheless, at least as enjoyable as the era it re-created. And that, of course, is all it ever hoped to be.