Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 47

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Released at the height of summer 1975, "Summertime City," "Summer of '42," "Love in the Sun," "Sailing" -- the British charts traditionally become a little seasonal once the sun starts shining, but 1975 was something else entirely, because it never stopped shining. From early spring to late fall, temperature records were shattered, gardens wilted, reservoirs dried up. Drought left half the country baked as brown as the Sahara, rationing reduced citizens to collecting their water from communal standpipes. And there were so many singles released that summer that it somehow seemed appropriate when the charts sounded more like the weather report. In rhyme.

Sharing the fatigue of the sunshine overload, Top of the Pops, Vol. 47 does its best to put such matters out of mind. True, prolonged exposure to the inanely grinning version of "That's the Way (I Like It)" is sufficient to induce symptoms of heat stroke, but Leo Sayer's masterly "Moonlighting," the tale of two young lovers who elope to Gretna Green, barely mentions the weather. And, if it does all get to be too much, there's a movingly melancholy rendition of "The Last Farewell," a hit for old-timer Roger Whittaker, to remind us that death doesn't care what the temperature is.

Listeners are reminded of earlier, wetter summers, too, by "Super Womble," the then-latest hit by Wimbledon Common's most famous rodents; again, novelties always do well once the vacation season starts. A a piercing rendition of the Stylistics' falsetto-heavy "I Can't Give You Anything," meanwhile, at least brings some cool Philly soul into view. Ultimately, though, Vol. 47 is as wearing and wearisome as the very weather it tried so hard to take one's mind off.

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