Notes to my UK Charts collection

This project started in January 2009, when I hadcollected all the Billboard (American) charts Top 100s of each year. It seemed to me that betweeen those and my own personal collection of British music, it would be quite simple to create an equivalent collection of British chart hits. How wrong could I be! The first problem was finding lists of the music I was looking for. Since most of the people who recorded the early charts no longer exist, that was itself a difficult task. Many thanks to everyhit.com for providing that information. It is well known that the early charts are disputed (I used to read NME), but I don't think that will have any meaningful impact on these lists.

I was totally amazed when I started to put this compilation together about how many songs I didn't have. I wasn't too surprised about the 1950s because the BBC provided only a limited access to popular music at that time, but even in the 70s and 80s I've discovered that much of the music that was successful in the UK charts did NOT make it over the Atlantic. Over one third of all these hits did not make the Billboard Top 100. That includes many "household names" in the UK. Maybe it isn't surprising that Ian Dury did not succeed over there - his clever lyrics did rely on a knowledge of England. Perhaps more surprising is the number of American bands who had big hits in the UK, but not on the other side of the pond! The most obvious is Elvis Presley, who charted twice as often in the UK as he did in America!

I won't pretend that all the recordings here are the ones that made it into the charts. It has been difficult finding many of them, so they might be an LP version, a live concert edition, or a re-recording at a later year. So far as I know, they ARE all the original artist, but I don't have detailed information about most of the recordings. It continues to disappoint me that people share the music, but not the information. I have edited the ID3v2 tags to pass on all that I know. If you discover any mistakes, please let me know! Some HAVE been identified, and those are mentioned under the relevant year.

Having discovered that I have a lot more visitors to my site than I ever imagined, I've changed my tack on how I do the uploads. For a number of reasons, I've always limited the size of individual files to around 100MB. Having noticed that several people are visiting to find a single track, I've changed to uploading them as "free-standing" collections of about 20 tracks. I DO remember my frustration while putting this collection together to have to download 100 songs, when I only wanted one! All my downloads are now stand-alone for around 20 tracks. I've recently discovered the html for making single (or groups of) songs to "play", but I'm still struggling with the precise syntax. When I get that sorted, I'll put a "play this song" button against selected tracks. It will be very time-consuming to do that for everything, but over time that COULD happen! I haven't found any time pusue this possibility recently; I'm concentrating on getting all that I DO have catalogued.

 

Having "completed" my collection of Top 100 Hits, I bought a copy of the "The Virgin Book Of British Hit Singles" [2008 edition]. Looking thorough that, I realised that I had lots of the hits other than the Top 100s, so decided to attempt finding EVERY song that had ever made the weekly Top 40, even if only for one week. The only way to show them year by year (as I want to) is to go through the book from cover to cover - the hits are listed in artist order - in a very curious idea of alphabetical! Iinitially I did that for all the artists who originally had hits in the fifties or sixties. I put all the hits they ever had into a spreadsheet (omitting the ones I had already published in the Top 100s), then sorted that to give me a tracklist to search for. I'm currently doing the same for the more recent years.

For the Minor Hits, I'm only showing them the first time they entered the chart. If at any time they became a Top 100 you will only find them under that. Many big hits have been re-released (including most of The Beatles, many times), but I see no value in including those. David Bowie's first hit was released three times in three years before he made it into the chart, but we don't need spare copies. In some cases that means that they are listed in an earlier year than they hit their peak with that song. It's going to take me a long time to complete this exercise. I think I now have almost everything. Mark K gave me all of the nineties.Music Kid in Yorkshire has offered to share the noughties. I have made quite a few mistakes, and included some songs when I should have left them out. I apologise for that, but the work involved to remove them means that it won't happen soon.

I haven't made it clear that the way I am currently checking is to find artists who first had a hit in the relevant decade. For each of those artists, I then search for ALL the songs that artist had a hit with. For example, Cliff Richard first charted in the fifties, but has had minor hits (as well as #1s) ever since. I DO now have all the hits for the artists that have been included in my Minor Hits posts, up to 2011. For some, I have many others that didn't make the charts. If you are looking for a particular song that hasn't yet been posted, please email me using the link below. If I can help, I will.

 

I have deliberately NOT made this site "google friendly" (though I do know how), because I don't want to attract the attention of those who want to close down file sharing. I hope you DO find what you are looking for before that happens - it almost certainly will! If there are any songs which I have not yet published but which you are keen to have, feel free to make a request.

Many thanks are due to my online friends who helped me find lots of these songs. I won't attempt to list them all, but I will mention chris k, se66, petesufc, mark k, music kid and bernie who each provided many. I couldn't have achieved this without their help.

 

this page last updated
29 June 2011
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