When I was young one of the most exciting times during the whole week was sitting in front of the radio on Tuesday Lunchtimes waiting for Johnnie Walker to announce the new pop charts on Radio One. I’m not sure why but I would actually sit there looking at the radio waiting to hear if my latest favourite single had gone up or down but that’s what we did in those days.
My view of the Charts in the 70’s
Phrases like, ‘8 non movers’, ‘going up this week,’ or ‘on its way down’ became part of the lexicon of the charts. Always in the background Booker T and the MG’s Green Onions looped to last as long as was needed. Finally at One o’clock… ‘Radio1 its No.1’.
50 years on and I’m right back there. Tomorrow I will be glued to my radio waiting to hear if my latest single ‘Looking for Love’ has gone up or down in the Mike Read Heritage Chart. Last week it was No.3. Will I be popping the bubbly if Looking for Love is ‘going up this week’ or coping with devastation it if is ‘on its way down’? The chart is a closely kept secret and I won’t know until everyone else does where I sit in this week’s chart.
Maybe you’ve never heard of the Heritage Chart. In fairness it’s only been going for a couple of years. Mike Read has been one of the most respected DJ’s and writers in the pop world for decades. When he was presenting breakfast on Radio One there really was only one chart that mattered and almost everyone, young and old, would have a good idea about which record was number one.
The chart was decided upon by physical record sales. Lots of record shops across the country were what was called ‘Chart Return Shops’. If someone went in and bought a record from that shop the information was sent to the chart organisation who then collated the information and published the chart. Over time record companies found out which shops gave chart returns and they might even go and buy their own records from those shops to give a single a bit of a boost but all in all everyone accepted that the chart fairly reflected the likes and dislikes of the public that week.
Then came streaming and downloads and the death of vinyl sales and no one really knew what to do anymore. Over time they have come up with different formulas to consider every way people can access music but it’s very different today.
Mal & Mike on the Heritage Chart TV Show.
As I say Mike Read knows a thing or two about the charts and chart history. For many years he compiled the Guinness book of British Hit Singles with Tim Rice and Paul Gambaccini. With so many charts catering to all different genres Mike realised that one group of artistes didn’t have a platform for their new music. Artistes who had been making music for 20-30 years would often hear their old songs being played on Greatest Hits, 70’s, 80’s or 90’s type stations but no one seemed at all interested in the new music they were making.
You can imagine how frustrating that can feel. Some of these artistes were kids when they started. They were finding their way musically; their writing was just starting to develop. Then suddenly, just as you are getting to grips with your craft and the industry, you find you are not the new thing anymore; your golden moment has past and no one wants to listen to your new material.
Mike knew most of these artistes and he knew they were creating some of the best work of their lives. He decided to create a new chart especially for ‘Heritage’ artistes.
The first I knew of the Heritage Chart was Christmas 2021. Steve Balsamo and I had recorded a new version of ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ for the Everyone Deserves a Christmas Hamper Charity. All of a sudden I got emails and messages telling me we were in the top 20.
Soon our record was getting played on hundreds of stations across the world, featured in newspaper printed charts and getting onto TV shows as well.
Every chart announcement led to interactions of my social media spiking. I was getting messages from people all over the world talking about the record and the video. My numbers on Spotify and apple went through the roof. As the single went down and disappeared from the Heritage Chart so the interactions would slow down too. There was a direct correlation.
Since then I think we have had about half a dozen chart entries. We have made the top 20 before but this is the closest we have ever got to the Top of the Charts.
Mike Read isn’t the only one to realise that there is a large swathe of radio listeners who feel left behind. These people have been left homeless as Radio stations go looking for the holy grail of that ‘younger audience’. Boom Radio launched in 2021 which as the name suggests is aimed squarely at the Boom generation. Not only were ‘Boom’ age artistes being ignored so were the DJ’s and radio station executives who had built radio stations from the ground up in the 70’s and 80’s.
Always in good company on BOOM RADIO.
That’s why Phil Riley and David Lloyd, men with outstanding Radio CV’s decided to get ‘the band back together’. Drawing on the skill of expert presenters like David Hamilton, Graham Dene and Nicky Horne Boom has now established itself as one of the fastest growing Radio stations in the country. They have a blend of solid gold hits together with the best new music from ‘Heritage Boomer’ artistes.
Like the Heritage Charts Boom Radio has a loyal and dedicated audience. The interaction on social media shows just how much they love the music. Every time I get a play on either of these platforms I get messages galore. It gives me a chance to then build up a relationship with people who are discovering my new music and I have to say its brilliant!!!
As I start to announce various ways I hope to celebrate 50 years making records I will be releasing lots of old material and telling lots of stories about what happened in those glorious golden days of the 1970’s. Parties, recording sessions, autograph books and Elton John will all play their part but what I want to do more than anything else is create new music, perform in new shows and make new films.
Will I ever get to No.1 in the Heritage Chart, will Boom Radio keep playing my new records, will my Golden Jubilee concert at the Swansea Grand Theatre sell out? I don’t know but it’s the reason I get up every morning. The reason I keep recording and writing. So thank you to all who keep faith with the Heritage Artistes, we’re only just getting started.
To vote in the Heritage Chart for Mal Pope -Looking for Love
To book tickets for the Mal Pope – Golden Jubilee Party https://www.swanseagrand.co.uk/MalPope50th