Britain is getting ready for one of the biggest and most important weekends of celebration in its history – Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee – the first time that a British monarch has celebrated such long and momentous reign. As befits such an occasion there’s going to be a massive concert at Buckingham Palace highlighting the best talent that the county has to offer – Queen, Elbow, George Ezra, and Duran Duran are amongst the stars taking part.

A Rock and Roll Jubilee - celebrating 70 years of the charts
A Rock and Roll Jubilee - Celebrating 70 years of the charts

The music scene has changed beyond recognition in the seventy years since Queen Elizabeth was crowned, and another British institution – the charts – is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee. Step into the Imagesound time machine and journey back to 1952 with us.

1952 - Britain was still recovering from the second world war and there were a few years of rationing left, but the previous year’s Festival of Britain had heralded a new start for the country - and not only did we now have a new monarch but also the hit parade! At first the very scientific method of ringing round record stores and asking them what the best-selling singles were that week was used and the New Musical Express would publish the results - on 14th November 1952 - with Al Martino topping the charts with ‘Here is my Heart’. Throughout the 50s Melody Maker, Record Mirror and Disc vied with the NME with their own version of the charts There was another seismic change going on whilst this fight for chart-topping dominance was going on - the birth of the teenager. Until now this concept hadn’t really existed for most young people - you left school and became an adult. However, in 1944 the school leaving age was raised to 15 - and as Britain’s economy improved, young people suddenly had more spending power and this meant freedom from parental control. Whilst the charts remained conservative for a few years with Dean Martin and Frankie Laine making appearances it was the 1955 release of Rock around the Clock and the associated film the following year that released teenagers into the wild.

Unsurprisingly, many adults disapproved but the charts were never the same again.

For the rest of the fifties the music papers published their own version of the charts with Melody Maker adding albums in 1958 - the next big change for the charts was coming in the sixties.

1964 - More people than ever had a television; Beatlemania was sweeping the country - and the BBC decided that what the nation needed was a chart show - Top of the Pops was born. This show, more than any was the UK barometer of musical tastes. The first show opened with Dusty Springfield singing ‘I Only Want to be With You’ and over its 42-year run had everyone from David Bowie performing Starman - causing parents across the land to ask their offspring if they were a boy or a girl - to Mr Blobby. The sixties also brought the compact cassette, allowing the Sunday night tradition of taping the charts from the radio!

The seventies was a flurry of Glam Rock, Punk and 7-inch singles bringing us to the eighties. This decade brought the Walkman and perhaps more importantly MTV. Initially launching in New Jersey only and even before the channel launched in the UK it embedded the idea of the music video into the charts. Out went Pan's People picking their way round the Top of the Pops set and in came Duran Duran looking super slick on a yacht. The charts were going to be this way forever but the arrival of the internet in people’s homes in the ninties and noughties changed things again.

Internet speed rapidly improved, - you could access music online and suddenly people were consuming music differently and suddenly instead vinyl sales were in the doldrums. The music papers started to struggle and the TV shows lost viewers - the NME is online only these days and Top of the Pops is a yearly event with a Christmas special.

Does this mean that the charts have disappeared - of course not! Charts are now complied from online sales; vinyl sales are strong and record shops are reopening - and just as in 1952 there’s lots of great music to listen to for the Jubilee weekend. We’ve put together a special playlist for the weekend - just click on this Jubilee Playlist link and listen away! Whatever your taste in music it’s bound to please!

When we’re not listening to music we like to talk about it - and we’d love to chat with you about yours - why not give us a call on 01246 572900 and let us tell you what we can do for you!