Amidst a sea of “Build Your Own Head In 78 Parts, Issue 1 just 99p” part-works collections, comes one offering The Beatles vinyl collection. Over the next few weeks, you can amass 23 official Fabs LPs, along with some subscriber-only extras. As I’m not a fan of knitting, My Little Pony, or building a Millennium Falcon bit-by-bit, this is the first part-works in a while to pique my interest. It doesn’t matter that I own the Fab Four’s output many times over, I’m still tempted:
It reminded me of a collection issued by DeAgostini’s predecessor, Orbis Publishing, back in the early eighties. It was called The History Of Rock, and came in 120 weekly parts. Each issue covered a different era, artist, or genre, and my God were they brilliant. We didn’t have the collection at home, but my cousin did, and when we went to visit him on holidays, flicking through the magazines was a highlight for my brother and I. “Sod the good weather, let’s read about The Spector Sound!”, we said, in our nerdy enthusiasm. “Who needs to meet girls? We’ve a picture in this issue of Chrissie Hynde flipping the bird with her arse showing!”
Not only that, there were accompanying vinyl albums. Forty of them in fact, each one focusing on a different artist or genre:
How in the name of Jayzus the publishers managed to clear the rights for all those artists I’ve no idea, but they did.
Pre-internet, The History Of Rock collection was a huge font of knowledge. An Encyclopedia Britpopia, if you will. Then, about 5 years ago, dawdling around a bookshop, I happened upon the entire 120-issue collection, in their 10 bespoke binders. Twenty-five quid the lot. I nearly broke my back bringing them home, but how could I turn them down?
What I liked best about flicking through the magazines though, was the prospect of finding your next favourite artist. I distinctly remember being taken with the Stax Records logo down in my cousin’s, and thirty five years later, here’s the image as I saw it:
I always hoped Orbis would update the collection, but in the internet age, it seems pointless. Tell you what though, if they did, I’d be first in the queue for a subscription.