The Flag Girls

Boulevard was one of many UK budget labels, launched in 1970 and with connections to the old cheapo Saga label. Amongst their eclectic catalogue of Best Loved Waltzes and Sounds Like James Last, Boulevard issued a collection of chart covers called 1970 Top 12. This was followed by a World Top 12 set (on red vinyl), which displayed (curiously for a ‘world’ set) a Union Jack flag in the corner. I have added this to the start of the sleeve gallery.

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This prompted them to begin The World Top 12 series, issued on their dedicated Flag imprint, complied from cover versions licensed in from some of the many labels turning them out at the time (such as Windmill and Deacon). Indeed some duplicated their bigger rivals’ offerings exactly, so Volume 2 matches Pick of the Pops Volume 5 on Deacon, and Volume 11 duplicates Windmill’s Parade of Pops Volume 6. It was a case of recycling older material to squeeze a little more mileage out of recordings.
In line with the trend for cover girls, Flag sourced library glamour images for most of the series. Many followed similar lines to the better known Top Of The Pops sleeves but occasionally Flag went a little further, with some nudity (and Vol 34 and 38 topless). However unlike their more famous TOTPs rivals, the Flag titles do not seem to have sold in huge numbers and are harder to find today – especially in decent condition. They were originally priced around 50p and sold in local supermarkets.
As well as recycling the music, Flag / Boulevard were quick to do the same with the photos, so the shot from Vol 42 also turned up on a collection of Diana Ross cover versions; the t-shirt girl from Vol 34 on an Engelbert Humperdink covers set (albeit an alternate frame), and the photo from Vol 36 was reused on a compilation called Soft Rock.
The Flag series ceased in 1975 when the main Boulevard label was stopped. Although the series goes up to Volume 49, they actually started at Vol 33 (to bring the volume numbers in line with the catalogue numbers), so there are only 17 to collect.
In fashion terms (where there are any clothes!), the cover of Vol 39 features a sort of Paco Rabanne inspired link cape – though whether an actual fashion piece or something from the prop box is hard to say. The silver leather cat-suit on Vol 42 is more like a TOTPs cover image. The most contemporary cover shot is probably Vol 47, which looks it came straight off the front of a mid-70s edition of Mirabelle. And if that’s not the same model on Vols  44 and 45, then it has to be the same wig! Note : as this is a cover girls gallery, Vol 33 and 46 which feature couples are not in the gallery. Head on over to http://hitcovers.weebly.com/world-top-12.html for those (and full track listings for those who need to go beyond the sleeve!).

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