First, a brief history of the TV compilation album in Australia. In the 1960's, Festival Records occasionally released albums containing about a dozen tracks which had recently performed well on the "hit parade". In 1968, Majestic Records released a double compilation album entitled "26 Groovy Greats". Majestic continued to release 2 or 3 similar albums each year until 1973, when K-Tel International absorbed the label and began releasing them under its own name (although the K-Tel logo had appeared on several Majestic albums just before this). The K-Tel albums commenced with catalogue number TA240, with the TA series extending up to at least TA268 "Straight Ahead" in 1981. All major record companies in Australia licensed tracks to K-Tel for inclusion in these albums. In 1970, EMI released the first of its "Explosive Hits" compilations, containing only EMI-owned recordings. These were released annually (with the exception of 1972), with one additional EMI-only compilation also appearing each year from 1974 through to 1979. Notwithstanding this, EMI still contributed to the K-Tel series. In 1975, PolyGram released "Ripper" (curiously released on the Fontana label), followed by "Whopper" (Polydor), heralding its entry into the fray. Initially, PolyGram collaborated with Festival, but later switched to WEA. Further PolyGram albums were released on the "PolyStar" label (which continues to release compilations to this day). Festival and RCA also released a few compilations towards the end of the 70's, with RCA particularly active around the period 1978-81, collaborating with Astor and other minor companies. In general, the 70s were a decade of sub-licensing.
Things began to change in the early 80's, with the major record companies deciding to release the compilations themselves. It appears that this did not come about all at once, but evidence of certain companies changing their strategy is obvious by the fact that the last K-Tel TA-series album "Straight Ahead" (TA 268) contains mostly PolyGram licensed material (with a few from RCA), and all the tracks on, "The Chosen Ones" (TA 266), were licensed exclusively from WEA (a point of interest worth noting here is that both TA 266 and the next album in the series, "Prime Cuts" (TA 267), appear to have been released simultaneously, as their MX (matrix) numbers are only 22 apart). Added to this is the fact that, during 1981, most of the major companies were releasing their own compilations, and there is only one song duplicated on the K-Tel compilations and those of the majors. As no K-Tel TA series album beyond TA268 is known of, it is assumed this is the ending point of that series. Since the majors released 6-8 albums per year from that point on, this supports the theory that K-Tel's albums were no longer necessary after that. Note that K-Tel was releasing other various artist compilations in their NA series; these were usually themed compilations and not merely chronological "time capsules" as the TA-series was. K-Tel's NA-series not only ran concurrently with the TA series, but it continued well into the 80's, although after 1982, the number of K-Tel releases began to fall sharply, with the last K-Tel album reaching the Australian charts in 1986. Other companies like J & B, Dino and Concept also released albums in this vein, in addition to what could be called "retrospective hits albums", being compilations of hits from the preceding 2-3 years. Most of the tracks on these albums had been featured on the majors' compilations closer to the time of their chart success, but there were always one or two songs on the smaller companies' compilations which had been omitted by the majors. Some of these tracks were quite obscure which makes these albums collectable.
From 1981/82, the 6 major record companies in Australia formed two blocs, each bloc releasing 3 or 4 compilations per year. The groups of companies changed a few times in the beginning, but by the middle of 1982, EMI/Festival/RCA had formed one bloc, with CBS/WEA/PolyGram forming another. This balance of power shifted three times between 1986 and 1991:
Around 1986/87 there are a few other things to note.
Scope of this project
The aim of the OzComps project is to create digital versions of the "TV greatest hits" compilations released by the major record companies in a loosely defined period beginning around 1966/67 and ending near the end of 1993. Although compilations continue to be produced to this day, it was necessary to determine an ending point. By 1993, compact discs and digital sound had become commonplace, so it was decided that proceeding beyond this point would be akin to reinventing the wheel, and therefore the termination point was fixed here. A complete list of the albums included in OzComps can be found on this page.
The project is divided into three sub-projects; the first deals with the period 1982-1993 inclusive, which starts at the point when the major record companies took over actual distribution of the albums themselves. The second part starts at 1974 and continues through the 70's (the "K-Tel period") up to the end of 1981, when the transition was taking place. The third part deals with compilations released before 1974, which is a period when albums appeared to be released sporadically and without any apparent common thread.
Stage I: 1982-1993
Each album in this stage will be released as a "deluxe edition". In addition to the original release, additional CDs will also be included. Each album set will consist of four parts, thus:
Part 1 to be the original album, with the same tracklisting as originally released.
Part 2 to be one or more discs of bonus tracks. These bonus tracks are carefully selected subject to three criteria:
Part 3 to be one or more discs of megamixes. For some tracks, this may simply be the album version where the single version has been edited and no remix was released. Space limitations may have dictated the omission of some megamixes. Each megamixes disc is limited to 13 tracks only, due to the extended length of the tracks. The mix chosen for inclusion on OzComps is not necessarily the same mix as released on the A-side of the relevant Australian 12", but all mixes are genuine original mixes/remixes released at the time, not later remakes.
Part 4 will be one disc (sometimes two) of B-sides and album tracks.
Eligibility requirements for inclusion in this part as a B-side:
For most album sets, each Part appears on its own separate disc(s), but there may be a few cases where more than one Part shares the same disc due to a lack of eligible tracks.
Further information about how tracks were selected and assigned to compilation sets is contained in the technical discussion paper.
Artwork for all discs within album sets has been specially created based on the original.
Each set is presented as a book, with plastic CD sleeves for discs, which all comb-bound together with extensive commentary and notes, with a custom made thin cardboard cover. A master box designed specifically for all the sets has not been designed, but may be included later.
Every track on every disc is annotated with Australian release and chart information and a short descriptive narration.
For some reason, it seems that both blocs of companies only released three albums in 1986 instead of the usual four. This has caused the number of eligible bonus tracks in this period to swell considerably. Much deliberation regarding this situation resulted in the decision to release one additional album on each side. Fortunately, the CBS/WEA/BMG bloc had conveniently named an album "All The Hits 1986 Vol. 1", and had never released a Volume 2, so it was quite straight-forward to give the new album that name. So many tracks were available for this album that it has become a double album in itself. For the EMI/Festival side, it was noted that two previous albums had been named "The Music"; thus "1986 The Music" was born. A third extra set has become necessary in 1989, due to "1989 The Right Stuff" and "Let's Do It.... Summer 1990" both reaching the limit of 9 discs each, with even more material than this not being able to fit - such was the plethora of high quality material being released at the time that 18 full CDs could not contain all of it! The solution to this dilemma was to insert "Hits Now '89 Volume 3" between the two.
As discussed above, the situation in 1986 could have been created by the release of the albums "Heartbeat '86" and "Now That's What I Call Music 1". Deluxe editions of these two albums will be different, because of their slightly different emphases.
Heartbeat '86 will contain two bonus tracks on the main disc, and one bonus disc containing a couple of extra bonus tracks, megamixes and B-sides.
NTWICM will contain three discs in its set, with the main disc being as released with no alterations, and one disc each of megamixes and B-sides/album tracks. No bonus disc will be released for this set, because any additional Virgin tracks eligible for this compilation would also qualify for the main EMI/Festival series, so they have been directed there.
Stage II: 1974-1981
This period is more complicated due to the licensing arrangements in place at the time. It appears that there are a few duplications amongst all the compilations released in this period, until 1979, when the situation began to change with licensing and some tracks which had been included on a K-Tel release were also included on a major label album. In order to maintain each album's integrity, it has been decided to leave these duplications in place. A total of xx duplications have been identified across all the albums in Stage II. No tracks are duplicated more than once. Bonus material in this Stage is limited to the K-Tel-released albums only, with all others spawning a B-sides disc only. Some K-Tel sets contain more than one bonus disc. Megamixes were not common in the 70's, but where they have been able to be sourced, they have been included on the B-sides disc. Almost every album in Stage II has a B-sides/album tracks/megamix disc, although some of them are not full-length.
Stage III: 1966-1974
This period, like State II, is also complicated, this time because of the apparent haphazardness with which these compilation albums were released. Originally, OzComps contained only two stages, with this Stage III being a part of Stage II. A third division point became necessary after considering the difficulty with organising compilations in a logical manner before 1974, as there are some large gaps in the early 70's (eg. EMI did not release any albums in 1972!), In addition to this, research is constantly uncovering other previously unknown compilations from the mid-late 60's, especially those released by Festival. Therefore, it was decided to separate this section and concentrate on Stages I & II before returning to Stage III later so it can be given the thorough investigation it obviously requires.
Another interesting feature of this period is the prolific number of occurrences of multiple versions of songs released at the same time as each other, especially in the early 70's. In many cases, both versions have appeared on a compilation, and in the case of "Yellow River", all three versions (which all charted in the Top 40 in their own right) find a place on separate albums! The situation of Australian music in the early 70's is an amazing story, and one well worth researching. Upon learning about this, the reason behind the multiplicity of versions becomes clear.
About 80% of the tracks for Stage I of this project are available on lossless digital sources, either as original CDs or downloaded WAV/FLAC files. This percentage is lower for Stage II and Stage III. The remainder have been sourced from vinyl records, mostly 7" or 12" singles, although in a few cases the compilation albums themselves yielded the only copy that was readily available. This issue is covered at length in the technical discussion paper.
The OzComps project contains over 10,000 tracks across more than 600 CDs. It is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive libraries of popular music ever compiled. Even so, it is by no means an exhaustive collection, omitting as it does many other charting hits, album tracks, B-sides and alternative mixes. These tracks are the scope of the "Vinyl WAV" project.
The original concept of Vinyl WAV, which commenced in 2002, was to release digital versions of singles, including all tracks appearing on 12" releases, and to collect these together. Later, a few albums were included, and then some early CDs (late 80's and early 90's) were "remastered" as well. In 2010, the series contained 82 DVDs of WAV, and it was placed in hiatus when OzComps was born. Some of the compilations in OzComps have already been mastered from vinyl as part of Vinyl WAV, but the OzComps project will yield a far superior result. A complete overhaul of Vinyl WAV is planned in conjunction with the development of OzComps, which will involve a restructuring of the entire project.