Frequently Asked Questions
Who are you?
We are two brothers, Ant and Dave Brown. Ant is a writer, Dave a web designer. We have been collecting singles since the late 1970s and wanted to share our passion for popular music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. More info.
What is Wow Vinyl all about?
It is a celebration of the vinyl single, paying homage to the huge variety of quality songs issued in this format between 1977 and 1985. More info.
What are the Golden Years?
The years between 1977 and 1985 were a golden age for the singles in the UK. These nine years saw the highest single sales; an explosion in cover art, coloured vinyl, picture discs and promotional videos; the introduction of the 12” single; and – most importantly – unprecedented quality, originality and variety of songs. We call this period the "Golden Years" after David Bowie's 1975 single - obviously. More info.
What is The Wall?
The Wall is like a personal Hall of Fame, showcasing the best singles from our record collection. As teenagers, we liked to create a montage of single covers on our bedroom walls, a kind of visual shrine to our turntable heroes. It was the memory of this bygone ritual that inspired us to create The Wall – an online version that celebrates our record collection, showcasing our favourite singles between 1977 and 1985. More info.
How do you choose which singles go on The Wall?
We have spent our lives listening to music and discussing it. We regularly meet up in The Wykeham Arms in Winchester to compile a Top 20 of our favourite singles from a given year while downing a bottle or two of wine. Every single is in our record collection, which amounts to over 2,000 singles, the majority from the 1970s and 1980s.
Why don't you do albums?
Few album tracks receive the same attention and media coverage as a single. Indeed, singles ruled the airwaves, both on radio and TV, and were found in every jukebox in every local pub. These are the songs that most people remember. These are the ones we choose to celebrate.
How do you date a single?
As we divide The Wall into annual sections it is necessary to assign a single to one year only. The obvious method of using a record’s release date creates anomalies for chart runs interrupted by year end. For example, Brass In Pocket by The Pretenders is correctly hailed as the first new No. 1 of the 1980s yet it was released in 1979. So, by release date, a genuine 1980s No. 1 would be classified as a 1970s single. This grates. That’s why we use peak position in the official chart to determine a single’s year. If a single peaked at the same position in two different years we use the earlier.
How do you date re-releases?
In dating a single we always ask the same question: when did the single first achieve its highest position? For example, Drive by the Cars had two chart runs – one in 1984 (No. 5) and another in 1985 (No. 4). Therefore, we date stamp it as 1985.
How to you compile WOW's Biggest Singles and Artists Charts?
The singles on The Wall are the ones that we believe are the best of any given year. It is a personal collection. To provide a more objective historical context we provide a Biggest Singles and Biggest Artists chart for each of the Golden Years (1977-85). This is created using our unique chart measured performance (CHAMP) algorithm. More info.
Why do you cite NME chart positions?
The short answer is that since 1952 the NME provided another barometer of the nation’s single buying habits. The detailed answer is provided in Unofficially For You. We do not use the NME chart data to date a single (see above).
What is an unofficial No. 1?
It is a single that topped the NME chart but not the official BBC chart. During The Golden Years (1977-85) there were 50 unofficial No. 1s (approximately 5-6 per year) and these included Oliver's Army by Elvis Costello (1979), Vienna by Ultravox (1981) and Last Christmas by Wham! (1984). Of the 164 official No. 1s, only 12 failed to also top the NME chart.
Is the information on WOW copyrighted?
Yes. Everything on the site – including all our charts and text – is copyright apart from sleeve and label design, lyric excerpts, quotes and peak position data. If you wish to re-use in any way, prior written permission is required. Please get in touch.
Ant & Dave Brown, Founders of WOW Vinyl