Number One Albums: #1


  • THOMPSON TWINS Into The Gap (Arista)
  • Week Ending February 25th 1984 (for 3 Weeks)
  • Week Ending July 14th 1984 (for 3 Weeks)
  • Week Ending December 15th 1984 (for 2 Weeks)
  • Total Weeks On The Top 30 – 44

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s possible to go back in time and show the very magazine advert which triggered my first-ever album purchase, and even the shop where this momentous occasion took place.

Thompson-Twins-into the gap 1984 boots ad

The start of it all…

So this is how it began. A groovy full-colour ad for a band whose singles I hadn’t yet felt motivated to buy, but somehow the prospect of Hold Me Now and Doctor! Doctor! together on the same record, with a bunch of other songs I had never heard, had me parting with a sizeable chunk of my hard-earned pocket money at the end of that week. Once I knew the cassette format had a whole lot of extra music, that had to be the one. I was more familiar with tapes anyway, from a childhood of listening to Band On The Run and Innervisions on the family car stereo to all those Sunday evenings glued to the Radio 1 Top 40 countdown since 1983.

Off to Boots we would go, then.

Except I got laid low with a monster dose of the ‘flu, and it was left to my Mum to do the honours on my behalf. I presume Boots did not have it in stock or something else prevented her getting it from there, as my copy had one of those thick cream-coloured WH Smiths price cards still inside the cassette shell (I held on to that for years).

Their in-store chart was better anyway. They called it the Hit List and would advertise every week in the pop press during the early-mid ’80s. Into The Gap was correctly predicted to be the biggest album of the week:

thompson twins into the gap album ad smash hits 1984 wh smiths

The particular branch in Hounslow High Street, in what used to be part of Middlesex when we lived there, still exists.


Of course they no longer sell music (unless Adele or Ed Sheeran have an album out, perhaps), and the Our Price next door has also long since bitten the dust. Boots used to be immediately adjacent to WH Smiths on the other side with a huge music section upstairs, creating a triple whammy of music shops in one place that you could reach by public transport (the bus stop outside remains in place) and step off almost straight into them! Amazingly, the old orange WHS logos are still on the windows above, but the permanent awning which used to be beneath them (and serve as a shelter from the bad weather) has gone.

Many times after School, I’d take the 111 into the outskirts of Hounslow, get off at the junction with Douglas Road (where there was an old-fashioned record store called Memrydiscs which strangely I never felt compelled to visit more than once or twice) and cut through to the High Street where my Mecca awaited. Many of the singles and albums I bought between 1984 and 1986 would have been from either the Our Price or WH Smiths (depending on price and availability, I was a penny-pincher even then), before I moved further afield.

Into The Gap duly identified as my top album of the week (as though there could be any others!), I set to work on how to construct a Top 30 to exist alongside the Singles Top 40s I’d been compiling since the start of 1984. This is where the multi-coloured charts at the back of No.1 magazine proved priceless, with the info for peak positions and how long they’d been around helping to give me an idea of what had been going on in the UK albums market over recent months.

To this day, I copy the colour scheme and layout of those No.1 charts, albeit slightly modified to suit 21st Century computer software needs. My hand-drawn effort would have looked something like this, using A4 grid paper and my pack of coloured pens previously used for drawing football kits.


(We’ll stick to the top 10 as a handy guide for illustrating the state of play for the week each featured #1 album topped my chart. And also use the number of weeks in the Top 30 as a constant reference point, even though the chart expanded and contracted numerous times over the next 26 years).

The previous week’s big new release, Sparkle In The Rain by Simple Minds, had almost tempted me with its striking cover art and the presence of not only Waterfront but one of my favourite singles at the time, Speed Your Love To Me. It seemed the logical #1 for the previous chart, looking at it retrospectively. And that’s how I eventually figured out all the other positions, using the No.1 charts to calculate the number of weeks each album might have already spent so far.

In addition to the 3 weeks it stayed at #1 following its release, Into The Gap returned to the summit on two further occasions. The first time was when the fourth and final single from the album, Sister Of Mercy, appeared in late June, and then at the end of the year the combination of brand new non-album single Lay Your Hands On Me and the longform VHS music video Into The Gap: Live (which at £19.99 burnt a huge hole in my savings!) propelled it all the way back up my chart despite the new Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Culture Club, Nik Kershaw and Wham! albums.

I even bought the T-shirt.



  1. Our Price in Richmond moved in 1986 to the other end of the High Street (what used to be a department store called Owen Owen, and where I think a Starbucks is now); it was very swanky when new! HMV arrived in 1989, in the old Post Office building opposite M&S and closed about 10 years ago. I do remember Harry’s (think he opened another branch – or moved – to Whitton), got a few good things there from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All these nostalgia trips just make me realise how many record/music shops there used to be, and how many I must have hardly ever gone to for one reason or another. I was very much an Our Price/WH Smiths (later HMV) kind of guy, probably seduced by the marketing and glitzy store layouts.


  3. This blog post must feel like a trip down memory lane for you. It is a pity that these record stores no longer exist. Here in the Netherlands it is exactly the same. The record stores I visited in my youth are all long gone. Every week I went to the Free Record Shop and Radio Modern, to pick up my sheet of the Dutch Top 40 and to browse the bins with LPs. As you can see your blog post is also a trip down memory lane for me.

    Another thing I like about this blog post is that you can see the ads for the Thompson Twins album. Here in the Netherlands, you could find these ads in the Dutch Top 40 sheet. The only difference is, these ads were from the record companies, not from the record stores.

    Liked by 1 person

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