Did I Really Want One of Those? 20. Ronco’s Space Invasion LP

A Spaceman Came Travelling…

12 January 2014: Stayed too long at The Armoury and made the mistake of taking part in karaoke. Thought it was a good idea to sing Ph.D’s 1982 classic I Won’t Let You Down. They didn’t have in their folder, so I settled for a Chris de Burgh song instead.

The Chris de Burgh song could have been anything from Patricia The Stripper to Missing You. Or it could have been this number which featured on an odd 1981 Ronco compilation, which is often deemed as a Christmas song (see sub-header above).

Space Invasion

Besides the bog-standard pre-Now! That’s What I Call Music compilation albums, one oddity among Ronco Teleproducts’ back catalogue was its space themed compilation album Space Invasion. Released in September 1981, it was a veritably random smorgasbord of astral themed music with a Space Invaders style cover. I am sure they just went off the song titles as the music varies from heavy rock to electronic music and Dollar (who have two tracks). So, the running order for side one is as follows:

  1. No Doubt About It, Hot Chocolate;
  2. Theme From The Invaders/Firecracker, Yellow Magic Orchestra;
  3. Fireball, Deep Purple;
  4. Galaxy, War;
  5. Messages, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark;
  6. Riders in the Sky, The Shadows;
  7. Who Were You With In The Moonlight?, Dollar;
  8. Shining Star, The Manhattans;
  9. A Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris de Burgh;
  10. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (Recognised Anthem of World Contact Day), The Carpenters.

As you would expect from the Ronco and K-Tel albums of that era, the running times of each track are truncated in order to fit for example 20 tracks on a single LP. The opening track lacks the middle eight for instance, but the most severest cut was meted to Chris de Burgh’s 1978 number – a sizeable chunk of the five minute song edited out. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft omits the all important hook where aliens telephone the radio station. Throughout side one we get: pop, electronica, heavy rock, funk, new wave synth, Cliff Richard’s former backing band, a schmaltzy male-female duo, soul, ballad and another male-female duo. If you wanted Duran Duran or Adam Ant, you came to the wrong place. As for side two:

  1. Blinded By The Light, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band;
  2. Rocket Man, Elton John;
  3. Watcher of the Skies, Genesis;
  4. Silver Machine, Hawkwind;
  5. The Eve of the War, Jeff Wayne;
  6. Spacer, Sheila B. Devotion;
  7. Forever Autumn, Justin Hayward;
  8. Shooting Star, Dollar;
  9. Dancing in Outer Space, Atmosfear;
  10. Magic Fly, Space.

Eclectic doesn’t do the album justice. Space Invasion has some absolute corkers within its 20 tracks, but – as I said earlier – the editing on the tracks is woeful. Take for example the editing on Watcher of the Skies – a fair amount of its seven minutes edited out – surpassed in sheer crapness, editing wise to the treatment of Jeff Wayne’s Eve of the War.

On a personal level, Space Invasion was an excellent crossover album. I already loved Space’s Magic Fly, but it also introduced me to War, Atmosfear and the Yellow Magic Orchestra. My copy came from a car boot sale in Stalybridge, back in 1996. I also bought The Pointer Sisters’ 1984 album Break Out that very same Sunday. That too has joined the East of the M60 vaults in CD form.

Just to see what I was getting at about the editing, I am eternally grateful to the YouTube subscriber who posting Genesis’ Watcher of the Skies from Space Invasion:

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1981 price: probably £5.99 (from Woolworths, John Menzies, WHSmiths, Boots, Carpenter Shergold and Owen Owen).

2013 price: £7.95 – £13.95 (eBay, mint condition, checked on the 09 December 2013).

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S.V., 20 December 2013.

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6 thoughts on “Did I Really Want One of Those? 20. Ronco’s Space Invasion LP

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  1. Hi Kieron,

    One of Ronco’s most surreal compilation LPs but, like yourself, I think it is a top album. A remake of the said album – with the tracks running to full lengths – would be an absolute joy to behold.

    Bye for now,

    Stuart.

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  2. I had this on cassette and it was in the deck a lot of the time. For me it introduced me to Deep Purple and a love of rock music. For sure it’s eclectic as you say!
    My wife just bought me a pristine vinyl copy of it for Christmas; and I’ve made up an mp3 playlist – of *unedited* versions of the tracks (well, all the ones I can find).

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    1. Hi John,

      Lucky you for finding a pristine vinyl copy of Space Invasion!

      Almost 20 years on from my purchase, it has influenced my musical tastes in a subtle way. I have, thanks to that album, discovered Peter Gabriel era Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Selling England By The Pound my favourite two albums of theirs.

      I’ve tried to make playlists of some of the Ronco compilations on YouTube but – as always – the availability of some tracks remains patchy. Trying to do the same with Chart Hits ’81 on K-Tel, I still cannot find a clip of Panic by The Scoop, nor Gerard Kenny’s Outlaw.

      I also thank Space Invasion for introducing me to the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Atmosfear and (ahem!) Dollar.

      Time to dust the turntable and my rather battered copy!

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

      1. I’ve started doing vinyl rips of my favourite Ronco and K-Tel compilations 1980 – 1983. Most of my LPs are still NM as I used to tape them for the walkman and then mostly listen to the cassette. Any that are less than stellar quality have been replaced by copies from Discogs / Ebay. I have also started writing about them on A Pop Fan’s Dream. 1980’s Star Traks started the ball rolling yesterday – https://apopfansdream.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/star-traks-k-tel-1980/

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