Long before playlists would become popular, compiling your own music wasn’t the easiest of tasks. Thankfully, a company called K-tel felt your pain and was happy to assist, by offering a plethora of music collections on TV, each with a catchy title and a selection of the most popular music of the day.
K-tel was founded in 1962 by a man named Philip Kives, and they were basically a marketing machine for a number of cookware items and other gadgets. Kives never had any intention of entering the music world, but he thought an album of country music hits might generate modest sales.
It did better than that, and by the 70s, K-Tel was releasing dozens of compilation albums.
K-tel records usually included 20 pop songs, presented in a sort of ambiguous, underlying theme that didn’t always hold true. For example, the album titled 20 Power Hits inexplicably contained a song by The Carpenters.
For the most part though, if you liked pop music, you would probably like the majority of songs on each record, titled with catchy names like Blockbuster, Hit Machine, Fantastic, Music Express, Mindbender and Sound Explosion.
As is often the case, one must put themselves into the era to understand why these records were so popular. The only other way to purchase these songs was either to buy the album they were originally on or buy the 45.
And with singles costing upwards of a buck, a five-dollar album that contained 20 hits from various superstars was a pretty good bargain, even if you didn’t necessarily like every offering.
K-tel is still in business to this day, although their glory days were unquestionably the 70s. Back then, it was common to catch at least one commercial each time you turned on the television.
As a result, millions of K-tel records made it into the public’s album collection, some of which are still fondly remembered to this day.
If you owned a K-tel record or three back in the day, I hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts and help us reminisce in our comments section below.