Back between 1981 and 1983 there was a collectible called “Chu-Bops”, and what they were was little 3″ x 3″ album covers that came with a bubble gum “record” inside. They were issued in series, and three of the series were devoted to Elvis Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
At the time I bought only a couple of Billy Joel albums and then a complete run of Beatles; since they were sold individually in clear cellophane, there was no randomness about it, you just bought the “albums” you wanted. The only way you didn’t complete a set or get all of your wants is if the store was sold out of that Chu-Bop, or if you just missed that series entirely.
First up, I have a Chu-Bop for Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” album, #4 in the set. The original album is from 1980. I’m originally from Long Island and there’s a state law on record that anyone from Long Island and of a certain age has to be a Billy Joel fan. The law is similar to the Bruce Springsteen statute in New Jersey.
Yes, I know this looks like I took a photo of the album cover, but this is much smaller.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of one of my Beatles Chu-Bops with a standard-sized Topps Beatles card from the 1960s
The back of the “Glass Houses” Chu-Bop has a little gatefold tab that was perforated so you could remove it. Here’s what you would see in an unopened package (I never removed the tab).
Here’s what the gatefold looks like unfolded… The part on the left is the back of what you see above. The part on the right is the back of the “miniature album cover” and featured the lyrics to one of the hit songs off of the album in question – in this case “You May Be Right”.
The gum from my Chu-Bops was chewed and spat out 40 years ago, otherwise I’d show that to you as well.
I also have Billy Joel’s “Songs In The Attic”, #52.
This is clearly from a later series, as it a little “Super Star” logo in the top left and a different offer.
Rather than lyrics, this one has a mini-biography of Billy Joel on the right. The coupon on the left is for an out-of-print album called “In Harmony 2” which had famous people performing songs aimed at kids.
The Billy Joel song on “In Harmony 2” was called “Nobody Knows But Me” and is about an invisible friend. To my knowledge the only place this song is currently available is in the “My Lives” box set that came out in 2005.
I thought I had a “team set” of Billy Joel, but when I was researching this I found out I’m missing one for his “52nd Street” album. Oh, well. Don’t know how much I care at this point.
The rest of my Chu-Bop collection is all Beatles albums. I borrowed this image of the sales displays from a Heritage Auctions listing:
Since they were sold in the U.S. before the international standardization of Beatles albums (which happened when the CD’s were first released), many of these Chu-Bops feature album covers that have been out of print for over 30 years. Here are a couple…
Hey Jude (1970)
Once again, the lyrics from one of the songs was featured on the back.
Something New (1964)
Yesterday And Today (1966)
Beatles ’65 (issued late 1964)
Beatles VI (1965)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Reel Music (1982)
This was a post-breakup compilation made up of songs from A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be.
TCDB has a checklist of the set, but they don’t have any details on the Beatles so I’ll share a checklist here:
B-1 “Reel Music”
B-2 “The Beatles” (aka The White Album)
B-3 “Abbey Road”
B-4 “Hey Jude”
B-5 “Meet The Beatles”
B-6 “Something New”
B-7 “Beatles ’65”
B-8 “Beatles VI”
B-9 “Rubber Soul”
B-10 “Yesterday and Today”
B-12 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
B-13 “1962-1966” (aka The Red Album)
B-14 “1967-1970” (aka The Blue Album)
B-15 “Let It Be”
B-16 “A Hard Day’s Night”
The Beatles albums which were released on Capitol Records in the US but weren’t made into Chu-Bops were “The Beatles Second Album”, “The Early Beatles”, “Help!”, “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Yellow Submarine”, plus the live “Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl” and the post-breakup compiliations “Rock ‘N Roll Music”, “Love Songs” and “Rarities”.
In researching this I found that several years ago San Jose Fuji had written his own blog post about Chu-Bops. If anyone else has written about these, let me know and I’ll update this post with links.