Those Were The Days by Mary Hopkin, 45rpm 7" single with limited edition picture sleeve on Apple Records, 1968, value £35

THIS is the second release from The Beatles' Apple record label in 1968, writes MICHAEL BROOKS. Hey Jude was the first. It was originally a Russian folk song translated with English lyrics by Gene Raskin, a member of the folk trio The Limeliters. This song was first featured in the 1953 film Innocents In Paris. After leaving the trio Gene Raskin and his wife Francesca became a singing duo making regular appearances in London's Blue Angel cabaret club; the couple always closed their act with this song. The club was often frequented by Paul McCartney who had developed a personal liking for it, and had attempted to get various singers to record it, without success. It was fashion model Twiggy who suggested contacting the 17 year old Welsh girl who had achieved huge success on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks. McCartney contacted Mary Hopkin and produced the recording. It was simultaneously recorded by Sandie Shaw; Pye records decided to have another version by an established singer but the public preferred Mary's version.

It remained top of the UK charts for six weeks, reaching number two in the US Billboard charts only kept off the top spot by The Beatles' Hey Jude. Mary recorded the song in many different languages helping it to chart in 25 different countries amassing global sales of eight million copies.

She went on to have further chart success with Goodbye, Temma Harbour and in 1970 represented the UK in Eurovision with Knock, Knock Who's There; she was the favourite to win but finished runner up behind Irish singer Dana who won with All Kinds Of Everything. Knock, Knock also became a big hit selling more than a million. However, Mary hated the song and afterwards refused to sing it in her live performances. She eventually became disillusioned with the type of songs that she was offered accusing the McCartney management team of micromanaging her career. They parted company shortly after. Mary continued to record sporadically well into the eighties with minimum success, her last chart entry being a superb cover version of the Edith Piaf song If You Love Me which peaked at number 32 in 1976. This song has remained a perennial favourite and is still played on the radio today. McCartney's production of the recording can only be described as excellent. It is truly a classic record in every sense of the word.