What’s Malta’s highest-selling record? D’Amato Records says the honour goes to Taxi Mary

Malta’s oldest record shop says it sold 751 records of Alfred Abela’s Taxi Mary on the day of its release, with a queue stretching up to St John’s Co-Cathedral

D’Amato’s Record Shop holds many records, literally and figuratively, but Malta’s oldest record shop says the honour of the island’s most-sold record on debut day goes to Freddy Abela’s Taxi Mary.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the shop recalls the release day for the single Taxi Mary by the renowned Żabbar folk singer more popularly known as il-Bamboċċu.

According to a diary entry dating back to 15 May 1967, the shop sold 751 records of Taxi Mary. “That is a record, in both senses, for Malta that will never ever be matched,” the shop said.

William D’Amato, who looked after the record business for five decades, had given all staff a £1 weekly increase at the time.

“On the day, police had to be called in to control a large crowd outside the shop where the queue of people reached right up to St John’s Co-Cathedral,” the shop recalled.

Taxi Mary is a popular folk song that plays on the stereotypes associated with various towns and villages. Il-Bamboċċu was most renknowned for his spirtu pront, or ‘impromptu singing’, a form of għana music centred on free-flowing style and improvised song lyrics.

A popular rendition of the song sees Abela sing with popular parody singer Joe Demicoli in playful performance full of banter. Abela died in 2003.

Correction: Fredu Abela hailed from Żabbar and not from Żejtun as originally indicated. This has been amended.