Fancy knit-wear


The Clancy Brothers were a four piece Irish folk group who mostly found fame in America, where they were known for their trademark off-white Aran jumpers which one of their mothers had knitted back home in Ireland one winter and posted out during a cold spell. On this groovy 1968 sleeve someone had the idea of posing four girls in the same Aran knit-wear the blokes wore, a play on the album title (which itself was a nod at their 1962 album The Boys Won’t Leave The Girls Alone.) The resulting image is very like knitting pattern covers of the time.
The photograph was taken by Stanley Matchett, a Belfast photographer.  It was just a credit on a sleeve to me, but Stanley is a very respected news photographers who has won a number of awards, culminating in the MBE a few years ago (and a retrospective just last year). Locally he is remembered for his coverage of the Beatles shows in Belfast in 1963. I have dropped him an email to see if he recalls the session.  The cover also uses one of my favourite decorated Futura stencil fonts, very redolent of the time.
It turned up in two second hand shops I visited recently, the copy I bought seems to have had an international history.  The album itself is an Australian pressing on EMI Parlophone, the sleeve is printed in England, and the album was originally issued in Northern Ireland by Emerald Records, but distributed by Decca in London.
Emerald was one of the first labels to cater for the Irish showbands, very popular over there. Founded by a guy called Mervyn Soloman in 1964, they had offices in Dublin and Belfast. The label is still going but has moved into traditional music and reissues of their back-catalogue under the name of Emerald Music.

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W H Curtis delivery van

W H Curtis SheffieldWe have covered the Sheffield record retailer W H Curtis on the site in the past.  I was impressed to hear about a surviving van from the shop recently.  It seems as if the shop purchased a Mini van for deliveries around 1971, and had it decorated in a fetching two tone grey and red.  It was signpainted with the store name and other details. About a year on, their delivery driver crashed it.  The damaged vehicle was purchased by another shop-keeper, who had it repaired and repainted green to use for his chemist shop in Sheffield. But for some reason it never actually got used on the road, and sat in a garage for 42 years. Recently the vehicle was purchased by Tom Sanderson, who has put it through a total overhaul.  So, how do we know it once delivered for Curtis?  Because the original doors were quite badly damaged, and had to be replaced, but the owner kept the originals as spares.  So they have survived to show the original paint scheme. Tom sent me pics of the doors in place, before they were replaced by the restored ones.  It would of course be amazing to see it done up in the original W H Curtis paint scheme.  I wonder if any workers for the firm have snaps of themselves with the van?  Do get in touch if so.  My thanks to Tom for the story and pics. Curtis are also covered in our extensive A-Z of Sheffield record shops past and present.

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Ann Pickford, fifties cover girl.

ann pickford paul huf philipsThe world’s first LP cover super model?  Ann Pickford appeared on over fifty albums sleeves in the mid-fifties, stunningly photographed by Paul Huf for the Dutch Philips label.  The story of her sleeve career and nine examples are shown in this gallery. More will follow.

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12″ gallery

12" sleeve gallery 1It’s about time I made some inroads into the piles of interesting 12″ sleeve covers I’ve been finding.  It’s almost as if this format is one of the last outposts for interesting vinyl design (I mean have you seen Robert Plant’s new album? What a waste of a gatefold.)  So here’s half a dozen to be starting with, more to follow. This batch date mostly from the last 15 years or so.

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wild-oates-boxAcid landscapes, back to front juke-boxes, tartan camouflage trousers suits and the fez. Yes, time for some more of those strange private pressings which seem to attract a lot of interest from vinyl fans! Gallery 3 is now up, with gallery 1 and 2 for newcomers who might yet to sample the delights of this sub-genre of vinyl collecting.  And there is word that BBC Radio are preparing a modest documentary on the scene, so if you were in a band who issued one of these records do get in touch.

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Kitsuné covers

Kitsune Maison 12" sleeve France

A label which has done over 100 12″ covers all based on a developing cover theme? Based in France, Kistuné has been issuing these designs since 2004, each one reworking or developing the basic idea of a montage of sketched faces.  They’ve been fascinating me for some time, but it’s taken ages to get a handle on what’s been going on.  So, no posts for weeks, then 40 new cover images to look at all at once… There are three linked galleries, the first looking at the overall idea and who is responsible, then two pages of front and back cover images. Kistuné Maison.

Kitsune Maison sleeve montage

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girls, guitars and ganzies

A mid-sixties German sleeve which turns out to have an interesting back-story, being an early example of designer Peter Wandrey‘s work. He also took the fabulous cover photograph…

Peter Wandrey Sweet Beat Star Club records

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For War Office Use

registered letter 1950 78 rpm sleeve

I’m a sucker for home made record sleeves as people who’ve followed postings here will know. Here’s another which turned up the other day; a resourceful make do and mender in the fifties discovered that a strong envelope was just right to hold a 78 rpm record once you cut the side off.  Not any old envelope either, but a variation of the Registered Letter envelopes purchased to send valuables safely through the post. These were available from 1878 through until the mid 1980s – though from my recollection you could register any letter or parcel; postie would simply affix the R sticker and go round the package with a thick dark blue crayon to cross it, much more fun.  This envelope was actually printed up for use by the armed forces and is marked “For War Office Use”. Originally posted out of York on 15th August 1950, the recycler has finished the job by cutting a neat-ish centre hole as well.

In a similar mode, sleeve made from vintage kelloggs box. sleeves made from old wallpaper

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Rolling hills

Nigel Rogers photograph Leaf Label in 2001.  Ekhornforss design Gorodisch.

You can’t really improve on an album sleeve for bringing the best out of a photograph. Something about the discipline imposed by the format’s size and shape demands attention. Take what might otherwise be an unremarkable shot of a gently rolling hill, stubble field and a large expanse of sky – the sort of view you find in places like Norfolk in the autumn. It just looks excellent reduced to mono, cropped to a 12″ cover and printed on the reverse of the card for that matt finish.  You do see the approach on quite a few sleeves but most miss the mark for me; this one really stood out in the racks. The minimalist photograph is by Nigel Rogers, and the sleeve design was by Ekhornforss for The Leaf Label in 2001.  Ekhornforss – a design duo – have done a number of well designed sleeves for vinyl in recent years, most of which I’ve never seen as they tend to be small run specialist vinyl releases which sell to hipper people than me. The “band” is Gorodisch.

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it isn’t pink, it’s magenta

Only designers would quibble over such things in a book on album sleeves, and this book tackles the complete early output of the famous Charisma label (their words not mine, part of their original logo!). Some great sleeves well photographed and important for Hipgnosis design collectors as well thanks to some great cover for The Nice and Audience. Our book review is on the site, see if you can spot which album this very mint looking spine comes from back in 1970!

Jackson Heights King Progress sleeve


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