Going to California (on the proceeds)

Fascinating to see this Led Zeppelin album going for a remarkable £31,800 at a Bonham’s auction in May. The reason being those four important autographs, and immaculate provenance. It’s a really nice example although it does look as if the signatures have faded a little in the intervening fifty years, so the new owner would likely have to keep this away from daylight. Hard to know who has that sort of money to spend on vinyl, though I do know a while ago investors in Japan were picking nice first press items up just to stash them away to increase in value. I think the most I ever spent on a single album many years ago was around £500 at Vinyl Tap in Leeds for a vintage Japan only pressing of an album with a sleeve photograph which had never been seen before, and even then it was missing the obi strip which would have put it beyond my reach. But I have paid a few pounds for a couple of singles in the past which now go for about as much, so it’s swings and roundabouts. If I can ever bring myself to part! Thanks to Tonny Steenhagen for the info.

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Dolly Parton fountain

I wasn’t able to get up to see Steve Goldman’s pop up album sleeve display in Huddersfield earlier in the year but it has now moved to the Spode Pottery Museum in Stoke on Trent (Elenora Street) until the end of June 2022. We were able to get over a few days ago and have to say it was one of the funniest exhibitions we have been to in a long time. It’s just a modest display space but they have managed to put around 150 covers up, including some hanging from the ceiling (not sure I would ever allow any of my LP covers to be treated like that!). The exhibition is being billed as The Worst Record Covers in The World, and the content is fairly random, so you just move from sleeve to sleeve with the feeling of WTF just growing with every new cover. Seen in isolation the covers might not generate too much comment, but assembled together like this just creates a real sense of amazement. Plus I don’t think I have laughed so much in an exhibition for years, so it was certainly a tonic after the last couple of years. Mind you I have the “It’s Hard Rock & All That” sleeve show above and would take issue with that being included!

Steve has numbered each sleeve and people are being asked to choose their favourite – or what they feel are the worst – three covers on show via a poll. I’m not sure if there is a prize for the winner! But frankly it is a fairly impossible task to choose just three, though we had a go. Just what were some of the labels and artists thinking of?
Steve was around so we had a good chat and it was interesting to get his reasoning for including some of the less obvious choices. I’m fairly familiar with the art form but at least two thirds of these covers I have not seen before, including some by well known musicians. So while I know Dolly Parton’s output, the sleeve where her head is floating in a fountain is both mad and new to me. Above, note how similar the floating head of Roger Whittaker is to Deep Purple’s Fireball sleeve!

The snaps here give an idea of the randomness of the displays and the sheer number of covers. The museum has set up an audio visual display projecting sleeves while playing the tracks, and this serves to further point up the strangeness of much of the packaging.
So I can thoroughly recommend a visit if you’re in the area and amazingly (given that this is all run by a trust) it is free to get in (though like us you will probably wish to pop something in the donations box). If you are interested in the history of pottery then that’s a big bonus obviously, with a big shop of vintage pottery to buy too. It is not an easy place to find even with our sat nav, and I know Stoke a bit. The exhibition banner for some reason is hidden away and cannot be seen from the one way street! There is a handy public car park on the left from what was the Spode factory itself so that might be an easier destination to set your sat nav to. Opening times are 10.30 to 4.00 Wed to Sun inc.

A big thank you to the staff for their hospitality, cups of tea, etc. Hopefully when they have finished their Worst Cover poll we can let you know the winner.

Easy On The Eye Books are working with Steve on a book based around his collection and we will pass on more details of that very soon. Not all the covers here will necessarily be featured in the book. An early front cover can be seen on their site.

Steve will be moving his exhibition around. The next confirmed venue is the Shambala Festival at the end of August, so if you are going keep a look out (it is a sold out event).

Oh, and that Dolly Parton sleeve? See what you think! 1973.


Snowy White

British rock guitarist who played with Pink Floyd… except all that remains on disc is a short solo on the 8-track cartridge version of the Animals album. Such are rock careers summed up online! But here Snowy was promoting the launch of his first album with Snowy White and The White Flames at a small club in London in 1996. As we’d released it on our label I got to go along and managed to take a few snaps despite the crush (sadly the rest of the band were mostly in shadows). It was also very humbling to be in the presence of Peter Green, one of Snowy’s old friends, who came along to watch.

No digital cameras in those days either, so these were taken on slide film. Peter and Snowy posed for one shot backstage for me, and Peter blinked!

These images are available through my photo library. I put the one with Green on there as well though it’s not great, but is now sadly a bit of music history.


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Anything Goes

Vintage knitting patterns, while usually taken in a photo studio, still provide a window on both fashions and accessories. This woman is showing off a yellow cardigan, and to help bring a contemporary touch to the shoot she is stood against a backdrop of album covers of the time. The Anything Goes sleeve is the British version, issued in 1956 on Brunswick. The Sinatra album is This Is Sinatra! also issued here in 1956. I cannot see enough of the other covers (let me know if you can name them), but it does all rather suggest a date of around 1956 for the image and the actual pattern. Design wise the Lavenda lamb logo is great and was used for quite a few years on this early colour series of patterns.

There is a great sleeve featuring knitting jumpers on the site by The Clancy Brothers.

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Danse Party

Pascale Petit was a French actress, making her film debut in 1957. Two years later she starred in Julie la Rousse and such was her popularity that Philips in France decided to hang this dance album on her image, using her stage name in the title and a still from a publicity shoot as the cover photo, though I can find no reference to her in this get up in the movie. It’s a very dramatic effect using the stark black background, I’m not sure how they would have achieved this with studio lighting. A bit of a Brigit Bardot pose too, though the twig of lilac looks a bit strange. There are no photographer credits.
Music wise it’s easy listening Latin rhythms covering “Les best sellers du jour.” The back is plain with lots of text and titles and some small thumbnails of other albums by the various artists on this collection. The films theme music seems to have been spun off as a single, and this rather nice promotional brochure for it was produced to publicise it, though the 45 cover is very dull.

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Released on the budget Somerset label in America in 1959, Scheherajazz has become a bit of a cult recording apparently. Although not credited, the cover is by Will Dresser, who did quite a few designs for the label from the late 1950s and through the Sixties. Many betray their budget origins but every so often he managed to sneak a decent design through. Here the cover photograph is by George Pickow, blending a Middle Eastern belly dancer with jazz instruments, in case you hadn’t already got the connections with Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Scheherazade! Pickow worked on album covers from the late 1950s on as album covers increasingly moved to using photos on their covers. His work can be seen on a lot of Elektra releases as well as smaller labels.
Lloyd “Skip” Martin was an American clarinetist, saxophonist, and arranger. The album was finally reissued on compact disc from the original tapes a few years ago and in Switzerland has been transcribed to enable new live performances in 2016 – the original was only ever a studio project. And while you might expect this sort of vintage budget catalogue to have disappeared, the digital rights are very much alive and owned by a subsidiary of BMG in Germany.
The original vinyl label Below) is worth a mention too. It’s one of those logos which is not particularly well done or a great design, but because it looks so much of the time it has got a wonderful retro quality about it today.

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Sun Surf and Steel

Sun Surf and Steel album cover.

This one has sat in my sleeve collection for a while. I picked it up as I liked the unusual stormy monochrome cover photo (credited to Max Cherrie, their leader), very unlike the usual sort of touristy idyll images of palm beaches which adorn most steel band albums. And no name or title either. So I was quite surprised when it turned out to be a British release by a reggae outfit called The Cherry Pickers, based in Manchester. Issued in 1975 on their own Custom Records label I assume it was sold at concerts although some of their recordings were repackaged by World Record Club at one point. The trio are still going too!
Who or what custom Records were I don’t know. Discogs reckons it was created by the band but in that case why is the catalogue number CR7737? I like the very home made looking label too.

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Kyiv Calling

If you need to be told where this cover idea first appeared then you are probably reading the wrong blog! But for youngsters, it’s copied from a Clash single who copied it from an Elvis Presley record. What goes around comes around. Just a shame Putin hasn’t got the brains to realise that.

It’s not a proper record, rather an online digital video thingie. But then it might be a tad difficult to produce a limited edition vinyl single from a basement in Ukraine at the moment. The band, Beton, have put this out to try and aid the resistance and if media coverage is anything to go by then they are off to a good start. The Clash have also given it their support, you’ll not be surprised to hear. Be good if a label in Europe can do the vinyl honours.

Most music videos are disposable nonsense, but this is real world stuff and all the more amazing they could put it together under such circumstances.

I’m hopeless with social media but here are the various links I have found.

Donate here: http://freeukraine.org.ua/donate soundrecording – africa.records – https://www.facebook.com/AfricaStudio… video recording and editing – Alexander Kulyk – https://www.facebook.com/alexandrkulyk sound editing and mastering – Skyborn Waves – https://www.facebook.com/skybornwaves/ Beton is here: https://www.facebook.com/betonpunknroll https://www.instagram.com/betonbanda/

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Mickey Mouse

Haishan Records released many of Taiwan’s biggest pop stars of the 1960s and 1970s but started off life pressing pirate copies of western acts for sale to troops stationed in the region after the Korean war. This album dates from 1973 (Tseng was 20 at the time) and is by local Hong Kong singer Jenny Tseng. It is apparently what is known as Mandopop, or Mandarin-Chinese language popular music.
It would be interesting to know how this album (the title is Chinese and translates as Wonderful Love (Believe It Or Not)) ended up in a charity shop in the UK but the strange cover drew me to it. The photograph is seemingly cut out (poorly) from a magazine source, with Tseng clutching a Mickey Mouse scrapbook, though it might just be poor half tone screening at the repro house! To this image has been painted the headband, ears and tiny wings.
All Tseng’s other records are fairly standard photo shoots so what inspired this we may never know. Although she eventually moved to America to live she does plays shows everywhere still, and sold out four nights in Hong Kong Stadium not long ago.

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Art and about

I don’t really know what’s going on here, some sort of private art project and attempt to cheer people up on their walk? I spotted two of these painted 7” vinyl singles while out and about myself, so maybe there are more to find! The contrast with these man-made objects and the rural landscape certainly made them stand out, while the records themselves date from the late 1970s and early ’80s. As a non destructive addition to the landscape it makes a nice change to badly sprayed tags anyway, not that I see many of those round here. It also makes a change from the unwanted CDs decorating allotments as bird scarers which you do see quite a lot.

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