Music Captain, please…

It’s a good while since I went anywhere by plane, I much prefer the fun of the TGV, but even when I have flown I don’t recall being given anything as fab as this souvenir record. It was pressed to mark the 40th anniversary of the Dutch national airline KLM in 1959, a 10” album of relaxing music by Jos Cleber and his Orchestra. It comes in a well made gatefold sleeve with details of KLM’s fleet of planes over the years inside (and significant events in their history listed) and the very corporate front cover. As this features the captain using a Philips record player with a Philips Microgroove album on it, I assume (being a Dutch firm) they put this together for KLM. The very clean Dutch design is offset with loose handwritten titling, while the muted colours are given a lift by the yellow and red of the KLM logo. The album is all covers of standards but ends with two specially written pieces, The Golden Circle Song to mark KLMs 80 hour round the world service, and the KLM March, both to celebrate the arrival of jet planes to the fleet.

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I did get to see Hole early doors when they rocked up at a tiny club in Manchester, having picked up their first single which had a bit of bite about it. Arguably the band never really got to grips with their artwork with any number of changes of direction and several attempts at coming up with a logo. Though I don’t have it, their 1991 debut album cover (below, by US graphic artist Pizz) is quite good with a sort of Sixties vibe going on thanks to the infra red type of group photo, and this was the single. It probably wasn’t done by the same designer; where the title and band name on the LP were carefully drawn and looked professional, here one suspects that Courtney herself might have been let loose with a pen and paper. But it still sort of works, though the scribbled heart outline might have been better if contrasted with some regular type for the song titles. I’ve no idea where the strange b/w photo came from. The only credit on the back is for the band photo.
Vince Chong let me scan this after we’d been to Tallbird Records in Chesterfield, before sneaking back off to Canada with it a couple of years ago!

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Farewell Susan Shaw

Sadly glamour model Susan Shaw died earlier this year. What’s that to do with album covers you ask? Well, aside from musicians themselves, it seems to me that she was probably the most prolific British album cover star ever, appearing on close to 40 sleeves.
Here she is in all her Top Of The Pops glory in 1972, but I have put together a dozen more covers for a gallery.

(ST33 have been helping on a history of the Top Of The Pops albums which has been much delayed but you can read about it on our books page)

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Workers Music Association

This clearly isn’t a great sleeve but it was the political spirit behind the EP which made me pick it out of a pile of charity shop 7″ tat to investigate further (and it sort of follows on from the revolutionary anthems LP I posted recently). Clearly inspired by the socialist end of the political scale, it was released by the Workers Music Association, indeed it was their label debut.  And from looking about on the internet, their last!  The WMA (great label logo!) was founded in 1936 and is still going, but concentrates on the live and written music scene.  It’s hard to date the three track EP, which their website doesn’t even mention, and there is nothing to say when it was recorded either, but from the look of the design (by Brooks) I would say the early Sixties when the format was arguably at it’s peak.  After this, the label did produce a few more records but issued them via labels like Topic and Nevis, or were involved in the publishing side of the albums (which probably meant they earned a bit for their organisation).

What is a bit strange is that they changed the sleeve for this release, perhaps for a second run, to an uncredited design shown below.

“To encourage the composition and performance of music with special regard to that which expresses the ideals and aims of humankind towards the improved organisation of society, music which exerts an influence against social injustices of our present society and music which encourages and reflects the activities and aspirations of the labour and peace movements for a new society…” So sadly still plenty of work to be done.

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Groupe 17 ‎– Chants Révolutionnaires Du Monde

Another interesting monochrome cover, this features a powerful documentary photograph of a street protest meeting in France probably in the 1960s credited to René Barthélémy (it partly wraps round onto the back cover). The use of strong red lettering for the word Révolutionnaires is an obvious move but nevertheless the titles really stand out. The album was a French production, bringing together arrangements of a number of political anthems from around the world. I’m not certain when it came out, but it looks like a Sixties cover to me. The same people also put out Chants de la Commune in 1971 and as that has a later catalogue number, this also suggests a 1960s date for the cover here. It has been reissued a couple of times and even made it to CD, while a couple of other countries put it out in less dramatic sleeves.
The label, Le Chant Du Monde, were founded in 1938 covering mostly French traditional music and are still going.



Dreamboat. Saga Records

This is a strange cover but I like the ambition of whoever put it together on what would have been a very tight budget. It’s a little hard to be sure if the trio are in the boat for the photograph; the dreamboat herself appears to be photographed in a studio and pasted on but the guy with the pipe is quite convincing. It can’t have been easy to pose with a double bass in a boat either! I wonder where it was taken? You might have thought they would stick the (hand drawn) band name and label logo up top right to show a little more of the photo too.
The album was also issued in a completely different abstract cover by the same label. Although the album is undated, the catalogue number suggests it came out in 1959 and was then repackaged after the label was bought out of bankruptcy, but it might be the other way around. Saga was one of the UKs first indie labels but had a very chequered history and their packaging budget was minimal.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I remember my first visits to record shops in France in the 1980s. The shops themselves were even more hidden away than those in Britain but there was great satisfaction when you finally found one while the abundance of sleeve variations was mind-blowing. France had particularly taken to the EP format and there were so many of these snazzy 7” sleeves knocking about.
This is one of those French EP releases, though I found it only recently while researching The Hollyridge Strings, an American easy listening orchestra whose smooched up versions of pop hits by The Beatles in particular were massive selling albums in America in the mid-1960s.
So while this looks at first glance to be an EP of material from the 1961 Breakfast At Tiffany’s soundtrack, it is actually a set of four different film theme tunes covered by The Hollyridge Strings led by Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

I was going to move on but this copy was for sale cheap as it has been written on in biro by the original owner and I figured (correctly as it turned out) that a bit of lighter fluid and a cotton bud would clean that off so gave in. In addition the cover photo is clearly from the session which produced the iconic image of a socially distanced Audrey Hepburn on the original soundtrack album but was not a frame I recognised. Photographer Howard Conant, who did a number of shoots during the film’s production, took quite a few on the restaurant set and when the makers of this EP asked for a cover pic, they just got sent this one.
The rest of the design is pretty basic and follows a standard pattern of French EPs with a nice colour photo then lots of titles and text. But for a couple of quid it looks nice on the shelf and I much prefer it to any of the zillions of knock off Audrey / Tiffanys fridge magnets, notepads or mouse mats (does anyone even use those any more?) which clog up ebay nowadays.

Why were you researching The Hollyridge Strings? Well it is part of a strange planned book on vinyl sleeve art which I’ve been putting together in odd spare moments. I will say more about it when I’ve managed to knock it into shape a bit more!

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Broadway bouquet

One of a string of big selling easy listening albums from Percy Faith and his orchestra, this album focused on a dozen well known songs from musicals on stage and screen. Issued in 1965 by CBS across North America, Europe and Australia in a swirling cover, featuring the same model head and shoulders in a variety of poses, photographed by Henry Parker in the label’s own studio. Faith only merited a single sleeve, with a set of mono photos from the studio recording sessions on the back. The curious thing is how did the designers come up with the curved titles on the front? I thought at first some sort of rephotographing on a curved surface but tend to think it was an italic typeface and just cut by hand then pasted down. Nice day’s work!

My British pressing is mono but there was a stereo release and the album has been reissued on CD in recent years. Although he died in 1976 Faith continues to inspire fans and there are at least three comprehensive sites devoted to his music and even some recent SACD issues of his quad format mixes. There is another Percy Faith cover on this site, Continental Music.

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Destroying vinyl 5

I couldn’t actually bring myself to go and find out more about this! The seller seems to be laser cutting through vintage records to produce display pieces for the walls of people who cannot work out how to frame an actual album sleeve for themselves. They’ve also got the wrong font for the band’s name, if you want to get real picky!


Magnetic records!

This space age cover adorns a short lived format I’d never heard of before, a 12″ plastic recordable record! The disc was coated in oxide, you could speak into a microphone or use it to record whatever you wanted. You can read a bit more about the Pye Record Maker on the site.

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