Learn Russian

Learn Russian EP talking book.jpg

I’ve looked at vinyl language learning albums on the site before but this unusual 7″ EP is a nice example of the genre. If the cover is a little bland it is fairly typical of instructional records of the time, which went for a functional look rather than some of the more cliched designs on budget language albums. This was sold as a Talking Book record and published by Methuen, but produced and recorded in Germany in 1960. It wasn’t particularly cheap either, 12s 6d (including purchase tax, a forerunner of vat), so you’d need to have been fairly serious about wanting to take up Russian. However there was a lot off interest in Socialist ideals and the Russian state at the time so it probably sold well enough. Stitched sleeves are not uncommon in the Fifties but had mostly disappeared by this time, so a little dated. Thanks to Nick Robinson for the scan.

You can find the other language lesson sleeves from this page on a nice BBC Spanish album cover.

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Record Supermarket

More record shop ephemera in the way of two 7″ paper bags from long since vanished vinyl stockists which rescued from amongst boxes of tatty singles by my brother.  The Great Yarmouth shop – called with very little imagination “The Record Shop“, was on one of the many fascinating Georgian streets in the town, struggling today from the same issues as most seaside towns.  Remarkably though as of 2019 it was STILL  a record shop, ITC Music, buying and selling CDs, games and videos.

The bag is a generic design, preprinted, which could be bought off a wholesalers, then over printed with your own shop details as here. “Imported American and Continental Records” suggests a 1960s date.

Record Shop Yarmouth bag.jpg

The Southport shop bag for “Record Supermarket” is in very poor condition but I rather like this aspect of it, a bag someone has used to store a 7″ single for many years until it ended up in the charity shop.  It is hard to date, perhaps late 1960s or into the 70s; the sort of faded design is actually deliberate. The building itself is still there but now a tanning salon, and it would be hard to see how it rated itself as a supermarket!

Record Supermarket Southport bag.jpg

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Stock taking

Polygram stock bag single.jpg

These two generic bags turned up in a pile of 7″ singles recently, their utilitarian nature suggests they’d be off to land fill if I didn’t intervene!  They would seem to be stock bags, issued by the labels concerned to shops so they could keep track of the stock bought and sold, along with other catalogue information.  It’s the sort of routine work any record shop had to do to keep track of what was coming and going at a time of high sales.  I would date them to the late 1970s on the strength of the slightly uneasy typography of the PolyGram logo which came in around 1976.  Most shops made their own stock bags up using a white card sleeve, either just writing the information on or adding it to a sticker.  There may well be others out there.

RCA stock bag single.jpg

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Hobbies weekly June 1965.jpg

You’d need to be in your Sixties to remember the Hobbies model shops.  I was taken to their Sheffield branch from time to time by my Father who was quite skilled when it came to making things, though with me it was mainly to look at their range of plastic and balsa model kits (I still have the model of the R101 airship made by Frog kits we got their).  But Hobbies offered no end of arguably more practical projects, plus the materials and tools to build them. This issue of their weekly magazine offers plans for a small sailing boat, home built radios, sink drainage boards and a tea cosy!  Not forgetting a saucy photo of Miss Blackpool on the inside cover, the excuse being how to shoot black and white film in the summer.  But I liked this issue (No. 3627, which my brother Joe sent up to me) for the DIY 45 rpm record stand, to hold your very own ‘pick of the pops’. It was after right in the middle of the 1960s and times they were a changing. This practical little project is described over just one page, a simple build which if done correctly ends up looking something like the (rather ropey) illustration on the cover.  I suspect most teenagers preferred the gaudy plastic and wire versions sold in record shop, Boots and Woolworths.  Sadly for the fret workers of Britain the magazine (founded in 1895) closed the same year, and the chain of Hobbies model shops itself went under shortly afterwards (although in Sheffield the name was kept going by an independent model shop who catered for the wooden model aircraft and boat hobbyist into the early 1980s). It looks as if someone still owns the brand name, and operates a web shop service to modellers worldwide from Norwich, which is where the firm were originally based.

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Anarchy In The UKulele

Punk Classics Ukulele Orchestra sleeve.jpg

This is not a record I would have normally given much time to were it not for the excellent and eye catching packaging. I spotted it at a friends house recently and we ended up listening to most of it!  Full marks to designer Philip Powell, who has paid proper homage to the work of Jamie Reid, the Sex Pistols visual artist, in adapting George Formby to the punk idiom. The music is a great fun although the recordings are quite old, and have only been issued recently (to be sold at concerts). It also shows what decent graphics can add to a package, and nice to see them actually going with the special inks for a self published CD rather than skimp. I can see the market for a vinyl edition might not be viable but it would look great full size!

Ukulele Orchestra Pretty Girls CD label.jpg

The orchestra  have issued a lot of self pressed CDs including an early punk themed one (below) which is not credited. My friend Alan saw the Ukulele Orchestra live recently and says they are much more dynamic on stage so we shall make an effort next tour.

http://www.ukuleleorchestra.com / thanks to Alan Coventry

Anarchy in The Ukulele.jpg

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Special offers

One trade associated with vinyl which did die out in the Eighties was the discounted singles market.  Back in the Sixties some wholesale traders realised that with huge pressing numbers in pop singles, record labels would inevitably get stuck with excess stock from time to time. So they set up a network selling this stock to newsagents and similar smaller shops who wouldn’t normally sell vinyl. The best known was a company called Pop-Ex, who had metal racks made up and thrown away all original packaging and stuck the singles into their own Pop Ex bags. They would typically sell for half the price of a regular single. But a few other firms came and went, as these two wholesalers’ bags from the Sixties show. A big source of this cheap stock were jukeboxes, and the firms would collect discs as they were being removed from these and sell them on. In this case buyers had to watch out for wear and tear! Some of the bags do own up to where the records have come from. Lastly there were deletions, although at the time many singles were kept on catalogue for several years. However I do recall EMI sending round monthly sheets of records they were deleting even in the early 1980s.

discount single sleeves.jpg

This inspired me to dig through some similar offerings and I realised Supermark must have been going for some time. I would think the name explains all, and they pushed wholesale stock into the many smaller supermarket type shops which existed on the high street in the Sixties before the big boys decided to go for the mega stores. Note the price difference too, and the way the blue bag copies the Topline idea of listed the big name artists round the centre. I suspect the 2/11 is the later price.

Supermark Hits bag 2.jpg

Supermark Hits bag 3.jpg

Finally Pop Ex had a few different designs over the years, but this is one of the last, probably from the early Eighties.  Needless to say the decline of vinyl singles in that decade brought an end to this trade.  I certainly don’t recall anyone selling on CD singles in the same sort of way!

Pop Ex sleeve.jpg

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Weekend – For all the family

Tommy Steele 78 label.jpg

Weekend Magazine was published in Britain during the Fifties and Sixties, a tabloid size illustrated title with lots of photos, glamour, stories, showbiz news and other entertainment. It also had full colour on the cover (often a pretty girl or starlet) and sometimes inside. The magazine was owned by the same company who published The Daily Mail, and they have kept the title in-house but now use it for their weekend newspaper magazine supplement rather than a stand alone.

Weekend Magazine 1957.jpg

Although bought mostly by adults, lots of teenage children also read it. Because of the youth angle, the magazine negotiated for the rights to three pop interviews which they made available to readers via a coupon in the magazine, plus a 2/- postal order , and pressed on 6″ hard vinyl singles. These appeared in 1956 and 1957, featuring Elvis Presley, Frankie Vaughan and lastly Tommy Steele. Tommy is less well remembered these days but his influence on a generation of would be British pop musicians should not be overlooked. June Norris from Parson Cross, one of the large pre-War council estates in Sheffield, sent off her P.O. and kept the single in it’s postal envelope for safety for sixty years, until it ended up in a local charity shop.

Tommy Steele record 1957.jpg

The only graphics are the label itself, which included the magazine masthead, and the bright red and black design which is very much of the time. The Frankie Vaughan single had a similar design, while the earlier Elvis one was much more basic. As you can see in the close up the vinyl pressing is fairly crude, and single sided, so you probably don’t get much for your two bob!

Frankie Vaughan.jpg

Elvis Presley Truth label.jpg

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RK Record Club

RK Record Club EP.jpg

Another dance EP, but this one issued through the Rice Krispies Record Club based in the UK. Kellogg have had a few attempts over the years the associate their breakfast product with pop music, including flex discs moulded on to the box on one occasion (and famously having The Rolling Stones cut an early jingle for them), but this is one of the earliest.

Rice Krisp[ies club label.jpg

Given the very clean design and hand drawn record title, I had it down as a Sixties release but the offer dates to 1959. You joined the club using a form on the packet, but how you obtained the discs is not documented. It’s likely to have involved collecting packet tops and a postal order!  But I do like the generic sleeve design, with a grooving couple set over stylised instruments. Each one had a different colourway and I found a few more on the web.


Rice Krispies record club red.jpg

Rice Krispies record club blue.jpg

The records were specially produced by Rainbow Records, but this was probably a licensing operation. I think they got as far as six releases, which all featured cover versions of chart hits, before abandoning the club.  Vintage cereal packets are very difficult to find for obviously reasons (how many have you not thrown away?) and I couldn’t even spot this one on the web, but the packet design below is from around the right era (albeit American rather than British).  Needless to say anyone with more info please get in touch.

Rice Krispies old box 60s.jpg


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Valentine’s day

Never mind saying it with flowers, say it with a record token! This is a screen printed banner advert issued by the National Record Token scheme to record shops in the Sixties to promote the giving of tokens on Valentine’s Day. I found it in a pile of unused catalogues and other bits and bobs from the time. I’d forgotten about record tokens, which were similar to book tokens; you purchased tokens to a certain value and these were added to a gift card, which could then be redeemed at any record shop in the UK. I did get some myself on birthdays many years ago when parents ran out of ideas.

Record token in store advert.jpg

Apparently EMI ran their own scheme for a time, which is recalled on the Tracklister blog, but I don’t recall seeing these myself. It’s possible these were different to the national scheme as otherwise I would expect to see the EMI name on the banner. EMI also provided stock adverts which local shops could use in regional magazines and papers. Singles on EMI also carried adverts for the scheme on their sleeves (see the bottom of this page). The lovely surviving set of tokens below is from the After You’ve Gone blog, and must be a rare survivor, after all very few kids would have not gone out at once to cash these in. The site has fun trying to think what they would have spent the money on in January 1969! (It’s a nice little blog which I would willingly follow but being run on Blogger it’s impossible to do so, or even post a comment).

record token EMI 1968.jpg

The scheme/s died out many years ago (although some shops continued to operate their own dedicated tokens), but was revived in 2018 by the firm which has been running the book token scheme since 1932.  Needless to say the scheme is operated today via a credit card like system which you can preload with a certain value at the firm’s website.

new record token.jpg

emi single sleeve 1960s.jpg

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Special Request

Special Request by Pam Shaw, EP, made by Lyntone. 1978.  Self pressed record 7"

It’s the height of post-Punk and New Wave, 1978. But over in Wigan the “Sexational” (her word not mine!) Pam Shaw is releasing this private pressing, a 7″ EP. And it’s not everyone who can boast of a sleeve note by none other than Ken Dodd. Doubtless sold at her shows (a mixture or pop, standards and comedy), this record includes the three cliches of all private pressings – being autographed and including a Walkerprint bio inside, and OTT Letraset titling.
The sleeve even credits Haigh Hall near Wigan where the colourful cover shots were taken. I often wonder where these performers are but with Pam there was no shortage of coverage on the web, including a story on Huffington Post celebrating her 70th birthday and the news that she now intends to throttle back on her career, settle down and get married. But potential suitors beware, she has high standards, having turned down Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink’s advances in the past.
The single was pressed by Lyntone, known mainly for their flexi discs, but offering short pressing runs for unsigned acts (a service usually provided by SRT). There are more galleries of private pressings on the site.

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