I cannot trace James Russell & Co. This charming Christmas sleeve printed for their record department looks to be from the 1930s judging by the stylistic outline drawings of the man and woman who are carrying the letters which make up the word Greetings. On the other side they are carrying parcels. I thought at first that they might simply be metal blocks from the typesetters (most of whom stocked a wide range of seasonal images in their catalogue) but looking closely it is clear the figures are individually painted as there are differences between them. So, it looks like Russell’s designers did this specially, which suggests a department store; I doubt a record shop alone would go to those lengths. Either way, it’s a lovely image and the only 78 rpm Christmas sleeve I’ve found to date. There was a Russell & Russell shop in Sheffield around 1910, but whether there is a connection I don’t know.
This vintage paper bag turned up a few weeks ago at an antique shop, and for £3 I couldn’t resist. Lovingly crafted from brown paper with string handles, and complete with the HMV and Columbia record logos, it must be pre-War, so just who kept it mint for all those years must remain a mystery. All this crap about plastic bags destroying the planet could have been avoided if they had stuck to this sort of carry-home!
I can’t find out much about the record shop. The web doesn’t help; the shop is listed on the Birmingham Music Archive website (which doesn’t seem to have updated for over a year), and a record sleeve from the shop is shown (see below). This gives an alternate city centre address, but the Erdington one is the same. All I know about Erdington is that it was the home of the famous Mothers Club live venue in the 1960s.
As with other shops selling records at the time, Beresford’s seem to have been a general electrical dealer. It’s a sign of the time that the Erdington branch is now a Polish food outlet.
I kind of assumed Binn’s department stores must have sold gramophone players and records at some time, but this is the first 78 rpm bag featuring their name I have found. In fact the shop had three slightly different ones in, I got two (someone nabbed the other while I was walking round the charity shop!). The shop logo is lovely, very 1920s, and matches their shop design. This one is letterpress printed in orange ink, the other is actually gold foil, but hard to photograph. I would think this sleeve is from one of the firm’s many stores in the North East (the firm began in 1804, and by the early 1900s was Sunderland’s biggest department store.). I remember the shop in Leeds where my Grandparents used to shop. The chain was taken over by House of Fraser, and in recent times the majority of the former shops have closed or been renamed.
Palmer, W. G. & Son, on the North End Road in Kensington apparently not only sold gramophone players, wireless sets, and of course 78 rpm records, but also acted as a ticket agency for all the London Theatres and even rail and bus travel. What’s more, they gave over the flip side of their sleeve to (I assume paid for) adverts for local tradesmen, grocers, stationery, car hire and off licenses! This is the only time I’ve seen this done on a 78.
Latin via Hollywood that is.
David Carroll specialised in fronting these percussive jazz / latin albums, and Mercury came up with a gatefold cover theme which incorporated six photographs of the cover model spread across front and back. They used this for several of Carroll’s albums. So they make great display pieces! I have not been able to find out the name of this cover star but she does a great job of selling it. The inner notes concentrate instead on the music and huge amounts of detail on how technical the recording was. The album was issued in a few sleeve variations, this is the mono version, and the photo was sent to me by Chris Meloche over in Canada and his been lurking in my “to blog” folder for ages (I do have the album but it’s nice when people send decent pics!). For the stereo one they moved the red panels to the top (see image below). There is also what looks to be a short lived black cover, with a painted illustration, which perhaps sneaked out before being usurped by this far more eye-catching sleeve, but I’ve not been able to find a good shot of that. They must have sold by the truck load too, judging from the number on sale on the web. One of the photos was lifted off for the cover of an EP from the album in the UK. Carroll was musical director for the label for many years, so also got to play and work on many hits of the era.
I was told NIN would be worth a listen at the start of their career by Vince Chong, a friend in Canada, so was lucky enough to buy most of their early releases and see them on tour in the UK a few times. As a bonus they also had great graphics, which were produced by Gary Talpas who did nearly all their artwork for eight years (latterly as art director) through to 1997, and designed their clever reverse N logo as well in collaboration with Trent Reznor. Vince was over last year and picked up this UK version of their debut single up on 12″ (at the recommended Tallbird Records in Chesterfield). It is very different to the American release and the typography is much better as well. The background image I think is from a video for the single (I never watch music videos so can’t confirm!). But the swirling smoke effect makes an interesting abstract background. Gary did a few other sleeves for the NIN label roster but otherwise has worked in different creative fields.
I mostly only blog items here which I have, but this lovely item caught my eye online not long ago. These little circular discs were sold to allow push out 45s to be played on a regular record player. I have a much nicer one for my deck to this day, but these cheap and cheerful ones probably worked fine. What’s nice is that this is a full sheet of a dozen unsold centres, each shrink-wrapped with perforations so you could tear one off and hand over your 25 cents. What a nice find for somebody!
A look at the debut album cover for The Tubes, a sleeve which really messed with the senses as they shrink-wrapped the shrink-wrap, and ripped apart the cardboard. What’s not to like?
I’ve been scanning some of my old rock photographs lately, and found a few of the band Caravan at the end of one reel. Back in those days as a student film was expensive, so sometimes you would keep a film in the camera for ages! Caravan were one of my favourite groups, their intricate and sometime whimsical approach made them one of the best of the Canterbury scene for me. I still play In The Land Of Grey And Pink to this day, as well as some old BBC sessions on cassette (I must get around to buying the CD!) but here they were on their Cunning Stunts tour, not long before their lack of commercial success on Decca made them call it a day. Excellent concert. And yes a friend interviewed them once and said on tour in Holland they spotted posters where the promoters had mixed up the first two letters of each word!
Photographed at Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1975, from the edge of the balcony, using a 135mm lens. I think it shows Geoff Richardson on guitar and violin, and Dave Sinclair on Hammond organ, and loads of interesting looking synthesisers.
I confess I’ve never been thrilled with the idea of outdoor music festivals, but some achieve a mythology which erases any aggro experienced by the audience at the time. These great looking concert tickets are from the 1969 Isle Of Wight festival, and just serve to show current concert ticket designs for the rubbish they are. I always lied the festival design, but could never afford a poster, so was pleased when these turned up at a music fair some years ago for a few quid. Apparently someone had found some unsold blocks of these tickets at a disused travel agent on the island, so they were in amazing condition. You’ve got the proposed bill on the backs of the ticket, although obviously subject to change (as they like to say!) Not being a Dylan fan, I think the second day would have worked best for me as I’d have enjoyed all those bands. Music industry legend has it that the designer disappeared and nobody has been able to track the person down, apparently they are owed royalties for the use of these graphics on CD and DVD reissues…