Hawaii 233 Fulwood Road.

Record Collector shop Sheffield with Lost Garden

Fed up with Barry chiding me that I only ever add shops to this site’s local index after they’ve shut, we finally tag the legendary Sheffield record shop Record Collector onto our listings! Read more about it under Record Collector.

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Beautiful Tru-Sound

Al Goodman Porgy & Bess Gala records

London based Gala Records are poorly documented but began around 1958 as a budget label, and remained so through the Sixties.  Much of their recorded output seems to have been bought in from America, often along with the artwork. They were unashamedly low-price and their sleeves are always quite brash with very saturated colours.  This cover is a worth looking at though. Based on the central tenement set of the stage / film, it’s a combination of an impressionistic cartoon-like painted background and characters, with overlays of fabric and some half-tone images cut out from magazines. Over this the designers have laid lots of type, though the actual title gets rather lost placed where it is.
The sleeve does look very American (and the recording certainly is) and I can’t believe it wasn’t first issued there but I’ve not been able to find an original. The release is not dated, but the film which really brought the story to the public was issued in 1959 so this is likely to be very early Sixties.
The musical was enormously popular and as well as the official albums, there are lots of cover versions by 101 Strings, Hank Jones, Percy Faith and many more.

There is another Gala sleeve design for a Bullfighting album on the site.

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Ah! Men

Ah Men Contour LP collection 1974

Ah! Men is a strange concept, and a bit of a weird mix musically unless your play list switches between Val Doonican and Jerry Lee Lewis by choice.  Still the concept title must have seemed fantastic at the Polydor brain-storming session, even if the religious pun doesn’t really work in the cold light of day. The cover girl is clearly in some sort of seventh heaven at the thought of all these hunky guys (‘supermen’ according to the cover); about to swoon over Harry Secombe perhaps?  It’s a great studio shot though, and as an advertising led cover design it works perfectly.
Contour, Polydor’s budget label, put this together in 1974.  The design was by Jack Levy, who did a lot of work for Contour in the mid-70s, including overseeing their 16 Chart Hits series which ran for some twenty or so volumes. But he did start out doing more ‘progressive’ covers for the likes of Manfred Mann and Renaissance. Jack seems to have come over from America, where he worked at Dot Records as their advertising / merchandising director in the late Sixties, and probably returned later (there was a big advertising agency in Chicago, Jack Levy Associates, in the 1990s.)
The cover photograph is by John (or Johnny) Clamp. I cannot find too much work by him, but he did cover shoots for a couple of great albums by Kaleidoscope and Dave Kelly in the late Sixties, and worked with Jack Levy on the Manfred Mann cover I mentioned earlier.  It’s not impossible Clamp is an assumed name (maybe a pun on photo gear?). Like Jack he probably moved on into more general agency work.
The cover model does look familiar, and may have appeared on some of the hits albums too.  The button up sweat shirt top and peaked hat are very of the time.  As is the pin-on badge which frustratingly catches the studio light so cannot be read…
This copy is mint and looks unplayed, so may have been an unwanted gift!

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Marchi, Italy

Marchi, Firenze, Italy record bagAlways nice to have material sent in by other vinyl collectors interested in the packaging. Here is a good example of and album size record bag from the Marchi shop in Florence, Italy.  As was often the case, the shop stocked vinyl alongside electrical goods like radio and television.  The building has been replaced though this is still a busy shopping street. They also had a branch on the coast in Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany according to the bag.  Thanks to Max for the image. He also has some nice NEMS bags we hope to show soon.  For more shop bags on the site search for ‘record shop bags’ under categories or see here.

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Winner takes all

Winner Records 78 rpm labelIs this where the phrase Disc Jockey comes from? This horse rider, dashing for the last furlong with a record in each hand, was painted for an early label called Winner Records, and appeared on their labels for twenty years or more between the wars.  This gallery showcases four of the variations of the label, simply because they all turned up in a shop recently and were too good to leave behind!

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Art By Mark

I Start Counting Mute Records STUMM 30

This sleeve plays with the conventions of an album cover and stood out in a rack of bargain vinyl I leafed through recently.  I’d not heard of the band, an electronic synth pop duo called I Start Counting, but this was their debut album from 1986 on Mute Records. The label had only been going a couple of years at the time but had signed artists like Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure so could afford to be creative with packaging new acts.  Mute often did interesting sleeves, and this is no exception. I thought it was a 12″ single at first, but they call it a mini LP; at around 34 minutes it’s as long as a lot of regular vinyl albums.  The letters are all made from shapes cut out of magazine pages which have been given a colour wash with paint first, then pasted up to make the final design.  The art even includes the retail price at a time when label or bands tried to ensure fans were not overpriced for a record they may well have taken a reduced royalty on to hit the lower price break (otherwise shops were tempted to try and charge more).  The album is called My Translucent Hands and is pressed in clear vinyl as a play on this. Although I don’t have it, the CD cover –  the format was fairly new at the time – uses the same design but with CD where Mini LP is on the vinyl.

I Start Counting Mute Records STUMM 30

The cover designer looked to be a bit of a mystery; “Art by Mark” didn’t offer many clues. Yet a bit of research showed this to be Mark Higenbottam, designer at Town & Country Planning Design, who did quite a lot of work for Mute. T&CP were later taken over by Stylorouge, an agency responsible for many very stylish sleeves (there is a review of their book on the site).  The back cover is less griping, black with just a few torn shapes and small montage in the corner.

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shop sleeve single selection

Sydney Scarborough Records, HullA gallery of workmanlike 7″ card sleeves produced for local record shops in the fifties and sixties, which have been serving serving as singles storage for over fifty years. Handmade type and vintage logos abound on these provincial offerings from Reading Co-Op, Canns in Sheffield, Jeavons in Newcastle, Sydney Scarborough in Hull, Savilles in South Shields and Vallances in Leeds.

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TV Times

film and tv theme albumsIndividually these budget TV themes albums may not add up to much, but bring them together and a whole world of illustrations and cover versions opens up before your eyes. They may lack the subtlety of full price rock album art but at least one of these was done by film poster artist Tom Chantrell. One of his original posters would set you back a couple of hundred pounds, the vinyl should cost you no more than a pound. Check out the sleeve gallery and read more about the designers.

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Beverley Minster

Minster Records beverleyA nice new vinyl shop in East Yorkshire makes Beverley worth stopping off in (as if the quaint town, old style market square, Georgian buildings and an impressive old Minster were not enough already!).

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Put the needle on the record

Hi Fi Sound test albumA pair of 1970s (well 1969 for the first) stereo test albums which still find a use today apparently.  Read more on the site. I wonder when we’ll see these Hi-Fi Sound records in 180gsm vinyl shrinkwrapped Record Store Day exclusives courtesy Music On Vinyl? (I mean come on, £25 for a Robert Plant 10″ single this year…!)

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