Housewives Playtime!

The Embassy record label is generally remembered as a Woolworths own brand, though they were produced and manufactured by Oriole Records (who later produced the Allegro label). Embassy releases were all exclusive to Woolworths, and presented a way for cash-strapped pop music enthusiasts to buy current hits albeit covered by other artists. The label began in 1954 as a 78 rpm only range, before adding 7″ and then 12″ albums. It ran until 1965 when Oriole was bought out by CBS and Woolworths dropped the range. Other cover version labels soon appeared, most famously the Top Of The Pops series.

Embassy singles had generic bags. The EPs and LPs are very dull looking indeed, but occasionally a smart one turns up. I couldn’t believe nobody else wanted this gem, which was stuck to the charity shop wall (albeit in a plastic sleeve) when I found it.
Housewives Playtime

This album must be pre-1964. The Jack Emblow Sextet looked at first to be a fairly anonymous act, but turned out to be a one BBC Radio’s foremost recording bands, appearing on Worker’s Playtime for many years in the second half of the fifties (and later supplying incidental music for Last Of The Summer Wine – Jack was an accomplished accordionist).

But never mind all that, just check out the sleeve! Our plucky cover girl appears to be multi-multi tasking, doing housework, playing records and eating cake.
The impressive stereo radiogram is a McMichael branded piece. I assumed this to be a cheap way to try and copy M&S’s St.Michel name, but if fact this Slough based company began making radios as far back as 1920. The radiogram used on the cover dates from around 1961). All the props (and the radiogram may well have been a stock item too) appear to be Woolworth own brand – the crockery, pinafore, polythene bucket and mop are clearly from the homeware department, and full marks have to go to the photographer’s assistant who has even managed to make sure her dress colour matches that of the brush head. I cannot believe a budget label such as Embassy had the cover image done specially, so it may have been a Woolworths publicity slide or done for a catalogue. 
Only one question remains – how do you actually sweep floors in heels that high?

About simon robinson

Having worked as a designer mostly in the music industry, and mainly in the reissue sector, I now concentrate on the design and publication of books about popular culture - and even write some of them.
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2 Responses to Housewives Playtime!

  1. The Jack Emblow Sextet never appeared in ‘Workers Playtime’ , which was a live variety show from factory canteens. You are confusing it with ‘Music While You Work’ for which the sextet played regularly

    • simon robinson says:

      Thanks for putting me right Brian; both shows just pre-date my working days – I had to suffer the horrors of Radio 1 at the printers where I kicked off (so used to retreat to the darkroom with my cassette player!).

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