BJ Krush

The Golden Guinea label has always been a good source of retro covers, all very much of their time. The label was set up by Pye Records in the UK in 1959 (don’t believe everything you read on wikipedia!) as a budget operation, and sold initially at exactly 21/- (a Guinea) – though they charged another 5/6d for stereo. All the sleeves had very colourful images – illustrations, photographs and sometimes just type and graphics.

Most of the releases were licensed from Miller International in America, and this deal seems to have included the sleeve art in most cases. Golden Guinea is hard to catalogue as the original American publication date is used on the label (so early releases show 1957 even though they came out here in 1959).
Anyhow, I’ve been picking them up over the years and just found this one at a local weekly flea market (not in Sheffield, the local council hates anything like that and has effectively closed ours down); Hit Movie Themes Go Latin, circa 1963/4. By this time the label had added that generic yellow bar across the top which made the titles very easy to spot – and also added a magenta strip at the top of the spine, so they stand out in a collection!
Golden Guinea Pye Latin Themes Beth Joe Krush
What interested me was the great eye-catching cover painting, yet it looked like an album I already had. I checked my Archos MP3 player’s image archive and saw another three sleeves all clearly done by the same artist, but not this. Checking the covers back home, two were not signed, one was hard to make out, but this latest was clearly signed ‘Krush’.
Golden Guinea Pye Latin Themes Beth Joe Krush
It wasn’t easy to pin the name down, but eventually the husband and wife team of American illustrators, Beth and Joe Krush, seemed the most likely candidates. They illustrated a lot of children’s books (including the US editions of The Borrowers) and there are enough similarities in their work to confirm these covers as by them. I did also find a couple of 1950s record covers by the pair, one is shown below, so they were clearly not snooty about doing this sort of commercial work.
Husband and wife illustration teams are not unknown, The Dillons did a number of sleeves in the 1960s for example, but are a little unusual – and we’ve no way of knowing how the organised the split in their work (unless they used Krush as a kind of ident for their individual work?). 
I think my favourite is the Soul Of Harlem cover, as the colours and abstract nature of the illustration is so strong. They seem to be done in oils, but hard to be 100% certain. There is perhaps a difference in the Lolita piece; and if I had to stick my neck out I’d think that was done by Beth, the others by Joe… Beth (born as was her husband in 1918) died in 2009.
Musicwise, the four LPs are all by the Orchestra del Oro (who are still touring 50 years on, albeit not with the original line-up), and contain as you might imagine Latinised dance versions of the music.
Beth Joe Krush
Info sources included papers at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, and the 50s sleeve is from the collection of illustrator Glen Mullaly.
UPDATE : Chris Meloche has emailed me a snap of the  North American edition of Movie Themes Go Latin, which confirms that the British sleeve is almost identical, except for the header. I’ll add it here.
Hit Movie Themes Go Latin US version

About simon robinson

Having worked as a graphic designer in the music industry, 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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