To me it was just another slightly kitschy sleeve for the collection, but when I delved into the story, it turned out that Ray McVay formed the UK Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1999. He began his career as Larry Parnes’ musical director, overseeing the backings for tours featuring Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury and many more, spending his time trying to calm disagreements about which artists would get to do which hit (he also played on a few discs). What’s more, he gave up his seat in Cochran’s car so Eddie could keep his amp with him, and thus narrowly avoided being in the crash which killed Eddie. Ray moved from this work to heading his own showband, but was always recording orchestral easy listening big band albums.
This 1971 album Golden Country Hits was for Philips; 1971 is exactly the same year that Racquel Welch’s fab western Hannie Caulder was released. It would be hard not to think that the photographer who shot this sleeve wasn’t thinking of that – or at least the publicity images of Raquel in a poncho and gunbelt which are probably better known today than the film. Or maybe it’s just a guy thing.
I only dug it out recently to send a scan to Mike Eriksson as he is working on a project to recreate some 70s style Cowgirl Western paperback covers. Sadly the album gives no credits on the back to the art director or photographer (and skips over Ray’s rock and roll years in the notes too). I’ve got another McVay sleeve with a very strange image of a woman in a gold bikini smearing gold paint over a record – and herself which I’ll try and blog sometime.