While “Joan and Ted” might not mean so much to us today, when this album was issued in 1961 (in glorious mono) both singers were so well known that surnames were simply not necessary. Popular singer Joan Regan was named one of the top ten beauties of 1956 by society photographer Baron in 1956 while Edmund Hockridge was well known via starring roles in many West End musicals. By 1961 however Joan Regan’s most successful period of hits was over, and this album of solo tracks and duets on Pye (who had signed Hockridge in 1956) was something of a last hurrah. The pair had toured on a package bill the previous year, which may have inspired the idea of teaming them up.
The sleeve photo is a real period piece, with Joan somewhat theatrically inviting singer Edmund (who has happened by in his pale blue Mk 2 Jaguar) into her pink rendered 1920s country house. It was called Felix Manor; a little sign with a black cat on it hangs above the porch, a wisteria climbs up the side of the main entrance way and onto the wooden balcony which runs round the side of the property. It’s a great looking house, just the sort of thing a successful musician of the time would aspire to.
The building was sited on what is now Old Perry Street in the London suburb of Chislehurst, countryfied but handy for getting to and from central London some ten miles away. I’m not sure how long Joan lived there; she married theatre manager Harry Claff in 1957 so perhaps they moved in not long after. It was a difficult relationship and after he was jailed for fraud in 1963 she suffered a breakdown, after which they divorced. She moved to America soon after.
It looks as if the house was built on the site of Victorian estate lands, but sadly due to huge pressure on available land in the area it has been demolished in recent years and replaced by a non-descript cluster of dull properties; just the original gate posts survive.
The cover’s yellow typeface is the ever popular Mistral, a useful casual style from 1953 (designed by Frenchman Roger Excoffon, and based on his own handwriting). It’s one of those fonts which can seem dated if used badly (and that’s clearly the case here) but works well in the right place. NWA used it for their album logo in the late eighties, and it crops up on lots more sleeves. The sleeve design and photography remain uncredited.
Thanks to Joanna Friel, at the Chislehurst Society. A good article on the designer of Mistral in Eye Magazine. http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/mr-mistral