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!

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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