It’s Smiths It Is

Smiths Crisps flexi disc Lyntone

For those too young to remember, flexi discs were the vinyl equivalent of free MP3s or YouTube clips. Used by advertisers, magazines and groups to give people audio tracks at a relatively low cost by pressing the music on very thin flexible plastic 7″ records.  Fidelity was pretty low and they weren’t designed to be played too often (and usually required a weight being placed on the label area to stop them slipping.)
This example is typical, issued on the back of an advertising campaign for Smith’s Crisps (then the dominant crisp maker).  It features two hip tracks designed to appeal to teenagers, based on music from a contemporary TV and radio advert.  Unusually this flexi actually had a paper label affixed – most just printed text onto the disc itself.  But the cover is very Sixties, and features high contrast images of dancers from the TV advert, while the blue and red colours relate to the design of the crisp packets themselves. Amazingly it turns out that a young Phil Collins appeared in the advert as a dancer, and appeared on a promotional tour of the UK for the company dancing to the record on stage – he would be 15 at the time (the disc came out in 1967.)  DJ Simon Dee fronted the advert, suggesting kids send in three empty crisp packets and 1/6d (7.5p) to get their free flexi disc.  Smiths had form in this area. Richard “Hard Day’s Night” Lester had directed an earlier commercial for the company, featuring a young Pattie Boyd.

Smiths Crisps flexi disc Lyntone

The single was probably made by Lyntone, the famous flexi firm, as it carries one of their catalogue numbers (Lyn1022) but is credited to Audio Plastics, so may have been done around the time the two firms merged.
I can’t get the disc to play on my deck (in the old days I would balance a couple of old coins on the cartridge!) but those who have listened to it report a vaguely white soul and mod influenced track, but with utterly daft lyrics. As far as I know the dance – or indeed the record – never took off in the clubs.  Thanks to the archives of one time TV commercial director Ian Rough, we can now view the original monochrome commercial which features the sleeve very prominently!

Other flexi discs on the site – a Paint promo and Birthday flexi discs

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.
This entry was posted in 7" single, Crate Digging, flexi and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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