Balalaika Ensemble

London Balalaika Ensemble

This cover caught my eye recently, and the Deram DSS label always has an appeal. The painting (which looks like something from a very elaborate children’s book) had a very Sixties feel to it, and used a really interesting set of pastel colours to evoke Russian traditional dress, fabric patterns and architecture, with the Balalaika players of the ensemble in question stepping across the cover.
Happily Deram credit the artist, Alex Jawdokimov, on the back, and it turned out to be from 1968.
Looking at his biography, Jawdokimov had a grim childhood, surviving the holocaust with his mother, both ending up in refugee camps before finally moving to England in 1947. These days of course the authorities would probably turn them right round again at the border but happily we had a better grasp of things at the time.
Jawdokimov went on to train at Somerset College of Art and soon began to get work as an illustrator and designer doing book jackets, as well as working in the performing arts (and even appeared in a couple of films). Amongst his commercial work was this album sleeve. I can but assume he had connections with the Ensemble. The only other LP cover I can find him credited with is another one related to his home country, Songs Of Russia’s Gypsies (below), issued by a folk label in the 1970s, which might take a bit of finding.

Alex Jawdokimov sleeve illustration

His signature is clear to see on both. Alex Jawdokimov is still an active and sought after painter, working on large landscapes of trees or butterfly heavy fields in oils and acrylics, and examples can be readily seen on the internet, albeit mostly with a sold sign beside them.

There are some more Deram DSS sleeves on the site.

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About simon robinson

Having worked as a designer mostly in the music industry, and 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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