Fidelio

Way-Out-West-Tex-Morris-Fidelio

The Fidelio label was part of the same U.K. group who issued the Concert Classics albums. Both were dubious budget operations, and cavalier over where the recordings came from (some were later found to be lifted from East European radio broadcasts!) Fidelio was owned by William Barrington Coupe, who was eventually jailed in 1966, and then resurfaced nearly 40 years later … to do it all over again on CD, passing off stolen piano recordings as being by his wife until he was found out.

As they were playing fast and loose with content, you’d not be surprised they didn’t pay much attention to the packaging either. The Fidelio sleeves were a mixed bunch, a few are good, many are dull, others are just very strange and are worth keeping an eye out for, including these two.

That there isn’t one mention of Tex Morris and The Ranchers on the web outside this album suggests they were a bunch of session men, or the label had lifted some country tracks and disguised their origins. I picked it up as a great example of a low budget sleeve illustration; the work is signed, but who Y.E.E.B is or was remains a mystery to me.

The album came out in 1962 but remarkably there is an alternate sleeve which is even weirder, and comes across as some sort of gay Western illustration (see below). The back cover and label are very similar on both versions. I cannot work out which came first, or indeed why a budget label would even want to produce two sleeves on what must have been a relatively small pressing run. The rope lettering is brilliant, and looks like something Malcolm McLaren would have made great use of.

Way-Out-West-alternate-sleeve

The only other Tex Morris offering out there is an EP on the children’s label Beano Records, which suggests they too were part of the Fidelio set-up.

Issued only a little while later, Can-Can has another Y.E.E.B sleeve illustration and again it replaced an earlier cover (shown below ), this time what looks like a still from a TV light entertainment programme. The new cover copies the original lettering, but then just does it’s own mad thing.

Can-Can-Fidelio

Can Can fidelio alternate sleeve

Y.E.E.B did at least one more sleeve for the label (which I don’t have), a very strange portrait for a cheapo version of the Gigi soundtrack. Once more this replaced a photographic cover from an earlier edition. One can only guess that Y.E.E.B perhaps teamed up with the label for some commissions, but disappeared after just a few months. If you’re out there, get in touch!

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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