Mood Music and Maguire

The first musical director at Capitol Records in 1943, and as an arranger and conductor, Paul Weston is credited by many as the creator of easy listening mood music in the days of 78s (“All I did was add strings to a dance band”), though his writing and arrangements had for more to them than later exponents (who tended to concentrate just on the strings).

Weston’s early long-players were also amongst the first to feature glamour images on the front, but the sleeve here is a little different. I first saw a copy in a retro shop in Harrogate where it was part of the decor, along with those Tretchikoff painting which evoke an era so well.
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Paul Weston Mood Music Columbia 1952 Maguire painting
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After moving to Columbia in 1950 Weston was busy working on TV shows, as well as doing arrangements for his wife, singer Jo Stafford and recording his own instrumental albums. Two were issued side by side in November 1953, Mood Music (as both an LP or EP set – the latter a short lived alternate format), and Dream Time Music (perhaps double album sets hadn’t been invented!).
Instead of a soft-focus glamour photo, the cover sports a fantasy-style illustration of a semi-clad female lounging by a moonlit sea. Frustratingly the cover (which is of typical American style manufacture with a black and white back, the front cover sheet printed separately and glued on) clips the art right through the signature of the painter. Dream Time Music had a cover obviously by the same person, and eventually I was able to make out the artist’s signature Maguire.
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Paul Weston Dream Time Music Columbia 1952 Maguire painting
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Robert A. Maguire (1921-2005) was a prolific and accomplished pulp paperback cover illustrator, responsible for over 600 book jackets during the 1950s and ’60s (some of which reside in our bookcases!). Amazingly his family have been able to get back a lot of his artwork and also the specially shot photographs from which he often worked, and you can see a selection on their web site. There has even been a book (Dames, Dolls, and Gun Molls: Dark Horse 2009) which is due to be reprinted.
I have to say Maguire’s pulp work is more dynamic than this sleeve, perhaps he preferred his dames tooled up to simpering over a bunch of flowers! Nevertheless it makes for a real ’50s period piece. There are a couple of his other illustrations shown below.
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Maguire fantasy painting sexy
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As for Paul Weston, his spell at Columbia lasted eight years, before amazingly he was fired and returned to Capitol in 1958.
One puzzle remains, and that is what may be a slightly earlier sleeve design for the same record with just titles and coloured shapes which I have seen on the web; it may be that this was the very first edition and these illustrated versions followed soon after. This was not uncommon in the very early days of albums, before labels began to take the covers seriously. Certainly the Columbia label on my copy looks to be a little later.
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Paul Weston Mood Music
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