Give me a pile of old magazines of any sort and I’m kept quiet for hours. So having to wade through a bundle of sixties music papers recently for a job took much longer than it should as I kept getting sidetracked, reading the articles and looking at the adverts. I’d forgotten that record shops often advertised in the weeklies, and here are two ads which caught my attention.
The W. H. Smith half pager couldn’t date from any other decade than the sixties, but the stylised fashion drawings are much better than many from the time. The rounded overlapped lettering was also all the rage then, a sort of very simplified form of the West Coast psych poster style. All this contrasts with the more severe official W. H. Smith logo. If this looked like an old established retail chain trying to get hip, then the mistakes in the album listing confirm that if nothing else the typesetter and proof readers were struggling to keep up. What else explains the appearance of Janis Ian on the Big Brother album, or this mysterious group Undead with their album Ten Years After?
I was reminded of how expensive new albums were too, and those prices (just under £2) equate to something like £28 at todays prices. The irony being that while many CDs are now relatively cheap a lot of limited edition vinyl runs now aren’t far off that.
The Pop Shop half page advert used to appear in Disc every week enabling smaller record shops to take out a modest display advert when otherwise it would have been far too expensive to buy space. As such it’s a nice reminder of many long lost provincial shops (and a couple in London). The Who’s Live At Leeds figures in three of the adverts, and is the same price in all of them thanks to the retail price agreements which set a sensible price and maintained the value of manufactured goods and thus kept the economy going. Live Cream is also ‘due soon’ (or available ‘on import’ for those who couldn’t wait), while the shop in Leven, Fife, is pushing the first Quatermass album alongside the breakthrough Groundhogs album Thank Christ For The Bomb. Clearly a hotbed of progressive rock up North.
If you fancy having a go at dating the two adverts (using your skill and judgement!) then I’ll bury the publication dates at the bottom of this page – scroll down for the answers. I should point out that the original adverts are in black and white, I just had a bit of fun colouring them up.
POP SHOP – May 1970
W H SMITH – 1969