Michael Farrell – Judith Durham Deco style

judith durham Here I Am A&M Mayfair label design by Michael Farrell

Some sleeves just have a way of standing out from the crowd in design terms and this grabbed my attention recently. The look is great, a very clean white background with crisp line illustrations (inspired by children’s books or nursery rhymes) surrounding two photographs of Judith, heavily hand coloured to give a vintage look. These are repeated on the back, with text and titles run around them, and a few more illustrations.
Here I Am, issued in 1972, was a collection of tracks from Judith Durham’s first two full-priced A&M solo albums, although the detailed sleeve note doesn’t mention this fact, preferring instead to give a detailed CV of the former Seekers vocalist’s career.
I’ve seen a few albums on the Mayfair label and all utilise the tabbed file design on the top edge in some way, but here the illustrator blends the drawings into this. It’s hard perhaps to remember how important label names and logos were. These days it’s almost the last thing you see on a record, but for many years labels were proud of their catalogue and wanted to build up the brand.
A&M’s Mayfair imprint was launched in late 1970 with a handful of titles and a press campaign, a direct response to other major labels introducing good quality budget ranges. It included single artist albums, compilations and samplers drawn from slightly older full-price A&M titles. The name I assume comes from the fact that their London office was originally in Mayfair.
judith durham Here I Am A&M Mayfair label design by Michael FarrellMichael Farrell was one of a three man design agency based in London in the late 1960s; Bentley / Farrell / Burnett. Peter Bentley did a terrific T. Rex gatefold sleeve (all Mayfair titles had single jackets) which I detailed some time ago, so it was good to find a cover by one of his partners after he had gone solo (the trio only worked together for a short time but did a lot of sleeves and book jacket work updating art deco imagery).  The Judith Durham cover art continues some of the themes the partnership explored, with nods to vintage graphics and deco style. Michael Doud is credited on the laminated back cover,  A&M’s creative director from late 1971 onwards.
The Mayfair label won an industry cover prize in 1973 for an album by Grass Roots designed by Pauline Ellison, so clearly went to a lot of effort. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more releases.

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