Taking a holiday in Spain in the early sixties was the height of sophistication. But, suntan aside, how did you choose to remember your trip? With a bull-fighting poster of course. These were the main-stay of many a suburban hallway for years, along with figurines of Spanish dancers and straw covered bottles of wine.
Also popular was the souvenir vinyl album. Many Spanish labels churned out local hits and cover versions, often with bikini clad girls on the cover and the name of a popular resort. Less common are the bullfighting sleeves, this trio all dating from the sixties.
Judging by the stuck down paper sleeve, Paso Dobles is the earliest release. It appeared on a local Spanish label, Discos Musart (who used the rainbow coloured label below).
Olé (the lettering complete with comic book style ‘movement’ lines), on a Spanish EMI label Regal, is a little later (dated 1969). Both albums feature commercial illustrations of the climax of a bullfight. I can’t be certain of the artist who has signed Olé, it looks like Tuser. The Masart sleeve is credited to Manuel de Landa.
By the time the third album El Pasodoble was released, the trend was moving towards using photographs – these almost look like torn up postcards. Released on the Ekipo label, based in Barcelona, they seem to have appropriated Decca’s Phase Four logo as well, a sign of hi-fi excellentce. This sleeve is actually reversible, the other side being El Flamenco, so clearly a record aimed squarely at tourists. The blocky sixties hand-drawn lettering is very much of the time too.
At least one label back in Britain got in on the act, with a rather cheap looking album called Torero! That label was Gala, a busy budget series based in London. I’ve no details of how they licensed the music, which was La Fiesta del Toreador, by Juan Valasquez and his Authentic Bull-Ring Band (it might even have been a made up band of local session players). The cover art is a watered down version of the authentic Spanish sleeve designs. This came out in 1961, around the peak of the Spanish holiday boom.
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