Hollywood Records

Hollywood Records logo 1956

As there is a hip happening Hollywood Records out there (actually a ‘genre spanning’ offshoot of the Disney empire), finding out much about the original 1950s Hollywood budget label (and there were others using the same name at the time) is quite difficult. The label was based in New York and had some sort of tie to the better known Hallmark label. Some of the material on Hollywood was licensed, but much was recorded for the budget market by sessions players, and the label just invented credits for the front cover (which also bragged about “Hi Fidelity Recording and Full Polyphonic Sound”, fairly meaningless phrases!)
The first tranche of around 30 releases in 1956 had very primitive covers, with nothing on the back at all (later they just an occasionally updated catalogue –  a feature common to similar budget labels as it kept production costs down.). But as the label grew these early issues were re-released in updated covers from 1957 onwards. Batches of titles came out each year but seem to have stopped around 1959.

Hollywood Records

Typical Hollywood Records back cover.

Inevitably many of the covers feature glamorous women and even a few stars of the screen, but others are more homely and are interesting from a popular culture angle today.  Couples in evening wear, children watching puppets, sailors singing harmonies and shots from theatrical performances for some of the operatic titles.  All seem to be from stock photo libraries and few are credited.
The sleeves are very recognisable, with the Hollywood logo featuring a studio microphone making half of the capital letter H (although various other type-only designs were used.) There was a spurious Saturday Evening Post ‘value’ motif on the back which could have meant anything.
The albums began with LPH-1 and ran to LPH-159, although the label seemed to start a second series with the LPH-100 prefix, so there are only around 50 albums in the LPH-1 run. A few ‘hits’ collections, children’s records and half a dozen Christmas albums complete the output.
As often with such labels, there is a certain amount of fun in the non-design of much of the typography and while their sleeves are a bit hit and miss, they do show us the work-a-day approach to albums covers aimed at the budget market.

Jayne Mansfield Hollywood Records

An Evening With Jayne Mansfield is perhaps a none too subtle title given the accompanying wardrobe malfunction cover shot of the celebrity glamour girl of the day, but it’s a real time capsule of mid-Fifities album art. The photographer (J. Julius Fanta) actually gets credited on this too.

Hollywood Records Ecstasy

Ecstasy, or at least as ecstatic as this clean cut couple could get away with on a sleeve at the time, and a strange use of lower case for the title.

Jazz and Swing Hollywood Records

Another young couple adorn the cover of Jazz And Swing, and look like they’re at least having a bit of fun. I like the carefree typeface too.

Midnight In Mexico, Hollywood Records

…which reappears on Mid-Night in Mexico. Clearly it’s OK for Latinos to flash their underwear about and Latin music was very popular for easy listening albums of the time.

Hollywood Records

Famous Operatic Stars again dispenses with capital letters, but whether the stars listed on the cover are for real or not I don’t know, though the mad Scottish (I assume) influenced outfits on the front don’t seem to relate to any of the listed tracks.

Rhythm and Blues, Hollywood Records

Rhythm and Blues in the Night goes for the glamour look again, though you get the feeling the photographer sold the good frames elsewhere and left Hollywood with an out-take.

The Both Sides Now site has made a stab at a Hollywood label discography and would appreciate any more information. Their history has been a big help with this page and is worth a read if you want to get into the label beyond the covers.

Here’s an example of a before and after Hollywood sleeve from 1956 and 1957 on the site.

Most of the scans are of titles we have in the ST33 collection, but I have sourced images off the web to speed me up a bit!