Well, the good weather this summer sort of suggested this, along with a couple of covers I found recently. These, together with a quick look through the easy on the eye collection, provided a gallery. These sleeves all date from the early sixties to the mid- seventies and if nothing else show the changing fashion in swimwear over that time, from the stylish one-piece suits seen on the Buddy Cole cover, through the famous scandal suits produced by Cole’s of Hollywood, to the rather more risque mesh bikini on Today’s Top Hits.
Buddy Cole / The Most Recorded Songs of All Time. Warner Bros, 1960 : USA
Cover photograph by Peter Samerjan. “We had a choice of putting either my face of ten pretty girls on the cover of this album. We decided to save my face as a special treat for the inside…” explains Cole on the sleeve note. Samerjan did a number of studio shoots for Warners in 1958 – 60, some credited, many not. He had a studio in LA and did a lot of advertising work, including Coke. He also did the great Photoplay sleeve on ST33.
Leslie Carlton Orchestra / Hits Instrumental. International Hits Series London, UK : 1972?
Undated, even the artist is not listed on the cover, so we can guess this was a budget label job, although quite who put it together I’m not sure. The cover photo is better than many and is cropped to provide an interesting composition, somewhat let down by the cheap type. No date, but it looks early 70s and the inclusion of the Shaft theme (from 1971) as the most recent song suggests a release of not long after.
Various / Escape Music To Be Caught Up In. Columbia, USA : 1966?
Columbia Special Products strike again, this time with a title which is something of a mouthful, on an album produced exclusively for swimwear company Cole Of California. They began making swimwear back in 1925, and are still going strong. The album is again not dated but the tracks suggest mid-sixties while the costume on the cover makes much use of revealing net, possibly one of their daring one-piece “scandal suit” collection (or variation thereof) from 1965. Such albums would be used as giveaways by the Cole sales people.
Various / Todays Top Hits 12 Tops. Stereo Gold Award, UK : 1972
A standard collection of cover versions, all licensed from Damil USA, and wrapped up in a bikini girl cover to aid sales. Stereo Gold Award specialised in this sort of budget release in Britain, though for them this cover is one of the better ones. The mesh bikini was a very 70s fashion trend.
Bill Justis / Raunchy. Sun Philips, UK : 1969
Is she wearing the original Yellow Polka Dot Bikini? Probably not as the song came out in 1960 but one suspects that it may have inspired the (uncredited) cover shoot. It’s not easy to see, but the designer has montaged in a photo of Bill himself into the woman’s hair do. The collection was named after Bill’s biggest hit. The photo taken from the back was used on the front, and vice versa.
Various / Summer Dreams. Concert Hall, UK : 1966
I assume the tracks were licensed from France as most are by Jean Claudric & His Orchestra. Concert Hall sleeves were often pretty low budget but this one uses a stock studio swimsuit image, very much like something you might see on the cover of She or Woman’s Realm magazine at the time, with a hand-drawn cover title.
Various / Great Hits Made Famous By Gilbert O’Sullivan. Black Tulip, Holland : 1978?
Black Tulip released a number of single artist cover version albums which originated in Holland, and all had stock glamour images on the front. Hard to date but probably towards the end of the 70s, recycling earlier tracks (possibly from the Boulevard budget label).
James Last / Beach Party. Polydor, UK : 1970
It looks a sunny day at first glance, but the angle of the shadows rather suggests a large spotlight was needed on an otherwise dull day at the coast. The blue sky seems to have been masked in later as well. The cover is the work of Graphreaks, who did loads of top work for Polydor in the late 60s and into the 70s. This is fairly run of the mill for them but professional nevertheless. Also one of the few sleeves I’ve ever seen with fellas in trunks on the front.
Art Van Damme Quartet / A Perfect Match. Columbia, USA : 1963
Quite similar in concept to the Raunchy sleeve, though here the photo is cut out to a white background. The photograph is by Jules Alexander, but no design credits. It might have worked better without the black rules around the titles. This copy is the matt paper surface typical of US covers of the period but has survived largely free of ring wear.
Various / VSP Sampler. Verve, UK : 1966
VSP stands for Verve Special Products, and was set up to exploit some of the Verve label’s older jazz and big band catalogue. This compilation was made to promote the launch, and had the striking monochrome shot of the model in and almost still a one-piece swimsuit. The photo was supplied by the Penny Personal model agency run by Beryl Cotton (which only closed in the 1990s). They handled a lot of actresses so it’s possible this is a known model.
Various / Top Of The Pops Volume 66. Pickwick UK 1978
We could hardly do a gallery like this and ignore Top Of The Pops. The series actually didn’t use that many swimwear models on the covers, but a spate of girls splashing about in the sea did appear around the time of this volume. You can see the rest of the sleeves in the Top Of The Pops section.