Friday, April 30, 2010

Design (1962)

I'll follow up on Peter's "simple and direct" choice, but this is on the other end of the elegance spectrum from Jazzland. Design Records: Talk about a misnomer. Could there be any less design on this label? Actually, there definitely could be. After teaching enough visual design classes, I have learned that someone can always find a way to make it worse. The font here is very smartly done, and it's got a crisp, tasteful, less-is-more style. However, I think that if you choose to name yourself Design, you might try and produce more interesting design.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jazzland, 1961

OK, my final contribution to Alexander's terrific blog. I'm afraid I'm not going out with a bang, but instead I'm posting another vintage jazz label's elegant design. It's from Junior's Cookin' by saxophonist Junior Cook (who had several album titles that made use of his last name). It's simple and direct, and this two-week process has made me realize that's generally what I prefer on record labels. I could do this for months and keep uncovering labels I dig, but my time is up--thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Slash, 1980

As someone who fumbled through self-publishing layout in the late 80s and who put out some records and was responsible for trying to design label art--while being a person with no business doing either--I have an appreciation for the amateurish output of imprints in their earliest days. LA's Slash Record, which grew out of a zine of the same name, eventually settled on a red cursive logo with dripping letters--maybe blood, maybe spray paint. In any case, when they released Los Angeles, the debut album by X, they were still figuring it out, and I love the low-budget look of this record.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thrill Jockey, 1999

For nearly all of my posts I've focused on records going back three decades or more, but today I'm almost getting contemporary. This excellent lino cut design by Damon Locks was used on one of the debut 12" singles by his band the Eternals. I love Damon's artwork and while many of his pieces are dense with images and action, I like these label efforts because they offer up only a single idea with plenty of white space.

Monday, April 26, 2010

ESP-Disk, 1967

A very cool label from Steve Lacy's great album The Forest and the Zoo on ESP-Disk. The image is a detail from the photo on the back of the album cover, an awesome black and white shot of Lacy, painter Bob Thompson--who did the amazing cover--and bassist Johnny Dyani taken in Rome in 1966. The record also features the Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava and the South African drummer Louis Moholo, a bandate of Dyani's from the Blue Notes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

United Artists, 1959

A lesser known live classic by Charles Mingus, Jazz Portraits includes the first recorded version of "Nostalgia in Times Square." It's one of my most treasured original pressings.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

BYG, 1970

This label formed in Paris by Fernand Boruso, Jean-Luc Young, and Jean Georgakarakos--the first initials of their last names formed the imprint's moniker--back in 1967 provided a crucial platform for the explosion of free jazz expats from the US that descended upon France in the late 60s, headed by leading lights of Chicago's AACM like Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, and Leo Smith. Some key east coast players, like Archie Shepp and Sunny Murray also made the scene, hooking up with some interesting European types as well. It was all over by 1972, but the stunning releases on BYG, once clogging used record store bins, have become eminently collectable--but that wouldn't matter if the music wasn't strong, too. This label is from Other Afternoons, the killer debut album by alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons--Cecil Taylor's most trusted and simpatico sideman--and it includes great work by Lester Bowie, Alan Silva, and Andrew Cyrille. The music was made in the fall of 1969, but the record came out the following year.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coconut, 1978

From what I can tell Coconut Records was a Nigerian label owned by EMI, but I'm just guessing. In any case, I sure do love this logo. The label calls this Fela Kuti classic Suffering and Smiling, and I think that is, indeed, the actual title, but it's often spelled Shuffering and Shmiling, one of three variants on the original cover art.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Invictus, 1970

Invictus was a label launched by the songwriting linchpins of the Motown hit factory, Edward Holland Jr., Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland, in 1968. Most of its offerings were successful R&B and soul records, but in 1970 they dropped this stone cold, unclassifiable classic, Osmium, the first and one of the trippiest and best albums by George Clinton's Parliament (not be confused with his earlier vocal group, the Parliaments).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Y, 1980

Y Records was about as awesome as post-punk label could get. Formed in 1980 by Dick O'Dell (aka Disc O'Dell), and distributed by Rough Trade, the label channeled in some of the most primitive and explosive funked-up punk ever recorded, blazing a trail for countless British bands in its immediate aftermath, plus all of that Brooklyn hoo-haw from a few years ago. The studied primitivism of this label design was a simpatico match for the music--raw, rude, profound, and weirdly elegant at the same time. Pictured is the 'a' side of For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, the second album by the brilliant, politically blunt Pop Group, who's debut album a year prior gave O'Dell the label name. (Yes, it was called Y.) The group was led by the caustic singer Mark Stewart who later hooked up with a bunch of Sugar Hill studio cast-offs and formed a knock-out punk-dub outfit called the Mafia, who made some classic records with producer Adrian Sherwood. Among the artists who released music on Y; Slits, Maximum Joy, Pigbag, Diamanda Galas, Sun Ra, Pulsallama (the earliest group of the fab Ann Magnuson), Shriekback, Glaxo Babies, Steve Beresford & Tristan Honsinger, and the Fearless Four. It makes sense that the label had some so-releases with New York's 99 imprint, as they trafficked in similar low-end excursions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stiff, 1980

An excellent custom label from Stiff Records, accentuating the nerdy look of the Feelies with a highly stylized illustration, from their classic debut Crazy Rhythms. I had a few songs from this record on a tape compilation I got through the brother of a girl I had about two dates with--meaning, I hung out at her house once and she came to my house once (ahem, our parent's homes, really). The cassette contained zero information, but eventually I heard one of the Feelies tracks on WPRB, the Princeton University radio station that was one of my formative influences. Another of my all time favorites, the early look of these Hoboken, NJ greats played up their bookish dorkiness long before such an image was cool.

Monday, April 19, 2010

SST, 1984

Regional pride from Double Nickels on the Dime, the best album by one of the world's greatest bands: the Minutemen. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Uhlklang, 1983

Uhlklang was a short-lived imprint run by the Swiss duo of Andy Guhl and Norbert Möslang and manufactured and distributed by the great German free jazz label FMP--the design templates of both labels were similar, but the wavy text and the owl, who winks on side 2, distinguished Uhlklang from its parent company. Guhl and Möslang were eventually known better as Voice Crack--the title of a 1984 album, which they then adapted as their own moniker--and who were usually credited with "cracked everyday electronics," a catchall for the bricolage of busted, salvaged, and repurposed electronic devices they adapted into noise-making instruments. Knack On was reissued on CD by John Corbett's Unheard Music Series label.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sue, 1963

Between 1989-1993 I worked at Chicago's mighty Jazz Record Mart, and those years functioned as a supplemental education for me. I learned and was exposed to more music during that period than during any other part of my life. The store was also a great place to pick up used vinyl, and many of my records were acquired back then. Here's one such gem, Dynamite, one of the earliest albums by Ike & Tina Turner--well before they jumped on the rock tip--released by Sue Records. I don't need to add any words to help in the appreciation of such a sharp label.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Black Saint, 1980

The first jazz record I ever bought, back when I was still in high school in 1983 (ouch!) was on the great Italian label Black Saint Records. The label still exists, but its true heyday was in the 70s and 80s, when it was the most consistent imprint for cutting-edge jazz from the US and Europe. Black Saint was also the first record company I had encountered that used the same iconic image as the 'a' side for all of its releases, placing all of the track info on side 'b.' The scanned label here technically comes from Ming, a classic 1980 album by the David Murray Octet, but the same image was (and may still be) present on all of their records. Thus, it's hardly a rare image, but it certainly was once synonymous with quality.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Columbia Masterworks

Sadly my last post, it wouldn't be complete without some Steve Reich.
Here's the Violin Phase on side 1 and side 2: It's Gonna Rain, which was a seminal minimalist piece in 1965.

"The source material of "It's Gonna Rain" consists entirely of a tape recording made in 1964 at San Francisco's Union Square. In the recording, an African American Pentecostal preacher, Brother Walter, rails about the end of the world, while accompanying background noises, including the sound of a pigeon taking flight, are heard. The piece opens with the story of Noah, and the phrase "it's gonna rain" is repeated and eventually looped throughout the piece.
For the recording, Reich used two normal Wollensak tape recorders with the same recording, originally attempting to align the phrase with itself at the halfway point (180 degrees). However, due to the imprecise technology in 1965, the two recordings fell out of synch, with one tape gradually falling ahead or behind the other due to minute differences in the machines and playback speed. Reich decided to exploit what is known as phase shifting, where all possible recursive harmonies are explored before the two loops eventually get back in synch before the end of the piece."

On Columbia Masterworks, nice and gray label, this is a Not For Resale, Columbia Records Radio Station Service copy so it plays real nice.

Over and Out x

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


My penultimate label is of course my beloved zombies from 1968 on Date Records a subsidiary of CBS/Columbia Records.
I like the old style telephone ring in the 'd'

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Clinch Records re-issue from 1988.
Produced by Clive Hunt which makes it all good.
In true Reggae bootleg fashion the label is completely off center and rough edged.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Something hairy from Herbie Mann, Push Push from 1971.

I just love the colors.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crippled Dick Hot Wax

Vampiros Lesbos Sexadelic Dance party on Crippled Dick Hot Wax!

Those sexy Vampires! on blood red vinyl no less.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Minas on EMI

The first of a few funky ones, this one on EMI records from 1975.

Friday, April 9, 2010


A Sonic Boom project, as in Spaceman 3, from 2000, on Rocket Girl Records.
Little bit of Op Art in a Bridget Riley stylee.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Static Caravan

Simple label graphic from England's Static Caravan label, it's Van 4 from early on in the labels releases-

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


A nice 7" from Stereolab, picked up on a tour, I like the lips a lot.

A tour single from 2001 which showcases two tracks which are among the best tunes that stemmed from the Sound Dust sessions. Compared to the lush and ornately arranged Sound Dust cuts, the two are quite austere and more experimental. the title track opens with a sample of some old 40s-50s styled jazz recording, which gets an almost Reich-ian loop manipulation, which is a very clever idea, and for this deranged minute and a half alone, this is the best Sound Dust tune not to be released on Sound Dust, the remainder of it is a cold and dark groove with shimmering keyboards and eerie wordless vocals (both tracks are virtually instrumentals), with some _D&L_ish breaks in between. "Speck Voice" is like a superior re-write of "Double Rocker" (never cared for that tune), starting with a dreamy, but eerier slow part in 6/4 time, and then picking up a faster funky groove with Mary Hansen singing her plaintive wordless vocals and the atmosphere is very sad, and Mary`s death exactly 2 years ago makes it even hurt more.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Little Indian Records #3

Okay here's the last Sugarcubes one I promise, a nice 7" with a penis and balls over the hand.

Monday, April 5, 2010

One Little Indian Records #2

Another Sugarcubes on One Little Indian Records, this is the 45 version of Birthday that made The Sugarcubes hit the big time and Bjork was shoved squeeking into the light.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One Little Indian Records #1

Here's a split groove 12 from The Sugarcubes 1988, depending on how you put down the needle you get a Christmas present or Petrol.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wildlife Calls

Perfect for callin' and killin' the Fabulous Mr Fox, lure him in with the sound of his pup being tortured....nice!

A gift from Mr Vincent Dermody.

Friday, April 2, 2010

David Shrigley

Excited to be asked to post some of these label thingies, here's the first of an eclectic bunch-enjoy!

Picked this up in Liverpool, or maybe Manchester, released on my birthday 2006!

Late Night Tales presents David Shrigley – Forced to Speak with Others, the first collection of audio offerings from acclaimed British satirical artist, David Shrigley. Released October 23rd 2006 Forced to Speak with Others features Shrigley’s dark rhetoric to a backing of dark melodies, ominous percussion and playful sounds. This collection of tracks can only be described as weird and wonderful… or perhaps bizarre and slightly unhinged or maybe brilliant and genius?
Shrigley has penned 14 tracks of spoken word stories and mutterings on subjects as diverse as Satan’s apocalyptic rock concert, giant hairy children, ludicrously clumsy fathers and an insect that desires to lays eggs inside someone’s brain.
Fans of The Book of Shrigely, followers of his sketches in The Guardian Saturday Magazine and those who have experienced his shows will recognise Shrigley’s signature wry observation and absurdist vision on this unique LP. Those uninitiated to Shrigley’s world can expect to find themselves laughing out loud at the bizarre offerings or frowning quizzically at his sometimes sinister musings.
The artist forces us to reconsider clichés, confront the horrible and laugh at the utter absurdity of everyday life. From the tale of a sinister hospitals voiced by a fearful narrator in ‘Doctor’, to the noise of a felt tip pen in ‘Scribble’ and the desperate affirmation of goodness set to the backing of what sounds like a grave being dug in ‘I am Good’.
We are left feeling like we’ve been on a rollercoaster, a car journey and an choppy boat ride through the, tunnels roads and rivers of his imagination. The choice of narrators, many disturbing, some demanding, some fearful, and a few angry, convey these stories fantastically.
The LP came about as a result of the tracks Shrigely wrote for the end of a number of Late Night Tales albums. The stream of seemingly never-ending, witty observations that Shrigely produced for these albums naturally led to a collection of tracks all of his own work, presented of course, with the artists signature stick- man illustrations.
David Shrigley, Artist, comments; “I am a man with things to say. Some of the most important things that I have said have been recorded here for future generations to enjoy after my death. They have been set to music to make them more enjoyable.”
This LP is a limited edition of 500 vinyl copies only world wide and it also features a specially designed pull out poster by David Shrigley himself!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Well, you certainly cant go wrong with bold black type over Tor Johnsons left ear! And a fitting frown, as I am sad to be posting my last label. Hope to return with all 45s!