Record Museum – Gallery One
“Wearing Our Label on Our Sleeve:
An Incomplete History of Record Promotion”
The record sleeve: A clean, static-free paper envelope whose primary purpose was to swaddle your delicious, new piece of vinyl. Before the days where a band’s concept of an album extended to the sleeve – printed lyrics, candid photos, personal thanks – the record label (or parent company) utilized this space to sell product. In the early days of the ‘long player’, companies promoted advancement in recording technology – often proprietary – to promote understanding and adoption of Hi-Fi. Throughout the decades, labels promoted their own stable of recording acts; pushing new releases and direct sales to an interested consumer. Eventually, even the artist got wise to this opportunity and began promoting their own wares: t-shirts, belt buckles, beer can clocks(!).
As the title suggests, this instillation is not all encompassing and offers a general overview on the subject. It is the museum’s intention to present an expanded and more complete show at a later date.
Enjoy the exhibit.
1. Hot Lips Logo – Rolling Stones Records (Circa 1971) Designed by Jon Pasche, Jagger requested the artist create a logo in tribute to Hindu goddess Kali. Pasche sites the inspiration for the mouth logo as Jagger himself.
2. “This Protective Envelope” – Capital Records (Circa 1956) Capitol touts their interest in “...guard(ing) the grooves…” on this early inner sleeve.
3. “Columbia High Fidelity” – Columbia Records (Circa 1950’s) This busy sleeve highlights the Columbia prowess in design & engineering, but also offers the novice collector a “four step” guide in caring for your long-player.
4. “Take Care” – Columbia Records (Circa 1950’s) The “four step” guide to caring for your records is given equal billing with a guide to needle care (w/ comparison of a needle’s lifespan to that of a “permanent wave”) and the push of the Stereophonic Phonograph designed by Peter Quay Yang.
5. “We’ve Got Music For Your Ears” Chrysalis Records (Circa 1979) And for your eyes, a stable of decidedly Anglo artists.
6. “Elvis’ Motion Picture Soundtrack Albums” – RCA Records (Circa 1968) This sleeve features all of the King’s soundtracks and on every medium available to this point: LP, 8-track and reel-to-reel. Includes multiple reminders for consumer to visit their “dealer” for all of these fine titles.
Note: In pen – “Elvis TV Special.” Owner’s reminder to self of contents within (Elvis (1968)).
7. “Grunt/Jefferson Airplane” – Grunt Records (Circa 1973) Inner sleeve from live lp 30 Seconds Over Winterland. Graphically depicts the unification of label and recording artist, albeit a “vanity label” by the band for RCA records. Art by Irons & Veitch.
8. “Kama Sutra/Loving Spoonful” – Kama Sutra Records (Circa 1965) Inner sleeve from Do You Believe In Magic lp by The Loving Spoonful.
9. Richie Havens Catalog – Stormy Forest Records (Circa 1972) Record label owned and run by Richie Havens from 1970 – 1974.
10. “Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders” – Warner Brothers/Reprise Records (Circa 1969) The “Big Record Companies” use the slang of the day to pitch the deeply discounted song collections “to you phonograph lovers”. Includes “Words of Warning” directing haters of the youth movement to their middle-of-the-road “Schlagers” song collection.
11. “Fuad for Thought” – Enigma Records (Circa 1985) This creative mail order sales form features words from “Faud E. Ramses – Enigma Mail-Order Czar” to the “Inhabitants of the Overworld”.
12. “Get the I.R.S. On Your Back!” - I.R.S. Records (Circa 1980’s)
13. Casablanca label – Casablanca Records (Circa 1975) One of the most popular record labels in the 1970’s, the label’s name – and evolving logo – was an homage to the 1942 film Casablanca.
14./15. “Gilley’s Order Form” – CBS Records (Circa 1983) Musician and bar-owner Mickey Gilley utilized his album’s inner sleeves to sell an array of merchandise. Items with the “Gilley’s” name splashed on it included a beer can radio, suspenders and even the “El Toro Mechanical Bull” at the cost of $7495 (“Shipping extra.”).
16. Elektra logo – Elektra Records (Circa 1969 – Reproduction) The “wallpaper” style of inner sleeve featuring the iconic brand.
17. Columbia logo – Columbia Records (Circa 1960) Another version of the “wallpaper” style inner sleeve.
18. “The Starpower Label” – MGM Records (Circa 1961-1966) The lion has spoken.
19. “The World’s Greatest Artists…” - RCA Records (Circa 1964) As RCA’s stable of artists expanded to include more sonically bombastic musical acts, one might begin to worry for that poor pup’s hearing.
20. “The Most Trusted Name in Sound” – RCA Records (Circa 1960’s) Inner sleeve features popular albums of the day (“also available on tape”), as well as the RCA Victor guarantee and the special offer of “The Music America Loves Best” catalog for just twenty-five cents. And when ordering by mail, it’s attention to “Dept. C”, of course.
21. “The London Records Group” – London Records (Circa 1977) It’s a sunny day inside that sleeve, unlike the always foggy titular town.
22. “It Always Happens First on Records” – Epic Records (Circa 1970) Epic makes the hard sell for vinyl records, as opposed to those “bulky” upstart 8-track and reel-to-reel “kind of recording(s)”.
23. “*Not Available In Stereo” – Atlantic Records (Circa 1969) Atlantic wastes no space in promotion of their many releases. Please note: “The Art of Mabel Mercer” is not available in Stereo.
24. “UA Catalog Highlights” – United Artists Records (Circa 1964) UA features 9 diverse releases in this bold use of purple-on-green color scheme.
25. Playboy logo – Playboy Records (Circa 1973) No surprise that a company well known for their paper inserts being used as wallpaper would feature their logo in the “wallpaper” style on this paper insert.
Curator: John Philip Hamilton
The Record Museum © 2022