Thursday, March 2, 2017


                                  the evolution of the Island label during the "pink" years

                                     cult collected to this day, the Pink label era

label samplers

                                             the rock sampler as pioneered by Elektra

The classic four Island samplers




EMI's imprint for "heads" Harvest

Harvest's first sampler Picnic - A Breath of Fresh Air (1970) - eco-ironical cover (note the gas masks and the dead bird) courtesy of Hipgnosis

Another punning cover, this time based on tradition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer emerging from 11 Downing Street with that year's budget in a leather briefcase


CBS joins the Revolution and becomes a home for progressive rock with signings like The Soft Machine, the Flock, 

The post-Island major label boutique imprints 

Major labels tried to appeal to serious-rock "heads" by offering progressive sounds with a less square and stuffy product-aura

Philips's subsidiary Vertigo


Vertigo's Heads Together/First Round and Suck It and See! samplers


UA (United Artists) with All Good Clean Fun

                                             Liberty's Gutbucket: An Underworld Eruption

                                           Polydor's shortlived Marmalade label sampler

the post-Island progressive independents

                                                               Chrysalis (soon part of the Island family)

Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label with the 'Disturbance' sampler of the roster (1973)

Deejay John Peel's Dandelion label - which went through a series of major labels - with cover featuring BBC Radio One's resident hippie sharing a bath with a friend


Edgar Broughton Band  self-titled third album (Harvest, 1971) - design by Hipgnosis

Hipgnosis gatefold for self-titled album by Quatermass (Harvest, 1970)

ex-Floyd solo star Syd Barrett, with a single off his solo album The Madcap Laughs

Harvest advertisement for its acts Third Ear Band and Edgar Broughton Band

                                 Island's cover for Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking - featuring singer Sandy Denny's parents in the foreground, and the band in the background / back garden (St Mary's Church Wimbledon also visible)

Island's cover for John Martyn Inside Out (1973)

Decca's cover for Caravan's If I Could Do it All Over Again I'd It All Over You (1970)

 Hawkwind's  Space Ritual live ultra-gatefold double-album (United Artists,1972). Sleeve by Barney Bubbles.


Branson's first venture

music paper advert for Virgin Mailing Order

the first Virgin Records shop - Notting Hill Gate, London

Shirtless Branson outside the Manor recording studio

The iconic Roger Dean logo for Virgin - here appearing on the album that bankrolled the label - Virgin's debt debut release -  Tubular Bells

                             Mike Oldfield's follow up album Hergest Ridge (#1 UK in 1974)


            Cosmic goofballs Gong, led by ex-Soft Machine singer Daevid Allen

another ex-Soft Machine alumnus - Robert Wyatt and his 1974 masterpiece Rock Bottom

A cover of  the Monkees's "I'm A Believer" took Robert Wyatt into the pop charts, with an appearance on Top of the Pops

Hatfield and the North debut album's gatefield sleeve  -a panoramic photograph taken in Iceland by Laurie Lewis -  and below the inner gatefold


Virgin's sub-label Caroline specialising in jazz and left-field business. Island operated a similar subsidiary called Antilles.

Improv-jazz maverick Lol Coxhill teams up with radical street-theater outfit Welfare State

Left-radical proggers Henry Cow make the cover of Time Out in 1976

NME/Virgin Crisis tour of 1975 offers budget-price avant-rock for inflation-stricken Brits

Virgin's shift from Old Wave to New Wave

The retooled New Wave era labels of Virgin


Rough Trade

The Raincoats, "Fairy Tale in the Supermarket" 1979

Cabaret Voltaire's debut, on Rough Trade, late 1978

Scritti Politti, demystifying the means of production, via their own tiny label St Pancras (supported and distributed by Rough Trade)

Scritti Politti, Peel Sessions EP 1979 - DIY record sleeves, folded photocopies of garbage and household detritus juxtaposed with Marxist text

Scritti Politti's squat in Camden, North London, as depicted on the 1979 EP 4 A-Sides a/k/a Pre-Langue 

Postpunk's austere graphic aesthetics from Monochrome Set, Essential Logic, Young Marble Giants and Kleenex


Factory's debut release, the various artists double-EP A Factory Sample (1978)

A Certain Ratio, The Graveyard and the Ballroom (1980) - a cassette in green plastic pouch with gold lettering

A Certain Ratio, Do the Du EP.


Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, 1979 - sleeve by Peter Saville

Fast Product

Human League's debut single "Being Boiled", 1978

The Mekons's second single, 1978


Compilation of Fast Product singles, licensed in 1979 to EMI - featuring the original singles's covers on the back cover

Fast Product's Earcom EPs - not so much label samplers as mini-compilations (none of the groups recorded anything else on the label)

Fast Product to Pop Aural

Fire Engines's 1980 mini-LP Lubricate Your Living Room

British Electric Foundation / Heaven 17

British Electric Foundation / Heaven 17 have fun play-acting as high-flying business executives

Scritti Politti's "New Pop" phase

Breaking with the rough-and-ready DIY aesthetic, Scritti take on the classy design of deluxe consumer disposables - Dunhill cigarette packets with "The 'Sweetest Girl' ", Eau Sauvage fragrance with "Faithless"


 Dan Dlugosielski's cassette covers done for micro-label cassettes

The personal touch - handcrafted cassette packages from LA's Not Not Fun label 

Multi-format release packages (sometimes including books as well as cassettes and vinyl) from A Year in the Country, UK label specialising in "hauntology" and uncanny pastoralism

Patterned Air Recordings "see through baggie" releases stuffed with illustrative materials, and fastened with a leather twist-tie (not pictured)