Saturday, 8 March 2014

The EMI Record Sleeves - The 78rpm Years - Part 3

The third and final (well at least for the foreseeable!) part of this trilogy of articles about EMI record sleeves for 10" 78 rpm records, this covers the one-offs and anomalies and special sleeves.

His Master's Voice produced many variants of this promotional sleeve. This one features the popular film actors Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald who appeared in several operetta-based films together for MGM. Nelson Eddy (1901-1967) was noticed by Louis B Mayer's assistant at a concert in which he (Eddy) played 18 encores. Just as an aside, when I am onstage with Creeping Bentgrass we often take 18 encores. Audiences hate that...!

His career lasted his lifetime. Although the movies dried up, he had a nightclub act during the 1950 and 60s and remarked to a journalist "I'll go on singing until I drop..." He got his wish, having a stroke onstage.

Jeanette MacDonald (1903-1965) was on stage from the early age of six and made eight films with Nelson Eddy, together becoming known as America's Singing Sweethearts - despite both being married to other people. She was immensely popular, earning $4000 a week in 1934 whilst making the film The Cat and The Fiddle. Incidentally, her elder sister was Blossom Rock who was best known as Grandmama Addams from TV's The Addams Family.

The reverse of the record sleeve advertises His Master's Voice record albums. In the 78 rpm era an "album" was more a collection of separate discs than a single multiple-track record as it was not yet possible to put multiple tracks on a record.

A variant of the same type of promotional sleeve, this one features Paderewski the Polish pianist and composer and (I kid you not) Prime Minister. After a brilliant career from 1887 in music, he was instrumental in setting up Poland as an independent country and was Prime Minister for a year in 1919, also acting as Minister for Foreign Affairs, followed by returning to his musical career. In 1939 he became Chief of the National Council of Poland, which office he held until his death in 1941 at the age of 80.

On the reverse of this sleeve is an advertisement for the His Master's Voice Radio-Gramophone Model 521 about which it says: "This radio-gramophone will alter entirely your previous conception of Radio and Gramophone reproduction".

A Columbia record sleeve featuring a painting of a violinist giving it his all whilst an angel hovers over his shoulder, pointing out his mistakes. Taken from a painting called "Inspiration" by artist Bernard Partridge it is reproduced in a dark blue monochrome.

And we'll finish this time with the Parlophone Scottish record sleeve which was used for Scottish artists such as Jimmy Shand. This contains a record from my parents' collection, Jimmy Shand and His Band playing Donaree. His best known record was The Veleta coupled with Bluebell Polka which is one of those tunes that you can't remember until you hear it and then it sets off an ear worm and you can't get it out of your head for weeks! Jimmy Shand was a Scottish accordion-playing tour-de-force and was knighted for his services to music. Legend has it that some of the reels and tunes originated from deep within fairy mounds... Could explain the ear worm!

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