There are many ‘Beacon’ record labels. This Beacon is a collectable British soul label, specializing in 45s.
It was founded by record producer Milton Samuel in January 1968, with distribution via EMI after the first handful of records. The first release was Ain’t Nothing But A House Party by The Showstoppers in March 1968. Samuels had bought the leasing rights from Philadelphia label, Showtime. It had sold around 40,000 copies in the Philadelphia area and made US #118. Samuels paid just £30 for the British rights, and scored a #11 hit.. Beatles publicist Bill Harry says there was talk of buying the track from Beacon as an early Apple release, but all four Beatles had disappeared on holiday and couldn’t sign the paperwork. The song also hit #33 when Beacon reissued it in 1971. Samuels was from Antigua and was later Antiguan Ambassador to the UK.
This rapid success with The Showstoppers, allowed Samuels to engage other writers and producers to assist him, including Biddu, Micki Dallon, Eddy Grant and Donnie Elbert. The releases mingled British soul with American soul from The Showstoppers, The Chi-Lites, and Bobby Wells. British artists included Jon and Jeannie, Root & Jenny Jackson, Paula Parfitt and Sons and Lovers (naturally from D.H. Lawrence’s Nottingham). Jon and Jeannie’s cover of Lover’s Holiday became a Northern Soul classic. They were a white guy / black girl duo from Brixton.
The label lasted for around ninety releases between 1968 and 1971. Another signing was early metal band, UFO, who were produced by Eddy Grant. In the litany of internet complaints about record labels, the same old story comes up from UFO: we were never paid a penny. They describe Samuels as a cool Jamaican dude.
Ain’t Nothing But A Houseparty was issued at least four times. The first release had the red swirling effect in 1968, which was replaced by plain yellow the same year. The 1970-71 reissue (BEA-100) is green. The 1973 is orange. There may be a white one too. Beacon’s first two labels are classic outsized centre labels, therefore impossible to scan in a sleeve without loss of edge information. The red is bigger than the yellow.
The song Ain’t Nothing But A Houseparty shows that the UK did have regional differences in hits. I found all four of these in Poole or Bournemouth easily. A friend from Liverpool was corresponding on a website saying he’s been looking for the record for years without finding it. Yet on the South Coast (which large numbers of discotheques catering to tourists) it’s a common single.
The Showstoppers visited England after the hit and were on Top of The Pops. Their subsequent singles were produced and recorded in Britain. That included Eeny Meeny in 1968 (UK #33) which was on the MGM label. Then on Beacon, Shake Your Mini the same year and Just A Little Bit of Lovin’ in 1969. In spite of their success, Beacon never issued an LP.
The company sleeve with logo came in 1969. EMI distribution is marked by the introduction of BEA catalogue numbers and the white sleeve, with white centres. I’ve seen green discs (which can have black or silver printing) in EMI sleeves and the logo still matches, but they are not dealer numbered matches.
African Velvet: Black Velvet 1969 white centre EMI distributed
Hello Heartaches: Sons and Lovers 1972
There were two compilation or sampler LPs. Volume One is quite common so must have sold a few. They’re prominently labelled ‘budget.’
UFO being in the heavy metal / prog sphere were an LP act, and Beacon duly released their albums. The band had single hits on Beacon in Germany with Boogie For George and Prince Kajuka.
It has hard rock covers of C’mon Everybody, (Come Away) Melinda, Who Do You Love.
UFO 2, 1972
On their second album, Star Storm was just shy of 19 minutes long, and Flying was 26 minutes 30 seconds. The LP was around 30 minutes a side, far too long for vinyl, so quality was seriously affected.
LPs weren’t so much a Beacon focus for the soul / reggae acts, but there was an odd release with cover versions of songs from the films Che and Easy Rider sharing a side each of an LP:
Che / Easy Rider: John Penn & The Marylebone Orchestra, Beacon LP 1969
Otherwise the LP releases were eclectic ranging from comedian Dickie Henderson covering MoR / country hits to Ram John Holder. The Ram John Holder copies online are all from Spain.
Beacon Budget Series
These were LPs of cover versions by invented / non-existent groups, such as ‘The Night Life’ with Country Meets Folk, or Black Funk by The Brixton Market which is a budget LP of reggae hits cover versions.
Beacon LP Gallery:
There were sub-labels. Mother was set up with DJ Emperor Roscoe in 1970, issuing a couple of singles. Up Front was a reggae subsidiary, who also recorded Black Velvet.
Young Blood was associated with Beacon for a time.