Word association games. Try them out with record labels. RCA … Elvis. Columbia … Cliff. Parlophone … The Beatles.  Decca … The Rolling Stones. Brunswick? It can only be Brenda Lee, with twenty hits for the label she joined as Little Brenda Lee, aged nine.

Switch it to songs, and Brunswick’s two biggest are White Christmas by Bing Crosby (in the 78 rpm, pre-Top 20  era mainly) and Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets. White Christmas is one of those where you translate its sales to modern values and it comes out as … well, the biggest record in the Earth, the Galaxy or the Universe or whatever and popular in Bournemouth too.


Brunswick was an American label started by cabinet makers Brunswick-Balke-Collander in 1916, to complement their new phonographs. The company boasts its origin in 1845. When they started making records they used Edisons vertical cut system, which was a loser, and in 1920 they switched to the same lateral system as the rest.

By the mid 20s, they were part of the Big Three with Victor and Columbia. In 1924 they bought the Vocalion Records label.

They were acclaimed for quality pressings, and moved into classical recordings in 1924.

Hot Roasted Peanuts: Gene Rodemich’s Orchestra, Brunswick 2525, 78 rmp shellac disc 1923
Different orchestra on each side of the disc

Their main base was Chicago, and they recorded early jazz in their Race Records Series.

The company was sold to Warner Bros in 1930, and shifted to New York. The film connection led to signings of Bing Crosby, always their biggest star, then The Mills Brothers and Cab Calloway. The complexities of ownership abound, as when record sales slumped in 1930-32 (a combination of the Depression and the rise of radio), tey were farmed out on lease to ARC (American Record Company). Brunswick became their premium price label at 75 cents compared to 35 cents for ARC’s other labels.

They were already operating in the UK, from 1923 as well importing discs, first via Cliftophone then Duophone. In 1932 the British division was sold to Decca. The UK branch issued some great designs, becoming the first (I think) to use photographic centre labels, different on each side.

Sweet Leilani / In A Little Hula Heaven: Bing Crosby #02443, 1937 78 rpm shellac

Whispering Grass: The Ink Spots #03075 78 rpm shellac 1940
Dream Dancing: Fred Astaire #03288 78 rpm shellac 1941
I Said No: Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra # 03317 78 rpm shellac 1941

There was already confusion. These discs are Brunswick Ltd, UK. Releases elsewhere in Europe are (UK) Decca.

Carmen Miranda had her own photographic centre design which ran through several releases in 1940 and 1941- always the same one.

So, it’s not over CBS (Columbia) bought ARC in 1939. By 1941 decided to scrap Brunswick and Vocalion, and switch the artists to Columbia and Okeh. This screwed up the original deal with the Warner to ARC sale, and CBS had to sell the brand names and original pre-1931 masters. American Decca stepped in and bought both Brunswick and Vocalion. US Decca relaunched both labels in 1943.

Long Ago and Far Away: Bing Crosby, Brunswick 78, 1944

Until 1946 it had its own UK distribution, based at 1-3 Brixton Road, London SW9 … long before such an address would have had ska and reggae connotations. Brunswick artists in the 1940s were led by Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, and included Carmen Miranda, The Mills Brothers, The Andrews Sisters, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, The Ink Spots. So major American artists.

Brunswick monthly supplement: UK, August 1942

Now let’s confuse matters. Brunswick had survived in Europe as a label, and imports appeared. British Decca had sold American Decca during the Second World War, but retained enough association to contract for British distribution of US Decca releases. Ah, but they couldn’t confuse the two separate Decca companies, so decided that American Decca records would be released as ‘Brunswick‘ in the UK.

U.S. Decca let the U.S. Brunswick label lie dormant until 1957 when it was revived. These records were then issued in the UK as Coral, not Brunswick.

Therefore, the records issued in Britain as Brunswick, originated from U.S. Decca. The way it worked out in Britain was that both Coral (aka Brunswick USA) and Brunswick (aka Decca USA) were distributed by British Decca. Phew! By 1956, the circle around the top of the logo reads “American Recordings”.

US Brunswick = UK Coral

US Decca = UK Brunswick

The UK labels say Brunswick Ltd so it was registered as a distinct UK company, but as a branch of the Decca Record Company Limited.

Decca marketed the same records in France, Germany and Scandinavia under the Brunswick logo. They did not issue 45s until 1954, and from October 1954 to January 1960 they issued 45s and 78s.

Buddy Holly was on Coral in the UK, but two singles were issued on Brunswick here. His first, Blue Days Black Nights, 1956, is rated at £800 mint in Rare Record Guide, then you get eight singles on Coral, followed by Rock Around With Ollie Vee, back on Brunswick in 1959 in Britain, which is rated at a mere £40 mint. Then it switches back to Coral.

Paul Pelletiere’s Record Information Issue Three guide has Brunswick. He did an analysis of number of releases per year, with percentage and number of chart entries. This gives the best guide to the trajectory of the label.

YearNumber of releasesUK chart entrieshit percentage

The table shows that early on there were a very large number of re-issues, and they were issuing nearly everything American Decca had. The number of releases declines steadily per year, and suggests that Decca UK were cherry-picking what to release, resulting in a higher percentage of hits. You can see the Haley effect, the Brenda Lee effect, and The Who effect.

Into the 1950s

There was a great deal of reissuing and consolidating older material from American Decca on LP and EP. The early material utilised the same template sleeves with overprinting as Decca.

LP base designs:

Jazz Band Ball No.1 (10″ LP): Eddie Condon & His Orchestra, Brunswick LA. 8549 1951
Louis Armstrong Classics (10″ LP): Brunswick LA 8528, 1951


So really we’re looking at stuff that originated from US Decca, and the golden days were the mid Fifties … Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Junior, The Four Aces, The Ink Spots, The Andrews Sisters, The Mills Brothers, Louis Armstrong… all the “quality” (i.e. showbiz establishment) end of traditional fifties popular music. Plus extremely classy female vocal from Billie Holiday (back catalogue) and the then new Peggy Lee. My mother would accept no argument. In our house Bing Crosby was rated vastly superior to Frank Sinatra.

Bing Sings The Hits: Bing Crosby 1954 OE 9003
Al Jolson – Songs He Made Famous Vol 1  (EP) OE9011 1954. See reissue OE9336

Leroy Anderson conducts his own compositions (EP) October 1954 OE 9021
Ella Fitzgerald Sings (EP): Ella Fitzgerald OE 9062 May 1955
Starring Sammy Davis  Volume 1 (EP): Sammy Davis OE 9146 1955

Louis Armstrong & Gordon Jenkins (EP) OE 9045
Louis Armstrong & Gordon Jenkins (EP) OE 9045, December 1955 pressing, same EP

Ella Sings Gershwin Volume 1 (EP): Ella Fitzgerald OE 9047 Jan 1955
South of The Mason-Dixon Line (EP): The Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band OE 9083, March 1955

Collectors’ Items (EP): Glen Miller Orchestra, OE 9169
The Four Aces (EP): The Four Aces 1955 OE 9090 soft paper
Mood For Love Volume 2 (EP): The Four Aces November 1955 OE 9192, soft paper

They didn’t move from template paper sleeves straight to glossy card sleeves. The above are all matt soft paper.

The love of mining the back catalogue indicated a lack of something at Decca.

Curtain Call Vol. 2: Brunswick, 1955 hits compilation LA 8728

A is for Al

Songs He Made Famous Pt 1: Al Jolson, OE9336, 1960 pressing of a 1958 release, same as OE9011, 1954
Among My Souvenirs Pt 3: Al Jolson, October 1957 pressing, glossy sleeve OE9365

They specialized in flogging the same stuff through the years.

B is for Bing

Merry Christmas Vol. Two (EP): Bing Crosby OE 9070 1956 in December 1957 sleeve
Bing Sings No 1 (EP): Bing Crosby 1959 OE 9466
Me & The Moon No 1 (EP): Bing Crosby 1960 OE 9472

C is for corny

Louis & The Angels (EP): Louis Armstrong December 1957 OE 9348
Club Durant (EP): Jimmy Durante & His Guests 1957 OE 9360
Boy Meets Girl (EP): Sammy Davis & Carmen McRae 1958 OE 9445

Ladies of Brunswick

Pete Kelly’s Blues Vol 3 (EP): Ella Fitzgerald OE9155 1955
Sweet & Hot Part 2 (EP): Ella Fitzgerald OE 9211 1956

Lady Day Vol.2 EP: Billie Holliday OE9199  1956
Presenting Peggy Lee EP: Peggy Lee OE 9282 1957

Shows and films

Hit Parade (EP): Various 1957 =-all songs are from films

Look at the country section and the rock ‘n’roll section, I reckon Brunswick had two design departments, one favouring iconic 50s illustrators and the othe

r ultra-bland photography. I have the 10″ LP of The Desert Song framed.

The Desert Song (10″ LP): Various Artists, Brunswick LA 8501, possibly 1957
Reissued from a Decca shellac 10″ 5 x 78 box set recording from 1945

The Sweet Smell of Success 1957 OE 9355
The Eddy Duchin Story Pt 3: 1956 OE 9384

Oklahoma! Original Broadway Cast of 1943. 1958 release OE 9385
Annie Get Your Gun: Ethel; Merman 1958, )E 9388

Country & Folk

There was a country / folk strand, based around Saturday / Sunday morning radio show artists from the South. The Cowboy Church Sunday School had four Brunswick singles in 1956 alone. This was evident in archive reissues like Cousin Emmy & Her Kinfolk, that leads through to Burl Ives and eventually the later work of Brenda Lee (when she moves from pop to country).

The Country Waltz (EP): Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, OE 9195

Bill Monroe’s The Country Waltz EP has sleeve notes suggesting that hillbillies are both gay and simple, not a statement I’d care to make in the Appalachians in 2023.

Kentucky Mountain Ballads Vol. 2 (EP): Cousin Emmy& Her Kinfolk, OE 9259 May 1956

Cousin Emmy was a “hill-billy” singer from the 1940s who played fifteen instruments plus “a tune I makes by just slopping against my cheeks with my hands.” Her biography inspired every later female C&W singer, as she said she grew up in a shack with “had cracks between the walls so big that you could a-throwed a cat betwix them without tetching a hair.”

Mountain Music Vol. 3: Grandpa Jones OE9455, with red EP tri-centre

Eight More Miles to Louisville: Grandpa Jones & His Grandchildren, 45-05676,
1949 recording, released in May 1957

Ballads & Folk Songs: Burl Ives 10″ LPs, 1953 LA 8583 / LA 8552

Ignore the catalogue numbers. Gold centre is an earlier pressing than silver.

These are 1945 shellac recordings, reissued in the UK as 10″ LPs in 1953.

Songs For and About MEN Vol. 2 (P): Burl Ives, OE9201 1956

Burl Ives had a series of EPs called MEN: Songs for and about Men in 1956, predating the Iron John book by decades. They were extracted from an American Decca LP, which was not issued in the UK- EPs were the choice for the impoverished UK market. Some Burl Ives is on LP though.

Selected LPs

Down to The Sea in Ships: Burl Ives 12″ LP LAT 8142 1956
Australian Folk Songs: Burl Ives 10″ LP LA 87390 1956
The Versatile Burl Ives: Burl Ives LAT 8381

Judy Collins has rightly pointed out how under-rated Burl Ives was. She says that in 1960 and 1961 authenticity ruled in folk circles so that Burl Ives daren’t admit that he was writing his own material, announcing songs as something he’d ‘learned from a woman on a mountain with a basket on her head.’

Big Daddy’s Hits EP: Burl Ives OE 9489 1962
Sweet Dreams EP: Patsy Cline OE 9490 1962

The Brunswick logo is now a simpler rectangle.

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Rock & Roll EP: Bill Haley & His Comets 1955 OE 9214

Bill Haley was from a country background too, but was out of place among the ones above and Rock Around The Clock wasn’t his first rock number. Haley had been around ten years in Western Swing bands, but had shown a penchant for recording covers of things like Rocket 88, Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie. He recorded Crazy Man Crazy in 1953. Then Big Joe Turner had a #1 R&B hit in the USA with Shake, Rattle & Roll. Haley covered it.

His recording of Rock Around The Clock took place in 1954 and it was a very minor hit initially. The song itself dates back to 1952,

The song charted in the UK again in both the 1960s and 1970s.

Dim Dim The Lights (EP): Bill Haley & The Comets 1955. OE9129.
(September 1956 pressing , is light blue)

Dim Dim The Lights EP, which had Shake Rattle & Roll demonstrates the Decca group penchant for overprinting coloured base sleeves with title specific information, and changing the base sleeve on each pressing run.

Rock Around The Clock (EP): Bill Haley & His Comets 1956, OE9250  November 1956 pressing
Rock Around The Clock (EP): Bill Haley & His Comets 1956, OE9250  April 1961 pressing

The sleeves are confusing for Rock Around The Clock, where the original 1956 LP and EP shared the same red design. Later pressings around 1960-1961 had a much duller and older-looking brown and white sleeve.

Shake Rattle and Roll was much more successful until the film Blackboard Jungle came out in 1955, propelling Rock Around The Clock to become the first record ever to sell a million in both Britain and Germany. The film involves threats with flick-knives. he legend is that the film moved Teddy Boys to dance in cinema aisles, then stab and rip the cinema seats with their dreaded flick-knives. Was the Bill Haley stage show likely to cause such havoc?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Stage Show Parts 2 & 3 (EPs): Bill Haley & His Comets OE 9279 & 9280, 1956

Blackboard Jungles was followed by Rock Around TheClock, a straight rock exploitation film.

The formula was never-ending. I can remember Bill Haley parading his greasy kiss curl and jumping up and down on early 1960s TV with the athletic double bass player trying to climb his instrument.


Shake Rattle & RollDecember 19544
Rock Around The ClockJanuary 195517
Mambo RockApril 195514
Rock Around The ClockOctober 19551
Rock-A-Beatin’ BoogieDecember 19554
See You Later AlligatorMarch 19567
The Saints Rock ‘n’ RollMay 19565
Rockin’ Through The RyeAugust 19563
Razzle DazzleSeptember 195613
Rock Around The ClockSeptember 19565
See You Later AlligatorSeptember 195612
Rip It UpNovember 19654
Rudy’s RockNovember 195626
Rock Around The ClockDecember 195622
Rock The JointJanuary 1957 (LONDON)20
Don’t Knock The RockFebruary 19577

Rockin’ The Oldies Pt 3 (EP): Bill Haley & His Comets OE 93561, 1957
Rockin’; Around The World (EP): Bill Haley & His Comets OE 9446 1958

Buddy Holly

See the page on CORAL . Buddy Holly was originally a Decca artist, but shifted to Brunswick in the USA, so on Coral in the UK. Coral, Brunswick, Decca were three US labels belonging to the same group, but run independently. His first Decca release, Blue Days Black Nights / Love Me was released on Brunswick in Britain. It’s now worth a great deal … £300 to £800.

Love Me: Buddy Holly Brunswick 05881, 1956

When Buddy Holly left Decca and started getting hits, Decca put eight songs from the earlier sessions onto two opportunistic cash-in EPs.

Buddy Holly No 1 / No 2. Brunswick EPs 1959, OE9456, OE 9457

Rock Around With Ollie Vee: Buddy Holly, Brunswick 05800, 1959

Then they released Rock Around With Ollie Vee / Midnight Shift as a Brunswick 45. In America they paired it with Buddy Holly’s earlier Decca version of That’ll Be The Day. They didn’t try that in Britain.

Brenda Lee


I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Clause (as Little Brenda Lee)December 1956
Sweet Nothin’sApril 19604
I’m SorryJune 196012
I Want To Be WantedOctober 196031
Let’s Jump The BroomstickJanuary 196112
EmotionsApril 196145
Dum DumJuly 196122
Fool Number OneNovember 196138
Break It To Me GentlyFebruary 196246
Speak To Me PrettyApril 19623
Here Comes That FeelingJune 19625
It Started All Over Again September 196215
Rockin’ Around The Christmas TreeNovember 19626
All Alone Am IJanuary 19637
Losing YouMarch 196310
I WonderJuly 196314
Sweet Impossible YouOctober 196328
As UsualJanuary 19645
ThinkApril 196426
Is It TrueSeptember 196417
Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely DayDecember 196425
Thanks a A LotFebruary 196541
Too Many RiversJuly 196522


Brenda Lee (EP): Brenda Lee 1959 OE 9462
Speak To Me Pretty (EP): Brenda Lee OE 9486 1962
All Alone Am I EP: Brenda Lee OE 9492 1963
Brenda Lee’s Tribute to Al Jolson (EP): Brenda Lee 1963 release of 1959 tracks OE9499
Four from ’64: Brenda Lee OE 9510 1964

Little Miss Dynamite (Brenda Lee) started her Brunswick career with I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Clause in 1956, and charted with regularity after that. The Brenda Lee EP (also known as Rock The Bop) wasn’t released until 1959 in Britain, but strangely uses the sort of generic sleeve design with fill-in photo that the Decca group were using between 1954 and 1957.  Brenda Lee was blessed with a big voice from a small female and had the sort of vocal range that was admired by the older showbiz types.

NME front page March 1962

The result was a release schedule that rigorously alternated beat and ballad. Her rock singing on the beatier stuff Sweet Nuthin’s, Dum Dum, Speak To Me Pretty, Here Comes That Feeling contrasts with the big ballad singer of Emotions, Fool No 1, All Alone Am I, Losing You and As Usual. Brenda Lee is a reason to seek out the singles because the B-sides reversed the A-side style. Slow songs were on the B-side of the rock stuff, while rock resides on the reverse of the ballads, and there’s excellent material on her B-sides. She had more than twenty hit singles between 1960 and 1965 when the British public stopped buying her singles. Lulu took over the role of little woman belting out big songs.


Every record collector has albums they look for, and feel compelled to buy again if they find a copy in better condition. One of mine is All The Way by Brenda Lee. I borrowed the LP from a friend back in the day, and loved it. Her version of Tragedy has never been bettered. I’ve got up to Very Good but if I see a Near Mint, I’ll buy it.

Popular 60s

Rick Nelson Sings For You (LP) Brunswick STA.8562 1963, stereo centre a different colour

The ever-popular Ricky Nelson, moved from US Imperial to US Decca, dropped the ‘y’ and became Rick Nelson, generating two hit singles from his Brunswick LP … Fools Rush In and For You.

The selectivity of releases is shown by his career. Like Brenda Lee (and Bobby Vee and all the others) he was badly hit by the British Invasion. Some of them tried to emulate … Brenda Lee’s cover of (He) Loves You is one of the misguided examples. Rick Nelson soldiered on, moving ever more from teenage idol to folk and country, releasing six US Decca albums up to 1967, all taken up by Brunswick UK. At that point, 1967, Brunswick passed on the option to release the subsequent ones. There are pointers to his later country-rock work with the Stone Canyon Band.

The Surfaris, regarded as a one-hit wonder with Wipe Out, also moved to US Decca for Point Panic and Scatter Shield, followed by two LPs of cover versions. Both were picked up by Brunswick.

In the Sixties, Len Barry (ex-Dovells singer on Bristol Stomp and Bristol Twistin’ Annie) had soul-lite hits with 1-2-3 and Like A Baby.

1-2-3 was written by Madera & White, who as part of The Spokesmen were responsible for the vituperative answer disc (to Eve of Destruction), The Dawn of Correction … a US #36 hit too.

The Dawn of Correction copy
Dawn of Correction, The Spokesmen: 1965
(Madera, White, Gilmore) Decca USA 31844, Brunswick UK 05941

Was this a genuine right wing loathing of protest, or simply a chance to make a quick buck? The hoarse vocal bit is popular for the genre. This had been written by P.F. Sloan. The Spokesmen were John Madara (aka Medera), Dave White and Ray Gilmore. They had a good track record as composers, including At The Hop and Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here To Stay for Danny & The Juniors, and Dave White was a member of that band, as Dave White Tricker. Madara and White had hits for Lesley Gore with You Don’t Own Me, Chubby Checker with The Fly and Len Barry with 1-2-3. Dawn of Correction was a #36 hit in the USA, for which poor P.F. Sloan failed to get a cent. Madara was one of the founders of Philly Soul, credited with discovering Gamble & Huff, Hall & Oates/

The Who

singles on Brunswick

I Can’t ExplainFebruary 19658
Anywhere, Anyhow AnywhereMay 196510
My GenerationNovember 19652
A Legal MatterMarch 196632
The Kids Are AlrightSeptember 196641

The Who ended up on Brunswick, as a British band signed to American Decca. At this point, Brunswick were exploring British talent and The Who had several hits before falling into legal battles and departing. What was a British mod group doing on a label that reissued American records in the UK?

Their producer Shel Talmy had had dealings with English Decca and had his doubts about them. Instead he took it to American Decca … not an actual subsidiary of UK Decca (as Dave Marsh incorrectly states in Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who.) It was also a label whose only rock experience was Bill Haley.

Shel Talmy: I went out to sell the first single because nobody else was doing it, soI figured to do it myself. I took them to Decca-America. The youngest guy there was sixty-three years old. ‘I don’t understand this,’ they said. I said ‘I don’t care if you don’t understand it or not. do you think you can sell it? So they took a gamble. But of course we had a deal with Decca over here, who didn’t like it. They had to put the record out here on Brunswick under the American deal.’
Tony Hall: (Decca Promotion Manager, UK) There was very little enthusiasm for ‘I Can’t Explain’ within the English Decca Group. It was just one of twenty releases that particular week.

Both quoted in Dave Marsh, Before I Get Old: The Story Of The Who.

Tony Hall spoke to Kit Lambert, the Who’s mnager, and decided to promote it. The rest is history, and I saw The Who live right after I Can’t Explain was released. I saw them again three years later. They were way better the first time.

You can see why the French 4-track EPs, which they issued in place of singles, are increasingly collected. This is I Can’t Explain:

I can’t Explain (EP): The Who, Brunswick France

The Brunswick story was to end in tears, recriminations and litigation. Kit Lambert felt American Decca were inept at promoting The Who in the USA, with I Can’t Explain‘s #93 chart position a sign of poor work.

See also the article on the REACTION label on this site.

Repeated from the Reaction page:

The label name was literally a “reaction” in a legal contest between Shel Talmy, then The Who’s producer, and the Who’s managers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. Stigwood had bought the rights to become The Who’s booking agent from them for £500. The three … Lambert, Stamp and Stigwood wanted to lure the band away from producer Talmy and the Brunswick label, with whom they had a five year contract. The band were fed up with Talmy too, and at the end of 1965 were £60,000 in debt … everyone involved was broke then. In Talmy’s defence he was the only producer in London then who valued the retention of rawness on record … as he showed with The Kinks and with The Who’s first three singles.

The Who had recorded Circles with Talmy as the follow-up to My Generation. Brunswick had scheduled it for February release. Then on 12 February, a front page story in Melody Maker announced that Circles had been abandoned, and the next Who record would be Substitute, backed with Circles on Reaction in the UK, and ATCO in the USA. Talmy couldn’t stop them releasing Substitute but he took out an injunction to stop them releasing the B-side. So the title was then swiftly changed to Instant Party. Now Instant Party was simply a re-recording of Circles with a different title (Some Who fans maintain the earlier Talmy version is better).

Following Talmy’s injunction, the third B-side to the record, Waltz for A Pig, was directed at Talmy, and was hastily performed by The Graham Bond Organization, masquerading as The Who Orchestra.

Brunswick then also put out Circles as the B-side of A Legal Matter (their version got to #32). Out of spite, Talmy changed the B-side title to Instant Party too, and so it was the media lawyer’s annual picnic with lobster and champagne on ice all round.

Screenshot 2020-08-08 at 13.49.57
My Generation centre

My Generation (LP): The Who, Brunswick 1965

SEE: The article on the MY GENERATION album,here.

In 2015, all the Brunswick singles were issued as a box set. It sold out.

The end

Brunswick ceased to have any reason to exist when its parent company, MCA, started its own British outlet in 1967 (the first records were 1968). After that US Decca artists were released on MCA in Britain.


Toby: The Chi-Lites 1975 BR15 revived soul series in plain black sleeve with sticker
Bohannon’s Beat (edited version): Hamilton Bohannon demo, 1976 BR33

There was a spasmodic jerk of soul activity in the mid-70s.  

Brunswick had been a major US soul label, but acts like Jackie Wilson had been released through Coral in Britain, and Erma Franklin had been on London. In 1967, they hired Carl Davis as producer / arranger and revived the careers of Major Lance, Gene Chandler and Billy Butler with soul hits. Jackie Wilson’s Higher and Higher was the biggest. In 1967. Davis was encouraged to start his own Dakar label late that year. (Dakar = ‘darker”)

The original US Brunswick label (the one released as Coral in the UK)  eventually moved its soul catalogue to its new subsidiary, Dakar Records. Their A-list included Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites, Barbara Acklin, Hamilton Bohannon and Tyrone Davis.

In 1973, MCA (who had been the Brunswick licensees until that point) switched from Decca to EMI distribution, Dakar then arranged for Decca to release their soul catalogue on a revived Brunswick label in the UK. I liked their numbering system. It started at BR1 for the Chi-Lites Living In The Footsteps of Another and ended at BR43 for Jackie Wilson’s It Only Happens When I Look At You. A decent copy of BR43 will set you back three figures.

This ended in 1977 when financial irregularities (getting caught out on payola for starters) landed the US Brunswick / Dakar company in court on charges of fraud and conspiracy. It struggled on as a rump until 1982.

Dakar release / Brunswick release / Brunswick demo in sleeve

Some of the survivors from the mid-70s, such as Eddie McLoyd’s Once You Fall In Love are moderately collectable … a mere £10 in Rare Record Guide, but £28 in Manship’s Northern Soul and Motown 45s guide. These come in standard 60s red Brunswick striped sleeves.  The logo is much smaller.

Sleeves and centres


Please Tell Me Now: Billie Holiday 04464, 1950 shellac 78 rpm
Don’t Knock The Rock: Bill Haley & His Comets 05640 1957 shellac 78 rpm

The earlier 45 design in quarters looks good sitting next to Decca’s other US label of the period, RCA Victor. Like Decca and London, there is a smaller hole version, followed by a larger hole version.

Like Decca, London and Corakl, earlier labels had a triangle centre and gold lettering.

Three Coins In The Fountain: The Four Aces. 1954, quartered sleeve, small hole sleeve
Gold lettering, triangle centre 45-05308
Blues In The Night: Nellie Lutcher 1954, gold, triangular, large hole later pressing 45-05352

See You Later Alligator: Bill Haley & His Comets, gold, tri-centre, small hole, numbered sleeve, February 1956
The gold tri-centre more than doubles its value

I Could Have Danced All Night: Sylvia Sims 45-05744, tri, silver, small hole
I’ll love You: Carmen McCrae 45-05761, tax stamp, tri, silver, small hole

Rock Around The Clock: Bill Haley & His Comets 1954, silver label, so 1955 pressing, worth less than gold, small
When: The Kalin Twins 1958 45-05751 Normal hole, silver lettering, tri-centre

Round, 4-prong centres follow the rest of the Decca group in being the default version from July 1959, though unlike Decca and London, they don’t turn up so much on earlier discs – which were pressed outside the company.

The End: Earl Grant 1958 one-sided demo. Plain sleeves on Decca group demos,. No push out centre

Sweet Nuthin’s: Brenda Lee 1960 Silver lettering, round centre 05819
I Want To Be Wanted: Brenda Lee  1960 05839, mint copy in numbered sleeve

The striped sleeve comes when Decca and London moved to brighter stripes. It was designed to match the corporate style. They didn’t do this with RCA or Warner Bros, which stresses the closer tie to Brunswick within Decca.

Funny Way of Laughin’: Burl Ives 1962 Change of sleeve design 05868
I Found My Best Friend In The Dog Pound: Burl Ives 1963 … so still a country label! 05897

My Generation: The Who, 1965. Much more lettering.  1962-67 striped sleeve
Disco Stomp: Hamilton Bohannon 1975 revived soul series. Smaller logo BR19

The mid-70s centre design has the Brunswick name at half the previous size.

Have You Seen Her: The Chi-Lites 1975 reissue, rare sleeve, most red & white BR20
Foot Stompin’ Music: Hamilton Bohannon 1975 BR21

The plain one matches a Decca reissue plain sleeve from the mid-70s.

Selected chart singles – excluding Bill Haley, Brenda Lee, The Who

Bing CrosbyThe Isle of Inisfree19523
Bing CrosbySilent Night19528
Bing CrosbyChanging Partners19549
Bing CrosbyCount Your Blessings195411
The Four AcesThree Coins In The Fountain19545
The Four AcesMr Sandman19549
Kitty KallenLittle Things Mean A Lot19541
Sammy Davis JnrSomething’s Gotta Give195511
The Four AcesStranger in Paradise19556
Sammy Davis JnrLove Me Or Leave Me19558
Sammy Davis JnrThat Old Black Magic195516
The Four AcesLove Is A Many Splendored Thing19552
The DreamweaversIt’s Almost Tomorrow19561
Mitchell TorokWhen Mexico Gave Up The Rhumba19566
Jerry LewisRock-a-Bye Your Baby195712
Peggy LeeMr Wonderful19575
Bobby HelmsMy Special Angel195722
Bing CrosbyAround The World19575
Bobby HelmsNo Other Baby195830
Earl GrantThe End (US #7)1958
Bobby HelmsJacqueline195820
Tommy Dorsey OrchestraTea For Two Cha Cha19583
The Kalin TwinsWhen19581
Buddy HollyMidnight Shift195926
Burl IvesA Little Bitty Tear19629
Burl IvesA Funny Way of Laughing196229
Rick NelsonFools Rush In196312
Rick NelsonFor You196414
Len Barry1-2-319653
The SpokesmenThe Dawn of Correction1965
Len BarryLike A Baby196610
Julie AndrewsThoroughly Modern Millie1967
Brunswick soul issues, mid 1970s:
The Chi-LitesA Letter To Myself1972
The Chi-LitesHomely Girl19745
The Chi-LitesI Found Sunshine197435
The Chi-LitesToo Good To Be Forgotten197410
Hamilton BohannonDisco Stomp19756
Jackie WilsonI Get The Sweetest Feeling (reissue)197525
The Chi-LitesHave You Seen Her? (reissue)19755
The Chi-LitesIt’s Time For Love19755
Eddie McLoydOnce You Fall in Love1975
The Chi-LitesYou Don’t Have To Go19763


The One Day label also released I Fall To Pieces: Brunswick 1959 to 1962, and the sleeve gives a view of the strongest releases:

The earlier release, Oh! Boy is US Brunswick … so of course UK Coral.