Dawn was effectively the replacement for Piccadilly records (after a short gap), and ran from October 1969 to 1976. The other major companies had launched their ‘progressive’ labels; Harvest (EMI), Deram (Decca) and Vertigo (Phonogram). John Schroeder was the first head of A&R, which is another reason why it’s seen as a Piccadilly replacement. Neither Piccadilly nor John Schroeder spring to mind when the word ‘Prog’ is mentioned. Because of the gap between nixing Piccadilly and starting Dawn, some prog material had Pye labels in 1969, but were under the wing of John Schroeder in the new division. Man, Blonde on Blonde, Velvet Fogge Mike Cooper, Trader Horne were all being signed before the official launch in October 1969.
I did suggest to Louis (Benjamin, Head of Pye) that we needed another label because the music industry was rapidly changing. Having a hit record was no longer the be-all and end-all. Artists were being signed because they were playing music of a totally different genre which was, in most cases, album-orientated.
Schroder was the ‘producer’ and Peter Eden and Barry Murray were brought in as executives.
The reason for setting up a progressive label was to hit the album charts rather than the singles chart and ironically Dawn became best known for the poppy jug band music of Mungo Jerry on 45 rpm, the haunting vocals of Prelude smoothing out Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush, and a series of records by artists who were past their sales peak (Donovan, Barry Ryan, Tim Rose, David McWilliams) and ones who never arrived at one. Mike Cooper, Heron (Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band), and Kilburn and the High Roads all had Dawn releases. There was a lack of consistency though … Status Quo and Fire were left on Pye, when artists of similar style were shifted to Dawn.
Judy Dyble (Trader Horne)
Pye had decided that they were missing out on the psychedelia/underground/progressive genre. The people who ran Pye didn’t know anything about it, but just saw the success that others were having with their ‘underground’ labels, decided that maybe it was a good idea to jump on the bandwagon. Barry Murray had been given a free hand to find artists to bulk out the label and who would just about fit into the label umbrella. He was happy to record us and let us make an album for Dawn. I think we were probably one of the first albums to be released on the label.
To get the label going, Pye copied Charisma’s ploy, and set up a college circuit tour featuring Comus, Heron, Demon Fuzz and Titus Groan, with admission priced at one penny … 1d, an old penny. They hadn’t managed to get Comus’s LP out in time so they had to be content with a maxi-single.
Unlike their contemporaries Vertigo and Harvest, Dawn Records failed to secure sufficient commercial backing from those in the higher echelons of the company. Lack of backing and commitment to rock music as a whole at Pye led to artists such as John Kongos, Man and Status Quo all departing the fold to enjoy success with other labels.
Mark Powell, sleeve notes to the Cave of Clear Light CD compilation
The most famous single, In The Summertime, was in a picture sleeve. It stayed at #1 for seven weeks, was #1 in twenty-six countries, #3 in the USA, and eventually sold 30 million copies. The band were hugely successful, fronted by Ray Dorset who sang, wrote all the material, played guitar and harmonica. In 1972 after a Far Eastern tour, the managers told him he was sacked from the band. He made a solo album Cold Blue Excursion, after which the management finally realized he WAS the band, and sacked the others and brought him back.
Dawn were also keen on three-track Maxi-singles in picture sleeves. These played at 33 1/3 rpm and never took off with other labels in the mainstream market, but had some mileage later with Golden Oldies labels. Initial releases like Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime and Baby Jump were 33 1/3 maxi singles.
Your Lovely Ways: Mike Cooper, 1970 331/3 Maxi Single, p/s allows the (long) lyric
Too Late Now, Mike Cooper, 1971 331/3 Maxi Single. New design.
You can see why they needed maxi singles for prog: Mike Cooper’s B-side to Too Late Now runs to 6m 38s. Cooper is collectable (though not as vastly over-priced as some Dawn prog), and Dawn provided the rear sleeve session information prog and blues fans required on the rear sleeve.
Mungo Jerry 33 1/3 gallery … click to enlarge
Baby Jump: Mungo Jerry, 1971
You Don’t Have To Be In The Army To Fight A War: Mungo Jerry 1972
My Girl and Me: Mungo Jerry 1972
More 33 1/3 maxi singles:
Open The Door Homer, Titus Groan
I Can’t Lie To You: Atlantic Bridge
In 1973 they released an unusual quadrophonic single (Ricochet by Jonesy). It might be the only one. It’s probably the only 45 rpm Quadrophonic disc too.
Having needed 33 rpm for just the three tracks, Dawn then issued Mungo Jerry’s four track EP, All Dressed Up and No Place To Go as an EP at 45 rpm, at a point in 1974 when EP was already a defunct format.
Donovan & The Open Road recorded Riki Tiki Tavi in 1970 and the label reads: DAWN STEREO 33 1/3 RPM on both sides, then lower down it says 45 rpm. The A side is 2m 50 s and the B side is 4m 55s, and both are 45 rpm. Or he’s singing at a weird speed and it sounds right at 45 rpm.
Man’s Revelation has a Pye label, but John Schroeder sees it in his memoirs as the start of Dawn. Pesky Gee’s Exclamation Mark and Fire’s The Magic Shoemaker also have a Pye label, but are well in the prog area.
Revelation sets the tone for much of the prog output. Man was a change of name for The Bystanders, a group Schroeder had great faith in:
The forthcoming material was totally self-penned and much heavier musically speaking, but the excellent lyrics seemed to paint a picture. Man, as the group were now called came up with an album concept that seemed different and clever but it needed to be clearly defined and imaginatively recorded. It was titled ‘Revelation’ the idea being the story of the birth and development of man through the caring of woman to his future in space.
John Schroeder, Sex and Violins, 2009
Schroeder goes on to describe a first (Je t’aime was acting). For Erotica, he booked a young woman to come to the studio and have actual sex with Mickey Jones. This was done with the couple hiding behind studio baffles and recorded, with the woman encouraged to go for full volume, and poor Mickey Jones enjoined not to make any sound. He managed to keep silent. I suppose his capacity for retakes was limited. It was released as a single in Sweden and made the Top Twenty there.
The search for Prog with a capital P was relentless:
Quiet World – The Road. I have to admit in hindsight this album project was a mistake. The initial concept created by three talented brothers was too similar to Man’s Revelation. The subject dealt with the feelings of an unborn child and the world it was going to have to endure.
John Schroeder, Sex and Violins, 2009
Still, never mind. You had In The Summertime. While definitely a singles band, Mungo Jerry had two Top Twenty albums … Mungo Jerry was UK #13 in 1970 and Electronically Tested was #14 in 1971. It had both #1 hits on it.
Mungo Jerry albums gallery … click to enlarge
Mungo Jerry: Mungo Jerry 1970
Electronically Tested, Mungo Jerry, 1971
You Don’t Have To Be In The Army, Mungo Jerry, 1971
Boot Power, Mungo Jerry, 1972
Cold Blue Experience, Ray Dorset, 1972
Long Legged Woman, Mungo Jerry, 1974
First Utterance by Comus is one of the most sought after Dawn LPs, a cult classic. Amazon describe it thus:
First Utterance by COMUS.Released in February 1971 on Pye Records’ progressive rock label Dawn, First Utterance was a darkly stunning masterpiece by COMUS, a group who arguably defy being classified in any genre. Too dark, loud and eccentric to be folk, but too unconventional to be classified as a rock band, the influence of Comus’ work extended far beyond their short life. COMUS were regular performers at DAVID BOWIE’s Arts Lab in Beckenham, Kent in 1969. Earning a reputation on the UK college and university live music circuit, COMUS signed to Dawn Records in 1970, releasing the album “First Utterance” and the ‘Diana’ maxi single in 1971 before falling apart. Their 1971 album later attained a significant cult following and is regarded as one of the most interesting and influential releases on the Dawn label.
Comus had the same manager as Mungo Jerry, though couldn’t have been more different. They had been rejected by RCA when Dawn gave them a contract. Their experience with Pye was not unusual:
Roger Wooton (of Comus)
(Barry Murray as producer) was Pye’s idea. They never really understood Comus and picked a completely inappropriate producer who didn’t understand our music. If it hadn’t been for the engineer, Jeff Calver, the album would have been a complete shambles. Murray was hopeless. Half the time he wasn’t there, and when he was there he just smoked cigars and trotted out anecdotes about his experiences in the music industry. But we were very green … Pye tried to bury the album. They did not know how to promote it. There was very little advertising and fans wrote to us saying they couldn’t find it in the shops.
Sleeve notes to 2018 CD reissue
Yes, it’s called ‘old school.’ Diana became their first single mainly on the basis of length.
Trader Horne consisted of Judy Dyble (fresh from Giles, Giles and Fripp recordings, and most famously Fairport Convention) and Jackie McAuley (from Them) who later became a solo artist on Dawn. It continued Dawn’s main attraction … albums on the folk / psych / prog interface.
One of the things Jack didn’t enjoy (and neither did I for that matter) was that the press tried to make out that we were a couple, but we weren’t. Far from it. We were just two people in a band, but it seemed that it was not a believable thing that a guy and a girl could be in a band together and not be romantically connected. After the album (Morning Way) was released we added to the band with a drummer and bass player to give us a fuller sound. Jack was very happy to be let loose with all these instruments (guitar, harpsichord, organ, piano, flute, congas, and celeste), most of which he used somewhere on the album, It was lovely to use the electric autoharp again, and to quite good effect as well, I thought. Jack had songs just bursting out of him, and I am glad that I was able to sing them. And it was good to be able to at least begin to write songs of my own even if they weren’t totally brilliant. Jack wrote most of them, though. I expect I could have sung better, but then I was rarely happy with my singing at any time then.
Record Collector, #340, September 2007
The prog band …
The world of the working prog band is familiar territory. Third on the bill (second if lucky) at a university or college Friday and Saturday, earning four or five times as much as they did for a sweaty weekday gig at the Marquee. Sundays? One of six or eight bands taking it in turns at the Roundhouse. Hours on the motorway. Knew the menu of warmed-up, curling, items left over at Watford Gap motorway services or Leicester Forest East at 3 a.m. by heart. Would that John Peel show be the breakthrough? Always a hope. The college gigs … playing to rows of doleful students sitting cross-legged on the floor who had never heard anything the band was going to play before. The songwriters were concerned with the mind and the future. Songs with portentous titles like Body To The Mind, Peace of Mind, Where Is My Mind, Prelude- The Storm, Hall of Bright Carvings, The Future Hides Its Face, Past, Present and Future (NOT a cover of The Shangri-Las unfortunately) Alpha to Omega, or Disillusioned Man. Perhaps one track might be half-remembered fromJohn Peel’s programme. Having a flute or oboe was an advantage. BUT on the upside you usually got elaborate LP sleeves with expensive illustration, with a tendency to the grotesque, medieval or whimsical.
They weren’t exclusively British, but pretty near. John Kongos was licensed from South Africa’s Teal label. Harvey Mandel (Baby Batter, 1970) was American. McKendree Spring were American … and Get Me To The Country was one of the last Dawn releases in 1975.
I had never realized that Dawn did a new UK only sleeve for Mandel’s Baby Batter. I have a copy, but I bought it in W.H. Smith’s sale when they sold off the albums without sleeves for 30p … British stores put sleeves on display, but kept the records in inner sleeves behind the counter. Inevitably some sleeves got nicked to pin up in bedsits and halls of residences, and the albums were sold off very cheaply.
Dawn LP gallery… click to enlarge
Mike Cooper album gallery … click to enlarge
Do I Know You? 1970
Trout Steel 1971
The Machine Gun Co. with Mike Cooper 1970
Fruup gallery … click to enlarge
Belfast’s Fruup were a band who knew what prog LP sleeves were supposed to look like:
Future Legends: Fruup, 1973
Seven Secrets: Fruup, 1974
The Prince of Heaven’s Eyes: Fruup, 1974
Modern Masquerades: Fruup, 1975
David McWilliams gallery … click to enlarge
Lord Offally, David McWilliams, 1972
The Beggar & The Priest, David McWilliams, 1973
Livin’s Just A State of Mind, David McWilliams 1974
There was an issue with picking up singers and bands on their downward curve.
David McWilliams had his major hit on Major Minor: Days of Pearly Spencer. All three of his Major Minor albums had been Top Forty. Around 1972 when he started with Lord Offaly for Dawn,he really looked one of the ones most likely to succeed. He didn’t but had a following … the LPs turn up far more often than most Dawn releases.
Atomic Rooster is a prime example. They had had three Top Twenty albums on B&C, Charisma and Pegasus. By the time they signed to Dawn, Carl Palmer had already left for the greener pastures of ELP. His old boss in Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds had arrived on lead vocal, which was a major stylistic change. The Nice ‘n’ Greasy album on Dawn is said to have shifted just 500 copies.
The Trio (featuring John Surman) seem to have ended up on Dawn by default. This is straight modern jazz. The Pye Jazz label had long gone. They did two albums, The Trio (a double album ‘specially priced’ a 59/11d) and Conflagration. Both were issued on CD in 1999 as The Dawn Sessions. I note them as The Trio was one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever attended. University of East Anglia, February 1970. No one sitting. All lying flat on the floor in the dark listening to complex but ethereal playing, which seemed just one continuous 90 minute track.
So from the sublime to … the Brotherhood of Man. Mainly operating on the LP front, Dawn had Atomic Rooster, Mike Cooper, John Kongos, Harvey Mandel, Titus Groan, Donovan and … remember this was the progressive arm of Pye … they had Brotherhood of Man.
LPs and money
Here’s the thing about prog LPs. It’s most evident with the Vertigo label, but Dawn is affected too. They had interesting sleeves, they sold in small quantities and were probably pressed in small quantities. The standard of musicianship is high. Gravy Train did the rare switch from Vertigo to Dawn. Their Vertigo LPs list at £900 and £600 mint in Rare Record Guide, their Dawn LPs at £125 each. BUT there are four figure copies of those Dawn ones online, more for the second one with Roger Dean sleeve.
Therefore values can be very high, which is why I don’t have many. I’ve noted below some values, with Rare Record Price Guide 2022 being for the near impossible mint copy. These will need to be first pressings, with gatefolds and inserts where appropriate. For example, if you have Heron’s Twice As Nice & Half The Price in mint condition WITH the inserted postcard, it rates as £300. Take the postcard away? Then it’s £150. Half the price, in fact. Though for many of us, not twice as nice.
In contrast, the Dawn stuff that people actually bought … Donovan, Mike Cooper, David McWilliams, are in low two figure prices.
Then Discogs default is median sold, and highest sold. If they don’t list those actual sales, it’s advertised low on offer and Discogs high on offer values. (Prices as at March 2021). For Noir We Had To Let You Have It, both are listed, Obviously a “high” listing on Discogs represents the seller’s optimism rather than a solid sale with the money already winging its way on PayPal.
You might well ask why you’d want to pay £1000 for First Utterance by Comus, when the remastered 2018 CD with four added bonus tracks is £11.99.
|Pesky Gee||Exclamation Mark (Pye)||1969||£250||£128|
|Fire||The Magic Shoemaker (Pye)||1970||£600||£777|
|Titus Groan||Titus Groan||1970||£350||£175|
|Trader Horne||Morning Way||1970||£350||£72|
|Quiet World||The Road||1970||£200||£85|
|The Trio||The Trio||1970||–||£25|
|The Trio||Conflagaration||1971||£60||£15 |
|Jackie McAuley||Jackie McAuley||1971||£150||£50|
|Heron||Twice As Nice & Half The Price||1971||£300||£177|
|Noir||We Had To Let You Have It||1971||£150||£75|
|Atomic Rooster||Made in England|
|Gravy Train||Second Birth||1973||£125||£67|
|Quicksand||Home Is Where I Belong||1973||£150||£87|
|Gravy Train||Staircase To The Day||1974||£125||£105|
Galleries … click to enlarge
Other copies of After The Goldrush: Prelude
Alright, Alright, Alright: Mungo Jerry
Glad I’m A Rocker: Mungo Jerry, B-side with reverse of sleeve design
Watching The Boat: Roger Charles, 1974, much stronger colour printing
When You’re Hot You’re Hot: Fifth Form, 1974, lighter print
Save Me: Atomic Rooster, demo 1972
Ballad of The Superstar: Peter Franc 1973. Electratone sent out the demos
|John Kongos||Flim Flam Pharisee||1969||–|
|Mungo Jerry||In The Summertime||1970||1|
|Donovan & The Open Road||Riki Tiki Tavi||1970||–|
|Titus Groan||Open The Door Homer||1970||–|
|Mungo Jerry||Baby Jump||1971||1|
|Mungo Jerry||Lady Rose||1971||5|
|Mike Cooper||Too Late Now||1971||–|
|Mungo Jerry||You Don’t Have To Be In The Army To Fight A War||1971||13|
|Atomic Rooster||Stand By Me||1972||–|
|Mike Cooper||Time in Hand||1972||–|
|Mungo Jerry||Open Up||1972||21|
|Mungo Jerry||Alright, Alright, Alright||1973||3|
|Mungo Jerry||Wild Love||1973||32|
|Prelude||After The Gold Rush||1974||21|
|Mungo Jerry||Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black||1974||13|
|Brotherhood of Man||When Love Catches Up On You||1974||–|
|Brotherhood of Man||Lady||1974||–|
|Tim Rose||You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away||1974||–|
|Prelude||A Love Song||1975||–|
There is a 3 CD box set of Dawn (and some) Pye prog.
Gallery … CD track lists, click to enlarge