As with DECCA, this is such a major label, that we are splitting it into two. This is the main page then we have LONDON SLEEVES and CENTRES (LINKED) as a separate article.
London-American has been the most collectable British label for decades. Well-documented? An understatement. The two-volume David M. McKee work is definitive and far beyond my scope. The Paul Pelletier Complete Singles Catalogue is harder to find, but he contributed to the larger volume. The research is impeccable.
Then check out what Ace records did on London from 1956-1967. These tracks also taken from the very best possible sources and form an essential CD collection. Around 28 tracks each. Even of the sleeves are carefully curated to match the era, with demos as well. Thorough and detailed sleeve notes. Sorry vinyl fans, they’re CD only, but you can track down original 45s instead. Every volume is wonderful, and they cannily started in 1956 and finished (so far) in 1967.
If 336 tracks isn’t enough for you, then the other CD set from One Day Music (circa 2011) are all double disc sets at 50 tracks each and cheaper, but Ace’s selection is well into the post-1962 copyright era. These One Day Music sets are “pre-copyright” collections so run 1956 to 1962 with extra discs of EPs and Rarities.
A warning story. There are collectors who seek to collect an entire label and twenty years ago, serious secondhand shops often stored 45s by label. This would be one of the hardest labels of all for a completist. About 15 years ago, a record store owner was excited having bought in the collection of a London-American completist. Boxes of it. Hundreds of 45s. There was some incredible stuff in there that flew off the shelf. A year later, he still had a lot left. We looked through them, ‘They’re not all classic rock and soul, are they?’ he said ruefully. Looking at what’s left, it was largely unsellable. He had the complete singles and EPs of Pat Boone (see below), London’s most popular artist. It was a big label. Maybe there were more great 45s than any other label … but there was a lot of dross too.
Remember also, that London in the UK was a licensing label. No one was signed directly to London. Very little indeed was originated by London.
In 1934, Decca had formed an American branch to distribute its records in the USA. It was sold off during the war, and US Decca became an independent company. This is not unusual. Decca needed the money to develop its ffrr system and radar, and funds were extremely short. Britain’s war and recovery debt to the USA was not paid off until 2006.
London listing for July 1950, as sent to record retailers
British Decca having lost its own name for use within the USA and Canada, started London in 1947 to distribute its British Decca records in North America. The name made sense, and such was Decca’s quality reputation, that many of the records sold in America were export pressings, with “Made in England” prominently on the centre labels. Quite a few stayed in Britain, and are distinguished by blue centre labels instead of black, and the catalogue numbers are (e.g.) 45-1521. (There is no “H’ reference).
Take It’s A Big Wide Wonderful World Out There, by The Unitones. They were a predecessor to the George Mitchell (Black and White) Minstrels, and appeared in the film Three Ring Circus. The British version is on Decca. The London disc says Made in England. The sleeve gives a US address: The London Gramophone Corp, New York, NY, but in tiny print it says “Record and container made in England.”
London had a name for innovation in the USA, following Columbia rapidly with its 33 1/3 rpm LPs and RCA with its 45 rpm singles. It also had a name for high fidelity, based on Decca’s “ffrr” full-frequency range recording process. U.S. London distributed smaller labels and found foreign distributors for U.S. companies. Decca’s straight-laced stiff upper lip British image appealed to American companies, when so many of the local labels had dubious associates who might leave the odd horse’s head in your bed. Decca was obviously (or thought to be) “reputable” and had a name for fair dealing.
London as a UK label
In 1949, Decca launched the London label in Britain with mainly American recordings. London was also used for other non-British recordings.
London rode heavily on the sound quality label, even on 78s, where it’s harder to see how they would benefit. Look at the size of that ffrr:
The trouble with 78s is that people rarely matched the sleeves. A large proportion of London 78s were released in plain buff sleeves too. Billy Vaughan’s The Shifting Whispering Sands from 1956 has the then “new” London-American centre, but what I think is the older sleeve. I think this pressing is later than 1956.
In 1954, all records were released as 78s, with a selected number also released as 45s.
From January 1955, all titles were released as 78s and 45. The last 78 was Rocking Goose by Johnny & The Hurricanes in 1960.
Both ways across the Atlantic
London sourced the master tapes, and Decca had the superior ffrr pressing system. The quality image carries over to American London releases.
From the advent of stereo, London (USA) sourced their vinyl LP pressings in Britain, and placed them in American printed sleeves … and some came back to the UK like that, or rather they imported the sleeves back … the savings on a long production run would far outweigh the transport cost.
Piano Concerto No. 5: Beethoven: Clifford Curzon, piano, Vienna Philharmonic 1958 American printed sleeve with British pressing LP inside
The example is The Emperor Concerto (Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto) by Clifford Curzon with the Vienna Philharmonic. It’s an early stereo release. I used to assume classical LPs were worthless, until a specialist dealer explained that early stereo Decca / London and EMI pressings ARE highly collectible.The illustrated Beethoven cost me 50p, because I wanted to scan the stereo logos, and it’s excellent to near mint inside. I looked online to check the date, and the last copy (at time of writing) fetched $90, with another earlier sale at £38.
At a point in the early 60s, Decca decided to use the Decca brand on most classical releases.
Play Bach Vol. 3: Jacques Loussier Trio, 1962. American LP in US printed sleeve, but LP itself pressed in England.
The prestige Jacques Loussier Play Bach series, which was highly rated in the early 60s as the height of cool easy listening jazz, announced London ffrr loud and clear and still pressed the discs in England to put in American sleeves for the USA. Loussier was all over the place with his series … Decca, London-Globe.
EPs for illustration
EPs are a good way of illustrating this article, outselling LPs for the cash-strapped British buyer, as with the Decca label.
The first London EPs were released in November 1954, though REP1003-REP1011 came out a few weeks ahead of REP1001 and 1002, which were Woody Herman’s Herd From Mars album split across two EPs. There was an identity crisis as REP 1001 and 1002, both have London sleeves, but Decca centre labels in the first release.
Later copies had London labels, but this Volume 1 sleeve has the printing date 11.54 on the rear. Why? Perhaps they were exporting these early discs to jazz markets in Europe, where the London name was not used, with local sleeves. Perhaps it was just a screw-up, which is why REP1003 to REP 1011 were released earlier. By May 1955 the discs were still being pressed, but they have changed the font on the overprinting and have proper London labels.
Herd From Mars: Woody Herman & The Third Herd, Volumes 1 and 2. REP 1001 and 1002
The Top US labels distributed by London
Based on number of hit records
JAMIE were all Duane Eddy. MONUMENT were all RoyOrbison. These are the American labels. US collectors are less interested in paper sleeves, so they are harder to research and some may be wrong. Some are replica sleeves, some are facsimile reissues. More US records came in plain sleeves than UK ones. The copy of Unchained Melody is my original Canadian 45. I used to send my cousin in Toronto Cliff Richard 45s, and she would send me Canadian hits. I know this one came in a plain white sleeve, not a Philles company sleeve. There are many Liberty sleeves, but I found this record in this sleeve. If it were the UK, I would know!
|US Label licensed to London||number of |
UK Top 30 hits
|Liberty / Dolton||25|
|Atlantic / ATCO / Volt / Stax||24|
|Specialty / Big Top||14|
|KAPP, Leader, Congress||9|
|Sun / Philips Int.||8|
London-American didn’t suit everyone, especially as Pye started to give American labels like Cameo-Parkway and Hickory their own label identity. By the 1960s, the bigger American labels wanted their own imprints. Sir Edward Lewis, the head of Decca, stood out against this, and while Atlantic, Monument, Dot (and briefly Kapp) got bigger logos and eventually logos on the front of EPs and LPs, companies who really wanted their own label found Pye, Philips and EMI more accommodating. That’s how London lost Liberty to EMI, who gave it a separate identity. The logos of the US labels got larger on the sleeve, and on the front sleeve too.
First London-Atlantic got their own hyphenated name (1960), followed by London-Monument (1963) and London-Dot and London-Kapp.
Atlantic, and much later Monument, then got their own labels, distributed by Decca. Dot jumped ship to the Pye group to get its own full unhyphenated label. For the smaller American labels, Pye International and Stateside had been formed specifically to compete with London. London had them content with sub-labels on the LP and EP sleeves.
Early artists included Slim Whitman, Jim Reeves and The Hilltoppers, and Andy Williams, although nestling in the list were blues singers from Cadence such as John Lee Hooker in 1954 and Fats Domino from Imperial. It adopted the double-barrelled London-American in 1958. London’s interest value is indicated by the collectability of Andy Williams’ early London work, compared to the lack of collector interest in his later CBS releases.
London has long been the collectors favourite with old singles commanding the highest average prices. This has an international dimension, as most London pressings are thought better than the US originals from the late fifties. George Martin thought otherwise and said he couldn’t get the volume and presence of American discs from English pressing plants. That was EMI and the consensus favours the London (so Decca) pressings of US discs.
With London lists below, the original US label is noted.
New Orleans Horns: 10″ London “Origins of Jazz” LP, 1956
Tony Almerico’s Dixieland Jamboree All-Stars, (EP). The third London EP, REP 1019, February 1955 pressing. Dot was the US label.
Jazz was the young person’s music in the first half of the 50s, with interest in the roots in the UK … i.e. New Orleans.
Historically Speaking- The Duke Pt 1 (EP): Duke Ellington 1956 London American Jazz
Ruby Braff Swings (EP): Ruby Braff 1956 London American Jazz Series
They put Jazz Series on the labels too. London was not involved with the trad jazz US labels. Because of length, jazz lends itself to EPs rather than singles with virtually every UK label. Ruby Braff and Duke Ellington EPs were from the US Bethlehem label.
Early and non-rock London
No, it wasn’t all collectable. The Mulcays were an electric harmonica band. It boasts of being London’s second EP, so the numbering system is inexplicable.
Merry Christmas (EP): The Mulcays REP 1016, November 1954 pressing. First London EP design
Dot supplied enough of London’s material to have its own “hits” EPs.
Pat Boone has two in the rock section, as white-bread covers of black hit records. He was astonishingly successful from 1957 to 1962 and the keen London collector will seize on the label hoping for something great and find a Pat Boone 45 in their hand.
London Hits No 4 (EP). #1130, Volumes 1, 3 and 4 arev Dot recordings June 1958. Volume 2 is from Imperial (and more interesting).
|De Castro Sisters||Teach Me Tonight||Abbott||1954||20|
|Ferko String Band||Alabama Jubilee||Media||1955||20|
|Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra||The Shifting Whispering Sands||Dot||1956||20|
|Pat Boone||I’ll Be Home||Dot||1956||1|
|Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra||Theme From A Threepenny Opera||Dot||1956||12|
|The Hilltoppers||Only You||Dot||1956||3|
|Pat Boone||I Almost Lost My Mind||Dot||1956||14|
|Patience & Prudence||Tonight You Belong To Me||Liberty||1956||28|
|Pat Boone||Friendly Persuasion||Dot||1956||3|
|Pat Boone||Don’t Forbid Me||Dot||1957||2|
|Pat Boone||Why Baby Why||Dot||1957||17|
|Patience & Prudence||Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now||Liberty||1957||22|
|Pat Boone||Love Letters In The Sand||Dot||1957||2|
|Julie London||Cry Me A River||Liberty||1957||22|
|Pat Boone||Remember You’re Mine||Dot||1957||5|
|Andy Williams||I Like Your Kind of Love||Cadence||1957||16|
|Pat Boone||April Love||Dot||1957||7|
|Pat Boone||White Christmas||Dot||1957||29|
|Pat Boone||A Wonderful Time Up There||Dot||1958||2|
|Pat Boone||It’s Too Soon To Know||Dot||1958||7|
|Pat Boone||Sugar Moon||Dot||1958||6|
|Pat Boone||If Dreams Came True||Dot||1958||16|
|Pat Boone||I’ll Remember Tonight||Dot||1959||18|
|Pat Boone||With The Wind and Rain In Your Hair||Dot||1959||21|
|Pat Boone||For A Penny||Dot||1959||19|
|Pat Boone||Twixt Twelve & Twenty||Dot||1959||10|
|Pat Boone||Moody River||Dot||1961||18|
|Pat Boone||Johnny Will||Dot||1961||4|
|Pat Boone||Speedy Gonzales||Dot||1962||2|
|Pat Boone||The Main Attraction||Dot||1962||12|
A Smile & A Song (EP): Patience & Prudence 1957 #1087
Big Hits No. 2: Andy Williams 1957 #1102
The thing about Pat Boone is when you look in detail at those EPs note the Part one / Part two / Part three. There are often three with one design, taken from an LP. Then we’ve still got the film soundtrack EPs. These are not all. I bought Speedy Gonzales new. I admit it. I also was very fond of April Love, and my sister borrowed a copy. If you look at Discogs, it shows London releases in most of Europe in multiple quantities too. I really have no idea what his secret was.
Julie London is collectable, aided by her sultry LP sleeves. Is she a torch singer, a jazz singer, or a Middle of The Road / Easy Listening singer? Does it matter? Her version of Cry Me A River was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, not that its rock.
Julie Sings Film Songs (EP): Julie London #1076 May 1957 (late 1958 pressing)
Make Love To Me Pt. 3 (EP): Julie London 1958 #1153
Julie London appealed to the older hi-fi market, therefore LPs dominate, not singles or EPs … Cry Me A River was her only singles chart hit.
Calendar Girl (LP): Julie London, 1956. This is my copy, which is an original American LP on Liberty, but the UK London cover is the same except that the London logo replaces the Liberty logo (but none have the gatefold opened out online).
London – the doo-wop label
The Hi Lo’s were a vocal quartet with harmonies like The Kings Singers or Manhatten Transfer, so not really “doo-wop” which is more exciting. ‘Barbershop’ is more accurate.
D00-wop is highly collectable in the USA, much less so in the UK.
|The Crests||Sixteen Candles||Coed||1958||–|
|The Fiestas||So Fine||Old Town||1958||–|
|The Teddy Bears||To Know Him Is To Love Him||Dore||1958||2|
|The Fleetwoods||Come Softly To Me||Liberty||1959||6|
|Dion & The Belmonts||Teenager in Love||Laurie||1959||28|
London – the country label
London EPs indicate a certain penny-pinching nature at Decca … they went for sets of EPs using the same basic design and photos, but perhaps they had less access to fresh photos in that era. The very early EPs came in different colours on the same base design … a fanatic collector will want them all. For example, in November 1954 Slim Whitman & His Singing Guitar came in six different colours (three with music stand, three with drum kit design), with two more in a variant design.
Slim Whitman EPs
Slim Whitman & His Singing Guitar (EP): REP 1006. December 1954. March 1955 pressing. Comes in six different colours. Gold tri ffrr centre.
Song of The Wild (EP): Slim Whitman 1955 #1042
Slim Whitman and His Singing Guitar Vol 2 Pt 1: #1064, October 1956 pressing
Slim Whitman and His Singing Guitar Vol 2 Pt 2:
Slim Whitman and His Singing Guitar Vol 2 Pt 3:
|Slim Whitman||Indian Love Call||Imperial||1952 (78)|
|Jim Reeves||Mexican Joe||Abbott||1954||–|
|Slim Whitman||Rose Marie||Imperial||1955||1|
|The Hilltoppers||Only You||Dot||1956||3|
|Slim Whitman||Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds||Imperial||1956||19|
|Slim Whitman||I’m A Fool||Imperial||1956||16|
|Bill Hayes||The Ballad of Davy Crockett||Cadence||1956||2|
|Johnny Cash||I Walk The Line||Sun||1957||–|
|Slim Whitman||I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen||Imperial||1957||7|
|George Hamilton IV||A Rose & A Candy Bar||ABC||1957||–|
|Charlie Gracie||Wandering Eyes||Cameo||1957||6|
|Billy Grammer||Gotta Travel On||Monument||1958||–|
|Gene Autrey||Nine Little Reindeer (reissue)||Republic||1959||–|
|Ray Peterson||Corinne Corinna||Dunes||1961||41|
|Charlie Rich||Just A Little Bit Sweet||Phillips Int.||1962||–|
|Johnny Tillotson||It Keeps Right On A Hurtin’||Cadence||1962||31|
|Johnny Tillotson||Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On||Cadence||1962||21|
|Wink Martindale||Deck of Cards (3rd re-entry)||Dot||1963||5|
|Ned Miller||From A Jack To A King (reissue)||Fabor||1963||2|
Johnny Cash – Sun recordings
Johnny Cash (EP): Johnny Cash 1958, (still in print in 1964) RE-S 1120
Johnny Cash Sings Hank Williams (EP): Johnny Cash 1959 RE-S 1193
Country Boy (EP): Johnny Cash 1959 RE-S 1212
London – the Novelty label + Children’s
This shellac 78 is ‘Made in Canada’ though I found it in the UK. The “Liberty” is prominent.
|Bill Hayes||The Ballad of Davy Crockett||Cadence||1956||2|
|Alfi & Harry (David Seville)||The Trouble With Harry||Liberty||1956||15|
|Nervous Norvus||Ape Call||Dot||1956||–|
|David Seville||Witch Doctor||Liberty||1958||11|
|The Chipmunks with the|
music of David Seville
|The Chipmunk Song||Liberty||1958||–|
|The Chipmunks with the|
music of David Seville
|Ragtime Cowboy Joe||Liberty||1959||11|
|Tom Glazer & The Do-Re-Mi|
|On Top of Spaghetti||Kapp||1963||–|
|Tom Glazer & The Do-Re-Mi|
|It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World||Kapp||1963||–|
Much as I admire Tom M. McKee’s research on London, I will take issue with him on On Top of Spaghetti.
“Another dreadful disc. Tom Glazer and the awful children’s choir murder Old Smokie and Battle Hymn of The Republic. Not funny in the slightest. A no 14 US hit -say no more.’
For a book that assiduously notes US chart positions, it seems strange to diss Tom Glazer, or rather the American record buyer, for getting to No. 14. On the subsequent release he adds “I want to throw up. Do not buy this record.”
On Top Of Spaghetti over the years may be my most played London track. I put it on cassette, then CDR then iPod for the Kids Playlist I keep in the car. Our three year old grandson is the tenth of our offspring to love it, and all my grandkids sing along whenever it’s on. File with Robin Hood by Dick James as one of the greatest children’s records ever.
London – the rock & roll label
London happened to distribute the lion’s share of early rock and roll, though they famously passed on releasing Good Rocking Tonight when Sun Records of Memphis submitted the second single by Elvis Presley. And they only released four Motown records. However, from 1956 to 1962, more important American singles were released on London than all the other labels combined. Rock and Roll artists range from Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Johnny and The Hurricanes, The Drifters and The Coasters.
Live It Up!: Bill Haley & His Comets, London 10″ LP, 1955
Bill Haley’s Rock The Joint was a 1952 sanitised version of Jimmy Preston’s 1949 record, which is one of the several claimants to the “first rock ‘n’ roll record” title. Haley tried to countrify it with dance references to ‘The Sugarfoot Rag’ and ‘The Virginia Reel.’ It was issued as ‘Bill Haley & The Saddlemen’ and sold well, featuring slapped bass replacing drums, and the guitar lick later used in Rock Around The Clock.
When rock ‘n’ roll became huge in 1955, the rest of Bill Haley’s work was on Brunswick, which was also part of the Decca group. Haley re-recorded it for US Decca, who released as Brunswick in the UK. The London version is apparently the older one and was issued in 1955 (HLF 8371) but it was the February 1957 repress that charted.
Left: the 1955 45 rpm release with the older London label design
Right: the 1957 78 rpm release with the later London-Ameican label
They pulled out two EPs from the LP in 1956:
Argue the line between rock ‘n’ roll and R&B. Several could be either.
This material highlights the importance of EPs in the UK market. During their licensing with Sun, London issued seven Jerry Lee Lewis LPs but only two LPs. They knew the teen audience would prefer to buy an LP in instalments, an EP’s worth at a time.
Jerry Lee Lewis (LP) London, 1959
Got a cover picture? Milk it. Do you detect a pattern in London’s design choices?
Jerry Lee Lewis EPs 1-6 1958 to 1963, one per year … 1958, 59, 60 in top row. 61, 62, 63 below.
The consensus is that rock artists are falling in value. But a 1998 Record Collector prices the six Jerry Lee Lewis at £15 to £20 mint. The 2024 Rare Record Guide doubles that to £20 to £40,
Little Richard & His Band: EPs, Volume 1 to Volume 3
C’Mon Everybody (EP): Eddie Cochran May 1959
Look at the four tracks. Two of the best ten ever rock tracks and the other two are also important.
Somethin’ Else: EddieCochran, May 1960
The title track is a third one of the ten best ever rock tracks.
|Fats Domino||Ain’t That A Shame||Imperial||1955||23|
|Pat Boone||Ain’t That A Shame (cover)||Dot||1955||7|
|Pat Boone||I’ll Be Home / Tutti Frutti||Dot||1956||1|
|Jim Lowe||The Green Door||Dot||1956||8|
|Bobby Charles||See You Later Alligator||Chess||1956||–|
|Carl Perkins||Blue Suede Shoes||Sun||1956||10|
|Fats Domino||Blueberry Hill||Imperial||1956||6|
|Sanford Clark||The Fool||Dot||1956||–|
|Little Richard||Rip It Up / Ready Teddy||Specialty||1956||30|
|Carl Perkins||Honey Don’t||Sun||1956||–|
|Jerry Lee Lewis||Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On||Sun||1957||8|
|Billy Haley & His Comets||Rock The Joint||Essex||1957||20|
|Little Richard||The Girl Can’t Help It||Speciality||1957||9|
|Little Richard||Jenny, Jenny||Specialty||1957||11|
|Larry Williams||Short Fat Fanny||Specialty||1957||21|
|Eddie Cochran||Twenty Flight Rock||Liberty||1957||–|
|Fats Domino||I’m Walkin’||Imperial||1957||19|
|Little Richard||Long Tall Sally||Speciality||1957||3|
|Larry Williams||Bony Moronie||Speciality||1958||11|
|Little Richard||Good Golly Miss Molly||Specialty||1958||8|
|Jerry Lee Lewis||Breathless||Sun||1958||8|
|Fats Domino||Sick ‘n’ Tired||Imperial||1958||26|
|Jerry Lee Lewis||Great Balls of Fire||Sun||1958||1|
|Chuck Berry||Sweet Little Sixteen||Chess||1958||16|
|Bobby Day||Rockin’ Robin||Class||1958||29|
|Eddie Cochran||Summertime Blues||Liberty||1958||18|
|Little Richard||Baby Face||Specialty||1958||2|
|Eddie Cochran||C’mon Everybody||Liberty||1959||6|
|Frankie Ford||Sea Cruise||Ace||1959||–|
|Eddie Cochran||Three Steps To Heaven||Liberty||1960||1|
|Jerry Lee Lewis||What’d I Say||Sun||1961||10|
|Danny Peppermint||The Peppermint Twist||Carlton||1961||26|
|Eddie Cochran||Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie||Liberty||1961||31|
|Ritchie Valens||La Bamba||Del-Fi||1962||–|
|Mel Tormé||Comin’ Home Baby||Atlantic||1963||13|
There has been a shift in interest from rock and roll to rare soul and psychedelia which means London prices have climbed more slowly (or stood still) in the 2000s than previously. Several London rock and roll records have a lower price in the Rare Record Guide 2024 edition than Rare Record Guide 2012 which is lower than in the 2010 edition, which is lower than the 2008 edition. Whatever, at the top end, many London singles have three-figure mint values, and the factor driving prices is where a cover version, British or American, vastly outsold an original. So right at the top of the tree you find Bobby Charles’ original single of See You Later Alligator at £2500 mint. Bill Haley sold tons of the things, the Bobby Charles original sank without trace.
How collectable is London? Look at the Patience & Prudence EP, by the daughters of Hollywood film musician Mark MacIntyre. Even this is valued at £40 mint.
London – the R&B label
Like Decca, London used base designs, so that the same record would be pressed on various colour templates and the specifc information was overprinted. Here are three pressings of Fats Dominos Blues For Love (REP 1022)on EP. The EP was first issued in February 1955.
Blues for Love (EP): Fats Domino REP1022 February 1955 pressing gold tri centre
Blues for Love (EP): Fats Domino REP1022 February 1957 gold tri-centre
Blues for Love (EP): Fats Domino REP1022 April 1957 silver tri-centre
The Queen of Rhythm & Blues (EP): Ruth Brown RE-E 1038 1956
Ernie Freeman Volume 2 (EP): Ernie Freeman 1958 RE-P 1210
Here Comes Fats Vol. 3 (EP): Fats Domino 1958 Original logo RE-P 1138
Be My Guest (EP): Fats Domino 1960 Rectangular logo RE-P 1261
It’s not the hits, it’s the existence of seminal classics. I’m told the price of classic rock 45s on London is plummeting. The R&B and soul area might be doing better. A London copy of Barrett Strong’s Money lists at £80 mint in Rare Record Guide 2024. In February 2023 a copy at Reading Record Fair was £150, and it was far from mint too. That’s highly ambitious given that Discogs highest sale as £88.00. Copies were on sale at £29 to £95, at VG+. Three were ‘dinked’ – the centre pushed out, which suggests time on a juke box.
|John Lee Hooker||Need Somebody||Modern||1954||–|
|Chuck Willis||C.C. Rider||Atlantic||1956||–|
|Chuck Berry||Downbound Train / No Money Down||Chess||1956||–|
|Willie Dixon & All Stars||Walkin’ The Blues||Checker||1956||–|
|Sam Cooke||You Send Me||Keen||1957||29|
|Chuck Berry||You Can’t Catch Me||Chess||1957||–|
|Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry||Ain’t Got No Home||Argo||1957||–|
|Jimmy McCracklin||The Walk||Chess||1958||–|
|Chuck Berry||Johnny B. Goode / Around & Around||Chess||1958||–|
|Chuck Willis||What Am I Living For?||Atlantic||1958||–|
|Bobby Freeman||Do You want to Dance?||Josie||1958||–|
|The Coasters||Charlie Brown||ATCO||1959||6|
|Chuck Berry||Almost Grown / Little Queenie||Chess||1959||–|
|Ray Charles||What’d I Say||Atlantic||1959||–|
|Bo Diddley||Road Runner||Checker||1960||–|
|Little Walter||My Babe||Checker||1960||–|
|The Miracles||Shop Around||Tamla||1961||–|
|Chris Kenner||I Like It Like That||Instant||1961||–|
|Arthur Alexander||You Better Move On /|
Shot of Rhythm & Blues
|Tommy Tucker||Oh! What A Feelling||UK only||1964||–|
|Martha Velez||Tell Mama||Sire||1969||–|
Tommy Tucker’s Oh! What A Feeling was no doubt designed to cash in on the success of Hi Heel Sneakers and Long Tall Shorty (both Pye International), and is a London oddity because it had never been released in the USA so is a UK only release. It’s crdited as a Herb Abrasom production. Rare Record Guide 2024 rates it at £40 mint, making it his most valuable single. That’s the way it goes.
Open The Door To Your Heart
At the very peak of collectable soul singles is Darrell Banks Open The Door To Your Heart. (HL 10070, August 1966). It was from the US Revilot label. A London Demo was made, and then Donnie Elbert claimed it had been stolen from him. Decca decided not to enter the battle, and cancelled the release, whereupon EMI’s Stateside took it.
The London demos are rated at £1000 mint (Highest Discogs sale is £456, which won’t be mint), but according to Rare Record Guide 2024 there was just a single stock copy, which is rated at £12,000. It was revealed in 2014 when the owner posted scans online. In 2014 it was valued “conservatively” at £10,000.
“Soul collectors are especially intense. Darrell Banks’s mid-tempo classic Open the Door to Your Heart has been a club classic ever since it came out in Britain on the Stateside label in 1966. What has always raised the pulse of collectors is the knowledge that the single was due to be be released on the London label – which had introduced British kids to many a rock’n’roll and early soul gem – before the release was pulled because the label didn’t own the rights to it.This is the holy grail,” says collector, dealer and Wolves fan Pete Smith. “Nobody thought it existed.” It seems to have originally belonged to someone who worked at the pressing plant. Smith surmises that “this guy must have half-inched one from the factory the day it was pressed, gone back to work the next day and found out they’d trashed the lot.” London presumably melted down the copies they’d pressed before the single came out on Stateside a few weeks later. Just the one copy snuck out. “
Bob Stanley, The Guardian 27 June 2024
Even the first press demo on Stateside is rated at £200 (later copies are rated at £20 mint). An American original on Revilot would be £10. Decca / London used to dump old stock on a landfill site at the end of Poole Harbour, rather than melting them down. Local legend tells of people checking the skips before they were tipped. Perhaps it’s time to get digging carefully… with a shovel.
London – the pop label
London were still at the top as straight rock became pop, with Pat Boone, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Duane Eddy, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Rick Nelson and Del Shannon.
They’re still cheap on the EP cover designs. The Everly Brothers photo that graces six EPs shows Don Everly with half closed unfocussed eyes. Not a great shot, but they used it six times.
Songs Our Daddy Taught Us Parts 1 to 3 (May 1959) are the normal UK practice of slicing a 12 track LP into three 4 track EPs.
Bobby Darin EPs show the relationship with Atlantic. Darin recorded for their poppier (whiter?) label ATCO. The ATCO logo appears, then London-American Atlantic then LONDON ATLANTIC as a brand, without American in between.
It’s tempting to assume Atlantic got the first prominent sub-label because of their early soul material, but it was most likely Bobby Darin’s sales as he went from rock ‘n’ roller (Queen ofThe Hop, Splish Splash) to being the New Sinatra(Mack The Knife, Baby Face) then to pop singer with Things and Multiplication, with excursions to R&B on B-sides like Jailer, Bring Me Water. London / London-American / London Atlantic missed out on his incarnations as an R&B singer on Earthy, or a Country & Western singer then Folkie because after Things he was off to EMI and the Capitol label.
|Tab Hunter||Ninety-Nine Ways||Dot||1957||5|
|Everly Brothers||Bye Bye Love||Cadence||1957||6|
|Tab Hunter||Young Love||Dot||1957||1|
|Everly Brothers||Wake Up Little Susie||Cadence||1957||2|
|Everly Brothers||All I Have To Do Is Dream / Claudette||Cadence||1958||1|
|Ricky Nelson||Poor Little Fool||Imperial||1958||4|
|Jane Morgan||The Day The Rains Came||Kapp||1958||1|
|Bobby Darin||Splish Splash||ATCO||1958||18|
|Everly Brothers||Bird Dog||Cadence||1958||2|
|Bobby Darin||Queen of The Hop||ATCO||1959||24|
|Everly Brothers||Take A Message To Mary||Cadence||1959||20|
|Bobby Darin||Dream Lover||ATCO||1959||1|
|Everly Brothers||Poor Jenny||Cadence||1959||14|
|Jerry Keller||Here Comes Summer||Kapp||1959||1|
|Ricky Nelson||It’s Late||Imperial||1959||3|
|Bobby Darin||Mack The Knife||ATCO||1959||1|
|Everly Brothers||Til I Kissed You||Cadence||1959||2|
|Bobby Darin||La Mer (Beyond The Sea)||ATCO||1960||8|
|Roy Orbison||Only the Lonely||Monument||1960||1|
|Everly Brothers||Let It Be Me||Cadence||1960||13|
|Johnny Tillotson||Poetry in Motion||Cadence||1960||1|
|Roy Orbison||Blue Angel||Monument||1960||11|
|Everly Brothers||Like Strangers||Cadence||1960||11|
|Johnny Burnette||You’re Sixteen||Liberty||1960||3|
|Lee Hazlewood with|
|The Girl on Death Row / Words Mean Nothing||Jamie||1960||–|
|Ricky Nelson||Hello Mary Lou||Imperial||1961||2|
|Bobby Darin||Lazy River||ATCO||1961||2|
|Bobby Vee||More Than I Can Say||Liberty||1961||4|
|Del Shannon||Runaway||Big Top||1961||1|
|Bobby Darin||Nature Boy||ATCO||1961||24|
|Roy Orbison||Runnin’ Scared||Monument||1961||9|
|Bobby Darin||You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby||ATCO||1961||10|
|Bobby Vee||Take Good Care of My Baby||Liberty||1961||3|
|Del Shannon||Hats Off To Larry||Big Top||1961||6|
|Gene McDaniels||Tower of Strength||Liberty||1961||49|
|Del Shannon||So Long Baby||Big Top||1961||10|
|Roy Orbison||Dream Baby||Monument||1962||2|
|Del Shannon||Hey Little Girl||Big Top||1962||2|
|Ernie Maresca||Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out)||Seville||1962|
|Ricky Nelson||Teenage Idol||Imperial||1962||39|
|Eddie Hodges||Girls, Girls, Girls (Were Made To Love)||Cadence||1962||37|
|Chris Montez||Let’s Dance||Monogram||1962||2|
|Del Shannon||The Swiss Maid||Big Top||1962||2|
|Bobby Boris Pickett &|
The Crypt Kickers
|Chris Montez||Some Kinda Fun||Monogram||1963||10|
|Del Shannon||Little Town Flirt||Big Top||1963||4|
|Roy Orbison||In Dreams||Monument||1963||8|
|Roy Orbison||Blue Bayou||Monument||1963||3|
|Nino Tempo &|
|Jimmy Gilmer &|
|Roy Orbison||Borne On The Wind||Monument||1964||15|
|Roy Orbison||It’s Over||Monument||1964||1|
|Roy Orbison||Oh, Pretty Woman||Monument||1964||1|
|Roy Orbison||Pretty Paper||Monument||1964||6|
|Louis Armstrong||Hello Dolly||Kapp||1964||4|
|Roy Orbison||(Say) You’re My Girl||Monument||1965||23|
|Roy Orbison||Ride Away||Monument||1965||34|
|Roy Orbison||Crawling Back||Monument||1965||19|
|Burt Bacharach||Trains, Boats & Planes||Kapp||1965||4|
|Roy Orbison||Breaking Up Is Breaking My Heart||Monument||1966||22|
|Roy Orbison||Twinkle Toes||Monument||1966||29|
|Roy Orbison||Too Soon To Know||Monument||1966||3|
|Roy Orbison||There Won’t Be Many Coming Home||Monument||1966||12|
|Roy Orbison||So Good||Monument||1967||32|
|Roy Orbison||Walk On||Monument||1968||39|
|Roy Orbison||My Friend||Monument||1969||35|
|Roy Orbison||Penny Arcade||Monument||1969||27|
|Bobby Boris Pickett &|
The Crypt Kickers
|Monster Mash (reissue)||Parrot|
What a lot of boys! Garry, Bobby, Johnny, Ritchie, Ricky, Micky, Dicky, Eddie, Ernie, Frankie, Jerry, Jimmy, Billy, Andy, Sandy, Willie, Danny, Donny, Barry, Larry, Harry.
Look For A Star (EP): Garry Miles 1960 rectangular logo RE-G 1264
Little Boy Sad (EP): Johnny Burnette 1961 RE-G 1291
Johnny Tillotson (EP) 1963 RE-A 1345
See the BOBBY VEE article on this site
Bobby Vee (EP): 1960 (same as LP sleeve) RE-G 1278
Bobby Vee No. 2 (EP): 1961 RE-G1299
Bobby Vee No 4 (EP): 1962 RE-G 1323
Perhaps London UK only had the one photograph. Runaway was one of the first EPs I ever bought new.
Runaway with Del Shannon (EP) 1962 RE-K 1332
Del Shannon No.2 (EP) 1962 RE-K 1346
Del’s Own Favourites (EP): Del Shannon 1963 RE-X 1383
Ricky (EP): Ricky Nelson November 1958 RE-P 1141
Ricky Sings Again (EP): Ricky Nelson May 1959 RE- 1201
I Got A Feeling (EP): Ricky Nelson January 1960 RE-P 1238
Ricky Nelson Part 4 (EP): Ricky Nelson November 1961 RE- P 1300
It’s A Young World (EP): Ricky Nelson September 1962 RE-P 1339
It’s Up To You (EP): Ricky Nelson July 1963 RE-P 1362
Roy Orbison EPs
Only The Lonely (EP): Roy Orbison 1960 RE-U 1274
In Dreams (EP): Roy Orbison 1963 RE-U 1373
It’s Over (EP): Roy Orbison 1964, Monument logo to the fore RE-U 1435
Oh, Pretty Woman (EP): Roy Orbison 1964 RE-U 1437
Stage Show Hits (EP): Roy Orbison 1965 RE-U-1439
Love Hurts (EP): Roy Orbison 1965 RE-U 1440
I have an almost complete collection of Roy Orbison 45s. An old friend brought them to me and asked if I could put all the B-sides onto a CD for him. He had bought Greatest Hits compilations, but loved the B-sides equally, and this was around the nadir of vinyl and he had dispensed with his turntable. I did so, and he gave me the lot, all the 45s, well-looked after too. Roy virtually single-handedly kept London-American in the charts after 1965, and it was his success that led to London-Monument becoming a further sub-label.
Roy Orbison LPs
Not all American …
Oddly, for London-American there were some releases from the South African Gallo label, such as Miriam Makeba’s The Click Song / Wimoweh in 1963. I assume that while South African material went on London-Globe, they didn’t do singles, and it was easier just to put them out on London’s main imprint. In America, it was licensed to RCA Victor, but European copies are London, or rather in France London disques.
Close to the middle of the road …
The Magic of Mel (EP): Mel Torme London Atlantic 1962 #1372
62’s Big Hits (EP): Billy Vaughan 1963, #1395, London Dot centre
Four Great Songs from Four Great Shows (EP): Jack Jones 1963 – large colour KAPP logo RE-R 1433
London – the instrumental label
Another Four By The Champs (EP): The Champs 1959 RE-H 1209
Still More By The Champs (EP): The Champs 1959 RE-H 1223
The Lonely One (EP): Duane Eddy 1959 RE-W 1216
Yep!(EP): Duane Eddy 1959 RE-W 1217
Ram-Bunk-Shush! (EP): The Ventures 1960 REG-1288
Another Smash!!! The Ventures 1961 REG 1326
Let There Be Drums (EP): Sandy Nelson 1962 RE-P 1337
Johnny & The Hurricanes Vol. 2 (EP): 1963 RE-X 1414
Because They’re Young (EP): Duane Eddy 1962 RE-W 1272
Twangy No. 2 (EP) Duane Eddy RE-W 1361
|Bill Justis & His Orchestra||Raunchy||Phillips Int.||1957||11|
|Johnny & The Hurricanes||Red River Rock||Big Top||1959||3|
|Link Wray & The Ray Men||Rumble||Cadence||1958||–|
|Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez||The Happy Organ||Clock||1959||–|
|Duane Eddy||Forty Miles of Bad Road||Jamie||1959||11|
|Duane Eddy||Peter Gunn||Jamie||1959||6|
|Duane Eddy||Because They’re Young||Jamie||1960||2|
|Johnny & The Hurricanes||Rockin’ Goose||Big Top||1960||3|
|Ferrante & Teicher||Theme from Exodus||United Artists||1961||6|
|Duane Eddy||Theme From Dixie||Jamie||1961||7|
|Sandy Nelson||Let There Be Drums||Imperial||1961||3|
|The Ramrods||Riders In The Sky||Amy||1961||8|
|The Surfaris||Wipe Out||Dot||1963||5|
|Boots Randolph||Yakety Sax||Monument||1963||–|
The early 60s London LP sleeves I see most often are Roy Orbison and Duane Eddy. Duane’s albums were produced by Lee Hazlewood. Duane Eddy 45s and LPs are noticeably rough and scratched compared to (say) Ricky Nelson. Was it boys trying to learn them on guitar? Certainly, in my youth club days, boys went for Duane Eddy, Ventures, Surfaris, Chantays rather than young male vocalists.
London – the girl singers / girl group label
|Little Eva||The Locomotion||Dimension||1962||2|
|Ketty Lester||Love Letters||Era||1962||4|
|Marcie Blane||Bobby’s Girl||Seville||1962||–|
|Carole King||It Might As Well Rain Until September||Dimension||1962||3|
|The Crystals||He’s A Rebel||Philles||1962||19|
|Little Eva||Keep Your Hands Off My Baby||Dimension||1962||30|
|The Crystals||He’s Sure The Boy I Love||Philles||1963||–|
|The Crystals||Then He Kissed Me||Philles||1963||2|
|Bob B. Soxx & The|
|Little Eva||Let’s Turkey Trot||Dimension||1963||15|
|Shirley Ellis||The Nitty Gritty||Congress||1963||–|
|Bob B. Soxx & The|
|Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Hearts||Philles||1963||–|
|The Cookies||Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby||Dimension||1963||–|
|Darlene Love||(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry||Philles||1963||–|
|The Crystals||Da Doo Ron Ron||Philles||1963||5|
|The Ronettes||Be My Baby||Philles||1963||4|
|Ruby & The Romantics||Our Day Will Come||Kapp||1963||38|
|Darlene Love||Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home||Philles||1963||–|
|The Crystals||Then He Kissed Me||Philles||1963||2|
|The Ronettes||Baby I Love You||Philles||1964||11|
|The Ronettes||(The Best Part of Breaking Up)||Philles||1964||43|
|The Crystals||All Grown Up||Philles||1964||–|
|The Crystals||I Wonder||Philles||1964||36|
|The Ronettes||Do I Love You||Philles||1964||35|
|Shirley Ellis||The Clapping Song||Congress||1965||6|
|The Chiffons||Sweet Talking Guy|
(original hits were on Stateside)
They distributed the Philles label, which meant the Phil Spector productions of The Crystals, The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers.
SEE ALSO: RONNIE SPECTOR (linked) on this site for more information on The Ronettes including sleeves.
Philles, Phil Spector’s label, preferred illustration for Bob-B-Soxx and The Blue Jeans and The Crystals as the groups were mix and match at Spector’s behest. This is all collectible and the LPs all have 2022 reissues too.
London – the soul label
Shop Around (EP): The Miracles 1961 RE 1295
Seriously collectable, £200 in mint condition. I knew a record shop that had the sleeve on the wall, in great condition. The record was broken and the owner was hoping that a tatty sleeve with a good disc would turn up.
The Drifters (EP): The Drifters 1963 RE-K 1355
R&B with Booker T (EP): Booker T and The MGs 1963, RE-K 1367
The Original Hits (EP): London Atlantic RE-K 1390 1963
Arthur Alexander (EP): 1963 RE-D 1401
|Marv Johnson||You’ve Got What It Takes||United Artists|
|Marv Johnson||You’ve Got To Move Two Mountains||United Artists|
|The Drifters||Save The Last Dance For Me||Atlantic||1960||2|
|Ben E. King||Spanish Harlem||ATCO||1961||–|
|Ben E. King||Stand By Me (#1 in 1987)||ATCO||1961||27|
|The Miracles||Shop Around||Tamla||1961||–|
|The Drifters||Sweets For My Sweet||Atlantic||1961||–|
|The Miracles||Ain’t It Baby||Tamla||1961||–|
|Booker T & The MGs||Green Onions||Atlantic||1962||–|
|Solomon Burke||Down in the Valley||Atlantic||1962||–|
|The Drifters||Up On The Roof||Atlantic||1962||–|
|James Brown & The|
|Prisoner of Love||KIng||1963||–|
|Booker T & The MGs||Chinese Checkers||Atlantic||1963||–|
|Rufus Thomas||Walking the Dog||Stax||1963||–|
|Doris Troy||Just One Look||Atlantic||1963||–|
|Barbara Lewis||Hello Stranger||Chess||1963||–|
|Righteous Bros||Little Latin Lupe Lu||Moonglow||1963||–|
|The Drifters||One Way Love||Atlantic||1964||–|
|Otis Redding||Come To Me||Volt||1964||–|
|Otis Redding||Pain In My Heart||Volt||1964||–|
|James Brown||Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag||King||1965||25|
|Dobie Gray||The “In” Crowd||Charger||1965||25|
|Righteous Bros||You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling||Philles||1965||1|
|Righteous Bros||Unchained Melody||Philles||1965||14|
|Ike & Tina Turner||River Deep Mountain High||Philles||1966||1|
|Ike & Tina Turner||A Love Like Yours(Don’t Come Knocking Every Day)||Philles||1966||16|
|Erma Franklin||Piece of My Heart||Shout||1967||–|
|Wilson Pickett & The Falcons||Billy The Kid||Atlantic||1967||–|
|Righteous Bros||You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling (reissue)||Philles||1968||10|
|Ike & Tina Turner||River Deep Mountain High (reissue)||Philles||1968||33|
|Donnie Elbert||Where Did Our Love Go||All Platinum||1971||8|
|Al Green||Let’s Stay Together||Hi||1972||7|
|Donnie Elbert||A Little Piece of Leather||All Platinum||1972||27|
|Al Green||I’m Still In Love With You||Hi||1972||35|
|Ann Peebles||I Can’t Stand The Rain||Hi||1973||41|
|Al Green||Sha La-La(Make Me Happy)||Hi||1974||20|
|Chubby Checker||Let’s Twist again / The Twist (reissue)||ABKCO||1975||5|
The Righteous Brothers were on Moonglow, then Philles, both licensed to London in the UK.
London – the rock label / folk
|Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs||Sugar Shack||Dot||1963||–|
|Sir Douglas Quintet||She’s About A Mover||Tribe||1965||15|
|Bobby Fuller Four||I Fought The Law||Mustang||1966||33|
|Judy Collins||I’ll Keep It With Mine||Elektra||1966||–|
|Love||7 and & Is||Elektra||1966||–|
|Love||My Little Red Book||Elektra||1966||–|
|Neil Diamond||Cherry Cherry||Bang||1966||–|
|The Turtles||Happy Together||Whale||1966||12|
|The Association||Along Comes Mary||Valiant||1966||–|
|The Turtles||She’d Rather Be With Me||Whale||1967||4|
|Van Morrison||Brown-Eyed Girl||Bang||1967||–|
|Neil Diamond||Red Red Wine||Bang||1968||–|
|Dion||Abraham, Martin & John||Laurie||1968||–|
|Z.Z. Top||It’s Only Love||London (US)||1976||–|
The peak years for London-American hits were 1956 to 1966, with a sharp decline after that. Within that, 1958 to 1961 saw around 240 releases a year, compared to 178 in 1963, 111 in 1964 then down to 73 in 1965. The main label ceased releases in 1981. It was quickly revived with a new imprint, releasing British and foreign artists, but was now another niche label exploiting an old and valued name. See London (post-Decca).
After 1967, it increasingly scored its successes with re-issues of earlier triumphs … some, like Chubby Checker, had not been London originally, but ABKCO had acquired the rights.
Ace started its CD series The London American Label Year By Year with 1960. The breadth of the London catalogue is demonstrated well in 1960. In that year, London-American were releasing five singles a week, a total of 236 in the year. Fifty of these reached the Top 50 chart, which is a success rate of over 20%.
SEE ALSO, the non-US license sub-labels:
London-Calypso, London Ducretet-Thomson, London Globe