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).

Shellac 78 rpm record

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.

Frequency Test record 1951

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 Shifting Whispering Sands Part 1: Billy Vaughan & His Orchestra, 1956. 78 rpm

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 Londonnumber of
UK Top 30 hits
Liberty / Dolton25
Atlantic / ATCO / Volt / Stax24
Specialty / Big Top14
KAPP, Leader, Congress9
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.

London Jazz

Jazz Piano Rarities: 10″ London “Origins of Jazz” LP, January 1957

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 SistersTeach Me TonightAbbott195420
Ferko String BandAlabama JubileeMedia195520
Billy Vaughn & His OrchestraThe Shifting Whispering SandsDot195620
Pat BooneI’ll Be HomeDot19561
Billy Vaughn & His OrchestraTheme From A Threepenny OperaDot195612
The HilltoppersOnly YouDot19563
Pat BooneI Almost Lost My MindDot195614
Patience & PrudenceTonight You Belong To MeLiberty195628
Pat BooneFriendly PersuasionDot 19563
Pat BooneDon’t Forbid MeDot19572
Pat BooneWhy Baby WhyDot195717
Patience & PrudenceGonna Get Along Without Ya NowLiberty195722
Pat BooneLove Letters In The SandDot19572
Julie LondonCry Me A RiverLiberty1957 22
Pat BooneRemember You’re MineDot19575
Andy WilliamsI Like Your Kind of LoveCadence195716
Pat BooneApril LoveDot19577
Pat BooneWhite ChristmasDot195729
Pat BooneA Wonderful Time Up ThereDot19582
Pat BooneIt’s Too Soon To KnowDot19587
Pat BooneSugar MoonDot19586
Pat BooneIf Dreams Came TrueDot195816
Pat BooneI’ll Remember TonightDot195918
Pat BooneWith The Wind and Rain In Your HairDot195921
Pat BooneFor A PennyDot195919
Pat BooneTwixt Twelve & TwentyDot195910
Pat BooneMoody RiverDot 196118
Pat BooneJohnny WillDot19614
Pat BooneSpeedy GonzalesDot 19622
Pat BooneThe Main AttractionDot196212

A Smile & A Song (EP): Patience & Prudence 1957 #1087
Big Hits No. 2: Andy Williams 1957 #1102

Pat Boone

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

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 Under Glass (EP): March 1957 RE-U 1077, from Starlite US 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 CrestsSixteen CandlesCoed1958
The FiestasSo FineOld Town1958
The Teddy BearsTo Know Him Is To Love HimDore19582
The FleetwoodsCome Softly To MeLiberty19596
Dion & The BelmontsTeenager in LoveLaurie195928

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 WhitmanIndian Love CallImperial1952 (78)
1954 (45)
Jim ReevesBimboAbbott1954
Jim ReevesMexican JoeAbbott1954
Slim WhitmanRose MarieImperial19551
The HilltoppersOnly YouDot19563
Slim WhitmanTumblin’ TumbleweedsImperial195619
Slim WhitmanI’m A FoolImperial195616
Slim WhitmanSerenadeImperial19568
Bill HayesThe Ballad of Davy CrockettCadence19562
Johnny CashI Walk The LineSun1957
Slim WhitmanI’ll Take You Home Again KathleenImperial19577
George Hamilton IVA Rose & A Candy BarABC1957
Charlie GracieWandering EyesCameo19576
Billy GrammerGotta Travel OnMonument1958
Gene AutreyNine Little Reindeer (reissue)Republic1959
Ray PetersonCorinne CorinnaDunes196141
Charlie RichJust A Little Bit SweetPhillips Int.1962
Johnny TillotsonIt Keeps Right On A Hurtin’Cadence196231
Johnny TillotsonSend Me The Pillow That You Dream OnCadence196221
Wink MartindaleDeck of Cards (3rd re-entry)Dot19635
Ned MillerFrom A Jack To A King (reissue)Fabor19632

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

The Ballad of Davy Crockett: Bill Hayes, January 1956, 78 rpm shellac
This is the American Cadence Children’s Series original release, but the sleeve is irresistible.

This shellac 78 is ‘Made in Canada’ though I found it in the UK. The “Liberty” is prominent.

The Chipmunk Song: David Seville. Canadian pressed 78 rpm. 1958.
Bill HayesThe Ballad of Davy CrockettCadence19562
Alfi & Harry (David Seville)The Trouble With HarryLiberty195615
Nervous NorvusApe CallDot1956
David SevilleWitch DoctorLiberty1958 11
The Chipmunks with the
music of David Seville
The Chipmunk SongLiberty 1958
The Chipmunks with the
music of David Seville
Ragtime Cowboy JoeLiberty1959 11
Tom Glazer & The Do-Re-Mi
On Top of SpaghettiKapp1963
Tom Glazer & The Do-Re-Mi
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad WorldKapp1963

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 DominoAin’t That A ShameImperial1955 23
Pat BooneAin’t That A Shame (cover)Dot19557
Pat BooneI’ll Be Home / Tutti FruttiDot19561
Jim LoweThe Green DoorDot19568
Bobby CharlesSee You Later AlligatorChess1956
Carl PerkinsBlue Suede ShoesSun195610
Fats DominoBlueberry HillImperial19566
Sanford ClarkThe FoolDot1956
Little RichardRip It Up / Ready TeddySpecialty195630
Carl PerkinsHoney Don’tSun1956
Jerry Lee LewisWhole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ OnSun19578
Billy Haley & His CometsRock The JointEssex195720
Little RichardThe Girl Can’t Help ItSpeciality19579
Little RichardJenny, JennySpecialty195711
Larry WilliamsShort Fat FannySpecialty195721
Eddie CochranTwenty Flight RockLiberty1957
Fats DominoI’m Walkin’Imperial195719
Little RichardLong Tall SallySpeciality19573
Larry WilliamsBony MoronieSpeciality195811
Little RichardGood Golly Miss MollySpecialty19588
Jerry Lee LewisBreathlessSun19588
Fats DominoSick ‘n’ TiredImperial195826
Jerry Lee LewisGreat Balls of FireSun19581
Chuck BerrySweet Little SixteenChess195816
Bobby DayRockin’ RobinClass195829
Eddie CochranSummertime BluesLiberty195818
Little RichardBaby FaceSpecialty19582
Ritchie ValensDonnaDel-Fi195929
Eddie CochranC’mon EverybodyLiberty19596
Frankie FordSea CruiseAce1959
Eddie CochranThree Steps To HeavenLiberty19601
Jerry Lee LewisWhat’d I Say Sun196110
Danny PeppermintThe Peppermint TwistCarlton196126
Eddie CochranJeannie, Jeannie, JeannieLiberty196131
Ritchie ValensLa BambaDel-Fi1962
Mel TorméComin’ Home BabyAtlantic196313

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 HookerNeed SomebodyModern1954
Chuck WillisC.C. RiderAtlantic1956
Chuck BerryDownbound Train / No Money DownChess1956
Willie Dixon & All StarsWalkin’ The BluesChecker1956
Sam CookeYou Send MeKeen195729
Chuck BerryYou Can’t Catch MeChess1957
Clarence ‘Frogman’ HenryAin’t Got No HomeArgo1957
Jimmy McCracklinThe WalkChess1958
Chuck BerryJohnny B. Goode / Around & AroundChess1958
Chuck WillisWhat Am I Living For?Atlantic1958
Chuck BerryCarolChess1958
Bobby FreemanDo You want to Dance?Josie1958
The CoastersCharlie BrownATCO19596
Chuck BerryAlmost Grown / Little QueenieChess1959
Ray CharlesWhat’d I SayAtlantic1959
Barrett StrongMoneyAnna1960
Bo DiddleyRoad RunnerChecker1960
Little WalterMy BabeChecker1960
The MiraclesShop AroundTamla1961
Ernie K-DoeMother-in-LawMinit1961
Chris KennerI Like It Like ThatInstant1961
Arthur AlexanderYou Better Move On /
Shot of Rhythm & Blues
Arthur AlexanderAnnaDot1962
Tommy TuckerOh! What A FeellingUK only1964
Martha VelezTell MamaSire1969

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.

Ray Charles at Newport (EP): Ray Charles 1961 London RE-K 1317 London-American Atlantic

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

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 HunterNinety-Nine WaysDot19575
Everly BrothersBye Bye LoveCadence19576
Tab HunterYoung LoveDot19571
Everly BrothersWake Up Little SusieCadence19572
Andy WilliamsButterflyCadence19571
Everly BrothersAll I Have To Do Is Dream / ClaudetteCadence19581
Ricky NelsonPoor Little FoolImperial19584
Jane MorganThe Day The Rains CameKapp19581
Ricky NelsonSomedayImperial19589
Bobby DarinSplish SplashATCO195818
Everly BrothersBird DogCadence19582
Bobby DarinQueen of The HopATCO195924
Everly BrothersProblemsCadence19596
Everly BrothersTake A Message To MaryCadence195920
Bobby DarinDream LoverATCO19591
Everly BrothersPoor JennyCadence195914
Jerry KellerHere Comes SummerKapp19591
Ricky NelsonIt’s LateImperial19593
Bobby DarinMack The KnifeATCO19591
Everly BrothersTil I Kissed YouCadence19592
Bobby DarinLa Mer (Beyond The Sea)ATCO19608
Bobby DarinClementineATCO19608
Roy OrbisonOnly the LonelyMonument19601
Everly BrothersLet It Be MeCadence196013
Johnny BurnetteDreamin’Liberty19605
Johnny TillotsonPoetry in MotionCadence19601
Roy OrbisonBlue AngelMonument196011
Everly BrothersLike StrangersCadence196011
Johnny BurnetteYou’re SixteenLiberty19603
Lee Hazlewood with
Duane Eddy
The Girl on Death Row / Words Mean NothingJamie1960
Ricky NelsonHello Mary LouImperial19612
Bobby DarinLazy RiverATCO19612
Bobby VeeMore Than I Can SayLiberty19614
Del ShannonRunawayBig Top19611
Bobby DarinNature BoyATCO196124
Roy OrbisonRunnin’ ScaredMonument19619
Bobby DarinYou Must Have Been A Beautiful BabyATCO196110
Bobby VeeTake Good Care of My BabyLiberty19613
Roy OrbisonCryin’Monument196125
Del ShannonHats Off To LarryBig Top19616
Bobby DarinMultiplicationATCO19615
Gene McDanielsTower of StrengthLiberty196149
Del ShannonSo Long BabyBig Top196110
Roy OrbisonDream BabyMonument19622
Del ShannonHey Little GirlBig Top19622
Ernie MarescaShout Shout (Knock Yourself Out)Seville1962
Ricky NelsonTeenage IdolImperial196239
Bobby DarinThingsATCO19622
Eddie HodgesGirls, Girls, Girls (Were Made To Love)Cadence196237
Chris MontezLet’s DanceMonogram19622
Del ShannonThe Swiss MaidBig Top19622
Bobby Boris Pickett &
The Crypt Kickers
Monster MashCarpax 1962
Chris MontezSome Kinda FunMonogram196310
Del ShannonLittle Town FlirtBig Top19634
Roy OrbisonIn DreamsMonument19638
Roy OrbisonFallingMonument19639
Roy OrbisonBlue BayouMonument19633
Nino Tempo &
April Stevens
Deep PurpleATCO196317
Jimmy Gilmer &
The Fireballs
Sugar ShackDot196345
Roy OrbisonBorne On The WindMonument196415
Roy OrbisonIt’s OverMonument19641
Roy OrbisonOh, Pretty WomanMonument19641
Roy OrbisonPretty PaperMonument19646
Louis ArmstrongHello DollyKapp19644
Roy OrbisonGoodnightMonument196514
Roy Orbison(Say) You’re My GirlMonument196523
Roy OrbisonRide AwayMonument196534
Roy OrbisonCrawling BackMonument196519
Burt BacharachTrains, Boats & PlanesKapp19654
Roy OrbisonBreaking Up Is Breaking My HeartMonument196622
Roy OrbisonTwinkle ToesMonument196629
Roy OrbisonLanaMonument196615
Roy OrbisonToo Soon To KnowMonument19663
Roy OrbisonThere Won’t Be Many Coming HomeMonument196612
Roy OrbisonSo GoodMonument196732
Roy OrbisonWalk OnMonument196839
Roy OrbisonHeartacheMonument196944
Roy OrbisonMy FriendMonument196935
Roy OrbisonPenny ArcadeMonument196927
Bobby Boris Pickett &
The Crypt Kickers
Monster Mash (reissue)Parrot
(US Decca)

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

Bobby Vee

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

Del Shannon

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 Nelson

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 OrchestraRaunchyPhillips Int.195711
Johnny & The HurricanesRed River RockBig Top19593
Link Wray & The Ray MenRumbleCadence1958
The ChampsTequilaChallenge19585
Dave ‘Baby’ CortezThe Happy OrganClock1959
Duane EddyForty Miles of Bad RoadJamie195911
Duane EddyPeter GunnJamie19596
Duane EddyShazam!Jamie19604
The VenturesPerfidiaDolton19604
Duane EddyBecause They’re YoungJamie19602
Johnny & The HurricanesRockin’ GooseBig Top19603
Duane EddyPepeJamie19612
Ferrante & TeicherTheme from ExodusUnited Artists19616
The VenturesRam-Bunk-ShushDolton196145
Duane EddyTheme From DixieJamie19617
Sandy NelsonLet There Be DrumsImperial19613
The RamrodsRiders In The SkyAmy19618
The String-A-LongsWheelsWarwick19618
The SurfarisWipe OutDot19635
The ChantaysPipelineDot196319
Boots RandolphYakety SaxMonument1963

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

Da Doo Ron Ron (EP): The Crystals 1963 RE-U 1381
The ChordettesLollipopCadence19586
Little EvaThe LocomotionDimension19622
Ketty LesterLove LettersEra19624
Marcie BlaneBobby’s GirlSeville1962
The CookiesChainsDimension1962
Carole KingIt Might As Well Rain Until SeptemberDimension19623
The CrystalsHe’s A RebelPhilles196219
Little EvaKeep Your Hands Off My BabyDimension196230
The CrystalsHe’s Sure The Boy I LovePhilles1963
The CrystalsThen He Kissed MePhilles19632
Bob B. Soxx & The
Blue Jeans
Little EvaLet’s Turkey TrotDimension196315
Shirley EllisThe Nitty GrittyCongress1963
Bob B. Soxx & The
Blue Jeans
Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s HeartsPhilles1963
The CookiesDon’t Say Nothing Bad About My BabyDimension1963
Darlene Love(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna MarryPhilles1963
The CrystalsDa Doo Ron RonPhilles19635
The RonettesBe My BabyPhilles19634
Ruby & The RomanticsOur Day Will ComeKapp196338
Darlene LoveWait Till My Bobby Gets HomePhilles1963
The CrystalsThen He Kissed MePhilles19632
The RonettesBaby I Love YouPhilles196411
The Ronettes(The Best Part of Breaking Up)Philles196443
The CrystalsAll Grown UpPhilles1964
The CrystalsI WonderPhilles196436
The RonettesDo I Love YouPhilles196435
Shirley EllisThe Clapping SongCongress19656
The ChiffonsSweet Talking Guy
(original hits were on Stateside)
SylviaPillow TalkVibration197314

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 JohnsonYou’ve Got What It TakesUnited Artists
(from Motown)
Marv JohnsonYou’ve Got To Move Two MountainsUnited Artists
(from Motown)
The DriftersSave The Last Dance For MeAtlantic19602
Ben E. KingSpanish HarlemATCO1961
Ben E. KingStand By Me (#1 in 1987)ATCO196127
The MiraclesShop AroundTamla1961
The DriftersSweets For My SweetAtlantic1961
The MiraclesAin’t It BabyTamla1961
Booker T & The MGsGreen OnionsAtlantic1962
Solomon BurkeDown in the ValleyAtlantic1962
The DriftersUp On The RoofAtlantic1962
James Brown & The
Famous Flames
Prisoner of LoveKIng1963
Booker T & The MGsChinese CheckersAtlantic1963
Rufus ThomasWalking the DogStax1963
Doris TroyJust One LookAtlantic 1963
Barbara LewisHello StrangerChess1963
Righteous BrosLittle Latin Lupe LuMoonglow1963
The DriftersOne Way LoveAtlantic1964
Otis ReddingCome To MeVolt1964
Otis ReddingPain In My HeartVolt1964
James BrownPapa’s Got A Brand New BagKing196525
Dobie GrayThe “In” CrowdCharger196525
Righteous BrosYou’ve Lost That Loving FeelingPhilles19651
Righteous BrosUnchained MelodyPhilles196514
Ike & Tina TurnerRiver Deep Mountain HighPhilles19661
Ike & Tina TurnerA Love Like Yours(Don’t Come Knocking Every Day)Philles196616
Erma FranklinPiece of My HeartShout1967
Wilson Pickett & The FalconsBilly The KidAtlantic1967
Righteous BrosYou’ve Lost That Loving Feeling (reissue)Philles196810
Ike & Tina TurnerRiver Deep Mountain High (reissue)Philles196833
Donnie ElbertWhere Did Our Love GoAll Platinum19718
Al GreenLet’s Stay TogetherHi19727
Donnie ElbertA Little Piece of LeatherAll Platinum197227
Al GreenI’m Still In Love With YouHi197235
Ann PeeblesI Can’t Stand The RainHi197341
Al GreenSha La-La(Make Me Happy)Hi197420
Al GreenL-O-V-EHi197524
Chubby CheckerLet’s Twist again / The Twist (reissue)ABKCO19755

The Righteous Brothers were on Moonglow, then Philles, both licensed to London in the UK.

London – the  rock label / folk

Jimmy Gilmer & The FireballsSugar ShackDot1963
Sir Douglas QuintetShe’s About A MoverTribe196515
Bobby Fuller FourI Fought The LawMustang196633
Judy CollinsI’ll Keep It With MineElektra1966
Love7 and & IsElektra1966
LoveMy Little Red BookElektra1966
Neil DiamondCherry CherryBang1966
The TurtlesHappy TogetherWhale196612
The AssociationAlong Comes MaryValiant1966
The TurtlesShe’d Rather Be With MeWhale19674
The AssociationWindyValiant1967
Van MorrisonBrown-Eyed GirlBang1967
Neil DiamondRed Red WineBang1968
DionAbraham, Martin & JohnLaurie1968
The TurtlesElenoreWhale19687
Z.Z. TopIt’s Only LoveLondon (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


London Sleeves and Centres


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