Palette was initially a Belgian label, started in 1958 and connected to the low budget World Music label. Palette had a brief relationship with Top Rank when that label began in 1959, but soon switched to Pye. Mr Dixie and His Gang were an example of the Top Rank fare, submitting The Third Man (Austria), Oh Mein Papa (Germany), Vladivostok (Russia) and Sur Le Pont D’Avignon to an overwhelming trad jazz treatment.
Palette was mainly distributed in the UK by Pye as a lighter mood, and sometimes comedy-oriented label. Pye added its own material to the Belgian output. Note the checkered pattern at the sides in green, matching Pye in purple and Pye International in blue. Like other Pye labels it needed a slogan. Palette? Hmm … Colour in music. Or maybe colour-in music.
The best known record is Tommy Cooper’s Don’t Jump Off The Roof, Dad which got to number 40 in the Top 40 in June 1961. Or possibly it’s the only well-known Palette record. Palette issued Sam Costa’s I’m Changing My Hat To A Bowler, a dreadful piece of old tosh that sounded if it was recorded in Costa’s heyday circa 1931, but was issued in 1961, and references to “Acker Bilk’s dead jealous” shows it was recorded that year.
Vince Taylor and His Playboys moved from Parlophone to cut two records for the Palette label, I’ll Be Your Hero in 1960 and What-cha-gonna-do /Move Over Tiger in 1961. Tony Dunning and The Tremelos (no, we didn’t miss the “e”; they did) covered Pretend.
Gallery – click to enlarge
Makadopoulos & His Greek Serenaders did Never On Sunday (recorded in Belgium). Makadopoulos got a picture sleeve, something the Pye group reserved for film and TV tie-ins. (See Pye Group: Film & TV tie-ins).
Reg Owen, having hit the Top Twenty (just) with Manhatten Spiritual on Pye International in 1959, found himself shifted to Palette in 1960, when Obession provided Palette’s first Top Fifty entry, reaching #43. Manhatten Spiritual was popular at Palette with The Stargazers coupling it with Three Beautiful Words in 1960. The Stargazers were founded by Cliff Adams in 1949 and stalwarts of Workers’ Playtime on the Light Programme. In the 1950s they had been voted Britain’s most popular vocal group, and had had three five top ten hits on Decca between 1953 and 1956, three of them at number one. Palette was a pause on the way out. They changed their name in 1959 to The Adam Singers, and started on the long series of Sing Something Simple records, changing their name again to The Cliff Adams Singers. They did three EPs on Pye International between 1960 to 1963 which is an odd label match, but it was possibly international because they were signed to the Belgian Palette label … as their 1960 single shows.
Gallery – click to enlarge
Daughter of The King: The Adam Singers 1960 9007
Bouddha: The Cousins 1960 9017
The Cousins were a Belgian instrumental band, who cut many singles and EPs for Palette between 1960 and 1962, when Pye killed off the label in the UK. Palette singles continued to be released in Europe until 1967.
On the web we found this description of The Cousins, Belgium’s original rock and rollers:
They were clean boys, always smiling and in clean suits that knew where to get their inspiration. Listen to the newest dance craze abroad, add a bit of folklore and a spiceless Shadows-sauce and bingo!. Titles like “When the Cousins Come Twistin’ in” and “The Limbo Rock” speak for themselves.“
The relationship with Pye remained with Palette’s Belgian records coming out on Pye International, such as The Waikikis’ Hawaii Tattoo (“A Palette Belgium Recording”), which was a UK #41 hit in 1965. This was a reissue of their 1961 Palette single, designed to cash in on the surf music boom, perhaps. But it’s far more Disney World Tiki-Tiki Birds than Surf’s Up. On the collector’s market, that coveted Pye International label is worth more than the Palette original even on this sub-“Fifty Golden Guitars Go To Hawaii” instrumental.
The original Palette label switched its outlet from Pye International to CBS around 1967, and Mertens Brothers Style released an instrumental version of Puppet On A String on CBS. They put yet another Palette recording of Manhatten Spiritual on the B-side.
They were Eurovision cover specialists, and also did Congratulations.