Postcard Records of Scotland

The 45s

45 resonates for Scotland, bringing to mind 1745. It’s a label I think of as a 45 label too, because the LPs are hardly ever seen.

There’s a hand-made look that sums up the ,ood of a post-punk Indie label.

Enclosures in the plastic bag it came in:
Gallery- click to enlarge

Falling and Laughing: Orange Juice, 1980, the first release 80.1

No bagpipes, no sporrans, no reels, no accordions. Jimmy (Shand) free territory. The Sound of Young Scotland is emblazoned on every one. Artists include Orange juice, Aztec Camera, Go-Betweens and Josef K. No, really, it was an indie, distributed by Rough Trade. Mostly, early tracks were cut at Castlesound studio in Pencaitland, East Lothian. Paul Haig of Josef K points out that the second and third releases, Blue Boy by Orange Juice and Radio Drill Time by Josef K were recorded on the same day.

Blue Boy: Orange Juice, Postcard 45, 1980, 80.2 A side, no title
Love Sick: Orange Juice, Postcard 45 1980, 80.2, B-side. Titles are on B-side

Radio Drill Time. Josef K, Postcard 45, 1980, 80.3 A-side
Crazy To Exist: Josef K, Postcard 45, 1980, 80.3 B-side

Paul Haig (Josef K): It gets so much more romanticized in retrospect – 30, 40 years go past, and it’s like, ‘Woah. Postcard must have been like Motown. It’s like it didn’t happen; you read about it now and it’s like reading bout someone else … People ask about Postcard, but really it was invisible. It wasn’t there. It was people talking in cafés and drawing things on bits of paper, that’s all. When Orange Juice released a single at the same time as us, the national music press became interested – it seemed like there was something proper happening in Scotland, because there was a label. But Postcard was really just a drawer in a cupboard in Alan (Horne)’s flat; that was it. A few bits of paper.’

Interview ‘Special K’ by David Pollock, Record Collector #522, September 2021

Postcard are an instant collectable, due the unusual second card company sleeve (die cut only on the front) and the policy of slipping a postcard inside with the record information on the back. The presence of the postcard can triple the value of singles. There is an earlier die-cut brown sleeve and cream sleeve. You find the same singles in both colours, though according to Record Collector the cream version is an earlier print run than the brown one, so worth more.

The REALLY expensive first edition singles were in polybags with blue labels and inserts. That would be £200 for 80.1, Falling and Laughing in a polybag with postcard and flexidisc. That was a numbered run of 963. As was the next edition, another run of 963 without the postcard and flexdisc. The price drops to £100 mint.

Even the catalogue number is different to the norm. The early ones start at 80 .1 (1980 #1), and then switch to 81 .1 (1981 #1) at the turn of the year, or Hogmaney, an important occasion for Scots.

The rear of the 1981 sleeve (black) lists the singles beyond the number reached, so either they were all out at the same time, released in batches or they knew the future releases in advance.

The label was founded by 19-year old Alan Horne in Glasgow in a dingy flat in Glasgow in 1979, as an outlet for his school friends Orange Juice and Josef K.

The first issue, Falling and Laughing by Orange Juice, was financed by Horne with Orange Juice members Edwyn Collins and David McClymot, and the later releases did consistently well on the UK indie chart.  Only 1000 copies of Falling and Laughing were pressed.

Horne said (BBC Scotland News, 2008):
We were all very enthusiastic and very naive and we rushed right into the middle of it all before we knew anything. We had never seen the inside of a record company before. In those days it was impossible to get A&R people up from London. We had about £400 between us and we got a record by Orange Juice pressed and took it round the shops in the back of a car.

It’s Kinda Funny: Orange Juice, Postcard 45, 1980, 80.5 A-side

It’s Kinda Funny: inserts

I Need Two Heads: The Go-Betweens, Postcard 45, 1980, 80.4 tan version

Simply Thrilled: Orange Juice, Postcard 45, 1980, 80.6 Beige version and brown version of the same disc. There are four or five different versions of the disc.

Postcard OS2 came initially in a hand coloured picture sleeve, again in a polybag with blue labels. £35 mint. The second issue had the cream sleeve, the third had the brown sleeve. All these early discs have an illustrated A side and information on the B-side.

Poor Old Soul: Orange Juice 1981, Postcard 45 81.2

Poor Old Soul: Orange Juice 1981, Postcard 45 81.2, A side design, and ‘Pt 2’ the B-side design

They signed Aztec Camera and the Go-Betweens, but by then the majors had noticed and were scouring Glasgow for similar talent, such as Altered Images. Edwyn Collins described the results as ‘diluted Orange Juice.’

Just Like Gold: Aztec Camera, 1981, 81.3. Front and rear sleeve design

That essential postcard, from Just Like Gold:

 

Chance Meeting / Pictures: Josef K, 1981

Postcard ran out of cash in 1981. It then appeared briefly with a joint logo Postcard / Polydor design. The drumming kitten logo was retained.

Felicity: Orange Juice – 1982 centre design with both logos
We Could Send Letters: Aztec Camera, B side design

Their first two Polydor singles (L.o.v.e … L.o.v.e #65, and Felicity #63) had joint logos, then Orange Juice singles just have Polydor from then on. Horne was head-hunted by London Records. He also released a few records on his Swamplands label.

12″ singles

Love … Love … : Orange Juice 1981

LPs … yes, they did some

Sorry For Laughing: Josef K, January 1981

The Only Fun in Town: Josef K, July 1981

Horne revived the label ten years later, and it’s still in business. Aztec Camera, Orange Juice and Edwyn Collins all went on to greater things afterwards. Just like Gold reappeared in an acoustic version on the NME compilation cassette “C81” in 1981, which launched their career. Aztec Camera were picked up by the label’s distributor, Rough Trade, and in turn picked up members of Orange Juice.

The interest in the label for me will stop at the vinyl ending, though you will find CDs from the 1990s.

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