Pye were one of the most careless companies on matching record to sleeve … or perhaps their stationery department kept running out of the right bags.
The earliest Pye International discs came in the same generic sleeves as other Pye singles but with a different blue and gold centre. Then they designed a Pye International blue and white sleeve. There are at least three versions, and the “Distributed by Pye Group Records” can be straight or diagonal. They seem to have co-existed,
I’ll Be With you In Apple Blossom Time: Rosemary June January 1959 #25005 . Dark turquoise /gold centre, November 1958 onward. Rosemary June was American, but the record was a bigger hit in Britain.
High Hopes: Dave King 1959 #25032, changed design in retailer numbered sleeve. King was British, working in the USA
The Lonely Man Theme: Cliff Adams Orchestra. 1960, #25056 a generic Pye group sleeve. was often used on Pye International discs. This would continue.
Because They’re Young: James Darren July 1960 #25059 last single with this sleeve. This is a replica of later version. Dark blue centre
I’m Talking About You: Chuck Berry 1961. Only Chuck Berry disc on a blue label (& most copies are later reissues, so red & yellow)
Blue Moon: The Marcels April 1961, getting lighter and more legible
The switch from dark blue to light blue centres comes late in 1961, with the lighter centre being very short-lived. James Darren’s Goodbye Cruel World (November 1961) appears both with dark blue centres, and light blue. The follow-up, Her Royal Majesty, in March 1962 exists with dark blue centres and red and yellow centres
Peanut Butter: The Marathons July 1961
If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody: James Ray 1961 February 1962
When the iconic red and yellow label was introduced there was a time lag, and many 1962 to 1963 red and yellow discs came initially in the blue and white sleeve, the same being true of Cameo-Parkway and Colpix.
Pye changed to pink sleeves, and generic Pye sleeves appeared on many Pye International singles:
The Things We Did Last Summer: Shelley Fabares, August 1962, 7N 25166. Note COLPIX logo on centre label
Mamma Keep Your Big Mouth Shut: Bo Diddley, 1964 7N 2528, two years on, R&B centre. As bought new by me.
Crazy For My Baby: Willie Dixon, 1964 7N2570, bought by a friend in a blue sleeve new!
The return of a few blue sleeves come around the yellow to pink transition in 1965. Perhaps Pye found a few boxes of blue sleeves at the back of the warehouse and used them up when the yellow ran out, just before they switched to pink centres. They probably didn’t want to bother running off more yellow sleeves
Hi Heel Sneakers: Tommy Tucker, Pye International 1964, no R&B on centre
Long Tall Shorty: Tommy Tucker, Pye International 1964 R&B centre, but not R&B sleeve
Both bought new by me.
Little Girl: Howling Wolf, 1964. Both copies as bought new by friends. One is pretty in pink,the other got the full R&B sleeve
The yellow sleeve lasted till 1965. However, there are a number of “bought 1964” discs in old blue Pye International sleeves. When I say ‘bought 1964’ I mean bought by me, myself and I, new.
Laugh Laugh: The Beau Brummels July 1965, 7N 25293 push out centre
This Is My Prayer: The Ray Charles Singers 1965 7N 25500 closed centre
At that point Pye introduced its uniform group pink sleeve and uniform pink centre labels, with a different black top on the centre for Pye, Pye International and Piccadilly. The earliest pink Pye International release is probably The Shirelles Are You Still My Baby (7N 25288) in January 1965.
Psychotic Reaction: Count Five 1966 duller pink
The Lament of The Cherokee Reservation Indian: Don Fardon, 1967, duller pink
Blues Festival: EP 1964, many EPs had closed centres
The Blues Vol 1 Part 2 EP, 1965 or later pressing. It’s rare to find pink centre EPs
Laugh Laugh: The Beau Brummels, 7N 27293 1965 demo
I’ve Got A Lot of Love Left In Me: Maxine Brown, January 1967 demo, pink sleeve
People Got To Be Free: Dionne Warwick, May 1969 demo, blue sleeve
Generic stayed through the rest of the label’s history. There was a switch to light blue in 1967, then a slightly firmer blue with the return of the black top from 1968 to 1974.
Love’s Theme: The Love Unlimited Orchestra 1973 7N 25635. The record had a long chart run as the sleeves switched design, so appears in both designs. The blue is older so more sought after
Early in 1974, they switched to the pink merging into plum design. If you look carefully at the centre labels, the basic paper stock is the same as Pye, and “International” is overstamped below the logo at the same time as the title information was overstamped.
Long Live Love: Olivia Newton-John 1974, sleeve front
Gypsy: Chubby Checker, 1973 7N 25620, sleeve reverse
The final label was black and white. I Can’t Get Enough by Kelly Marie has a Pye International label with a PRT logo as well.