Sounds like Salvo

Long Black Stockings. Salvo copy

Long Black Stockings: Tony Butala, Salvo, 1962

1962 was a good year for new small independent British labels. Or a bad year depending on how you look at it, as none of them lasted long. Salvo, whose artistic output defeats classification, was an early independent co-managed by Clive Selwood, who later created the Dandelion label with John Peel.

Salvo released just thirteen red-label singles and two LPs in the spring of 1962 then disappeared. In his memoirs even Clive Selwood remains unsure why it was called ‘Salvo’. The name sounded more like a lavatory cleaner, as he recalls. His employer was a shadowy figure who turned out to be a famous classical musician. Selwood says he was the ‘conductor or leader of the London Symphony Orchestra’ and Selwood only discovered this when the company was wound up by Lord Goodman, who was Harold Wilson’s personal counsel. He guesses in retrospect that the whole thing was some complex tax evasion rather than a serious effort to start a label. It claimed on LPs to be “a division of Emperor Records Ltd.” but there is no trace of such a label existing.

The appearance of its label and its Izal toilet paper-thin sleeve may have been bland but Salvo had enough razzmatazz to run a 15-minute show on Radio Luxembourg in 1962 called Sounds Like Salvo, dee-jayed by Selwood himself. Most listeners assumed they were hearing new releases by British artists, but with Salvo you could never be sure of anything.  On several releases only 99 copies were pressed so as to avoid purchase tax which cut in at 100 copies. It’s hard to see how that, if indeed it was accurately accounted, could pay for a radio show.

First on the label Long Black Stockings (SLO 1801) by Tony Butala, turned out to be something unearthed from the 1950s on the American Topic label just before Butala had formed the successful Lettermen. The enlarged “A” in Sample Record, indicating the A side was a nice touch. It’s one of the (allegedly) 99 copy releases. It owed a heavy debt to Eddie Cochran both in the guitar sound and the interspersed deeper voice. Both sides were written by Sheb “Purple People Eater” Wooley, who owned the Topic label. Wooley co-starred wih Clint Eastwood in Rawhide. As well as novelty records he had a series of country hits including the US #1 C&W That’s My Pa.

Rumors.Salvo copy

Rumors: Tony Butala SLO 1801, B-side of Long Black Stockings

The Dream Train Special copy

The Dream Team Special: The Clefs, Salvo 1962

Nellie dean copy

Nellie Dean: Brian Bentley and The Bachelors, Salvo 1962

Caramba copy

Caramba: Brian Bentley and The Bachelors, Salvo 1962, B-side

The record centres above suggest three different pressing plants … closed centre, push out centre, brown centre, colours shifting.

Records by Nervous Norvus, the Clefs, Jerry Fuller, Johnny Dot & The Dashes,  The Jokers, Bucky & Strings, Dee Kirk, Karen Chandler…were all previous American releases on a variety of labels mostly from the preceding decade. Nervous Norvus’s effort was licensed from Big Ben and called Does a Chinese Chicken Have a Pigtail?

Any Salvo release is reasonably collectable, but Jerry Fuller’s Lipstick & Rouge / Mother Goose At The Bandstand (SLO 1802) is the most valuable (£150 mint in the 2020 Rare Record Guide). The B-side features the same style interspersed deeper voice as Long Black Stockings. Fuller went on to write twenty-three songs for Ricky Nelson, before forming The Champs with Glen Campbell. He also wrote Gary Puckett & The Union Gap’s biggest hits.

An interesting instrumental version of ‘Nellie Dean’ by Brian Bentley and the Bachelors had to be contemporary British, didn’t it?

British ? Yes. Contemporary – No. Brian Bentley and the Bachelors had already changed their name to Sounds Incorporated and were recording on Parlophone and then Decca by 1962). It’s listed by Rare Record Guide as “99 copies only” and both I’ve seen are “sAmple Records”. It’s hard to tell whether the brown push-out centre is careful personalization, or pressed like that. The record came with a batch of Sounds Incorporated stuff.

The other Salvo

In 2007 The Move reissued the Flowers In The Rain EP (on CD) to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Radio 1. It’s on the “Salvo” label. Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne are the sort of guys who would know of the 1960s original of the same name, and the logo is white on red. Salvo started in 2006 as reissue specialists.

By 2011 they were a major reissue label and also the outlet for the ZTT back catalogue, and for Stiff Records compilations. They launched comprehensive ressue programs for  Slade, Procul Harum, Madness, Nazareth, The Move and The Undertones. Others on Salvo include John Williams, Peter Green, Roy Harper and more. It’s a division of Union Square Music..