Designer Desire: Alex Steinweiss

Mosaic of Alex Steinweiss LP cover art | H is for Home

New Yorker, Alex Steinweiss (1917-2011) is considered the father of LP artwork. Prior to the 1930s, the vast majority of records were sold in plain sleeves or record shop advertising ‘bags’. As the first art director at Colombia Records, he recalled what record covers used to be like:

The covers were brown, tan or green paper. They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal.

They were so drab, so unattractive, I convinced the executives to let me design a few.

He went on to design album artwork for other record companies such as Decca, London, Remington and Everest.

Examples of his work can be found in Jazz Covers, a book we’ve reviewed in the past. There are two books dedicated to his huge back catalogue; For the Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss and Alex Steinweiss. The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover. There are three editions of the latter available costing from £15 to £1,000.

Portrait of Alex Steinweisscredit

Introducing the Organetta!

Vintage Organetta Hohner | H is for Home

This is one of our more unusual recent purchases – in fact, we think it’s a first for musical instruments.

Vintage Organetta Hohner | H is for Home Vintage Organetta Hohner | H is for Home

It’s a vintage table-top electric organ – the Hohner Organetta to be precise. Dating from the 1950s, it’s in a lovely pistachio or sugared almond green colour and stands on small, splayed brass-coloured legs – both typical of the era. We thought it was very stylish and it still works! The volume wouldn’t quite fill a church, but it’s pretty loud – and quite distinctive. We can imagine its quirky sound being used by musicians today…

In fact, here’s Professor Peter giving one a workout!

Vintage Organetta Hohner | H is for Home

There’s one small chip to the enamel surface as you can see above, but overall it’s in very good condition. We’ve put it in the antiques centre window so that anyone interested can give it a try. It could be posted though, so if it’s up your street let us know.

Gimme Five! Wireless speakers

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Selection of five wireless speakers

Christmas must be approaching – some definite present hints have been heard recently! Justin’s mentioned wireless speakers 3 times in the last week. Not exactly shoe-horning it into any random subject, but the moment music or bands are mentioned, up the subject pops.

It would be great actually, to have a premium music streaming service like Spotify working in conjunction with wireless speakers dotted around the house. No more wires or CD cases cluttering up rooms. We’ll keep hold of our vinyl collection, but we’d love to move into the 21st century with a wireless system too. Perhaps his dreams will come true – here are some favourite wireless speakers for various budgets that we’ve identified as possible buys.

  1. Minx Air 200 wireless music system with Airplay, Bluetooth & internet radio (black): £299.95, Amazon
  2. Bose SoundTouch 10 wireless multi-room speaker: £169.95, PC World
  3. Sonos PLAY:1: £169, Sonos
  4. LG Music Flow P7 portable Bluetooth speaker with leather carrying case, oak: £149.95, John Lewis
  5. Spotify multiroom speaker: £129.99, Philips

Charity Vintage: Jungle Book LP

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vintage Jungle Book LP(ends 21 Apr, 2014 12:15:45 BST)

You always get the question in celebrity Q&As, “What was the first record you ever bought?” Well, I’m not sure if I actually bought it. I would have been a bit too young to go to the record shop on my own, with my own money, but The Jungle Book LP was my first record!

I played it over & over & over again, my clumsy hands probably ruining the needle on my parents’ record player. I knew all the words to all the songs – I probably still do!

This copy of the Jungle Book record being sold by & in support of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice* is in very good condition – both the record and its sleeve.

What was your first record?

*Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice provides vital care to patients and families living with terminal illness across Birmingham and Sandwell. All monies raised through their online shop will help them to care for more families living with terminal illness.



Charity Vintage: Columbia Portable Record Player

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Columbia Portable Record Player being sold on eBay in support of Thames Hospicecare
(Ends 15 Feb, 2013 10:32:49 GMT)

Keeping with the music theme from last week’s Charity Vintage choice, we’ve spotted this fab vintage Columbia portable record player being sold in support of Thames Hospicecare*

The perfect partner for going round early morning car boot sales in search of rare vinyl!

*At Thames Hospicecare our philosophy is that together we provide skilled and gentle care for adults with cancer and other potentially life shortening illnesses and their families, friends and carers, giving them hope and dignity throughout their illness both up to and following death.

Tuesday Huesday: It’s Christmas Once Again!

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Harry Simeone Chorale - "It's Christmas Once Again" album cover art work by Willie Lonardo

Season’s greetings, it’s Christmas once again!

This week’s Tuesday Huesday post is topical, bright & festive. It features artwork by Willie Lonardo for the 1973 Harry Simeone Chorale It’s Christmas Once Again album cover.

Thanks to the King of Jingaling aka FaLaLaLaLa for the use of this image. Check out his Flickr set of vintage Christmas albums!