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"Labelography ?The Major U.K. Record Labels"

“Labelography —The Major U.K. Record Labels” by Jan Pettersson, reviewed by Susan Sliwicki.

If your passion is collecting U.K. first pressings from the glory years of rock ’n’ roll, this is the book you’ve probably wished for over the years.

“Labelography” is a first-pressing identification guide for the singles, EPs and LPs issued by CBS, Columbia, Decca, Fontana, His Master’s Voice, Parlophone and Pye from 1953-1975.

There’s a lot of great general reference material packed into this field guide’s pages — information on how to distinguish a U.K. original pressing; an illustrated guide showing the differences among various EP, LP and gatefold covers; an anatomy of a record label; and, of course, concentrated information for each featured label. (The book features a handy tabbing system that makes it easy to flip to a specific label’s section when you’re hunting for details.)

The downside? Apart from the color images of labels shown on the front cover, the book is printed in disappointing black and white. Yeah, you can still use it just fine. But having it in color would make it even more useful and enjoyable.

But the black-and-white format truly takes a back seat to the wealth of information presented. Wonder which label was used by Decca between 1955 and 1957? Curious about when Columbia discontinued its 33S series of 10-inch LPs? Wondering how to tell the difference between inner sleeves of Beatles albums? It’s all here.

Best of all, the author has announced that he is working on the next edition of this book, and revealed that there is a planned Volume 2 of “Labelography” that focuses on progressive record labels, including Deram, Harvest, Reaction, Vertigo, Decca Nova, Immediate and Page One. Here’s hoping Jan will bring his act across the pond to focus on U.S. labels.