Saturday, 28 August 2021

Pop Pic Library, Wells Gardner, Darton and Company, 1965 to 1968: NEW DISCOVERY!

Hurrah! As the years have passed since my first post on After You've Gone about the 'Pop Pic Library' series of music-related comic books, a remarkable piece of the publishing jigsaw has just been discovered!

Somehow, the original aluminium offset lithographic plates for two of the covers have surfaced: No.57 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' by The Monkees, and No.58 'I'll Never Fall in Love Again" by Tom Jones.  Both hit singles were issued in the Summer of 1967, so the comics themselves would have likely been published around this time.

As with most of the numbers that were issued later on in the run of the series which seems to have ended in 1968 with No.72 ('Congratulations' by Cliff Richard), the original comic books themselves are hard to find. In fact, to my knowledge, a copy of 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' has never turned up on the market. But these cover plates are the first ever publicly known examples of ephemera relating to the Pop Pic Library universe. 

Many of us fans are still hoping to come across the beautiful original artwork for the covers which was provided by such luminaries of the UK romance comics scene as the Spanish artists Jose Maria Miralles and Angel Badia Camps. These were occasionally signed. It's clear however, that the lack of credits in the comic books for the photographer or their agency of the colour picture of the singer or band that always appeared the back page, or for any of the songwriters and record labels, surely means that Pop Pic Library was unlikely to have been fully endorsed or authorised by many of the rights owners themselves. 

I always look forward to seeing new research on the series, and perhaps others may be able to track down exactly who was responsible at Wells Gardner, Darton and Company, the publishers, for creating this intriguing and ever so Sixties slice of POP culture.

For anyone interested in purchasing these original aluminium offset lithographic plates, please contact David Walker at The Shibusa Gallery:

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

'A Rural Post Office' stamp, Kenya 1986

In June 1986, the Kenya Post Office produced a set of commemorative stamps to mark the 1986 EXPO which took place in Vancouver, Canada. The theme of the event was transportation and communication and Kenya's set reflected the nation's progress in the field. 

As part of my occasional exploration of the telephone box in design and popular culture, I will focus on the lowest denomination stamp of the set, which depicts 'A Rural Post Office', lovingly created by Kenya's philatelic designer Hameed Moghul. 

This is a beautiful piece of work by the Nairobi-based artist who was responsible for designing much of Kenya's philatelic output at this time. It would be very interesting to know more about his life and work, and also whether this painting was an imaginary scene or based on a photograph of a rural post office.

A year later, Kenya issued another stamp with a telephone box as part of the image. This time it was the 5/- value in a triangle-shaped set that commemorated 10 years of progress of the Kenyan Post Office. 

These two stamps are my all-time favourites depicting a telephone box in use, at a time when no-one could have anticipated the near-obsolescence of the public payphone as a result of the global impact of the smartphone.

Close-up of the 1/- value on the First Day Cover, issued on 11th June 1986

A page from the special insert issued with the FDC

The 4 higher values from the 1986 EXPO set

Another Telephone Box on a Kenyan stamp - this time issued in 1987 to mark 10 years of progress of the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KPATC).


Thursday, 27 May 2021

Stepney Words & the Stepney School Strike, 1971

On Thursday 27th May 1971, exactly 50 years ago, hundreds of East End schoolchildren went on strike. They were protesting about the dismissal of English teacher Chris Searle from their Stepney school. He’d published ‘Stepney Words’ a poetry anthology compiled from his pupils work written in his English classes. The poems were raw and direct, but the school were not impressed. The strike continued the following day with a march with banners aloft to Trafalgar Square. 

The aftermath saw a 2nd edition of Stepney Words, the student poets reading on national TV and at poetry festivals, the creation of working class community workshops and arts projects in the East End and beyond, and after 2 years the re-instatement of Searle at the Stepney school. The strikers were finally vindicated - but Searle moved on, unhappy at being ostracised by fellow teaching staff. He eventually became a head teacher in Sheffield - and still keeps in touch with the Stepney poets and strikers. 

Cover of the first edition of Stepney Words, published in March 1971

Chris Searle and students outside the school gates, 27th May 1971

Stepney school strikers and their banner held high

28th May 1971, the strikers reach Trafalgar Square

Stepney Words 2, published in September 1971

STEPNEY WORDS: A collection of Poetry by Stepney children aged 11 to 15 years. Stepney Words "is designed as a community communication and is published by Reality Press c/o 20 Princelet Street, E1. Edited by Chris Searle and photography and layout by Ron McCormick"

A selection of the poetry:

Monday, 17 May 2021

GEFILTE FISH by Mildred Rosner c/w MATZOH BALLS by Slim Gaillard

Here’s a special melt in the mouth treat for lovers of old-time home cooking, and foot-tapping rhythms that we all know they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore! The very first 7” single from JWM recordings who brought you ‘Music is the Most Beautiful Language in the World’, the much-loved compilation of Yiddisher Jazz in London’s East End 1920s to 1950s. 

On the menu is Gefilte Fish and Matzoh Balls, a double ‘A’ side recipe of two classic dishes that have graced the Jewish luncheon or dinner table for generations. Ours are the tastiest sounding Matzoh Balls - dumplings made of eggs and matzoh meal (ground unleavened bread) - that we’ve ever heard. A mesmerising musical soup concocted in New York in 1939 by the one and only Slim Gaillard and His Flat-Foot-Floogie Boys. Slim Gaillard was a hugely popular and influential figure on the jazz circuit for over half a century. He’d riff and scat in his own made-up language ‘voute-o-rooney’ – a hip scatological word play that would be celebrated in Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’. 

Gaillard’s own background has always been a mystery – an African-American who even claimed Jewish ancestry, hence his love for Jewish food (his repertoire also included the ditty ‘Dunkin’ Bagels’). In his Matzoh Balls, we discover that Slim likes his balls with a kick: “now you put a little horseradish on it, and it knocks you right out…” 

For the record, accompanying Slim and his guitar on Matzoh Balls were Al Killian (trumpet), Kenneth Hollon (tenor saxophone), Loumell Morgan (piano), William Smith (string bass) and Hubert Pettaway (drums) 

Cover of JWM002 / Gefilte Fish

Playwright and song writer Isadore Lillian’s Gefilte Fish passionately declares a love affair with this slightly sweet but savoury ancient dish – patties made up of a poached mixture of ground deboned white fish. Served boiled or fried. Yiddish singer Mildred Rosner is backed by Mendelsohn’s Orchestra to deliver the finest ever version of Gefilte Fish on the market. The band put down a roaring and infectious dance tune – they’ve clearly played a Jewish wedding or two. Mildred Rosner’s delivery on her only known record is an utter joy, and listen out for the punky call and response of the tune’s title. All together now GEFILTE FISH! 

It’s the first ever re-issue of the original 78rpm 10” that was issued for the speciality American Jewish market in 1947 by The Sun Recording Corp. of New York. The Bronx-based label’s motto was “the brightest thing on records” - and it pre-dated a rather more famous Sun label - Sam Phillips’ Sun of Memphis, Tennessee. We’ve packaged our food-themed single in a glorious card cover with a tasteful tactile matt finish. The image on the front shows just how many of us may remember what those portions of boiled Gefilte Fish topped with sliced carrots looked like, laid out for hours on the buffet tables of those functions of yesteryear… 

78rpm UK issue of Gefilte Fish on Melodisc 5017
                        Mildred Rosner in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday 27th December 1946                           
Courtesy of Henry Sapoznik

As a special treat for this individually numbered special edition of just 200 copies, we’ve included an illustrated double-sided flyer complete with recipes to make your very own Gefilte Fish and Matzoh Balls to eat while you listen… 

**The label artwork features the owner of the last genuine Jewish food delicatessen in the East End of London: Barry Rogg. Barry served up delicacies from hand-picked suppliers and his own home-made produce, the recipes of which are now lost to time.

In a dedication to Rogg's deli, JWM records dish up a two sided smorgasbord of culinary music lovingly remastered from original 78s

Barry Rogg by Irv Kline, 1983

For all enquiries please contact:

Back cover JWM002

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Where's the Public Telephone Box? Part 8

I am continuing my quest to seek out images of Public Telephone Boxes pictured on vintage postcards. As the years go by, so many of these structures have either been preserved but repurposed for other uses, or have been removed altogether. 

It's fun to play I-Spy and spot the phone boxes that have just made it into the shot, while many are proudly posing as an integral part of the landscape.

South Ayrshire, Scotland


near Faversham, Kent



Caernarvonshire, Wales



Flintshire, Wales

Monday, 21 December 2020

Coventry City, Christmas Day 1959

For my seasonal post this year, I'm offering up another snapshot of Christmas Day football. This time the location is Coventry City's Highfield Road Stadium, on 25th December, 1959. For my previous Christmas post, I showcased the matchday programme of the last ever professional football fixture to be played in England on Christmas Day - Blackpool's home game versus Blackburn Rovers in 1965.

When Coventry City took on Wrexham at 11am on Xmas Day 1959, the tradition of the Christmas Day match which had harked back to 1889 (the second season of the Football League) was already well on the wane. This Third Division fixture had actually been scheduled for December 28th, but in the programme notes it was explained that most people in Coventry would be back at work on that day. So a return to the 25th December would offer the supporters a better chance of seeing their team play. 

Coincidentally, it wasn't until a Christmas Day fixture in 1919/20 when Coventry City beat Stoke, that City managed to win their first ever match in Division Two having been promoted to the Football League from the Southern League after WW1. 

A good omen then, as on this Christmas Day match in 1959, City beat Wrexham 5-3. For the return game which was played at the Racecourse Ground on Boxing Day, City also won, this time 3-1.

The slim 12 page City programme has a tremendously powerful front cover design depicting a packed to the rafters Highfield Road with the word CITY in bold white capitals. There's a typical-of-the-era collection of advertisements accompanying the team line-ups, words from the manager, and pen pictures of the visitors. The cost of a coach journey from Coventry to Wrexham for the away fixture was 14/6 (seventy two and a half pence). I wonder how many coach loads of fans made that Boxing Day trip up to North Wales?

Coventry v Wrexham, 25th December 1959

Wrexham v Coventry, 26th December 1959

Here are some highlights from that Coventry City v Wrexham programme issued on 25th December 1959:

Just over 60 years on, Coventry will be UK City of Culture 2021, and the team are competing in the Championship, the second tier of the Football League. The club left Highfield Road at the end of the 2004/05 season, and are currently playing their home matches at Birmingham City's St Andrew's Ground before a planned move to a new site in association with the University of Warwick.
Happy Holidays to all...