“What’s in a label?” - Genesis and solo artists’ rarities re-examined by Alan Hewitt.

So, what is all the fuss about? Many people are probably aware of the existence of several different “labels” for Genesis’ LPs and singles over the years. What some of you may not realise is that the label on some records, particularly early L Ps, singles etc is that those differences may make the difference between a worthwhile investment or not. Beginning in 1970 with the release of Trespass, there have been subtle variations which denote the originality of a record.

Genesis’ first “proper” LP on Charisma was initially released on what is now referred to as the “pink scroll” label in the UK featuring a pink centre label with scroll work in the centre bearing the Charisma logo and catalogue details. What many people may not know is the existence of an even surer indicator as to the original provernance of the LP or single and that is the name of the distributor along the bottom edge of the centre label. On initial releases of Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Genesis Live, Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, this should read: “Marketed and distributed by B & C Records Ltd”.

This process was also used on all Genesis’ singles until 1975. Just to confuse matters, however, in 1972, Charisma changed the logo to the much more apt Mad Hatter’s Tea Party logo. Consequently, although the B & C Records mark was retained, both Trespass and Nursery Cryme which had been initially issued on the Pink Scroll label were now issued on the new label. It is on the later L Ps that the B & C markings are so important because these denote an original pressing because in 1974, Charisma changed their distributors to Phonogram Records and later pressings carried their imprint. This in itself does not really affect the singles which, after all, are far more collectable anyway, but to true fans the presence or non-presence of these details may make all of the difference between an “original” or a later edition which, of course, is also important when buying or selling records!

In 1976 Charisma changed their label for singles again, this time to a plain silver centre label except for the 7” Irish singles for A Trick Of The Tail and Follow You Follow Me which had purple centre labels, the former is now very collectable. For albums, Charisma continued to use the Mad Hatter until 1980 except on the original version of Seconds Out which had as its centre label live photos form the stage show.

All of this is just as applicable to the solo members’ L Ps and singles that began to appear after 1974. For all of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett’s albums from 1975 to 1980 the original label was the Mad Hatter and Phonogram remained the distributors. As for singles; all those released between 1977 and 1980 were on the silver label.

However, for fans of Anthony Phillips the matter was to be a little bit more involved due to Ant’s use of several different record companies. Initially his first album: The Geese & The Ghost was released in the UK on Hit & Run Records with a Mad Hatter label. Subsequently it has appeared on his US record label: Passport Records s indeed have most of his subsequent albums and this applies to all of the Private Parts & Pieces series of records. However, once again the centre labels can denote whether an LP is an original pressing or not.

The original label for Passport Records was a buff colour with the passenger liner logo. This was used for all of Ant’s albums in the USA until 1980. However, in the UK Ant’s second LP Wise After The Event was issued on Arista Records and it is easy to tell if you have an original or not by the fact that it was originally issued in a gatefold sleeve. Private Parts & Pieces was also released as a limited edition in the UK along with Sides, both on the Arista Records label with the former bearing a unique catalogue number: AFLP1.

In vies of the fact that most of Ant’s L Ps have appeared only it is as well to know that Passport Records changed their centre label to blue and white in 1980 and subsequently reissued the previous albums as qwell as Private Parts & Pieces II appeared on it. The label was changed again in 1982 to a combination of two diagonals of blue and yellow which was to persist until 1986 with the curious exception of Invisible Men which appeared on the original buff label. Ant’s L Ps have also appeared on the RCA, Street Tunes and Cherry Red Records labels in the UK with individual labels but in view of the fact that all of Ant’s vinyl releases are now deleted, it is easy to assess the original provenance of these. Ant’s last album: Private Parts & Pieces VII: Slow Waves Soft Stars was issued in the USA on the Audion Records imprint (a subsidiary of Passport Records) and its centre label was predominantly blue with a light bulb in the centre.

Back to Genesis. In 1980 the group released the Duke album and original copies had a series of running “Albert “ figures around the outer label which was white. Singles were still on the silver label. In 1981 a major change took place as Virgin Records took over Charisma and changed the centre label to all of the back catalogue to one of a predomiantly blue colour with the Virgin logo on it. However, the Abacab album of that year had a coloured inner label based on the sleeve artwork as did the 7” title track single on its initial release before subsequently returning to the silver label;. The albums and singles since then have usually carried the logo of the album sleeve and there is nothing visible to denote whether the album is a genuine pressing or not and singles can easily be assessed by the presence or non-presence of a picture sleeve.

After 1980, all of the solo albums too bore the Virgin Records logo except of course, for Steve’s last three albums which were originally on the START Records and PRT records labels and since the demise of both companies in 1988 these issues are quite collectable.

Well, I hope that this article has been of interest and remember: next time you are at a record fair, look carefully at the LP or single you have got in your hands, because you never know!

My thanks to Gary Allen, Martin Peter, and Allan Worrall for their inadvertent help in compiling this article.