All posts tagged: record covers

Cover Story – Part VI – ZE Records

ZE Records (always written with two capital letters) was originally a New York-based record label, started in 1978 by Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban. It has been re-established by Esteban since 2003. Michael Zilkha (b. 1954) is a British-born Oxford graduate of Iraqidescent, the son of Selim Zilkha, former owner of Mothercare, a major UK retail company, and the stepson of Cabinet member Lord Lever. In the mid-1970s, Zilkha worked in the New York publishing industry and was a contributor to the Village Voice. Michel Esteban (b. 1951) studied art in Paris and at the School of Visual Arts in New York, before returning to Paris in 1975 and opening the shop Harry Cover (a pun on “haricots verts”), which specialised in current rock music merchandise from the US and UK. The basement shop quickly became the rehearsal place for Parisian new wave bands. Between 1975 and 1976, Esteban published Rock News, which covered the birth of the punk rockmovement in London, New York and Paris. In 1977 he published Patti Smith’s books Witt and The Night, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s first book Desiderata. In 1977, Esteban signed French new wave band Marie et les Garçons, and asked John Cale – who had been introduced to him …

Cover Story – Part V – Westminster Records

Westminster Records was an American classical music record label, issuing original recordings until 1965. It was co–founded in 1949 by Mischa Naida (who later founded Musical Heritage Society, the owner of the Westminster Record Shop in New York City, businessman James Grayson (1897–1980), conductor Henry Swoboda, and Henry Gage. Its trademark was Big Ben and its slogan was “natural balance”, referring to its single microphone technique in recording music, similar to Mercury Records’ Living Presence series. Early on, its recordings were technically superior to most others in the marketplace, and the label became popular among the growing community of audiophiles. In the late 1950s the company began issuing stereophonic recordings, including a rare disc of the music of Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960), conducted by the composer. The “Westminster Laboratory” (W-Lab) series of classical recordings were technically superior to other brands and sold at higher price than the regular Westminsters. The company was sold in the early 1960s to ABC-Paramount Records, which at first continued to issue new material (as well as reissuing old recordings …

Cover Story – Part IV – Decca Records

Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934 by Lewis along with American Decca’s first president Jack Kapp and later American Decca president Milton Rackmil; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades. The British label was renowned for its development of recording methods, while the American company developed the concept of cast albums in the musical genre. Both wings are now part of the Universal Music Group which is owned by Vivendi, a media conglomerate headquartered in France. The American Decca label was the foundation label, which evolved into UMG. The name “Decca” dates back to a portable gramophone called the “Decca Dulcephone” patented in 1914 by musical instrument makers Barnett Samuel and Sons. That company was eventually renamed The Decca Gramophone Co. Ltd. and then sold to former stockbroker Edward Lewis in 1929. Within years, Decca Records Ltd. was the second largest record label in the world, calling itself “The …