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The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography:
A Gallery Of Serialized Compilations
From The Capitol-Emi Family Of Labels
(CDs Excluded)

by Iván Santiago

Page generated on Sep 17, 2021

Scope And Contents

The Peggy Lee Bio-Discography dedicates four pages to various-artists compilations released on the Capitol label. All four pages, including the present one, are pictorial galleries. This gallery concentrates on Capitol albums which, in addition to being multiple-artist releases, meet the following requirements: (1) they include Peggy Lee among their various artists, (2) they belong to a series, and (3) the series to which they belong is on vinyl or shellac, rather than on the digital realm. The rationale behind the third requirement is simply that CDs and MP3 files are covered in a separate page. As for the first requirement, I should clarify that many albums without Lee tracks will still be pictured below (as part of the general discussion of each series), but they will not be given individual, extended attention.

It should also be noted that Capitol's Creative Products division was responsible for issuing most of the qualifying albums to be discussed here. For that reason, I am including some general details about the division in an appendix which I have labeled with the letter B, and placed near the bottom of the page. Two other appendixes can be found there, too. Appendix A explores another Capitol division: the company's so-called Record Club. Appendix C offers information about the Zenith Electronic Corporation, which was responsible for commissioning many of the sets issued through Capitol Creative Products.

Prelude: "The History Of Jazz" Series

All but one of the series discussed in this page meet the aforementioned requisite of including Peggy Lee performances. The name of the exceptional series is The History Of Jazz. Though not of direct relevance to Lee's discography, The History Of Jazz is of import to this page's secondary topic, Capitol Records: it was the company's very first album series -- and arguably the longest lasting, most endurable one, too.

Pictures of items from the series can be seen within this introductory section only. All four original volumes were originally released as 78-rpm albums in 1945 (first row of images above). Around 1950, US Capitol reissued them as both 10" LPs (second row of images above) and EP sets (second of the images below). For its part, UK Capitol reissued the volumes as 10" LPs bearing the non-illustrated, blue front covers that were characteristic of the European branch at that time (e.g., third image below).

Next, in 1956 and 1957, US Capitol expanded the series with four additional volumes, this time using the 12" LP configuration. Displayed on the last of the images directly below, they bear the following titles: N'Orleans Origins, The Turbulent Twenties, Everybody Swings, and Enter The Cool. Capitol's decision to give each of these new volumes a number from one through four (rather than from five to eight) obscured their pedigree. Fortunately, the connection to the earlier items is unequivocally acknowledged in the back cover of each volume. The acknowledgment comes in the form of the following note, pertaining to the series producer, Dave Dexter, Jr.: "Mr. Dexter is the former Down Beat editor and author of Jazz Cavalcade (1944) who first presented a History Of Jazz in 1945 on records. This new long-play series in four volumes was thoughtfully augmented, edited and revamped with new hi-fi masters to feature numerous titans of the jazz world who are not heard in the original series." This second batch of volumes was widely issued abroad as well.

A third round of Capitol Jazz History albums happened around 1964. At that time, the 1950s editions were reissued in the form of the five-volume boxed set on display below, with a slight transposition of words in the main title. The albums bore not only new front cover artwork but also lightly modified or updated titles: Mostly New Orleans, North To Chicago, The Swinging Years, The Big Bands, and Modern And Free Form. Emi gave international distribution to this incarnation. Catalogue numbers of the American pressings ran from W 2137 to W 2141; I believe that the box itself bears the number Weo 2109, but confirmation is pending. (Other catalogue numbers were used for copies printed abroad.)

Very few vocalists made it into any of the eight volumes, and those who did (Leadbelly, Lizzy Miles, Jack Teagarden, Blu Lou Barker) fall into the instrumentalist-singer mold or are firmly anchored in the folk-blues and New Orleans traditions. The only exception is Kay Starr, who sneaked into the mix thanks to her involvement, as a guest vocalist, at a Dexter-produced Capitol International Jazzmen 1945 date, during which she sang two vocals. One of them, "If I Could Be With You" was included in volume 3 of The History Of Jazz series. One year earlier (1944), Peggy Lee had also recorded two performances with the Capitol Jazzmen (the blues "Ain't Goin' No Place," the standard "That Old Feeling") at a session set up and supervised by Dexter, Jr. Either of these Lee vocals could have also been included, but neither one was.


Artwork Shown:

1. Title: Today's Top Hits By Today's Top Artists, Volume 1 / Format: 10" LP / Label: Capitol / Cat. Num.: H 9101 / Rel. Year: 1951 / Note: Peggy Lee happened to leave Capitol shortly after this series made its debut, and did not return to the label until the series had been discontinued. Hence it is not surprising that she is featured only in the first volume, singing her 1951 hit "(When I Dance With You) I Get Ideas." Incidentally, that 1951 not only initiated the Top Hits By Today's Top Artist series but also opened Capitol's 9100 numerical sequence. For the benefit of viewers interested in learning more about the sequence and the series, pictures of the third, fourth, and fifth volumes (9104-9106) are also included in the first row of images above.

General Note About The Showcased Series

The Today's Top Hits series ran between 1951 and 1956, and consisted of at least 14 volumes (the first numbered 9101, the last 9130). As the years passed by, the series changed its front cover design, shifting from the artwork seen in the earliest volumes (first of the three rows above) to the more common design used for the middle items of the series, including volumes #6, #8, and #10 (second row above, first three images). Even more drastic shifts in design took place as the series reached its last issues (volumes 12 through 14, shown in the second row above). All 14 volumes ran within the 9100 range, which also made space for other related sub-categories, such as Top Hits of '54 (volume 1 and 2, first couple of images below), the occasional title without the word "top" in it (e.g., All Time Favorites, catalogue number 9103), 8 Top Pops (fourth image), and a handful on one-artist hit collections, two of which are pictured here (Nat King Cole's 8 Top Pops, Ray Anthony Plays TV's Top Tunes). All volumes were released in 10" LP format and at least some if not all of them came out on EP format, too.

Capitol's next pop series of note would be Just For Variety. It consisted of 16 volumes, all of them released within two years (1957-1958). The first twelve volumes were numbered sequentially, from T 944 to T 955. The other four volumes bear the following catalogue numbers: T 967, T986, T 1007, and T 1018. This series was issued both in the United States and abroad -- e.g., in the United Kingdom. All volumes comprise tracks recorded by popular Capitol artists in the preceding years. Peggy Lee is not featured in any of them. I believe the reason for her absence to simply be that the selection poll was circumscribed to the 1950s, most of which Lee had hitherto spent working at another record label.


Artwork Shown:

1. Title: Super Oldies, Vol. 6 / Format: Reel & 8-track & LP / Pieces: 2 / Label: Capitol / Cat. Num.: 4xtt 401 & 8xtt 401 & Stbb 401 / Rel. Year: 1969 / Note: Contains Peggy Lee's 1958 recording of "Fever."

2. Title: Super Oldies, Vol. 2p / Format: LP / Label: Toshiba Emi / Cat. Num.: (Japan) Ecstatics 90054 / Rel. Year: unknown, probably 1970s / Note: Contains Peggy Lee's 1958 recording of "Fever."

General Note About The Showcased Series

The series under discussion ran from 1965 to 1969 and consisted of 2LP sets whose front covers' cheesecake quotient increased as the series progressed. Cassette editions were concurrently issued. (For an example, see Super Oldies Vol. 5, pictured above.) The appellative "oldies" notwithstanding, the songs picked for inclusion were mostly rock era hits of fairly recent vintage. Perhaps for that reason, Super Oldies was issued on Capitol's main brand, rather than on its Creative Products or Special Markets division (as many of the compilations to be mentioned below were). There are no Peggy Lee tracks in the first five volumes, which are pictured directly above for the benefit of collectors and fans of Capitol material.

The sixth volume appears to have been the last one in the United States. Additional LPs titled Super Oldies were released by EMI in Japan and Europe. The European LPs do not bear a direct connection to the American ones, though, nor do they feature Lee on any tracks. A Japanese LP which does have a Lee track has already been itemized above.

In the US, Capitol also conceived a Super Oldies companion series called Super Soul-Dees. The third volume is pictured above. Only three volumes seem to have been made in that sister series, which featured African-American artists and was active around 1968.


Artwork Shown (And General Note):

Zenith Presents Collector's Best was issued as both a 5LP anthology and an expanded set containing five additional albums. The larger item is seen in the first two images above (albums and box's front cover), the smaller one in the last two images (front and back cover). This practice of releasing two versions of the same item, one containing five, the other ten albums, seems to have been common to LP sets commissioned by Zenith. (Though I will not be discussing this matter any further, the other Zenith multi-LP sets to be mentioned below should be, at the very least, suspected of existing in five- and ten-LP boxes.)

Zenith Presents Collector's Best describes itself as "a celebration of Zenith's 50th Anniversary, 1918-1968." Accordingly, the first of its LPs is titled The Best Of 50 Years Of Great Songs (Sl 6561). It can be seen in the fourth image above. The next four albums (all of them viewable in the third image above) are The Best Of The Great Hits From Stage & Screen (Sl 6562), The Best Of The Great Songs With A Folk-Country Accent (Sl 6563), The Best Of Easy Sounds In A Mellow Mood (Sl 6564), and The Best Of The Great Motion Picture Themes (Sl 6565). Two of these five LPs contain Peggy Lee tracks; specifics will be provided below.

The set's other five LPs include The Best Of The Big Band Sounds - Today! (Sl 6566), The Best of The Big Band Sounds - Then (Sl 6569), The Best Of The New Exotic Sounds (6557), and The Great Concert Showpieces (Sl 6570). There is also The Best Of The Popular Vocal Favorites (Sl 6568), which contains a Peggy Lee track and will thus be further discussed below. All its songs are licensed Capitol masters.

Artwork Shown:

7. Title: The Best Of The Great Hits From Stage & Screen / Format: LP / Label: Zenith - Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6562 / Rel. Year: 1968 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's Capitol recordings of "Big Spender" and "The Shadow Of Your Smile."

8. Title: The Best Of The Great Songs With A Folk-Country Accent / Format: LP / Label: Zenith - Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6563 / Rel. Year: 1968 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's Capitol recording of "Release Me."

9. Title: The Best Of The Popular Vocal Favorites / Format: LP / Label: Zenith - Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6568 / Rel. Year: 1968 / Note: Includes at least one Peggy Lee vocal, title unknown (most likely, her Capitol recording of "Something Stupid)."


Artwork Shown (And Preliminary Note):

The Stereo Collector's Set consists of ten Capitol albums whose catalogue numbers range from Sl 6597 to Sl 6606. The ten albums were initially packaged in the box pictured above. Later on, they came to be sold separately. The back cover of the box is pictured below (first of the images in this section's last row of pictures). The back covers of the individual albums identify the series to which they belong; their front covers do not. The only partial exception is the first volume's cover, where the title appears in both the front (as The Collector's Set) and the back (as The Stereo Collector's Set). Each front cover also features self-identfying volume number, from one to ten. Peggy Lee tracks can be found in the four albums to be itemized next.

Artwork Shown:

3. Title: Today's Great Popular Favorites (The Collector's Set, Volume 1) / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6597 / Rel. Year: ca. 1969 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1963 Capitol recording of "A Taste Of Honey."

4. Title: The Best Of The Great Hits From Stage & Screen (The Collector's Set, Volume 2) / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6598 / Rel. Year: ca. 1969 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1965 Capitol recording of "The Shadow Of Your Smile." [A Zenith LP with the same title was mentioned above, in section III. That Zenith album includes two Peggy Lee vocals, one of them also being "The Shadow Of Your Smile."]

5. Title: The Best Of The Great Songs With A Folk-Country Accent (The Collector's Set, Volume 3) / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6599 / Rel. Year: ca. 1969 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1967 Capitol recording of "Release Me."

6. Title: - The Best Of The Great Song Stylists (The Collector's Set, Volume 7) / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: Capitol Creative Products & Capitol Special Markets / Cat. Num.: Sl 6603 & 8xl 6769 / Rel. Year: ca. 1969 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1967 Capitol recording of "Something Stupid."

General Notes About This Set & Series

As already mentioned, ten albums comprise The Stereo Collector's Set, out of which four include Peggy Lee tracks. For the benefit of collectors and curious viewers, the other six albums are pictured directly below. Their titles are: The Now Sounds Of The New Generation (Sl 6600), The Best Of The Great Motion Picture Themes (Sl 6601), The Best Of The Easy Sounds In A Mellow Mood (Sl 6602), The Best Of The Big Band Sounds, Now ... And Then (Sl 6604), Starlight Waltzes (Sl 6605), and The Capitol Starlight Symphony Concert Showpieces (Sl 6606).

For the most part, the ten albums from this Stereo Collector's Set series are re-packages of LPs that Capitol Creative Products had previously custom-made for the boxed set Zenith Presents Collectors' Best, discussed in this page's preceding section. The two sets have different catalogue numbers and different front covers, but track listings are the same and album titles are nearly identical. For example, The Best Of The Great Songs With A Folk-Country Accent is the title of both Sl 6563 and Sl 6599. The former belongs to the Zenith Collector's Best series, the latter to the Stereo Collector's Set series. The exact same 12 tracks in the same order are found in both LPs, including Peggy Lee's rendition of "Release Me" (track two, B side). All but one of the Zenith Presents Collectors' Best albums that I listed in the preceding section follow this pattern, though there occasionally a track or two have been changed. The only Zenith item not duplicated in the Stereo Collector's Set series is The Best Of 50 Years Of Great Songs.

The back cover of the main set under discussion can be seen directly above (first image). At its lower right bottom, this back cover identifies itself as belonging to "The Stereo Collector's Set" and as being a "limited edition." (More of a selling point, that last pronouncement can be found in most albums released by Capitol Creative Products, not just in this set.) The other two images above further complicate the ongoing discussion. They suggest that Capitol Creative Products recycled not only its catalogue but also its album titles. At the present time, I do not count with enough information to ascertain if the practice is indicative of sloppiness or if there is a logical pattern underlying the duplications. Some speculative thoughts are interspersed in the next paragraphs.

First on display is a LP titled Today's Great Popular Favorites. It identifies itself as part of The Collector's Set but its artwork and catalogue number (Sl 6552) differ from the first volume of the boxed set that has been profiled in the present section. If we are to further inspect and compare these first volumes, we will find out that some of the same artists are in the two albums might yet the songs that they sing are different. For instance, Nat King Cole sings "Love" in Sl 6552, "People" in Sl 6597. Other artists are found in only one of the two albums; such is the case with Peggy Lee, who is absent from Sl 6552. It is also worth noting the sticker on the LP copy seen above: it is an advertisement for a water heating company. This sticker signals Capitol Creative Products' primary function as
producer of custom-made or "client-tailored" albums. Perhaps client demands caused the aforementioned instances of track and title duplication. (Or perhaps, rather than the client, the label was responsible. Maybe Creative Products asked its clients to choose tracks and even album titles from pre-set listings.)

The cassette visible in the final image bears the title Favorites With A Foreign Accent and the catalogue number 4xl 6614. It calls itself the fourth volume of The Stereo Collector's Set. However, the present section has already shown and profiled a volume 4 that does not correspond with this item: it is instead titled The Now Sounds Of The New Generation and numbered Sl 6600. It uses the photo of a red flower for its front cover, and it does not contain the same tracks. (Meanwhile, the title Favorites With A Foreign Accent can also be found as the sixth volume of another Creative Products series with a similar title, The Capitol Stereo Showcase, to be discussed below.)


Artwork Shown (And Preliminary Note):

The Capitol Stereo Showcase consists of ten albums whose catalogue numbers span the range from Sl 6644 to Sl 6653. They were initially packaged in a LP box, whose front is displayed by both images above. Later on, the LPs were sold separately. All ten LPs bear the title of the series on the upper left side of their respective front covers. The back covers identify the series by its title as well. Stylistically, the overall design of this Capitol Stereo Showcase set is along the same lines as that of the previously discussed Collector's Set. Also as in that other set, Peggy Lee tracks can be found in three of the Capitol Stereo Showcase albums, to be itemized next.

Artwork Shown:

3. Title: The Great Popular Favorites / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6644 / Rel. Year: 1969 or 1970 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1963 Capitol recording of "I Left My Heart In San Francisco."

4. Title: Hit Sounds Of The Young Generation / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6646 / Rel. Year: 1969 or 1970 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1969 Capitol recording of "Spinning Wheel."

5 & 6. Title: The Great Popular Vocalists / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: Capitol Creative Products & Capitol Special Markets / Cat. Num.: Sl 6648 & 8xl 6769 / Rel. Year: 1969 or 1970 / Note: This issue includes Peggy Lee's 1966 Capitol recording of "Call Me." Two formats are seen above -- vinyl and cartridge. Many if not all of the albums listed in this page might have been issued not only on LP but also on 8-track cartridge. However, at the present time I have corroboration of 8-track releases for only a couple of items, one of them being The Great Popular Vocalists. Note that Capitol Special Markets made the above-shown cartridge on behalf of a specific company (Electrophonic, makers of consoles, turntables, and other music equipment). No client is mentioned on the LP, which is credited to Capitol Special Products. The respective catalogue numbers also differ from one another. To further complicate matters, I have seen an online image of this same cartridge (i.e., 8xl 6769, The Great Popular Vocalists) using a different artwork -- specifically, the same front cover as that of an album that belongs to yet another similarly titled series (Collector's Best), to be discussed in the next section.

General Notes About This Set & Series

As already mentioned, The Capitol Stereo Showcase comprises ten albums, out of which three include Peggy Lee tracks. For the benefit of collectors and curious viewers, the other seven albums are pictured directly below. Their titles and catalogue numbers are: Broadway & Hollywood Showstoppers (Sl 6645), The Great Folk-Country Hits (Sl 6647), Favorites With A Foreign Accent (Sl 6649), Viva! Great Hits! Exciting Brass! Latin Beat! (Sl 6650), Music For The Easy Hours (Sl 6651), Easy Jazz (Sl 6652), and A Stereo Concert (Sl 6653).

I do not know if this series was custom-made for a particular client. If a client was part of the equation, then a clue as to its identity could lie in the choice of artwork. All the front covers feature a combination of flowers and females. (Then again, this type of artwork could be deemed too commonplace to carry much meaning. Comely females are a staple of album artwork; some of the other series discussed here feature them, too. As for the depiction of flowers, it was relatively uncommon, yet it definitely recurs in Capitol Creative Products albums beyond those from this series. Hence the floral motif could be indicative of the label's -- rather than a client's -- preferences.)

Shown in the first of the above-seen images is the back cover of The Capitol Stereo Showcase LP box. That picture is followed by a photo of The Great Folk-Country Hits, an album that has already been pictured and discussed. The album copy seen in this particular image is of Canadian origin, and I am including it to point out the presence of a sticker identifying the LP as the fifth volume in the series. I have yet to see any similar stickers in American copies. (Since the copies available for my inspection were used rather than new, we should not discard the possibility that the stickers fell off or were removed, however.)

Called Favorites With A Foreign Accent, the cassette seen in the third image is a head scratcher. It bears the same title as the sixth LP from The Capitol Stereo Showcase series under discussion, but partially differs from that LP in many details. Of the ten tracks in both albums, four are not the same ones. The front cover artwork gives mixed signals, too. Obviously, it is not the same artwork, yet the "female & flora" motif is common to both covers. The cassette's catalogue number is different (4xl 6614) from that of the Capitol Stereo Showcase LP, and so is its self-identification as a volume from another series. (It identifies itself as volume 4 of The Stereo Collector's Set, a series discussed in another section of this page. Yet the cassette does not show full congruence with that other series, either: volume 4 of the already discussed Stereo Collector's Set is not a match with this cassette in any shape or form.)

The last two images have been included to illustrate the prevalence of the "female and flora" motifs in Capitol Special Products LPs. Both of the pictured albums are proud carriers of this motif, but neither is part of The Stereo Collector's Set. The first image shows an album called The New Exotic Sounds (Sl 6636). Capitol Special Products recycled that album's artwork on the LP Music For The Easy Hours (Sl 6651), which is part of the series under discussion. As for the LP pictured in the next image (Easy Jazz, Sl 6620), it uses a photo from the same photo session as Favorites With A Foreign Accent, the sixth volume in the series under discussion.

I should reiterate that I have no knowledge of the guidelines which Capitol Creative Products used while replicating titles and/or tracks from one album (series) to another.


Artwork Shown:

1. Title: Best Of The Great Hit Songs / Format: LP & Cs / Label: Capitol Creative Products (LP) & Capitol Special Markets (Cs) / Cat. Num.: Sl 6702 & 4xl 6702 / Rel. Year: ca. 1971 / Note: Includes two Peggy Lee vocals recorded for Capitol, "The Shadow Of Your Smile" (1969) and "Always Something There To Remind Me" (1970).

2. Title: Get Together; Best Of The "Now" Sounds / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6705 / Rel. Year: ca. 1971 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1969 Capitol recording of "Spinning Wheel." Reportedly issued on 8-Track cartridge as well, and containing (at least in the 8-Track configuration) an alternate take of "Spinning Wheel."

3. Title: Best Of The Legendary Stylists / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6706 / Rel. Year: ca. 1971 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's 1966 Capitol recording of "Call Me."

Artwork Shown:

4 & 5. Title: (Best Of) The Great Hits From Broadway And Hollywood / Format: 8-Track & LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: 8xl 6704 & Sl 6704 / Rel. Year: ca. 1971 / Note: Includes two Peggy Lee vocals recorded for Capitol, "Mack The Knife" (1963) and "Two For The Road" (1967).

6. Title: Best Of The Musical Sounds Of Christmas / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6713 / Rel. Year: ca. 1971 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's Capitol recording of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."

General Note

The LPs pictured in this section show similar front cover design and bear the imprint Collector's Best at the top (center). More exist; they have excluded from this page because they lack Lee tracks. Many of them incorporate the words "best of" into their titles and sub-titles, too. And all of them have catalogue numbers within the 6700 range, though they are not sequenced together as one batch. Therefore, it stands to reason that these albums are part of one series, even if explicit confirmation on the matter is lacking.

The Collector's Best albums which contain Peggy Lee performances have already been itemized above. Those below are devoid of Lee tracks: Best Of The Great Pop-Country Vocalists (Sl 6703), Sweet Land Of Liberty (Sl 6712), Softly ... Best Of The Great Favorites In A Mellow Mood (Sl 6739), Best Of The Great Continental Favorites (Sl 6740), Best Of The New Brass Beat (Sl 6741), Best Of The Big Band Sound (Sl 6742), and A Concert Spectacular; Best Of The Exciting And Romantic Favorites By The World's Best Loved Composers (Sl 6743). There probably are more, with which I have yet to become acquainted.


Artwork Shown:

1 & 2. Title: Plaza House Presents The Greatest Hits Of The 40s / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6717 / Rel. Year: 1971 / Note: Front and back covers. The vinyl contains Peggy Lee's 1948 recording of "Mañana."

3 & 4. Title: Plaza House Presents The Greatest Hits Of The 50s & 60s / Format: LP / Pieces: 2 / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Slb 6718 / Rel. Year: 1971 / Note: Front and back covers. The vinyl contains Peggy Lee's renditions of "Big Spender" (recorded 1965) and "Fever" (recorded 1958).

General Note

This Capitol Creative Products series consisted of the following six albums: Plaza House Presents The Greatest Hits Of The 30s (Sl 6716), Plaza House Presents The Greatest Hits Of The 40s (Sl 6718), Plaza House Presents The Greatest Hits Of The 50s & 60s (Slb 6718), Plaza House Presents Music Hall; Merle Haggard Sonny James (Sl 6719), Plaza House Presents Music Hall; Buck Owens, Tennessee Ernie Ford (Sl 6720), and Plaza House Presents The Country All-Star Festival (Slb 6721). Dave Dexter Jr. and Ernest K. Dominy are listed in the albums as the tracks compilers. (Dexter's hand can be surmised from the always welcome track-by-track information, visible in the back covers pictured above.) Peggy Lee appears just in the two albums profiled above.

I have not found much information about Plaza House, the company that commissioned these albums from Capitol. The albums' back covers gives the company's address as 919 Third Avenue in New York (East 55th Street). That is the current location of a 47-floor skyscraper (50 or 52 floors, according to other sources) that was built in 1971, the same year as the albums in this Capitol series. A Wikipedia entry seems to suggest that construction of the building had been started in the mid-1960s, with at least five floors in place by 1970. At that time, "the building was occupied principally by carpet manufacturers and carpet wholesalers," a fact that indirectly accounts for the lethal fire that took place in December of the aforementioned year. (A contractor's torch pile came in contact with a pile of carpet material, destroying part of the fifth floor and resulting in three deaths.)


General Notes About This Set & Series

Zenith Presents Encore '72 (Sljo 6733) is a 10-LP boxed set produced by Capitol Creative Products for the Zenith corporation. The box, blue on the outside, is pictured on the second image above. The third image shows its inner contents. There is a second box as well, called Volume 2 and containing 10 more LPs; both boxes are shown in the first image. (Volume 2 will be further discussed under a separate section.)

The ten LPs that are part of the first volume of Zenith Presents Encore '72 have catalogue numbers that range from Sl 6734 to Sl 6742. Their titles are Great Songs Of Bacharach And David (Sl 6734), Great Songs Of The Beatles (Sl 6735), The New Pop-Country Favorites (Sl 6736), Songs Of Love (Sl 6737), The New Instrumental Themes (Sl 6738), Softly; The Great Favorites In A Mellow Mood (Sl 6739), The Great Continental Favorites (Sl 6740), The New Brass Beat (Sl 6741), The Big Band Sound (Sl 6742), and A Concert Spectacular (Sl 6743).

I have been able to find individual pictures for only one of these albums. Fortunately, the third of the images above gives us a peek at the entire set. We can easily ascertain that each front cover uses a different color as its backdrop. Judging from the one album whose front cover I have seen in full (fourth image above), no photos or illustrations are used, and the overall design is fairly plain.

In addition to making them part of the boxed set commissioned by Zenith, Capitol Creative Products also released the set's LPs individually. The individual items sport different front cover artwork and different catalogue numbers. They do not have any connection to Zenith, either. Images for six of such individual versions are supplied directly above. Three others are separately pictured and discussed next, because they contain Peggy Lee tracks. That makes nine out of ten LPs. Left out is The New Instrumental Themes (Sl 6738), for which I have not yet succeeded at finding an picture. Perhaps a photo will turn up in the future, or perhaps Capitol did not release an individual, non-Zenith edition of this album.

Lest the point is confusing, I should reiterate that the albums seen in these pictures are not the ones in the blue Zenith box discussed at the outset of this section. Instead, these are versions solely credited to Capitol Creative Products. They duplicate the titles and track listings of the albums commissioned by Zenith but bear their own catalogue numbers and different artwork.

Artwork Shown:

1 & 4. Title: Great Songs Of Bacharach & David / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: Capitol Special Markets / Cat. Num.: Gsl 6734 & 8xl 6764 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Peggy Lee's 1970 recording of "Always Something There To Remind Me" can be found in this album. As already mentioned, the LP edition also came out as part of the boxed Zenith set Encore '72, though that set's edition has a different, plain and photo-less front cover). Furthermore, both the LP and the 8-track cartridge were issued in quadraphonic versions, to be discussed in another section of this page.

Curiously, the front cover of the above-shown 8-Track edition identifies itself as not only a Capitol Special Markets release but also "a product of Columbia Magnetics, a division of CBS, Danbury, Connecticut." In addition, the catalogue number of this 8-track cartridge (8xl 6764) differs from the catalogue number of the LP counterpart (Sl 6734) by one digit. It might be that the LP can also be found with catalogue number Sl 6764; if so, I have not yet come across any copies with that number.

2 & 5. Title: Songs Of Love / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: Capitol Special Markets / Cat. Num.: Sl 6941 & 8l 6941 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Peggy Lee's 1965 rendition of "The Shadow Of Your Smile" can be found in this album. The LP edition also came out as part of the boxed Zenith set Encore '72 (though in a different, plain and photo-less front cover).

3 & 6. Title: Great Songs Of The Beatles / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: Capitol Special Markets (LP) & Capitol Special Products (8-Track) / Cat. Num.: Sl 6735 & 8xl 6735 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Peggy Lee's 1969 recording of "Something" can be found in this album. As pointed out previously, the LP edition also came out as part of the boxed Zenith set Encore '72, though that version bears a different, plain and photo-less front cover). Furthermore, both the LP and the 8-track cartridge were issued in quadraphonic versions, to be discussed in another section of this page.


Artwork Shown:

1. Note: For commentary about the three LPs on display in this image, see general note at the end of this section.

2. Title: Great Songs Of Bacharach & David / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: / Label: Capitol Special Markets / Cat. Num.: Ql 6734 & Q8l 6734 Gsl 6734 (also 8xl 6764) / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Contains Peggy Lee's 1970 recording of "Always Something There To Remind Me." Capitol also issued non-quadraphonic, stereo editions of this issue. Such non-quadraphonic versions were part of the set Zenith Presents Encore '72, discussed in a previous section. The quadraphonic LP edition is pictured on this entry, its 8-track cartridge counterpart within the row immediately below.

3. Title: Great Songs Of The Beatles / Format: LP & 8-Track / Label: Capitol Special Markets / Cat. Num.: Ql 6735 & Q8l 6735 Gsl 6735 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Contains Peggy Lee's 1969 recording of "Something." Capitol also issued stereo, non-quadraphonic editions of this issue. Such non-quadraphonic versions were part of the set Zenith Presents Encore '72, discussed in a previous section. The quadraphonic LP edition is pictured on this entry, its 8-track cartridge counterpart within the row immediately below.

4 & 5. Title: Great Songs Of Bacharach & David / Note: These are 8-track cartridge versions of the album discussed in entry #2 above. I do not know the specific reason for the existence of cartridges in two colors (green, red or purple). Online, I have actually seen additional color variations, not pictured above. (Such additional variations are pale and within the cream to light gray range. It is thus possible that they are simply discolored copies.) Although both shown cartridge tapes (#4, #5) carry the same catalogue number, it could still be speculated that one is the original issue, and the other a later pressing. However, other explanations, including simultaneous issuing of the cartage in both colors, are viable, too. I count with no details to support any of them.

6 & 7. Title: Great Songs Of The Beatles / Note: These are the 8-track cartridge versions of the album discussed in entry #3 above. I do not know the specific reason for the existence of cartridges in two colors (green, purple or red); see further commentary in the note to the preceding entry, and also below

For what is worth, I should add that Capitol's earliest 8-track shells were white or cream-colored. The label subsequently decided to transition into a black-colored shell. Such a decision was triggered by a desire to bypass inherent manufacturing defects -- primarily, marks that the white shell rendered very visible. Note that most of the cartridge shells pictured in preceding sections of this page are indeed black; only one is white. As for the use of green and red, I have no factual data on the matter. I can only speculated that it might have been reserved for quadraphonic items. Of the two, the green copies are the most common by far. (Other labels used red shells were relative frequency as Columbia, ABC, Warner Brothers, and RCA. The latter is also notable for its red or red & white sleeves. Blue shells can also be found among the 8-track releases from some of those labels, though they are less common.)

General Note

Quadraphonic audio was introduced into the commercial market in the fall of 1970. Capitol's earliest 4-channel issue was a 8-track tape edition of Imagine, John Lennon's second solo album (1971). The following year, the company further courted the quadraphonic market with the release of a seven-LP batch: Great Songs Of Bacharach & David, Great Songs Of The Beatles, The New Country-Pop Favorites, The Great Hit Songs From "Fiddler On The Roof" And The New Love Themes, The New Brass Sound Of The Hits - San Fernando Brass, '70s Orchestra - Songs Of The Seventies, and Instrumental Sounds Of John Morrell. (John Lennon's Imagine also enjoyed quadraphonic release on vinyl, though only in Europe and Australia).

The label's next venture took place in 1974, when cassette tapes by various popular artists of the day (Lennon, Pink Floyd, Helen Reddy, etc.) were also given the 4.0 surround treatment. In 1974, Capitol custom-made at least one quadraphonic LP for a Zenith rival (Magnavox Presents A 4-Sound Experience), too. As discussed in section V above, some of the 1972 LPs were not original Capitol Creative Products issues, but had been custom-made for Zenith a couple of years earlier, in these non-quadraphonic versions. To my knowledge, Zenith had no involvement in their making, however.

The 4.0 surround fad quickly ran its course. Most labels abandoned it between 1975 and 1976. Quadraphonic audio never caught on with mainstream customers, and thus did not sell well. (Items were generally priced about a dollar higher than their stereo counterparts, and special equipment was needed.) RCA was responsible for releasing the very last quadraphonic 8-track/LP on album, in 1978.


Artwork Shown:

1-3. Title: Zenith Presents Encore '72; Volume 2: Great Artists Of Our Time / Format: LP / Pieces: 10 / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sljo 6750 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: The front cover of this 10LP set can be seen in the second of these images, and the LP themselves in the third image. The first image also shows a companion set (aka volume 1; blue cover), which was discussed in a previous section. Further details can be found in the general note at the end of this section.

4. Title: Peggy Lee - The Lettermen / Format: LP / Label: Capitol Creative Products / Cat. Num.: Sl 6753 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: One of the 10 albums from the set pictured in the preceding images, this LP features five Peggy Lee vocals on side one, five vocals by The Lettermen on side B. Lee's renditions are "Somethin' Stupid," "Two For The Road," "A Natural Woman," "Spinning Wheel," and "Watch What Happens." For details about the set's other LPs, see immediately below.

General Note About This Set & Series

Zenith Presents Encore '72, Volume 2 (Sljo 6733) is a boxed set produced by Capitol Creative Products for the Zenith corporation. The set's ten LPs are shown directly above. They have catalogue numbers that range from Sl 6751 to Sl 6759. Each concentrates on two artists, one per side. That fact differentiates the set under discussion (volume 2, red box) from its aforementioned counterpart (volume 1, blue box), whose ten LPs are all various-artists compilations. In the order in which they are seen here, the second volume's albums are Nat King Cole - Ella Fitzgerald (Sl 6751), Dinah Shore - Judy Garland (Sl 6752), Peggy Lee - The Lettermen (Sl 6753), Glen Campbell - Dean Martin (Sl 6754), and David Rose - Alfred Newman (Sl 6759). Next row: The Kings Of The Big Bands - The Kings Of Dixieland (Sl 6755), The Andrews Sisters - The King Sisters (Sl 6756), Kay Starr - Vic Damone (Sl 6757), Jackie Gleason - George Shearing (Sl 6758), and The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra; The Great Love Concerts (Sl 6760).


Artwork Shown:

1-7. Title: Zenith Presents Encore, Volume VI / Format: LP / Label: Longines Symphonette Society / Pieces.: 10 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Images of this set's leather-bound box and front cover flap can be seen above and below, along with some of the vinyl. See also comments the follow the images below.

2. Title: Peggy Lee - Ella Fitzgerald / Format: LP / Label: Longines Symphonette Society / Cat. Num.: Sys 5501 / Rel. Year: 1972 / Note: Part of the set Zenith Presents Encore, Volume VI, this LP features five Peggy Lee vocals on side one, two long vocal medleys by Ella Fitzgerald on side B. (Fitzgerald's medleys were taken form her Capitol album 30 By Ella.) Lee's renditions are "Me And My Shadow," "My Old Flame," "Till There Was You," "Please Be Kind," and "Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars." For details about the set's other LPs, see immediately below. And, for more details about Zenith's boxed sets, consult Appendix C, at the bottom of this page.

General Note About This Set Or Series

Released by The Longines Symphonette Societ, this box contains ten albums. I know the catalogue numbers of only two of them, Sys 5501 and Ssy 5502. All tracks in these two LPs are Capitol masters, but the same might not be true of all other eight LPs, for which I have titles but lack catalogue numbers. As listed in the flap, the titles are: The Best Songs Of Hal Davis / The Best Song Of Henry Mancini (1st album listed), The Now Songs / The Norman Luboff Choir (2nd), Lighthouse / Today's People (3rd), Glen Campbell / Anne Murray (4th), The Best Songs Of 1971 / Great Songs Of The Sixties (5th), Peggy Lee / Ella Fitzgerald (Ssy 5501), Nat King Cole / Nelson Riddle (Ssy 5502), The Mills Brothers / Helen O'Connell (8th), Tony Mottola / Les Brown (9th), and Far Away Places / Mexicali Brass (10th). It is worth noting that a later Zenith box (Volume VIII) reissues all first five LPs from this volume. (Moreover, Volume VII might reissue the Tony Mottola half of the 9th LP.)

XII. DANCE FOR EVER (1972-1985)

Artwork Shown:

1. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: LP / Label: Emi Columbia / Cat. Num.: (France) 2c 054 94 265 / Rel. Year: 1973 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's hit rendition of "Fever" (fourth track, second side). Opens with a hit by Camillo Felgen ("Sag Warum"). Amidst the album's other twelve tracks, there are also selections by Nat King Cole, Les Paul with Mary Ford, Shirley Bassey, The Beach Boys ("Good Vibrations;" fifth track, second side) Louis Prima ("Just A Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody;" first track, second side).

2. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: LP / Label: Emi Columbia / Cat. Num.: (Mozambique) 2C 062 94 265 / Rel. Year: 1973 / Note: Different edition of item #1, with the same twelve tracks in the same sequence but not the same artwork. Includes Peggy Lee's hit rendition of "Fever."

3. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: 3LP / Label: Emi Pathé Marconi / Cat. Num.: (France) 2c 150 14 437-439 / Rel. Year: 1977 / Note: Expanded edition of item #1. Consists of 36 tracks. Opens with the aforementioned Louis Prima's selection, followed by Peggy Lee's hit rendition, moving on thereafter to new tracks from The Andrews Sisters and Bobbie Gentry. Adds a second Prima number ("Buona Sera"). The Camillo track is relegated to the the second LP, where it opens the B side.

4. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: LP / Label: Emi Pathé Marconi / Cat. Num.: (France) 2C 068 78251 / Rel. Year: 1983 / Note: Like the 1973 original, this reissue opens with a hit by Camillo Felgen ("Sag Warum"). However, among other changes, the Louis Prima selection is now in second place. Includes Peggy Lee's hit rendition of "Fever" (first track, second side).

Artwork Shown:

5-6. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: 2LP & CS / Label: Emi Pathé Marconi / Cat. Num: (France) 2c 184 14 330-331 & 2c 274 14 330 / / Rel. Year: 1976 / Note: Expanded edition of item #1 above. Consists of 24 tracks. The LP edition opens with the more common Louis Prima hit, followed by The Beach Boys ("Barbara Ann"). Also features the other Prima track. Includes Peggy Lee's hit rendition of "Fever" (sixth track, first side). The cassette edition might find the same sequence, although its cover lists tracks in a different order.

7. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: 2LP / Label: Emi Pathé Marconi / Cat. Num.: (France) 2C 156 78 252-253 / Rel. Year: 1983 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's hit rendition of "Fever" (first track, second side). Opens with the Louis Prima medley version of "Just A Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody."

8. Title: Dance For Ever / Format: CD / Label: Emi / Cat. Num.: (France) 0 7777 94986 2 / Rel. Year: 1990 / Note: Includes Peggy Lee's hit rendition of "Fever" (track #9). Opens with Camillo Felgen's hit "Sag Warum," followed by the Prima medley.

Artwork Shown:

9-11. Title: Peggy Lee ("Dance For Ever" Series / Format: 45 / Note: Since the present page is dedicated to albums rather than singles, the above-shown 45-rpm discs are Included herein merely for illustration purposes. They complement our overview of Peggy Lee appearances in the Dance For Ever Series, series. From 1972, the first singles combines "Fever" with "I'm A Woman." The second image shows a 1975 reissue of that single. From 1983, the third issue takes on "Fever" yet once more, combining it this time with "Listen To The Rockin'' Bird." But it was the "Fever/I'm a Woman" combination that the series favored. In addition to the two incarnations shown herein, several other are listed in the 45 index of this discography.

General Note About The Showcased Series

This long-running European series was obviously aimed at listeners who loved a beat and a step. Its release history can be divided into three chronological runs, each more or less self-contained: 1972-1973, 1975-1979, and 1982-1985. As the entries above should make evident, each run recycled previous material, but new song selections were also supplied along the way, along with newly or modified artwork.

France and Holland were the two primary countries for which Dance For Ever issues were manufactured, with at least a third one (Portugal) in the back seat. I should also clarify that
most of the issues in the series are 45-rpm singles dedicated to individual artists, such as Peggy Lee. However, for the purposes of our album-oriented discussion, I have focused on one of the main various-artists compilations from the series -- compilations which could also be considered samplers, though not acknowledged as such.


I. Historical Overview

The Capitol Record Club was officially established in 1958 and formally shut down in 1975.  Essentially a mail order operation, the Club began as one of Capitol's subsidiaries yet ended up changing ownership hands during its last years.  

The Club's history can be broadly divided into eight years of relative stability followed by a longer period of corporate fluctuation.  The year 1967 served as the turning point. On that year, the Club became the main body of an organizational restructure that Capitol called the Direct Market Corporation (aka DMC).  Just one year later, DMC was sold to the Longines-Wittnauer Company, which was in turn purchased by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1970.  Westinghouse kept both the Capitol Record Club and the Longines Symphonette Society (i.e., Longines-Wittnauer's own record label) running until 1975, when it dissolved the Society and sold the Club's mailing list to one of its competitors, RCA Music Services.       

A more detailed account of the club's history has been laid out on a miscellaneous page of this discography. The present appendix looks instead into the club's general makeup during its more stable years -- with a focus on its subscription plan.  Naturally, attention has been paid to any connections to Peggy Lee and her recordings. 

II. Introductory Offer

The 1958 launching of the Capitol Record Club was preceded by a two-month trial.  In the first week of November 1957, company vice-presidents Lloyd Dunn and Daniel Bonbright sent a test mailing to prospective customers. Signing for a subscription meant immediate access to an alluring introductory offer:  the customer's right to choose three Capitol LPs free of charge (shipping and handling not included).  All three choices had to be picked from a set list of twelve recently released albums by acts such as Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra.  How recent?  The Man I Love, Lee's album from the set list, had become a top 20 hit merely five weeks earlier.

Aspiring club members were asked to affix three stamps to their membership applications.  Those were not postage stamps, however, but reproductions of the free-of-charge albums that they had chosen.  (Applicants had received such so-called stamps as part of the materials originally mailed to them.  That is to say, all twelve albums from this introductory offer had been reproduced in the form of adhesive stamps.  I hope that this matter is of interest to fans of the artists listed in the previous paragraph, and to collectors of Capitol memorabilia. I believe that this practice of using "stamps" or clippings was continued over ensuing years.)  

By sending for the aforementioned three album choices, applicants were making a commitment to order and pay for four additional Capitol LPs within a twelve-month period.  After fulfilling that obligation, a cancellation could be requested at any point in time.  Continuing subscribers (i.e., those who remained enrolled after having fulfilled the four-album obligation) were rewarded with the offer of another free LP for every two albums additionally purchased at full price. 

III. Launching

Satisfied with the results generated by the trial period, Capitol officially launched the US branch of the club in the first full week of 1958, as well as a Canadian branch in the last week of January.  From 1958 to 1962, Capitol president Glenn Wallichs also served as nominal president of the club, and the aforementioned company vice-president Daniel Bonbright did double duty as well.  For the names of other executives at play, and for further details about post-Capitol owners of the club, consult the already mentioned overview of its history.

After its official launching, the Capitol Record Club's offer did not remain the same that had been in place during the trial period. Now customers were offered a five-album "giveaway" at the collective price of $3.98 (plus shipping & handling), with an expectation of a six-album full-price purchase within a year.  (Capitol LPs generally sold for $3.98 at this point in time, with special releases priced one dollar higher.)  As for the set list of "giveaway" albums, it was expanded from 12 to 24 LPs.  Newly included were Peggy Lee's latest (Jump For Joy) along with releases by Duke Ellington, June Christy, Dakota Staton, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and even a various-artists compilation (from Capitol's Just For Variety series). 

IV. The Subscription Model And Its Variations Over The Years

The subscription model described in previous paragraphs (i.e., an introductory bonanza of items at reduced price + a year-long commitment to buy a certain quantity of items) was actually the standard to which most book & record clubs had been adhering in preceding years, and would continue to adhere in decades to come.  But the model's components never remained static for too long:  competitiveness drove frequent modifications to the quantities of items involved.  Thus, by 1960, the introductory offer from the Capitol Record Club had turned into four albums at the reduced price of 97 cents and six albums at full price. Two years later, the quantity of reduced-price albums had been upped to five.  (At the 1962 retail market, monophonic LPs had come down to $1.98, while stereophonic LPs were going for $2.98.)  Around early 1966, the Club's introductory deal had already changed again, promising at that time seven albums for $1.00. Then, toward the year's end (with the holiday shopping period looming), the introductory fee was raised to $1.87.  The next year, it would be modified yet once more, to four albums for 10 cents.  And so forth. 

Those were not the only adjustments enacted over the years.   In an effort to provide satisfactory alternatives to a greater number of customers, secondary deals (different ones, in other words, from those just described) were simultaneously made available, too.  By the early 1960s, the option to choose between mono and stereo LPs was also being offered by most record clubs, Capitol included. During the late 1960s, the alternative of ordering configurations other than vinyl would be brought into the equation as well.  (By 1975, members of all major record clubs were overwhelmingly ordering more 8-track cartridges than vinyl, and the demand for cassette tapes was on a incipient but steadily ascending curve.) 

V. Photos And Ads

The images seen throughout this appendix present nine Club ads that were published in contemporary periodicals.  Photos of Peggy Lee's LP releases are common to most of them, and images of the singer herself are prominently featured, too.  The artist's prominence could be taken to indicate that she was among the club's draws. However, there is no available data on the matter, and my choice of ads could justifiably be deemed deceptive: various Lee-less ads, none of them included here, were also published by Capitol.  

In the first of the chosen ads, three of Lee's albums are on display:  If You Go, Blues Cross Country, and Basin Street East Proudly Presents Miss Peggy Lee.  Those last two albums are also visible in the second ad, along with the 1962 Lee LP Sugar 'n' Spice.  (This second ad is actually split in two, with the other half to be found next, in the second row of images).  Not surprisingly, the Peggy Lee album that makes the most appearances is her chart success Basin Street East Proudly Presents Miss Peggy Lee (#11). It shows up in four of these ads.

All first five of these ads date from 1963.  As for the in-color ad with Nat King Cole on the spotlight (and a Christmas tree behind him), it dates from November 1964. Two of Lee's albums are featured therein (Mink Jazz, In Love Again).  The last two ads also date from holiday seasons.  Christmas Carousel and Olé Ala Lee! are part of the ad shown first (1960), Big Spender part of the ad shown second (1966).  

In the case of the 1960 holiday advertisement, I should clarify that it is aimed at regular retail rather than the club market. However, it still bears a connection to the Capitol Record Club, due to its offering of a "free color catalogue." Such an offer comes off as a calculated attempt at luring customers into joining the club through its magazine.

VI. Magazines

The Club indeed published its own colorful self-promotional magazine, known as Capitol Record Club Review in the early 1960s, as Keynotes in the mid-1960s.  Samples from both incarnations are shown above.
VII. Exclusives And Cross-Promotional Deals

As can be gleaned from the contents of both the magazines' samplings and the periodicals' advertisements, the Capitol albums offered by the Club were the exact same ones being sold at retail, mortar-and-brick stores.  The Club did issue, though, a few exclusive single-artist anthologies (e.g., Nat King Cole's The Man And His Music, Frank Sinatra's Sentimental Journey - Ballad Style, Paul Weston's Romantic Reflections, Les Baxter's The Sounds Of Adventure), most of them produced after 1965.  Furthermore, many albums from other labels were also offered, thanks to licensing contracts that this Capitol subsidiary successfully negotiated with those labels from 1964 onwards.


Capitol Creative Products

Record companies have been in the business of producing commissioned music since their inception. The earliest premium 78-rpm discs, prepared by companies such as Victor and Brunswick, date back to the second and third decades of the twentieth century. As for the first label to produce custom-made albums (rather than just single 78-rpm discs on commission), the honor seems to belong to Capitol, which began doing so in 1949. "Capitol Custom" was the brand or logo given to all such made-on-request LPs (as well as 45-rpm discs), released by the company during the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, little is known about how much demand Capitol had for this type of project, or whether the label deemed it a financially worthwhile business. If we were to judge the business on the basis of the scarcity of information about it in the consulted 1940s and 1950s sources, Capitol Custom would not seem to have been a well-publicized enterprise.

In August 1966, Capitol Custom was re-named. It became Capitol Creative Products. The change of name seems to have been part of a better organized attempt at capitalizing on the burgeoning market of premium album requests from electronics companies (e.g., Zenith) and mass-marketing stores (e.g., True Value Hardware). Wares companies such as Firestone, Goodyear, Sears, and Sylvania would commission custom-made albums with the intent of selling them to customers at their stores or through their shopping catalogues. Alternatively, some albums were conceived as in-store demos (meant to test, in particular, the sound quality of phonographs) and thus unavailable as gift or sale items. In other instances, the albums were not actually sold, but presented to customers as part of special offers, too. Understandably, a large number of these albums had a holiday theme, and were thus issued during the Christmas season. Hitherto, this market niche had been more successfully exploited by other labels' similar divisions -- notably, Columbia Special Markets -- but Capitol Creative Products promptly joined the act.

From 1966 onwards, LPs from Capitol's newly minted Creative Products division were identified by catalogue numbers that bore the prefix (S)L. The "L" might have stood for "leisure" (the "S" most definitely for "stereo"). Wholesale press runs were expected to be from 500 to 1,000 copies for small companies, and from 25,000 to one million for large companies. Some of the albums seem to have been released on LP format only, while many others are known to have come out on cassette and 8-track cartridge tapes as well. Whichever the format(s), Capitol's custom-made items tended to be thematic compilations culled from solo-artist albums that Capitol had released during recent years. (The same pattern holds true for the equivalent record divisions at rival companies.) As for custom-made Capitol anthologies featuring just one single artist, those remained in the minority until at least the mid-1980s, when Capitol Special Markets released many of them only in the then-popular cassette format.

Coming back to 1966, Capitol Creative Products' inaugural albums had catalogue numbers that fell within the early 6500s range, and were probably issued during holiday season. Shown above are the very fist ones: Favorites From Broadway And Hollywood (L 6513), The Sound Of Christmas (Sl 6515; prepared for the Kroger Supermarket chain), The Spirit Of Christmas (Sl 6516), and The Magic Of Christmas With Children (L 6517; prepared for the Safeway supermarket chain in the United States and Canada). I do not believe that there were any Creative Products albums numbered between 6500 and 6512. (Those numbers had already been used on an EP series named Kenton Presents Jazz. Curiously, numbers 6513 and 6514 had also been used in that Kenton series. Nevertheless, and perhaps inadvertently, the number 6513 was reused for the very first Creative Products album.)

Capitol's custom-made division steadily continued album production all the way to an item numbered 6999, around 1975. Since most numbers within the 7000 range had been reserved for classical music, I am not sure that there were any Creative Products albums bearing 7000 numbers. (At least, none has turned up during my searches.) I have noticed, however, an odd time span (from 1976 to 1978) within which I have not been able to locate any Capitol Special Markets issues whatsoever. Following that gap, Special Markets issues do show up again, now within the 8000 range. By 1987, the (S)L catalogue had reached the 1,000 mark.

As the decades passed, he name of the Capitol record division under discussion was altered at least twice. In 1995, the branch once known as Capitol Special Products became EMI-Capitol Special Markets. That was actually the second alteration. The first modification of the name had taken place many years earlier, as will be explained next.

Capitol Special Markets

Around 1972, Capitol albums with a SL prefix stopped bearing the Creative Products name and logo. They were instead released under the name Capitol Special Markets. The reasons for the change remain unclear. Alterations in company names are often indicators of a general change in staff and/or policies. (Capitol was indeed undergoing an overhaul around 1972.) But, in this particular case, perhaps the explanation is far simpler. Capitol could have wanted to align itself with the nomenclature of choice for most other custom-made companies (i.e., "Special Markets"), thereby making itself more readily recognizable to clients. Be that as it might have been, the modification only makes current attempts at sorting out Capitol's custom catalogue all the more complicated.

Even before the renaming, there were some apparent inconsistencies for which I do not have an unequivocal explanation. To wit: some of the company's custom-made albums were actually released twice -- even thrice in at least one case. Generally, the re-releases bear catalogue numbers and titles identical to the originals, but their front covers tend to be altogether different. Some of them faithfully keep the original track listing, whereas others substitute one or two tracks with new ones. I am not privy to the motivations for this practice. In the absence of any factual details to further clarify the matter, I can only speculate that Capitol might have seen retail potential in some of its custom-made albums, consequently recycling and re-selling them either to other clients or at regular record stores.

To illustrate the subject matter discussed in the previous paragraph, two sets of albums are shown above, and discussed herein. The first two images display two editions of the album Easy Jazz. The first edition (ca. 1969) bears the number Sl 6620, and the second (ca. 1970) is numbered Sl 6652. That second album belongs to the Stereo Showcase series; I do not know to which series, if any, the first album belonged. Both editions consist of ten tracks, and the tracks are the same ones ... with a couple of exceptions Performances by George Shearing ("When Sunny Gets Blue") and Cannonball Adderley ("So In Love") on Sl 6620 are replaced with two other interpretations (Eddie Heywood's "The Shadow Of Your Smile" and Howard Roberts' "Fly Me To The Moon") on Sl 6652.

Seen in the other two images is a Peggy Lee anthology titled Raindrops. Both editions of Raindrops bear the same catalogue number (Sl 6723). Also, in the vinyl's logo, the legend "produced for Abbott Laboratories" appears in both cases. The tracks are the same ones, too, and they are sequenced in the same order. Yet the first edition is a Creative Products release, whereas the second is a Special Markets reissue. Brief liner notes can be found only in the back cover of the Creative Products edition.


For record labels that were active in the 1950s and 1960s, Zenith was probably one of their most coveted clients.  Year after year, this pioneering manufacturer of radios, TVs, VCRs and phonographs commissioned a steady stream of albums from the special markets divisions of various music labels. The earliest Zenith Radio Company albums of which I am aware are the following two, said to date from 1954 and 1955:

Both albums identify themselves as demonstration records, with the consequent stipulation that they are not for sale. They were commissioned from the same label, Columbia -- specifically, the special markets branch of that label, which went by the name of Columbia Transcriptions at that early point in time. (The name would be changed to Columbia Special Products in 1960 or early 1961.) These albums were actually early products in what would prove to be a fruitful, lasting partnership between the manufacturer and the record label's custom branch.  Columbia Special Products is by far responsible for the bulk of Zenith's album catalogue -- dozens and dozens of LPs (as well as the occasional item in some other configuration, such as 33.3 45-rpm disc).

Zenith did not believe in exclusivity, however.  Albums such as the trio pictured directly below (and others further down below) evince that Zenith worked with other record companies as well.  The first album is credited to Command Records, the third to ABC-Paramount Records. The one with a bright yellow cover culls tracks from multiple labels, including not only Columbia and Epic but also Urania and Westminster.

The present writeup is not particularly concerned, however, with Zenith's requests for "one-off" demos such as those pictured above.  Our chief interest is instead in the serialized albums that Columbia Special Products started preparing for the Zenith Radio Company around 1963.  Behind Zenith's initial request for that type of album was a new business model that the manufacturer had just put in action.  A music trade article published in 1963 makes some general remarks on the matter.  Looking beyond its traditional business model of dealing primarily with hardware stores, drugstores, and jewelry stores, Zenith "plann[ed] an intensive campaign" to attract record dealers, and to do business with them far more directly than before. 

One of the campaign's strategies entailed the commissioning of custom-made albums on a regular, serialized basis. According to anecdotal accounts, Zenith LP sets such as the ones under discussion were offered free to customers who bought Zenith stereos. This particular strategy must have met with buyer approval, because Zenith kept requesting serialized albums every two years (at most), until at least 1972.

Zenith's albums also functioned as weapons in the manufacturer's competition for the burgeoning stereo market.  Since around 1959, both Magnavox and Zenith had been introducing stereo consoles, stereo radios, stereo "theater systems," and other electronic products that were similarly promoted on the basis of their stereophonic capabilities.  Tellingly, the titles of the Zenith albums that will be shown below frequently carry a reference to such a capability (e.g., Zenith Presents The World Of Stereo). Advertisers, manufacturers, and record labels obviously expected the word "stereo" (then an in-substitute for the previously pervasive phrase "high fidelity") to lure customers interested in sound quality and fashionable trends. Thus Zenith made known that its album catalogue and its main market products were all of a piece, belonging as they did to the fabled realm of stereo.

The remainder of this write-up will offer an overview of serialized stereo albums from the Zenith Radio Company. I should point out that previous sections of this page have already discussed the various Zenith sets which feature Peggy Lee tracks. Hence the Zenith sets to be profiled next are the ones with no Lee tracks. It is also worth noting that data about holiday-themed series (e.g. Zenith Presents The Gift Of Music) is not covered here, but on a separate page dedicated to Christmas material.

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13-22. To my knowledge, Zenith Presents The Thrilling World Of Stereo is the electronics company's earliest album series. Prepared by Columbia Special Products in 1963, it consists of 10 albums numbered between 140 and 149, and prefixed with the acronym Csp. (This is only one of many prefixes used at Columbia for custom-made records. It probably was first used in 1963, beginning with a LP numbered 101.) Pictured above, the titles of the albums in this Zenith series are: It's Unforgettable (Csp 140), Around The World (Csp 141), With A Song ... (Csp 142), Curtain Time; The Greatest From Broadway And Hollywood (Csp 143), The Sounds Of America (Csp 144), The Wonderful Ones (Csp 145), Great Songs From Around The World (Csp 146), This Thing Called Love (Csp 147), Mood Music From Stage And Screen (Csp 148), and All-Star Hootennany Special (Csp 149). Incidentally, Zenith Presents The Thrilling World Of Stereo is also the title of another custom-made Columbia Special Products item -- a LP whose front cover, tracks, and catalogue number (Xsv 88654 - 88655) do not show any direct connection to this series.

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23-32. About a year or a year and a half after the first series, Columbia Special Products prepared a second series of premium albums for Zenith. Displayed above, the ten albums from the Zenith Presents A Collector's Item From The Wonderful World Of Beautiful Music series are: From Broadway To Hollywood (Csp 213), The Hit Makers (Csp 214), Soft And Swinging (Csp 215),Hootenanny Special (Csp 216), The Jazz Set (Csp 217), In A Sentimental Mood (Csp 218), Marches And Waltzes (Csp 219), Folk Music Spectacular (Csp 220), Those Faraway Places (Csp 221), and Favorites You'll Remember (Csp 222).

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33-42. Released in 1965, the third sequence of albums that Columbia Special Markets prepared for Zenith bore the imprint Zenith Presents The Thrilling World Of Stereo (same name as the 1963 sequence). These are the titles of the ten albums in this series: Hitmakers, Volume II (Csp 320), Broadway & Hollywood (Csp 321), Sounds Of The Big Bands (Csp 322), Romantic Moments (Csp 323), The Folk All Stars (Csp 324), Favorites You'll Remember, Volume II (Csp 325), Jazz: Red, Hot & Cool (Csp 326), Songs Of Our Land (Csp 327), Music For The In Group (Csp 328), and White Tie And Tails (Csp 329; my thanks to Larry E. Long for originally supplying this title). Note how some of the album's titles from this series maintain a sense of continuity with earlier series. For instance, the title Hitmakers, Volume II establish that album as a sequel to the 1964 Zenith album The Hit Makers.

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43-52. The series that Zenith commissioned from Columbia Special Markets in 1966 was named Zenith Salutes The World Of Stereo. The first of the above-seen images shows the leather-bound box which housed the ten LPs. In the order in which they are pictured, the albums' titles are: The Pop Stars (Csp 518), The Million Record Singers (Csp 519), The Broadway Musicals (Csp 520), The Film Music Scene (Csp 521), The Mood Music Makers (Csp 522), The Teen Sound (Csp 523), The Swingin Bands (Csp 525), The Folk Singers (Csp 526), and The Jazz World (Csp 527). One album, The Light Classics (Csp 524) is not pictured above; I have not succeeded at locating a photo of its front cover.

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53-58. This leather-bound set is titled Zenith Presents Encore; The Best On Record. It too was commissioned from Columbia Special Products. The ten albums in the box are color-coded and bear a numerical sequence that starts with Css 878 and closes with Css 887. Five of them are pictured above: The Best Of Today (Volume 1), A Touch Of Folk & Country (Volume 2), All-Time Great Vocal Favorites (Volume 3), Hollywood Film Themes Yesterday And Today (Volume 4), and Music By Candlelight (Volume 5). The albums not pictured are Great Moments On Broadway (Volume 6), The Great Hits ... In Chorus! (Volume 7), Songs For A Dancing Mood (Volume 8), The Velvet Touch (Volume 9), and Familiar Melodies Of The Masters (Volume 10). The set's year of release is not known to me, but the choice of songs for the so-called Best Of Today album makes 1969 the earliest possible year, and 1970 as the best bet. (My thanks to India Read for alerting me to this item, and for so kindly helping me in determining how much of my originally tentative information was correct.)

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59-64. Yet another set commissioned from Columbia Special Products and bearing a serialized name, Zenith Presents Encore '71; The Best On Record (Css 1395) once again consists of ten LPs, each one color-coded. Three of them are pictured here: Top Favorites Of Today! (Volume 1), Romantic Moods for Those In Love (Volume 4), and Music From Far Away Places (Volume 9). The set's other albums (none pictured in the present page) are Great Chorus Favorites (Volume 2), A Folk/Country Music Salute (Volume 3), Music For A Dancing Mood (Volume 5), The Big Bands ... Today (Volume 6), Hits With A Latin Flavor (Volume 7), Music By Candlelight (Volume 8), and Great Music From The Romantic Era (Volume 10).

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65-76. Dating from 1972, Zenith Presents Encore; Volume VII: Great Artists Of Our Time was commissioned from MCA Special Markets. Housed in a brown leather-bound box (seen in the first of the images above), the ten colorful albums in this set have the following titles: Zenith Presents Pete Fountain - The Dukes Of Dizzieland (Sys 5506), The Best Songs Of Cole Porter - The Best Songs Of George Gershwin (Sys 5507), Great Hits Of The Fifties - Great Hits Of The Forties (Sys 5508), The Best Songs Of Jerome Kern - The Best Songs Of Richard Rodgers (Sys 5509), The Ray Charles Singers - The Norman Luboff Choir And Melachrino Strings (Sys 5510), Louis Armstrong - Jonah Jones (Sys 5511), Harry James - Bert Kaempfert (Sys 5512), Light Classical Favorites - Melodies From Romantic Operettas (Sys 5513), Great Hits Of The Thirties - Academy Award Songs (Sys 5514), and Andre Previn - Tommy Mottola (Sys 5515).

The fact that this last set identifies itself as volume VII raises the question of additional sets left unmentioned here. I have found evidence of one only: volume VI, commissioned from the Longines Symphonette Society. I have shared my knowledge of its contents in section XI of the present page. Some of the other Zenith sets that has been already itemized could qualify as volumes I and II in the series, though I am not finding any indications that such was the case. Nor have I found, so far, traces of a third, fourth, or fifth volume.

77-81. These pictures spotlight a set named Zenith Presents Encore; Volume VIII (catalogue number Sts 5499). It is a sequel to the aforementioned volume VII in just about every sense of the word, including its identification as part of the sub-series Great Artists Of Our Time. This set was not prepared by MCA Special Markets, however, but by the Longines Symphonette Society. Furthermore, there seems to be a total of five LPs, rather than the customary ten, though thematically the set still consists of ten topics (one per each vinyl side). Since some sellers list this item as Zenith Encore VIII; 50 Of The All Time Great Pop Hits, I assume that such a sub-title is present somewhere inside the set.

Among the five images above, the box's flap can be seen in the second column displays. In that flap, all five LPs are listed by title, along with the songs on each one of them. The albums' titles are: The Best Songs Of Burt Bacharach And Hal David / The Best Songs Of Henri Mancini (Sys 5496), The Now Songs / The Norman Luboff Choir And Melachrino Strings (Sys 5497), Lighthouse / Today's People (Sys 5497), Glen Campbell / Anne Murray (Sys 5498), and The Best Songs of 1971 / Great Songs Of The Sixties (Sys 5499). The front covers of all five LPs can be partially seen in the last image; directly above, one front cover is available for full visual inspection.

Curiously enough, this set (Zenith Presents Encore; Volume VIII) is also a reprise of Zenith Presents Encore; Volume VI. All five LP in volume VIII are also found in volume VI. (Missing from volume VIII are the other five LP found in volume VI, including Peggy Lee/Ella Fitzgerald. )

The last custom-made Zenith album with which I am familiar dates from 1972 (Zenith Presents A Christmas Gift Of Music, Volume 6). It stands to reason that, post-1972, Zenith would have still commissioned at least the occasional demo, yet no details about the matter have come up while conducting my research. In the 1980s, with the sale of radios having long ceased to turn a profit and the sale of televisions rapidly heading in the same direction, the Zenith Radio Company began to reorient itself toward the realm of computers and cable TV. In 1984, the manufacturer changed its name to the Zenith Electronics Corporation, and saw remuneration primarily through its computer-related dealings. But, after the concurrent sale of its computer business in 1989 and significant investment on the cable TV side of its business, the company spent most of the 1990s on a tailspin that culminated with its filing for bankruptcy in 1999. Nowadays, it exists only as a brand of the global, South Korean-based conglomerate LG Electronics.