Wonderful article with Olav Wyper of the mega-collectible Vertigo Records from our friends at the Vinyl Press Website
Vertigo Records, in the era of the ‘Vertigo Swirl,’ is legendary- from its unique ‘swirl’ label, to its eclectic mix of artists, strong musical talent and extremely high production values, to the ‘art’ of the album jackets and the clever album packaging. My introduction to the label came late-this UK label carried the work of some famed artists, like Black Sabbath, but so many of its records- and some of the most desirable ones in my estimation, musically, were recorded by bands like Cressida, May Blitz, Patto, Affinity and Gracious, which are hardly household names. Even fewer of these bands and records made a dent in the U.S. market.
Today, these records stand out as almost monumental musical achievements- listen to the way Cressida combines an almost classical music formalism with pop “hooks”, or the sublime jazz as progressive rock anthems of Colosseum’s first album on Vertigo. Or the biting psychedelic guitar work of May Blitz’s “I Don’t Know” (from the first, self-titled album) powered by the drumming of Tony Newman (who went on to drum for Jeff Beck).
Many of these records are now sought after by well-heeled collectors, but what drew me in was the music. As I selectively acquired some of these old UK pressings, I grew more impressed- the production values were extremely high- the records sounded fabulous more than 40 years after their manufacture- and among the many Swirls I now own is a range of different musical styles that has no real counterpart today. Jazz mixed with raw psychedelic rock (Affinity, another killer Vertigo Swirl) sat comfortably with the early underpinnings of “heavy metal” (Black Sabbath), or the soulful psych-inflected renderings of Patto, whose guitarist, Ollie Halsall, played guitar with a vibraphonist’s touch and sensibility. My sense of wonder–having been in and around the business side of the music business as a lawyer for decades, “wonder” is a scarce commodity–led me to try and find out more about the history of the label and why these records were (and today remain) so special, musically, sonically and artistically.
You can read the rest of this article from the The Vinyl Press website here