Contempo was owned by John Abbey, founder of 'Blues and Soul' magazine and the 'Action' record label (q.v.), and was the record label of his Contempo International company.  Contempo International had been responsible for selecting records to appear on Polydor's 'Mojo' (q.v.) Soul label from the time of its launch in early 1971; it performed a similar funtion for Stax and Atlantic for a time.  When Polydor failed to launch Mojo in the USA Abbey broke off his company's association with them (Billboard, 7th October 1972), ended the agreement with Stax and set about launching his own label.  Contempo put out all kinds of Black music, including Soul, Northern, Disco and Funk, and it had a dedicated 'Oldies' label, 'Contempo Raries' (q.v.), which included some Rock 'n' Roll singles amongst its output.  A label respected by Soul fans, Contempo served its audience well, but it only bothered the Singles Chart compilers on three occasions: firstly though a re-release of Tammi Lynn's 'I'm Gonna Run Away From You', on Contempo Raries (CS-9026), which made it into the Top 40 in 1975; and in the following year with two singles on Contempo proper by Dorothy Moore, 'Misty Blue' (CS-2087) a Top 5 hit, and 'Funny How Time Slips Away' (CS-2092), which peaked at No. 38.  At first manufacturing and distribution were by Decca / Selecta, with numbering in a C-0 series (1, 4).  When the company moved to Pye, in early 1974, its singles series changed to CS-2000 (2), and a CS-9000 one was brought into use for reissues on Contempo-Raries.  In October 1977 Contempo was licensed to WEA; a new, more colourful, label design (3) and sleeve (8) pre-dated the move by a couple of months.  The pink sleeve (5) dates from the Decca period; the pink-and-white ones are from the Pye era.   Contempo seems to have expired in the Spring of 1978 - a batch of singles listed in Music Master as being released in March of that year seems to have been cancelled.  Roger Foster, who was kind enough to remind me about the Dorothy Moore hits, points out that John Abbey married American singer Tamiko Jones at the tail-end of the '70s and moved to America, which might explain Contempo's demise.  He adds that Contempo has an excellent claim to be the the first company to issue a 12" single in Britain, a single split between Ernie Bush ('Breakaway') and Banzai ('Chinese Kung Fu').  Numbered CX-12, the record came out on the 22nd of October 1976, according to the 'New Singles' leaflet for that week, whereas Polydor's 'Substitute' by The Who (2058-803) - a contender for that first place - appeared a week later, on the 29th.  Other 12" singles on Contempo followed, numbered from CX-13 up.

Copyright 2006 Robert Lyons.