Jonathan King's label. 'Music Week' of the 28th
of November 1970 reported that King was leaving his promotion / A&R post at
Decca in order to concentrate on production work. After a year-and-a-half of recording songs under pseudonyms
and licensing them to various record companies he returned to Decca and launched his own label, UK ('United
King'), through that company. 'MW' of the 20th of May 1972 revealed that the contract
signed by the parties was for two years with another one
year option; it added that King intended to purchase independent masters
as well as record his own product. In 1974 Clive
Selwood joined as head of the UK label worldwide, having recently left CBS
- he had been the marketing director there ('MW' 25th May). January 1975 saw the
introduction of a new label, 'UK American' (q.v.), dedicated to product licensed from
USA; according to Selwood the launch was "In line with our
ultimate goal of moving from a successful small independent company to a place
among the majors." ('MW', 18th January 1975). Later that year came a split
from Decca: 'MW' of the 10th of May 1975 broke the news
that UK was close to signing a licensing deal with Polydor, a part of which involved Decca having a six month sell-off period for most of the existing product and keeping the rights to 10cc's back catalogue worldwide for an indefinite period. The next issue of 'M.W.' (17th May) confirmed that the deal had been signed.
All was not well, however. In an interview
with 'MW' of the 28th of August 1976 King lamented that UK
had been one of his greatest mistakes - the freedom to do as he pleased
had been an attractive proposition, but it had ended up involving "All business and no creativity." Thus
when the deal with Polydor expired, in March 1977, he tried a
different approach. He told 'MW' (19th of February) that he
was looking for a fresh distribution deal, where acts that he believed in would
go on his own label and be looked after properly, leaving him
free to produce for other companies and to place masters elsewhere. In the
event UK was shelved as a label, though its logo continued to appear on
other labels throughout 1977 and 1978 (13, 14). Selwood moved
on, to join Muff Murfin at Birds Nest (q.v.). 1978 saw
the UK label's reappearance, albeit in a very limited form: 200 copies
of King's own 'Old DJ's (Playing New Sounds)' single (UK-201) were
pressed and distributed to radio, TV and selected dealers ('MW',
8th April 1978). Major companies were circulated and were invited to pick the single up; CBS
did so, and it was given a proper issue as EPC-6262. UK made a more
substantial but still brief reappearance as a label in the spring of
1979, as one of EMI's licensed labels, but
by that point King was losing interest in the music scene and was
concentrating on television. There was another short revival in 1987, but
it is beyond the scope of this site.
time as a
label UK peppered the Charts with odd one-off hits both under Jonathan King's own name
and under aliases such as Shag and Bubblerock. In addition to its own productions it scored with
licensed from other companies, for example 'Sea Side
Shuffle', by Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs (UK-5; 1972), and Carl Malcolm's, 'Fattie Bum Bum'
(UK-108; 1975). It also signed other talent: its most successful acquisition was 'Intelligent Rock'
band 10 c.c., who were frequent visitors to the
Top 10. For most of its existence the company's records were pressed by Decca and distributed by Selecta.
The familiar light-blue label (1) sometimes came with black printing instead of
the usual silver (2). After the move to
Polydor / Phonodisc silver injection-moulded labels were introduced. Initially
these had the logo at the top (3), as did the
occasional paper label (4) - the paper-labelled versions were contract pressings - but
it soon migrated to its old position (5). The one-off promo from
1978 had blue printing (6); the scan appears by courtesy of Dr.Doom
of the 45cat site. Singles used a UK-0 catalogue
series, though after the move to Polydor this was
temporarily replaced by a 2012-000 one - the 2012s remained as
matrix numbers after the catalogue numbers reverted back to their old form. The company sleeve
changed slightly during the move, with the wavy top
(16) being replaced by a straight one (17); the '45 RPM MADE IN ENGLAND' at the
bottom left disappeared at the same time, and the words 'MARKETED BY POLYDOR LIMITED'
appeared on the back. In the Decca years demo labels varied somewhat. Demo copies of the first five singles
had a large silver 'A' in the centre of the label (8); with UK-6 the labels turned red - in common with those of many other members of the Decca family - while the 'A' shrank and migrated to 10 o'clock (9). UKs 7,11 and 12 had these red labels; UK-8 went back to the 'light blue with central 'A' scheme, while UK-10 combined the light blue label with the 10 o'clock 'A'. This last style became standard from UK-13 onwards, though the central 'A' reappeared on a handful of singles in January to March 1974. Occasionally stickers with 'HIT SIDE' on them were
attached to common or garden issue singles (11).
Copyright 2006 Robert Lyons.