One of several custom recording firms that were operating in the 1970s.  John Hassell Recordings offered tape-to-disc, studio and mobile recording facilities.  The earliest record of theirs that I have seen listed was made in July 1959: it was a 78 r.p.m. disc containing three tracks by pupils from the Oak Farm J. M. School.  By November 1960 the company was making 7" 45 r.p.m. acetates - Michael Rhodes has been kind enough to send along a scan of one such disc featuring him and his sister Heather playing the piano at a concert given by prizewinners at the 1960 St. Alban's Music Festival.  According to Michael, John Hassell recorded the entire concert and offered to provide discs to the individual performers and their families for a fee.  Around that time 7" vinyl records on the John Hassell label began to appear.  The ones that I have managed to dredge up are listed below, along with whichever of the company's albums surfaced during the search - albums are in square brackets.  Catalogue numbers were initially in a HAS-000 series which may have started at HAS-100; sometimes an 'EP' or 'LP' were tagged on to the prefix.  Until some point in 1969 each side of a record had its own catalogue number.  Numbers reached at least HAS LP-5029, but, as can be seen from the 'discography' below, there were several leaps - from 2099 to 3000, 3099 to 4000, and 4099 to 5000.  The company seems to have ceased operations in or around 1982.
Several label designs were used.  The earliest one, which was usually green-and-white (1), also came in red-and-white; the artist and title details on the labels could be hand-stamped, written or typewritten.  A blue-on-white one (2) appears to have been used from c. 1964-66; the colour changed to dark-blue-on-light-blue (3) in 1966 and then to gold-on-light-blue (4) in or around 1967.  The print turned black around 1972, and occasionally came in a fancy font.  In parallel to these, from c. 1968 a good number of records had plain labels with the only reference to the company coming in the form of a mention in small print at the top or the bottom.  Most of the items that I have seen from the second half of the '70s have had plain labels with just the 'HAS' prefix to identify their origin, John Hassell Recordings / JHR being mentioned only on the covers (7, 8).  At least some records made via the tape-to-disc service appear to have had their own label design (5).  Occasionally the labels were blank with only the matrix number in the run-off indicating their origin (6) - the example shown is HAS-EP-3003.  Sometimes records made by the company and bearing the company's catalogue numbers were issued on other labels (9) - see 'G&S' and 'V.I.P.'.
Often there are no dates on the labels, but sometimes the titles or the blurb on the sleeves are of help, as exemplified by HAS LP-1107, the 'Penshurst Church 1970 Music Festival' LP.   The company's output seems to have been most often in 12" format, and its products appear to have been standard custom recording fare in the main - records by school choirs and orchestras, brass bands, and the like.  The label isn't seen often: doubtless John Hassell records were pressed in small quantities, as is usual for such concerns.  As can be seen, the company's address was 21 Nassau Rd, London SW.13.  The Marston Singers were from Wolverhampton, and their 'Eye Level Carol' was the 'Van der Valk' theme Chistmasified.  The style of the matrix numbers suggests that their records were pressed by Pye.  Thanks to Paul Jones, Hugh Roberts, Bob Tame, Dom Romeo and John Timmis for their help with the discography; in addition Bob supplied the second scan, and John the third.

Copyright 2009 Robert Lyons.