A short-lived but nowadays highly-collectable
label. Middle Earth's first mention in 'Record Retailer'
came in the issue of the 9th of August 1969, which reported that
publishing company Shapiro Bernstein was to launch its own label,
through Pye in the U.K. and Janus in America. Paul Waldman and
Dave Howson of the Middle Earth club were responsible for finding
talent for the new label, and its first issues were planned to be by
'The Arcadian' and 'The James Harpam Triad'. There must have been
a slight scrambling of information, as the 'The Arcadian' turned out to
be 'Arcadium' and James Harpham's band 'The Wooden O'. 'RR' of
the 25th of October added that the first six releases - three LPs and
three singles - were scheduled for release on the 31st of
October. According to that article the label was being run by
Paul and Brian Waldman (described as 'founders of the Middle Earth
club') and Dave Howson, 'in conjunction with Shapiro Bernstein'.
Two further mentions in RR added nothing to that: the issue of the 17th
of January 1970 confirmed Howson's involvement, and that of the 29th of
August said that the label was 'part owned' by Shapiro Bernstein.
By that time, however, Middle Earth seems to have been running out of
steam. It expired in that same year, having issued just five
singles and five albums, one of which was a sampler. The singles
were numbered in the MDS-300s, and there was also a various artists EP
containing tracks from the first three albums, which was for
promotional purposes only. All command respectable sums nowadays;
especially the albums, which tend to go for three
figures. Writing On The Wall and Arcadium were Rock bands,
Tam White was a Soul / Rock singer, and The Wooden O offered
Jazz-tinged acoustic medieval-sounding music; the Sweet Plum singles
were a sort of orchestrated MOR Pop. Manufacture and
distribution of Middle Earth records were by Pye; as was the case with
other Pye labels of that time, demo copies were coloured yellow
(2). The singles came in a suitably psychedelic company
Copyright 2006 Robert Lyons.