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 sleeve (3).


Copyright 2006 Robert Lyons.