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The pocket guide to budget records (Introduction or part 1)

As you flip through the stacks at the local thrift store you keep seeing names like Pickwick, Tops, Grand Prix, Design, Crown, Coronet, Halo, Royale, Varsity, etc. If you don't already know, these are budget records. What's a budget record you ask? Budget labels are record labels that specialized in producing low cost records.

I'll make so assumptions:

  1. I assume you know some basic vinyl record terminology.
  2. I assume you have some experience with these records.
How do you identify a budget label product? That is simple, first off the name of the label gives it away. I could give you a lengthy list of labels, however that would take a long time, as there were dozens of budget labels out there in the golden age of budget labels (1950's-1970's).

Features of the standard budget label jacket
  • Back cover features little to no liner notes, and if it gives you some liner notes, the back slick will feature mostly a list of albums produced by that label.
  • Liner notes are written less to inform, but more to sell the album to someone that is unsure about purchasing the record.
  • The artist credit will be a generic or obviously fake name.
  • The jackets will have generic photos, generic artwork, or a cheesecake photo (A picture of a pretty woman).
  • Jackets will be cheaply made, they are prone to splitting and are often found split, The only exception to this rule are the albums made by Royale, Halo, and much of the Eli Oberstien owned labels,
  • Famous "name" artists are in large letters and any "filler" artist is in much smaller letters, or not even mention at all.
  • The album cover is exceptionally appealing, despite the fact the album contains easy listening music or the like.
Let's use a couple examples to prove these "rules" were the standard for budget label jackets.

This is an example of a pre-1957 budget release. Note the lack of a color photograph and the heavy emphasis on the artist. 
The back of this  particular record only lists other releases Royale releases, or in other words a catalog back…. a practice that only budget labels employed.

Let's try another 50's release.

A typical Halo back slick, note how the cardboard wraps around the back slick, these jackets never split (I have only seen one or two with even a split)!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Did Halo ever release any 45's or just budget lps?