Pye Records was a British record label. Its best known artists were Lonnie Donegan (1956–69), Petula Clark (1957–71), The Searchers (1963–67), The Kinks (1964–71), Sandie Shaw (1964–71), Status Quo (1968–71) and Brotherhood of Man (1975–79). The label changed its name to PRT Records in 1980, before being briefly reactivated as Pye Records in 2006.
|Parent company||Pye Ltd., then ATV, a division of Lew Grade's ACC|
|Country of origin||UK|
The Pye Company originally manufactured televisions and radios. Its main plant was situated off what used to be Haig Road, in Cambridge, and it entered the record business when it bought Nixa Records in 1953. In 1955, the company acquired Polygon Records, a label that had been established by Petula Clark's father and Alan A. Freeman to control distribution of her recordings, and merged it with Nixa Records to form Pye Nixa Records.
In 1958, Pye International Records was established. The company licensed recordings from American and other foreign labels for the UK market, including Chess, A&M, Kama Sutra, Colpix, Warner Bros., Buddah, Cameo, 20th Century, and King. It also released recordings from British artist Labi Siffre which were produced outside the company.
The company entered the budget-priced album market in 1957, reissuing older Pye material on Pye Golden Guinea Records, priced at a guinea (one pound and one shilling). A series of classical recordings was released on Golden Guinea Collector, for example an influential version of Handel´s "Music for the Royal Fireworks" in 1959. This featured the conductor Charles Mackerras who made other recordings on the label including a Janacek compilation. It was closed in the seventies and was eventually replaced by Marble Arch Records, selling at an even lower price. Pye also offered a series of "4D" quadraphonic albums, using the Sansui QS matrix system.
Another, full-price, subsidiary, Piccadilly Records, was for new pop acts, including Joe Brown & the Bruvvers, Clinton Ford, the Rockin' Berries, Sounds Orchestral, the Sorrows, Jackie Trent and, later on, the Ivy League. In 1969, Pye launched a less mainstream label for folk, jazz, blues and progressive acts, Dawn Records, the most successful Dawn act being Mungo Jerry.
When the rights to the name Pye (then owned by Philips) expired in 1980, the label changed its name to PRT, which stood for Precision Records and Tapes, via a brief flirtation with Precision. At that time, it had sub-labels such as Fanfare Records, a late 1980s and early 1990s UK-based Hi-NRG label issuing records by Sinitta, R&B Records, a 1980s disco/electro label featuring Imagination, and Splash Records, which featured Jigsaw and the Richard Hewson Orchestra/RAH Band. Postman Pat songs and music, from the television series of the same name, were recorded at PRT Studios.
PRT's parent company ACC was purchased by the Bell Group of Australia in 1982. In 1988 the Bell Group was purchased by the Bond Corporation. However, the Bond Corporation was suffering financial problems itself and proceeded to quickly sell of most of its assets. PRT's record and cassette factory was sold to another record manufacturer, Meekland. The masters of PRT's catalogue were sold to Castle Communications, which eventually became Sanctuary Records (now a division of BMG Rights Management). Precision Records & Tapes Ltd, formerly Pye Records Ltd, was officially liquidated in December 2013.
In July 2006, Pye Records was reactivated by Sanctuary Records as an indie and alternative label, featuring artists such as Scottish alternative rock group Idlewild. However, plans for continued usage of the Pye name were abandoned when Universal Music Group bought Sanctuary in 2007.
Pye Records was a sister company to the better known ATV Music Publishing. This company, which owned Beatles publisher Northern Songs, was bought by Michael Jackson in 1985 and later merged with Sony to form Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Starting with the "British Invasion" of 1964, Pye placed their artists in the US mostly on labels that they distributed in the UK: the Kinks to Cameo Records and then to Reprise Records, David Bowie, the Sorrows and Petula Clark to Warner Bros. Records, Donovan to Hickory Records, the Searchers to Mercury Records, Liberty Records, and finally Kapp Records, and Status Quo to Chess Records (which issued their records on their newly created Cadet Concept Records label).
From 1969 to 1971, Pye was a co-owner with GRT (General Recorded Tape) of Janus Records, which at the outset served as the US label for such Pye acts as Jefferson, Sounds Orchestral, Pickettywitch, Mungo Jerry and Status Quo, and also re-issued the early (pre-1966) recordings of Donovan. Pye sold its share of Janus back to GRT in 1971.
In 1972, Bell Records set up a short-lived Pye label, featuring Michel Pagliaro, a Canadian artist whose first English-language album was issued on UK Pye (largely recorded in England), and Jackie McAuley, whose lone solo album was originally issued on UK Dawn.
In 1974, Pye established an American version of its record label. The label was not a success, however, and closed its US operations in 1976. The head of the US division, Marvin Schlachter, then started Prelude Records, named after one of Pye's acts of the time, Prelude; its initial LP and 45 catalogue series were carried over from the ill-fated American Pye label (with the catalogue prefix changed from PYE- to PRL-), and Prelude had a string of disco and dance music hits into the early 1980s.
Whilst Pye did not have its own operations in Canada, it arranged with Canadian record companies to issue Pye recordings on the Pye label in Canada. Before then, Quality Records issued Pye recordings on the Quality label. Their earliest Pye Canada releases such as Lonnie Donegan's "My Old Man's A Dustman" were distributed by Astral Music Sales. Around 1963, distribution shifted to Allied Record Corporation. In 1968 distribution shifted to Phonodisc.
In the 1970s there was a short period of quadraphonic records. Pye was one of the few labels who chose the Sansui QS Regular Matrix system.
(including the US labels that issued records by the artists during the time they were on Pye)
"Angelo" is a song by British pop group Brotherhood of Man. Released as a single in June 1977, it became the group's second UK number one hit.Are You Growing Tired of My Love
"Are You Growing Tired of My Love" is a single released by the British Rock band Status Quo in 1969. It was included on the album Spare Parts."Are You Growing Tired of My Love" was a ballad written by songwriter Anthony King. It was the first single to feature Rick Parfitt singing lead vocal.
Nancy Sinatra covered "Are You Growing Tired of My Love" as the B-side for her single "The Highway Song", later included on the 1996 reissue of her album Country My Way.Can't Help Thinking About Me
"Can't Help Thinking About Me" is a song written by David Bowie in 1965 and released as a single under the name David Bowie with The Lower Third. This was the first single released after he changed his name from David (also Davie) Jones to David Bowie.
It was the first David Bowie record to be released in the US as well as the first time the name "Bowie" appeared under the songwriters credit.
The song was recorded within 15 days of the 18-year-old Bowie signing to the Pye Records label as "David Bowie with the Lower Third" on 25 November 1965 through successful producer and songwriter Tony Hatch. Hatch signed Bowie to the label based on two demos (this song and "Now You've Met The London Boys", as it was originally titled) proffered by Bowie's (then) manager Ralph Horton. The single and B-side were both recorded in the basement of Pye's offices in Great Cumberland Place (near Marble Arch, Central London) on 10 December 1965. Hatch also played piano on the single and provided backing vocals along with the rest of the group.
The single was "promo launched" by Pye on 6 January 1966 at The Gaiety Bar, Bayswater. The launch party (for Pye records staff and music journalists) was paid for by a loan from businessman Raymond Cook, an agreement which took several years to untangle and eventually pay back. Among those who attended the launch party that evening was John Lennon's father Alfred Lennon, who was also signed to the Pye label as an artist. Lennon Senior's presence was recalled as him being "highly inebriated" and asking the attendees "Do you know who I am?"
"Can't help thinking about me" was officially released on Friday 14 January (and later released in the US by Warner Bros. in May 1966), however, the Lower Third split from Bowie on 28 January over financial disagreements regarding "who was being paid what" with manager Ralph Horton. Believing Bowie was not supporting their side of the argument, Graham Rivens, Phil Lancaster and Dennis Taylor ended their short-lived collaboration and reluctantly walked away, literally weeks after their record deal with Pye Records. A strikingly similar manipulation of "divide and rule" about money between Bowie and his band by the incumbent manager (Tony DeFries) occurred 7 years later with the Spiders from Mars.
The single failed to make either the UK or the US charts despite being reasonably well received by the critics at the time.
After dropping the song from his gigs after mid 1966 (he played it several times with new band Buzz at The Marquee due to it being released in May in the USA), "Can't Help Thinking About Me" was eventually resurrected 31 years later and played live regularly in 1999, as well as on the Bowie VH1 Storytellers programme. Prior to singing it, he explained that it was "a beautiful piece of solipsism" then told the audience that the song featured two of the worst lines he felt he had ever written. "I actually have to sing this....'My girl calls my name "Hi Dave", Drop in, Come back, See you around if you're this way again...."
A key collector's item today because of its rarity, the UK vinyl release averages over £600 per copy with the UK and the US "Demonstration Only" copies achieving in excess of £1000. The single has been re-released many times (on EP's, 10" singles and compilation CD's) from 1973 onwards following Bowie's Ziggy commercial success.Colours (Donovan song)
"Colours" is a song written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Donovan. The "Colours" single was released in the United Kingdom on 28 May 1965 through Pye Records (Pye 7N 15866) and a few months later in the United States through Hickory Records (Hickory 45-1324). The "Colours" single was backed with "To Sing for You" (previously included on What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid) on the United Kingdom release and "Josie" (from What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid) on the United States release.Dandy (song)
"Dandy" is a 1966 song by The Kinks, appearing on their album Face to Face.Dickie Rock
Richard Rock (born 10 October 1946) known as Dickie Rock is an Irish singer. He experienced much success on the Irish charts during the 1960s, but has continued on as a popular live act as well as occasionally hitting the charts ever since.Dog of Two Head
Dog of Two Head is the fourth studio album by the English rock band Status Quo released by Pye Records. At the time of recording, the band consisted of Francis Rossi (credited on the sleeve as Mike Rossi), Rick Parfitt (credited as Ritchie Parfitt), Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan (credited as John Coughlan).
March 1971 saw the new four-man lineup of the band release another non-album single: a Rossi/Young song called "Tune to the Music". The single was not a hit. The band then set to work writing and recording a new album. A couple of the songs, such as the opening track "Umleitung" (German for 'diversion') had been written as far back as 1970.
In November 1971 the album was released.
A single from the album, Rossi and Young's "Mean Girl", was to become a UK #20 hit some time later, in April 1973, after they had their third top ten British hit single with "Paper Plane", from their next album Piledriver.
When "Mean Girl" charted, the record company decided to release another single from the album: a rerecording of "Gerdundula", the B-side to their 1970 single "In My Chair". This was released in July 1973, and failed to chart. The B-side to this single was Rossi and Parfitt's "Lakky Lady", taken from the band's previous album Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon.I Dig Everything
"I Dig Everything" is a single by David Bowie.
Released in 1966, the track was originally demoed with Bowie's touring band, The Buzz, but Tony Hatch was unhappy with their efforts, and replaced them with session players. The song was performed in 1966-67 as a rewritten version by 1-2-3 (later Clouds), which David heard played at The Marquee club in early 1967. The single was another commercial failure, and was Bowie's last recording on Pye.
Stronger efforts were made both lyrically and musically with their impact heightened by a characteristic Tony Hatch production. These songs figured heavily in Bowie's live set, and while sales were still negligible, a recognisable style was emerging in his music.
The song was re-recorded 34 years later for Bowie's unreleased album Toy.In My Chair
"In My Chair" is a single released by the British rock band Status Quo in 1970.The song was written in an afternoon by Francis Rossi and Bob Young in Rossi's kitchen. The single was produced by John Schroeder.It later appeared on numerous compilation albums, including Pictures – 40 Years of Hits.
The song has remained a regular feature of Status Quo live sets over subsequent decades, including their first live album in 1977.Josie (Donovan song)
"Josie" is a song written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Donovan. The "Josie" single was backed with a cover of "The Little Tin Soldier" by Shawn Phillips and released in the United Kingdom on 18 February 1966 through Pye Records (Pye 7N 17067).
Like Hickory Records in the United States, it was clear by early 1966 that Pye Records retained the rights to the tracks Donovan recorded while recording at Pye. Unlike Hickory Records, however, Pye retained the right to release future Donovan albums and singles as stipulated by Donovan's original contract. Meanwhile, any new recordings from Donovan were legally barred from release.
As Hickory Records did with "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" and "To Try for the Sun" in the United States, Pye Records took an album track and released it as a single without Donovan's consent. "Josie" was originally released on Donovan's debut album What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid and was viewed as a single that could possibly sell well. Pye chose the Fairytale album track "The Little Tin Soldier" for the b-side. The "Josie" single became the first Donovan release to fail to chart in the United Kingdom, just as the "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond" and "To Try for the Sun" singles failed to chart in the United States.Kenny Ball
Kenneth Daniel Ball (22 May 1930 – 7 March 2013) was an English jazz musician, best known as the bandleader, lead trumpet player and vocalist in Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen.Kinksize Session
Kinksize Session is the first EP released by The Kinks in the UK in 1964, a month after their debut LP. The tracks were all exclusive to this release and it includes some original compositions.Mean Girl
"Mean Girl" is a single released by the British rock band Status Quo in 1973. It was taken from their 1971 album Dog of Two Head.Pye Records released the old song after the success of the single "Paper Plane" on the Vertigo label. It became a UK Top 20 hit - previously only three of the ten Pye singles had made the Top 20. They tried this again with the single "Gerdundula", another track from the same album, but this failed to chart.
The band included the song in the set for their 2009 debut at the Glastonbury Festival.Mission Bell (Donnie Brooks song)
"Mission Bell" is a song written by William Michael and Jesse Hodges and performed by Donnie Brooks. It reached #7 on the U.S. pop chart in 1960. It was featured on his 1961 album The Happiest.The song ranked #64 on Billboard magazine's Top 100 singles of 1960.Ronnie Scott's Presents Sarah Vaughan Live
Ronnie Scott's Presents Sarah Vaughan Live, also known as Sassy at Ronnie's, is a 1977 live album by American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan.Sean Dunphy
Sean Dunphy (30 November 1937 – 17 May 2011) was an Irish singer who represented Ireland at the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest, achieving second place with "If I Could Choose". He was also the first Irish singer to record in Nashville.Well Respected Kinks
Well Respected Kinks is the first UK budget-priced compilation album by the British rock group The Kinks, released in 1966. The album consists of some of the most popular singles and B-sides released by the Kinks from 1964 and 1965. It also includes tracks from the 1965 Kwyet Kinks EP.
The album spent 35 weeks on the UK chart – the longest of any Kinks album – peaking at #5. The studio album Face to Face, released almost two months later, only managed 11 weeks on the chart, peaking at #12.
The album was issued on CD in 2001 as part of the Marble Arch Years boxed set.Where Have All the Good Times Gone
"Where Have All the Good Times Gone" is a song written by Ray Davies and performed by the Kinks. It was released as the B-side to "Till the End of the Day," and then on their album The Kink Kontroversy (1965 UK, 1966 US).
Ray Davies said, "We'd been rehearsing 'Where Have All the Good Times Gone' and our tour manager at the time, who was a lot older than us, said, 'That's a song a 40-year-old would write. I don't know where you get that from.' But I was taking inspiration from older people around me. I'd been watching them in the pubs, talking about taxes and job opportunities."The song has since gained "classic" status and featured on numerous compilations. Pye Records released the track as a single in November 1973 (Pye 7N 45313 b/w "Lola"). This re-release failed to chart. Although the Kinks had performed the song live on the TV show 'Ready Steady Go' in 1965, it would not become a staple of their live shows until the 1970s.You Still Want Me
"You Still Want Me" is a single by The Kinks released in 1964. It was their second record, and (like its predecessor) failed to chart upon release. This prompted Pye Records to consider dropping the fledgling group. However, the massive success of the band's next single, "You Really Got Me", ensured their tenure with Pye would continue until 1970, when their contract expired.