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9000 Series ( monaural - " Theatre Showcase, Folk and Popular 12" ")
2000 Series ("Stereophonic Disc Recordings" aka "Stereolab")
Vanguard Recording Society was founded in 1950 by brothers Maynard and Seymour Solomon, on a $10,000 loan from their father who ran an art supply store. Mainly interested in classical music (now made more practical by the longer-playing 10" 33 rpm disc), the label was reknown for the excellence of its recordings and first broke more than even in 1951 with a Mahler recording. Because of their politics, the brothers were more than willing to record singers out of the mainstream at the time due to current taste or politics (thanks to the odd sense of patriotism recommended by the very active House Un-American Activities Committee), and from that recorded the Weavers, Cisco Houston and Paul Robeson. Sensing a market for further folk recordings from the sales of those, the brothers issued a huge amount of folk music and would be the leader in the field for decades.
Maroon & silver (all releases mono only)
1950 - circa 1956
VRS- 7000 series
VRS-7010 - The Merry Yodler, v.2
(10" LP, mono, VRS prefix) The above label was the first version, and was used on their 10" folk abums, all of which were issued in mono only. The maroon and white label featured their lancer logo at the top and a scripted "Vanguard" to the left of center (where else?) This would have been used from late 1951 until probably 1956 or '57, when the 12" LP sank the 10" without a trace. (Later reissued along with v.1 - VRS-7004 - as VRS- 9034)
Maroon / Black Labels - 1955 until September, 1964
VRS- 9000 series
VRS-9078 - Baez, Joan : Joan Baez (11/60) - (12" LP, mono, VRS prefix) -The next label was a maroon one used originally for the Vanguard 9000 series, which included mono recordings in their Folk, Theatre Showcase and Popular series. The label featured silver typeset lettering, the lancer standing alone and now centered beneath the corporate name, with the artist's name located above the center hole and song titles listed below.
This label began with VRS-9001 (E. Robinson : Sandhog, 1956) and continued through a confirmed VRS-9154 (Ian & Sylvia : Northern Journey) or possibly the unconfrimed VRS- 9156 ( The Hohner Accordian Orchestra Plays Concert Showpieces, 9/64). With a number of LPs at this time being issued in mono only, no attempt was made to assign the mono catalog # as a reflection of the stereo ( the Baez example at left was VRS-9078 in mono, but VSD-2077 in stereo).
( * Note : This label was also used by Vanguard of Canada through to the discontinuation of monaural recordings with Country Joe & the Fish's second album, Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die (VRS-9266) in March of 1968.
VSD-2000 series ("Stereolab")
VSD-2151 - Clara Ward : At the Village Gate (1964) - (12" LP, stereo, VSD prefix) A later example of the second label, the first used for their non-classical lines which was used from 1955 until about September, 1964. The black and silver Stereo 2000 series copied the mono label, with the exception of a silver "stereolab" colorfield under the lancer logo. The 2000 series started with VSD-2002, Beethoven's Symphony #3 in about 1956, and ended with VSD-2158, Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band's first album in October, 1963. The label continued in use when Vanguard launched their 79000 stereo series in 1964 with the Rooftop Singers' Good Time (3/64) and as far as research has proven thus far, stereo the label ceased at the same time as mono in September of 1964.
VRS-9130 - The Weavers : Reunion at Carnegie Hall, 1963 (Dec. 1963) (12"LP, mono, VRS prefix; promotional copy)
Promotional copies of Vanguard albums (as opposed to their singles) are very hard to come by, with most albums identifiable as radio station copies being stock copies with the station ID scrawled somewhere inconveniently.
But apparently, Vanguard did do selected titles with white promo labels. These differed from stock copies by their color and the "Demonstration Copy" noted above the artist's name.
Silver / Orange
September, 1964 - Spring, 1968
VRS-9234 - Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band : See Reverse Side For Title (12"LP, mono, VRS prefix) The black lettering on silver label continued the 9000 mono series with a much smaller and differently typeset "Vanguard" located top and center with "Recordings for" to the left of the name and "The Connoisseur" to the right. The artist's name was still above the center hole, but the song titles dribbled both beneath the artist and above the center hole, and below it. The lancer logo has now moved to the bottom. This label was used from September/October of 1964 until as late as July 1967. It's been seen as early as Eric Anderson's 1st album, Today is the Highway (VRS-9157, 5/65) and confirmed as late as Jackie Washington's Morning Song (VRS-9254 , fall, 1967), although it's probable the label was used until the end of original mono issues, in early 1968, although the gold label may have been phased in during this time, as gold is far more common for LPs pressed after fall, 1966.
VSD-79000 series ("Stereolab")
VSD-79207 - Sky, Patrick : A Harvest of Gentle Clang (12"LP, stereo, VRS prefix). The black lettering on orange mirrored the silver mono label, and was used for the same amount of time, although stereo versions were noted on this label as " STEREOLAB". It was also noted as such in the catalog pamphlets included with most copies of Vanguard albums.
VSD-79240 - Joan Baez : Joan (August, 1966) ( 12" LP, stereo, VSD prefix, Record Club of America )
This is one of the few Record Club reprints that I've ever encountered. The LP jackets will look the same, as will the catalog number, but somewhere on the back at the bottom will be a note "Manufactured under license issued by Vanguard Recording Society to Record Club of America, Inc.". The covers are not as well-printed as the real thing, with some looking faded or blurry, and the covers rub and scuff like a $29.95 car repaint. The labels are yellow and the printing is slightly blurry. The run-off groove notes only the catalog number, and not the usual master/matrix and pressing numbers.
Spring of 1968 - early 1980s
VSD-79000 series ("Stereolab")
VSD-79263 - Richard and Mimi Fariña : Memories (April, 1968) (12" LP, stereo-only release, VSD prefix)
The gold label is the most recognized, as this was used for over ten years.
The label's redesign was made necessary when they discontinued monaural releases on the label - probably in December of 1967 with the mono of Julius Lester's Departures ( which may also be the first gold label, as all found 1A pressings seen to date have the gold label) as VRS-9261, and Junior Wells', Coming At You - VSD-79262 - as the first stereo-only release, which also added the disqualifying line "Also Playable in Mono" (so you knew not to hunt for a mono should you have been so inclined at the time) being added to the covers of their LPs for a year or so.
To make life an even bigger basket of joy, Vanguard released 79266 (Country Joe & the Fish, I Feel Like I'M Fixin' To Die ) in mono and stereo ( and as with their 1st album, very different mono and stereo versions) in March of 1968, a month before the Fariñas' Memories (79263, the second stereo-only album issued by Vanguard) pictured here, but issued it using a catalog number three after the Fariñas.
Vanguard continued to keep mono recordings available until existing warehouse supplies ran out (most of which were dumped into cut-out bins in the early 70s), using the gold label on these as well as on the stereo. All back catalog pressings featured the gold label, resulting in far more copies featuring this later label than ever sold with the orignal labels.
VSD - "Twofer" series
VSD-21 - Mimi and Richard Fariña : The Best of Mimi & Richard Fariña (12" LP, VSD prefix, white label promo, 1971)
A promo copy of the "2-Fer" reissue of the Fariñas' first two albums. Noted only by "NOT FOR SALE" printed on the right side under the "Side One" notation.
VRS-9119 - Sandy Bull : Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo (12" LP, mono,
VRS prefix, gold label)
An example of a much earlier LP (originally issued on a maroon label), being reprinted using whatever the current label was at the time.
This is a third pressing (1C) of Sandy Bull's May, 1963 debut album, in mono, and fitted it out with the post-May, 1968 gold label (with only the absence of the word "Stereo" to let you know it's mono, rather than the color changes used in previous labels). It's interesting to note that side one was still the 1A stamper (first pressing), while the B side was using 1C, the third stamper, which means Sandy Bull didn't make much money off this one in the five years since it was issued.
VSD-79174 - Mimi and Richard Fariña : Celebrations For a Gray Day (12" LP, stereo, VSD prefix, Record Club of America ).
Another Record Club version, this time based on the Gold label design, issued post-May, 1968. Pressing noted : 1FA. This is an entirely different typeset on the label , indicating that vanguard may have provided the labels, but farmed out the printing, or gave it to the Record Club for typesetting and printing. As always, the cover is light, with detail almost bleached out, as though printed using a copy of a copy, or an offset of the photo. Noted on bottom right as being from the Record Club of America.
VSD-79299 - Country Joe & the Fish : Here We Are Again
(12" LP, stereo, VSD prefix, graphics label)
This came out in the fall of 1969 with a unique label, featuring graphics reflecting those on the back cover of the album, and so a reasonable assumption would be that Vanguard's design people (the design was not credited to Jules Halfant, as customary) had done this expressly for this LP. Although I have also seen a copy of VSD-6556 ( Frost : Through the Eyes of Frost) , done the following year, also featuring this label. Go figure.