Thursday, September 20, 2012

the Heron label ... it's a gas, gas, gas

Motoring must have been such a joy in the 1970s:

     "Can I help, sir?"
     "Yes - fill her up, would you?"
     "Would you like me to check the oil and water while you're here?"
     "Sure, why not?"
     "And will there be anything else, sir?"
     "Erm... do you have an LP of anonymous cover versions of recent chart hits?"
     "I'll just check, sir."

How many times was this scenario played out on the forecourts of England in the 1970s? Millions, I'd imagine. And so to my latest find, fresh from the charity shops of Brighton:

This LP is billed as "The Best of Tom Jones & Engelbert Humperdinck", but is of course filled with cover versions. It was issued on the Heron label, a little-noted imprint from the early 1970s - in fact, and quite bizarrely, Heron was a petrol station forecourt retailer:

For some reason Heron decided to branch into the LP market by launching their own label, and while most budget LP collectors know about the Deacon label, and their "Pick of the Pops" series, some will have noted that many of the Deacon LPs, perhaps all, were also issued on the Gallery label. What is not so well known is that Heron was in on the same racket.

The Heron albums are in fact Deacon albums with different labels - with gallons of Heron branding on the backs. The LP above is a fine example - it was issued on Deacon, and while the Heron edition looks much the same, there are a few telling differences:

The back of the sleeve is most obviously different - they have bunched everything up towards the top in order to make room for a list of Heron petrol station outlets. There is also a subtle difference on the front: Note how the Deacon pressing bills the act as The Studio 77 Orchestra and Singers. The Heron label makes no mention of a recording act, anywhere, and so is more truly anonymous.

The songs on this LP appear to have been made especially, with the exceptions of "Winter World of Love" and "A Man Without Love", both of which had appeared on Deacon's Top Hits of '69.

So far as the "Pick of the Pops" series is concerned, we have located just one Heron edition - and it's a pressing of volume 1. Were there any more? We don't know but would like to find out!


  1. it's amazing that you could pick up A Cheapo cover album at the petrol station whilst filling up your hillman avenger or ford cortina,i would have thought 8 track tapes would have been a better way for them to go aiming for the luxury car owners with thier jags and mercs!

    1. Judging by how scarce the Heron label records are, I reckon you're spot on! They must have sold in tiny quantities. I can just about understand places like Tesco and Spar stocking budget LPs, but petrol stations? And to go as far as to have their own label? Just bizarre!