Did you know that Marble Arch had its own record label? The Marble Arch area has a colourful music heritage with past residents and frequenters ranging from Jimi Hendrix and Joe Strummer of The Clash to Michael William Balfe, the composer best-remembered for his opera The Bohemian Girl and Richard Tauber, the famous 1920s tenor and actor. However, few people remember the record label named after our one of central London’s national landmarks.
Marble Arch Records began in 1964 as a subsidiary of Pye Records, the same label the issued records for The Beatles, David Bowie, The Foundations, The Kinks, Olivia Newton-John and Labi Siffre to name a few.
The label catered to budget shoppers who wouldn’t buy regular albums due to the expense. Therefore, it created a new type of a mini-album format, with a shorter run than the average LP album usually having one track per side less than the original recording. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine covered the creation of Marble Arch records stating, “Pye Records has entered the budget LP market – the first major British company to do so […] called ‘Marble Arch’”.
While many labels specialised in specific genres, Marble Arch issued budget LPs for varied tastes in order to provide music for any fan. The first three record releases in 1964 focused on classical music, but this quickly changed by 1967 with the label largely focusing on blues and jazz releasing versions of Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen, and Nina Simone as well as ‘best of’ and chart topping compilations like Rhythm And Blues, British Jazz Giants, and Stars of ’67 ’68 ‘69. Not to mention – The Kinks! The label lasted into the late 1980s for vinyl albums and the mid-1990s for CD releases.