By: John Carney
Let’s be honest. We’ve all bought records that may be rubbish but look great. And we will have passed on great records that look incredibly wrong. It really is important that a record looks right. The godlike Alan Horne waged war on jewel cases when he recalled his Postcard label to life in the early ‘90s, arguing strongly that the compact disc format should be aesthetically appealing. And he succeeded. His releases looked great.
Honest Jons is one of those salvage operations in the tradition of Kent, Blood and Fire, and Soul Jazz, that pay great attention to detail, and produce a package that goes way beyond what you might stick on the hi-fi. If you take the second volume in the London Is The Place For Me series, Val Wilmer’s ‘60s photos capture a mood just right, and fit perfectly into the wonderfully attractive and gloriously impractical paperback format designed by Will Bankhead, and which he had previously used for the Watch How The People Dancing London dancehall set.
Will Bankhead has been central to making Honest Jons’ releases look just right. The glorious deep soul series featuring Candi Staton, Bettye Swann, and Willie Hightower, is packaged in a generic spartan style, while the English folk underground collection is suitably stark and grainy. In delightful contrast the Cedric Im Brookes Light of Saba set comes in an incredibly intricate packaging that reprises the artfully awkward style of many of the Mo’Wax releases Bankhead was involved with.
The Honest Jons record shop in Ladbroke Grove provided the finishing school for a young James Lavelle. He was one of those extremely gifted and ambitious people that could make things happen when most of us are still sitting around dreaming. His Mo’Wax label may have had pretty inauspicious beginnings, but over time it became one of the great record labels, and maybe only Rough Trade in its first incarnation can look back on such an astonishing array of diverse visionaries, acts of folly, indulgence and pure genius. And so many of the releases looked so right...
The rest of this article can be found at http://www.tangents.co.uk/
Further info: http://www.honestjons.com/