Looking at Warhol’s cover for the EP Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops always makes me happy. The drawing of the Mariachi musicians with so-called ‘sprite faces’, and the design are so beautiful and funny. This cover was only released as a 7″, in the period where RCA and Columbia records were fighting a fierce battle of new speeds and formats for records (7″ – 45 rpm by RCA, vs. 12″ – 33 1/3 rpm by Columbia). A battle which can probably be compared with VHS vs Betamax video tapes, or Apple vs Microsoft.
All four tracks were previously released on 78rpm records. Recordings were made in the 1930’ies. The year of release for this EP is believed to be 1952. It is however difficult, or maybe even impossible to determine when exactly Warhol’s picture cover saw the light of day.
Originally the EP with these particular 4 tunes had a different catalogue number: WEPR 25. Vinyl was translucent red. This record is listed in Billboard, Oct. 25, 1952. This issue of Billboard, a newspaper for music professionals and retailers, by the way has a great 30-pages special about the new RCA Victor 45rpm Extended Play format which was heavily pushed in 1952. You can download it here.
Later the catalogue numbers of all ‘Red Seal’ classical EP’s changed from WEPR to ERA. In Billboard 1953 Jan 24 the Latin Rhythms record ERA 25 is listed. The generic cover was printed in various colours. Vinyl was either red or black.
I have two copies of the Warhol picture cover, and I noticed a small difference: one copy has the text ‘A HIGH FIDELITY RECORDING’ printed in silver beneath the RCA Victor logo, the other copy doesn’t. Friend and fellow collector Richard Forrest sent me a picture of his copy, which does have the ‘High Fidelity’ line, but printed in green.
So at least 5 or 6 different printing stages exist of this single. It is doubtful that they were all released in 1952.
Just for completists and maniacs like myself: in Japan same EP was released as ES-8598 on the Victor label. This was accompanied by a 1-sheet cover page, which had a small b&w picture of conductor Arthur Fiedler. In the UK the EP of the Boston Promenade Orchestra (rather than Pops) was released as 7EG 8027 on His Master’s Voice, with a generic paper cover.
The EP releases in Japan (left) and the UK (right).