Xavier Cugat Orchestra

Big Jim Sullivan

George Barnes Guitar Choir

Quincy Jones Big Band

Billy Byers Big Band

Pete Rugolo Brass

The Clebanoff Strings

Pierre and Vladimir Svetlanoff

Mystic Moods Sounds Of A Summer Night

Madrid Festival Orchestra

Wiener Hofball Orchester

David Carroll

Mystic Moods Mexican Trip

Los Chavales De Espana

Richard Hayman

Lester Lanin That's A Party

The Magyar Orchestra

The New Westminster Orchestra

Orchestre De L'Etoile

Paco De Lucia and Ricardo Modrego

Michel Legrand Violent Violins

David Carroll Percussion Orientale

David Carroll Percussion Parisienne

Peter Knight

Mercury Records: Super Stereo Sound


A feast of fisheye

Lovely to look at aren't they? Beloved of charity shop trawlers everywhere it's damned hard to leave these mini psychedelic masterpieces behind. Once seen, never forgotten. As with other series like this, the classical, ones are slightly harder to find than the ones containing groovier content.


The term fisheye was coined in 1906 by American physicist and inventor Robert D. Wood and is based on how a fish would see an ultra-wide hemispherical view from beneath the water. Fisheye lenses were initially used for meteorology in the 1920s.


Mass-produced affordable fisheye lenses appeared in the early 1960s and were swiftly purchased by graphic design agencies wanting to put a psychedelic spin on landscapes and interiors. Mercury Records used this gimmick to literally put a fresh spin onto the covers of a series of easy listening lps.


The sound is super and stereo

Launched in 1962 the Super Stereo Sound series was marketed by Mercury to promote their latest stereo recording techniques. 1962 was also the year Mercury were taken over by the Dutch electronics firm Philips, hence the use of Dutch designer Lily Oorsprong as stylist to the fashion models featured on the lp covers.


Mercury's research into improving stereo sound had been going on since 1955 when they began their Living Presence studio techniques which involved increasing the number of microphones for recording ensembles and orchestras. In this respect the phrase Super Stereo Sound was a rebranding exercise for the new owner.



Musical content

We can't offer a comprehensive review of the lps yet as we haven't played them all. Eagle-eyed fans of this series will also note we've omitted the ubiquitous Super Stereo Sampler from our layout. Shameful maybe but we know you all have it at home and it's the one you bought primarily for Big Jim Sullivan - Tallyman.


On that note: in crate-digging circles Big Jim Sullivan - Sitar A Gogo with an excellent version of Sunshine Superman is generally considered to be the best in the series with Michel Legrand - Violent Violins containing Di-Gue-Ding-Ding running a close second. We'll try some reviews with soundclips of the best lps in this series at a later date.


Revelling in the new stereo experience dubbed elsewhere as the sound your ears can follow every single track on The Mystic Moods Orchestra - Sounds of a Summer Night is laden with the sound of rain and thunder rolling from speaker to speaker. Theme from a Summer Place doesn't really work with the sound of gale force winds and rumbling thunder. By the time Summer Place comes on the whole orchestra appear to have been blown to a beach by a noisy sea though thankfully the storm has abated a bit. Somewhat predictably, it's bloody lashing down again by Singin' In The Rain.




Whilst it's the colourful psychedelic styling on the front covers of these lps that persuade you to part with a couple of quid, the rear covers benefit from having the wonderful graphic design of the titles repeated in glorious black and white. Some very cool inspiration here for club flyer designers all over the world.


Released from 1962 onwards, Mercury could have opted to create titles using the freshly invented Letraset rub-down lettering which premiered in 1959. Thankfully they kept it old school and paid proper money to an un-credited designer. If the completist in you wants these lps for both the front covers and the great typography on the back make sure you don't pick up a Spanish pressing. With one eye on the Spanish sunshine and the clock ticking towards Siesta time they couldn't be arsed to do the logos on the back properly.



Ian Townsend

December 2012

Violent Violins
Percussion Orientale
Spanish Fire

Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Guitars A Plenty

Cugat In Europe

Sounds of a Summer Night


Percussion Parisienne


Dos Guitarras Espanolas

Study In Stereo

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