Verve - Voyager One - The Enigma Explained

by Brian Cannon

Verve's 'Voyager 1' has always been the 'odd one out' when it comes to Verve releases. Was it a bootleg? Was it official? Where did it come from? Did 300 copies really fall into the Atlantic Ocean?

I'll attempt to address all these questions and more in the following article.

Verve - Voyager 1. A Microdot sleeve

Intentionally made to look like a bootleg, Voyager 1 was in fact, issued by Virgin records subsidiary label - Hut recordings - Verve's record label. Hut head honcho Dave Boyd was the mastermind behind the project, it was Dave that chose all the segue way samples between the tracks, including the sound of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, Richard Nixon recorded in 1970 at the Pentagon decrying student activists, Timothy Leary  proclaiming 'The aim of the game is to feel real good', recordings of Whale sounds, pro marijuana commentary, American Beatlemania quotes and a sound sample from the Russ Meyer film 'beyond The valley Of The Dolls'.

I spoke to legendary Verve bassist Simon Jones about the location of the recordings, he told me the London show was recorded at Camden Town Hall, but could not say for certain which New York show made up the rest of the recording!

Whilst examining the sleeve of the record in preparation for the new limited edition print, (A link to the limited edition print for sale can be found HEREI came across a revelation I had never seen before, which threw into doubt the often told story of how 300 copies of the release were damaged whilst in transit to America across the Atlantic Ocean. In TINY lettering to the bottom right of the back sleeve I noticed something I had never seen before, the words 'Printed In Canada'. I had always wondered why a record that only had 1,000 copies in the first place would be exported to a country, ie America, where the band really were not that well known. I can only now surmise the copies were damaged not on their way to America, but on their way to the UK being delivered from Canada!

When I was commissioned to create the artwork, I was given the brief that the record was intended to look like a bootleg  and, therefore, the usual Verve style photographically based sleeve was to be avoided. Not only that I was also asked to leave off any design credit so as not to give the game away! The only reference to the fact I put together the artwork can be seen to the bottom left of the back sleeve - there is a copy of my thumbprint with a letter 'M' inside.

This sleeve was created in the days when I did not own a computer and was done in a very DIY punk rock style - which I suppose befitted the idea of the pseudo bootleg release. The artwork was put together entirely using a black and white photocopier, I sourced the picture of the girl on the front from a book I had ' Photography Year Book 1977' I copied the picture then copied the copy over and over to get the broken down stark black and white image which can be seen on the front cover.

The original photo of the girl used on the sleeve.

The American / British flag 'ying & yang' motifs covering the girls eyes I lifted directly from the poster advertising the Beatles last gig to a fee paying audience in San Francisco 1966. This was obviously to denote the record consisted of gigs in the UK and USA.

The back sleeve main image was lifted from a 'Paul Butterfield's Blues Band' gig poster from the late 60s at the Filmore club in San Francisco, again - as per the front sleeve I repeatedly copied the image to reduce it to a pure black and white image.

The poster which went on the form the basis of the back sleeve.

The back sleeve itself.

The track list and recording info I wrote using a bottle of black ink and a pipette dropper, to create the fluid semi abstract lettering in the text, allowing it to dry overnight before being photocopied and added to the artwork.

The final touch of the bootleg appearance was to create a fictitious record label to put the record out - thus 'Jolly Roger Recordings' was born, the pirate inference for obvious reasons - and a suitably bootleggy logo created. 

The new limited edition print of 100 numbered copies goes on sale from 7pm UK time Wednesday 23rd February 2022. Most of the main elements mentioned above are present in the print. This is a Microdot exclusive.

A link to the limited edition print for sale can be found HERE

A link to the limited edition print for sale can be found HERE

More Verve gear HERE

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