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For legions of Americans, the iconic Capitol orange & yellow swirl 45rpm label is synonymous with The Beach Boys and/or The Beatles, and a time in US history when California was at the center of our cultural revolution. For me, however, it represents Capitol's impressive–albeit largely obscure–catalog of 1960's soul and R&B.
Capitol began the 60s with a stable of whitebread hitmakers such as The Kingston Trio, The Four Preps & The Four Freshmen, along with a revolving door of teens, TV stars & novelty acts. Thankfully, that all changed in 1963–first with the arrival of Surf Music, and then with the British Invasion. (One thing that didn't change, however, was Capitol's lucrative country music roster; roughly 25% of the releases in this discography are country.)
Simultaneously, Capitol was also producing top-notch soul music from studios in California, Nashville & New York; but while classy, soulful acts like Nat King Cole, Nancy Wilson & Lou Rawls frequently hit the charts, relatively few of the other soul releases made a dent, and most disappeared without a trace. So when I went surfing for a discography to identify these lost soul sides, I was surprised to find that there wasn't one.
I've added some general notes and trivia below:
1. This discography is for 45rpm singles that follow the numeric numbering system associated with the main Capitol label only, which include a few Deltone, Colossal, KEF, Trump, Chips & Apple releases. Subsidiary labels that have unique numbering series like Tower, Sidewalk & Uptown are not included. I'll add another discography for promo/custom singles in the future.
2. The orange & yellow "swirl" design replaced Capitol's long-standing purple label, and was in use (in the .) from December 1961 until March 1969. However, earlier hits–like Robert Mitchum's "The Ballad Of Thunder Road" [#3986] from 1958 (which surprisingly re-entered the Hot 100 Chart in early 1962) were repressed/reissued on the swirl label.
3. During the swirl's inaugural period, a few releases were pressed with both purple & swirl labels, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the swirl's actual debut. The earliest example I've found is Bobby Edwards' "What's The Reason" [#4674] from December, 1961.
4. Many of the records listed are extremely rare & hard to find, and in a couple of cases, only one or two copies are known to exist (. "Address Unknown" by The Baystaters).
5. Capitol's numbering system is very confusing because they reused the same series numbers: the 2000 & 3000 series from the 50s were recycled in the late 60s & early 70s, and the 4000 & 5000 series were reused in the 70s & 80s. To add confusion, the LP 2000 series that started in 1963 ran concurrently with the later 2000 series of 45s.
6. Capitol 45s typically sound awful--even those that have never been played--due in part to the company's notorious practice of recycling vinyl. The bulk of 45s were pressed either at the Los Angeles plant (identified by an asterisk or star in the run-out deadwax on each side) or the Scranton, PA plant (identified by a triangular IAM stamp in the run-out deadwax on each side.) I've found that the Scranton pressings sound marginally better.
7. In July, 1968, Capitol switched to a design where the label size was reduced to accommodate a patented ridged ring that would prevent slippage when 45s were stacked on a turntable. This is also when they began routinely issuing singles in Stereo.
8. Red entries in the discography are unreleased or currently unknown.
9. Yellow entries are tentative and need verification. If you have info on these or unknown titles--or corrections--please send me an email with proof , preferably a label scan.
10. I'll complete the Stereo/Mono listings over time.
11. I've embedded some Amazon product links for tracks that are legitimately available on CD or mp3. The process is ongoing and is by no means intended to be comprehensive. I won't link to products that are of dubious copyright or mastering (translation: bootlegs and vinyl transfers).
12. If a song placed on Billboard's Hot 100, Country, R&B or Adult-Contemporary charts, its highest position is listed in [brackets] after the title.
13. This discography is © copyrighted.
*The DATE column reflects a general calendar timeline, when the bulk of releases appeared in Billboard singles reviews. Records were not released in numeric order, so actual release dates (when known) may differ from the calendar. Capitol briefly used a release date code on the label from September 1962 to August 1964 (which I'll add later).