A few months ago we went to our favourite flea market and, as we were leaving, saw a pile of old LPs leaning against a rubbish bin. It appears the seller had concluded nobody would buy them and they were too heavy to schlep back home.
We rifled through and picked out a dozen or so, including this boxed set of records of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Richard Burton. In addition to finding the cover art by Arthur Wragg (1903-1976) simply spectacular, this is also a memory treasure.
My first exposure to Under Milk Wood came one summer evening when I was around 9-10 years old. It was a warm, dry night, and my mother put our record player in the garden by means of an extension cord, unfolded the old aluminium framed sun-lounger we never used, put the record on the turntable, and called me outside. She told me to lie on the lounger and simply listen, then put the needle to the start of the record and left me alone in the night with the purring voice of Burton transporting me to a Welsh seaside village, also at night.
Among other things it was my first conscious awareness of alliteration with its tumble of ‘b’s – ‘To begin at the beginning…’ and a bible-black sloe-black, slow, black, boat-bobbing sea.
It was also a happy, unforgettable moment of relaxation, inspiration and kindness in what was generally a fraught childhood home.
For other examples of stunning cover art by Arthur Wragg for the same record label, see this post on the Folk Catalogue Blog.