Sunday May 6th 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of Plankton Records releasing it first ever release – the album “Mirrored Dreams” by SEA STONE. We asked Plankton founder (and he is of course still a partner in the label) and the (then) band leader of Sea Stone SIMON LAW about the events of 40 years ago.
“Plankton Records was formed to plug a gap in the record market,” reflected Simon. “SEA STONE, a Christian rock band based in East London, was formed towards the end of 1975 after I had played in the British Youth for Christ sponsored band “Really Free”. The band gigged extensively during 1976 in schools, colleges, youth clubs, church halls and pubs – always with the view to communicating the Gospel of Jesus through blues/rock. we were constantly being asked about making a record by the audiences – as they wanted something to take away with them. So, during the summer of 1977 we recorded the album in the newly opened Soundtree Studio under the watchful eye of Brook Trickett. The band had already established its own publishing firm – Sea Dream Music – so that the copyright of the original songs could be vested in the band, and not left ‘up for grabs’ by unscrupulous areas of the music industry. Then, I took on the task of hawking the material around to the record labels. But, it was regarded as too Christian for the regular companies, and too secular for the Christian labels – who at that time were mainly putting out folk music and worship songs (with one or two notable exceptions!).
So, the band decided to go it alone. The mechanics of the business had already been established through setting up Sea Dream Music, so all that was needed was a name for the label. During the recording sessions in Biggin Hill myself and the rest of SEA STONE were helping out at a Christian Youth Camp/House Party in Limpsfield. A lad called Phil in my dormitory was involved in a discussion about putting out an album, and the fact that the band’s name and publisher had connections with the sea, when he said, “I suppose you’re going to call the record label ‘Plankton’!” And that is exactly what happened – thanks, Phil!
And so it was that Plankton’s first album – ‘Mirrored Dreams’ by SEA STONE was released on the 6th May 1978, at a SEA STONE gig at All Souls’ Clubhouse in the West End. Remarkably, sales of the album made a profit and so it was decided to plough the money back into the record label. This financed a SEA STONE 7″ single: “Summer Fever/Blow On By” in 1980 and a SEA STONE 7″ EP “Against The Tide” in 1982. Still in profit, the label decided to look around for other Christian bands and artists, who had something positive to communicate (rather than just ‘Ooh Baby, I love you, yeah’), and try to help them to get some material out to the public. Original vinyl copies of ‘Mirrored Dreams’ have become sought after by vinyl collectors and we’ve know mint condition copies sell for up to £140 in the past!
And here we are forty years on we’re still in business – having put out albums, singles and EPS on vinyl, cassette, CD, digital and back to vinyl again with NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE last year.
Plans for the future? We’ve always said that when we get really big we are going to change the name to ‘Whale Records’ – because the biggest whales only live on plankton!”
Thanks to Simon for sharing his memories. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us and you can find ‘Mirrored Dreams’ by SEA STONE on all major digital music sites/platforms WORLDWIDE. Check it out for yourself. Here are the links to the album on the UK sites of iTunes (click here) and Amazon (click here)