Volume I

Beatles & others - 4" Pocket-Discs (aka "Hip-Pocket Records")

Beatles      Apple Artists     Philco series      Children's     Portable player

Click for enlargement
Flexi-disc vending machine
Shown at left is an early press announcement from the back page of the Jan. 4, 1969 issue of Billboard magazine, with information on Americom Corp's prototype flexi-disc vending machine. The records, called Pocket-Discs (Americom), or Hip-Pocket Records (Philco-Ford), were 4" in diameter and retailed for 50 cents each. More than sixty different titles were released during the short run of the format from 1967-1969, covering a wide range of artists and even some children's songs. All vending machine titles were issued in small generic cardboard sleeves. The Philco releases were issued in large picture sleeve style envelopes. All releases were in mono, typically just stereo versions with the channels combined.

The formats main selling point was portability, and a couple companies manufactured miniature battery-operated "single-play" turntables for the records. The discs were manufactured in either 33-1/3 or 45 rpm speeds, and could be played on a standard turntable that did not auto-return the tone arm. The format met with poor sales and was soon abandoned. Note the copy of Hey Jude in the window of the featured prototype vending machine (second from left, top row).

Four Beatles titles were issued, plus one solo title, all in generic red or blue Pocket-Disc covers. The rarest by far is the blue vinyl Yellow Submarine, followed by Get Back. The other Apple artist titles, also issued in generic sleeves, are also quite difficult to find. Pristine copies have sold for over $500.00.

Hey Jude Pocket-Disc

The Beatles Hey Jude / Revolution, shown with generic sleeve

The Beatles 4" Pocket-Discs
Title Number NM Value
Ballad of John & Yoko / Old Brown Shoe Capitol/Apple/Americom 2531P/M-382 $ 800
Get Back / Don't Let Me Down Capitol/Apple/Americom 2490P/M-335 $ 1000
Give Peace A Chance / Remember Love Capitol/Apple/Americom 1809P/M-435 $ 700
Hey Jude / Revolution Capitol/Apple/Americom 2276P/M-221
(3:25 edit version of Hey Jude)
$ 300
Yellow Submarine Capitol/Apple/Americom 5715/M-??? (blue vinyl) $ 1800

Other Apple 4" Pocket-Discs
Title Artist Number
Maybe Tomorrow / And Her Daddy's A Millionaire Iveys Apple/Americom 1803/M-301
Goodbye / Sparrow Mary Hopkin Apple/Americom 1198/M-3??
Those Were The Days / Turn! Turn! Turn! Mary Hopkin Apple/Americom 1801/M-278
That's The Way God Planned It / What About You? Billy Preston Apple/Americom 1808/M-433

Other artist Pocket-Discs
Title Artist Number
The House That Jack Built / I Say A Little Prayer Aretha Franklin Atlantic/Americom M-201
Everybody's Next One / Born To Be Wild Steppenwolf ABC Dunhill/Americom M-206
Do It Again / Wake The World The Beach Boys Capitol/Americom M-207
Hush / One More Rainy Day Deep Purple Tetragrammatron/Americom M208
Burning Of The Midnight Lamp / All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix Experience Reprise/Americom M220

Pocket-disc 5-pack promo
Leslie Gore Pocket-disc
Click on either photo to enlarge.

Above left, a promotional envelope package which included a random selection of 5 Hip-Pocket records that Philco gave away with their portable players. At right, Leslie Gore's You Don't Own Me/That's The Way The Boy's Are with envelope-style picture sleeve. All of the titles that were issued in sleeves originally retailed for 69 cents, 40% higher than the sleeveless vending machine issues. The retail price was later dropped to 39 cents.

Philco Miniature Radio/Phonograph
podihpdisps.jpg - 30201 Bytes

Above left, Philco's Miniature Radio/Phonograph model S-1378WH, shown with and without lid. This cleverly designed 2-speed unit also played 45s and 12" record albums! Another model was also made, S-1379GR, but I am not sure what the difference is, perhaps a different color is all. At right, a metal counter display stand with header card. Disc shown on header is The Doors' "Light My Fire". Click on either image to enlarge.

philco.gif - 17013 Bytes
Number Artist Title
HP-1 Tommy James & the Shondells Mirage / I Think We're Alone Now
HP-2 Tommy James & the Shondells Hanky Panky / Gettin' Together
HP-3 Sam The Sham Ju Ju Hand / Wooly Bully
HP-4 Mitch Ryder Jenny Take a Ride / Sock It To Me Baby
HP-5 Neil Diamond Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon / Cherry Cherry
HP-6 McCoys Fever / Hang on Sloopy
HP-7 Happenings Go Away Little Girl / See You in September
HP-8 Sonny & Cher I Got You Babe / The Beat Goes On
HP-9 Doors Light My Fire / Break on Through
HP-10 Five Americans Western Union / Sounds of Love
HP-11 Wilson Pickett Land of 1000 Dances / Midnight Hour
HP-12 Percy Sledge When A Man Loves A Woman / Baby Help Me
HP-13 Otis Redding Shake / Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa
HP-14 Buckinghams Kind of a Drag / Lawdy Miss Clawdy
HP-15 Arthur Conley Sweet Soul Music / You Don't Have To See me
HP-16 Van Morrison Brown-Eyed Girl / Midnight Special
HP-17 Neil Diamond You Got To Me / Solitary Man
HP-18 Young Rascals A Girl Like You / I've Been Lonely Too Long
HP-19 Spanky And Our Gang Making Every Minute Count / Bird Avenue
HP-20 Keith 98.6 / Ain't Gonna Lie
HP-21 Lesley Gore You Don't Own Me / That's the Way the Boys Are
HP-22 Jay and The Techniques Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie / Loving For Money
HP-23 The Fallen Angels Room At The Top / Most Children Do
HP-24 Aretha Franklin Respect / Soul Serenade
HP-25 John Fred and his Playboy Band Judy in Disguise / No Letter Today
HP-26 The Seeds Pushin' Too Hard / Can't Seem To Make You Mine
HP-27 Box Tops The Letter / Happy Times
HP-28 James and Bobby Purify I'm Your Puppet / Goodness Gracious
HP-29 Syndicate of Sound Little Girl / Rumors
HP-30 Shirelles Soldier Boy / My Heart Belongs To You
HP-31 Etta James Tell Mama / Security
HP-32 The Dells There Is / Show Me
HP-33 Bo Diddley I'm A Man / Song of Bo Diddley
HP-34 Chuck Berry Maybelline / Roll Over Beetoven
HP-35 Country Joe and The Fish Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine / Masked Marauder
HP-36 Joan Baez There But For Fortune / Pack Up Your Sorrows
HP-37 Rooftop Singers Walk Right In / Tom Cat
HP-38 Brenton Wood Gimme Little Sign / Oogum Boogum
HP-39 Fantastic Johnny "C" Boogaloo Down Broadway / Got What You Need
HP-40 Brenda and the Tabulations Dry Your Eyes / When You're Gone
HP-41 Isley Brothers Twist And Shout
Children's series
HP-201   Peter Pan / Tom Thumb
HP-202   Pinocchio / Pied Piper
HP-203   Jack and The Beanstalk / Robin Hood
HP-204   Hansel and Gretel / Little Red Riding Hood
HP-205   Cinderella / Alice In Wonderland
HP-206   Snow White / Littlest Ballerina
HP-207   Gingerbread Man / Bumpy's Bingtown Brass Band
HP-208   Ugly Ducklings / Three Litle Pigs
HP-209   Tortoise and The Hare / Puss In Boots
HP-210   Mary Had A Little Lamb / The Three Little Kittens / Little Bo Peep
Three Blind Mice / One Two Buckle My Shoe / To Market To Market
HP-211   Tom Tom The Piper's Son / The Muffin Man / Simple Simon
Farmer In The Dell / Little Jack Horner / Humpty Dumpty
HP-212   Pop Goes The Weasal / Old Woman In The Shoe / Jack and Jill
Hickory Dickory Dock / London Bridge / Diddle Diddle Dumpling

The following article was originally published in the January 1, 1999 issue of Goldmine (# 481):


Hip Pocket Records: Lighter Than Air

By Chuck Miller

It was almost like finding a prize in a box of cereal. You bought a music magazine, and inside was an honest-to-goodness record. Not a vinyl or styrene record, mind you - a flexi-disc that could bend or twist as the mailman jammed it in your post box. That's how most of us found those original soundsheets - in everything from Mad to Trouser Press to Keerang! Sometimes, the mail would contain Evatone soundsheets for the latest multi-disc set from the Longines Symphonette society (I still have their "Golden Age of Radio" 12-disc set; I record those vinyl treasures on cassette and use them for long family trips in the car).

Well, back in the late 1960's, the electronics division of the Ford Motor Company, Philco, decided to mass-market flexidiscs of Top 40 hits. The discs, called "Hip-Pocket Records," cost 69 cents for two songs (some discs were offered free as part of promotions for Gleem toothpaste or Head & Shoulders), and featured the hitmakers of the day. Between 1967 and 1969, Philco/Ford produced over 40 different titles - and depending on the artist, are worth anywhere from $5 to $15 dollars apiece in mint condition, with an extra $5 to $10 with an intact sleeve.

Initially, Philco/Ford got their music from three record companies - Atlantic, Mercury and Roulette, as well as their subsidiary labels like Bang and Atco. Smaller labels joined up in 1968, including Scepter, Double Shot, Phil-LA of Soul and Mala. They even produced a specially-designed phonograph (the Philco Miniature Radio Phonograph, model S-1379GR, with built-in AM radio, 10" long when closed, 12" with handle extended, capable of playing Hip Pockets as well as standard 45's and 33's).

Russ from Atlanta sent me this memory of Hip Pocket Discs: "The Hip Pocket Records originally sold for 69 cents - I think it was in the mid to late 60's. If I am remembering correctly, the only place I ever saw them was at Woolworth's dime store."

"The record jackets are printed paper envelopes, approximately 6 1/4 inches tall by 5 inches wide. There is a lightweight cardboard insert inside. They open from the bottom (odd?). The back of #25 reads like this:

Buy the hits you missed

25 to 50 hip pocket records can be carried in pocket or purse

Hip pocket records can be mailed with greeting cards as a gift

They will outlast a regular 45

Drop them or sit on them...they are almost indestructible

Take them to parties or to the beach or picnic...they are the most portable form of music

Don't let the small size fool you...the sound is amazingly big

Start your collection of hip pocket records today.

"The actual record is made of a very thin, flexible plastic or vinyl. It is just short of 4 inches in diameter. The records are 45's, and could be played on single play phonographs only. I played them on a Philco "Mini Radio Phono" (9 1/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches), which could also play standard 45's and even 33's. Yes, I still have it."

All the songs were mono mixes - in most cases, that meant combining both left and right stereo channels. Some Hip Pocket releases, though, had entirely different mono mixes, most notably Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" (HP-17), whose mono version didn't appear again until a 1992 CD box set.

The sleeves themselves were nothing more than a listing of the two tracks and a stock photo of the artist or band; but even in that framework some artistic gems are discovered. The Doors' "Light My Fire" (HP-9) shows a transparent Jim Morrison superimposed over the faces of his bandmates. Tommy James' "I Think We're Alone Now" (HP-1) shows him with a trio of comely cuties (folks, I don't think these are the Shondells). John Fred's "Judy In Disguise" (HP-25) shows the band in an elegant stained-glass motif. And the releases by the Five Americans (HP-10) and Keith (HP-20) could arguably be called their "Greatest Hits" collections.

Be aware that some of the records do not contain the original recordings - most notably Chuck Berry's copy of "Maybelline" / " Roll Over Beethoven" (HP-34), are not the Chess originals, but rather Mercury re-recordings.

During Philco/Ford's two-year production of Hip-Pockets, another company tried to market flexidiscs of popular artists. This company, Americom, hoped to set up a series of vending machines that could pop out a flexidisc the way a cigarette machine pops out Winstons. And they had the biggest artists of the 1960's - the Beatles - as their drawing card.

Americom's Beatles line included not only the Fab Four, but many artists on Apple, including the Iveys, Billy Preston and Mary Hopkin. The records themselves were monochrome flexidiscs - instead of a yellow-orange Capitol swirl or a green ready-for-picking Apple label, these discs had a simple white logo on a black background - the flexidisc Apple looked closer to its computer trademark counterpart than to the Beatles logo.

While Philco had colorful sleeves and were available at your local Ford dealer and Woolworth's store, the Americom flexidiscs were available only in vending machines and came in a generic Pocket Disc sleeve. But due to its association with the Beatles catalog, Americom's discs are highly prized by collectors. Commons can run up to $200 in mint condition, and two titles - a "Yellow Submarine" printed on blue plastic (M-unknown) and "Get Back" (M-335) can be worth more than $1,000 in mint condition.

Chuck Miller, who wrote the above Hip Pocket Records article for his Collectormania! column in Goldmine, has archived many of his stories and interviews on his personal homepage. You can access it by clicking on the graphic above.

Information and scans ©1996-2002 Mitch McGeary. Collectormania article ©1999 Chuck Miller.

Volume I