During 1973 EMI's brand image had been updated, what with the launch of the red and tan EMI label and a new round logo inspired by the 'bleed over' lettering used on it.
Also, there were new considerations to take into account with regards to tape production; EMI's duplication facilities were beginning to be equipped with Dolby B Noise Reduction, and EMI had also gained contracts to duplicate tapes on behalf of other record companies such as MCA and Elektra, who were not their subsidiaries but completely external customers.
The reverse side of the cartridge inlays also took on a new look. Firstly, all tracklisting information reverted to the Univers font from the Gill Sans preferred before, and a standard typographical layout of song titles in bold, and other information in non-bold type, emerged.
Instead of the EMI company credit in tramlines, a new 'company particulars' calling card was designed which initially was printed on the inside of the new inlays (left).
The cartridges remained visually unchanged. They were still decorated with a single label on the top, showing a monochrome reproduction of the cover image with tracklisting underneath, and a repeat of the album title and catalogue number on the side to aid identification when the cartridge was in the player.
EMI's company particulars were displayed in the new style as shown on the inner inlay:
"EMI Records Ltd
Hayes Middlesex England"
Finally, the DOLBY SYSTEM symbol was added to the bottom-left. Note that as in this early example, the Dolby symbol appeared twice, as it was also, remember, being added to the cover image aswell - and this resulted in being carried forward to the cartridge label in the same place!
As before, the label releasing the record had its own logo shown in the bottom-right.
To prepare the way for accommodating these changes, in August 1973 a new format for cassettes and cartridges was introduced. On the covers, the circular EMI logo was added and this was also added on the spine. The album sleeve image was moved down to the bottom of the cover so that the gold colour became a single stripe at the top. For graphical consistency and general tidiness, this single stripe was spanned across the top of the whole inlay front, as can be seen in the following examples.
The background remained a shiny metallic gold, although this later would be replaced with a simpler (and presumably, cheaper) to print light-brown using standard inks.
Early titles had the DOLBY SYSTEM symbol overlaid onto a corner of the sleeve image. This would later be moved onto the gold stripe, allowing the sleeve image to appear totally unobscured.
At this time the clear plastic cases remained and the new inlay design was still printed as a wraparound that was inserted within them.
EMI's budget range, the "Executive Series", continued and simply retained the characteristic blue colour for the top stripe.
As with early Executive cassettes, the cartridge shells were moulded from bright blue plastic instead of the normal black (or white). These persisted for longer than the similarly-coloured cassettes did.
Top stripe tapes released between September 1973 and c. February 1974 carried the circular EMI logo on the spine aswell as the front. This was dropped thereafter leaving a plain (blank) stripe in its place.
The Executive Series was very prolific, pushing out as much EMI back-catalogue as was humanly possible.
Parallels can easily be seen between the "Best Of" compilations issued around 1974-75 and HMV's "Collection" series of the early 2000s.
The cover photos were ones originally used for contemporary album or EP sleeves, and the Executive tapes would be the first ones to provide "clean" copies of these images - i.e. lacking the addition of title graphics.
Either as a result of the age of the source material, or perhaps overzealous digital 'enhancement', the cover images on the Executive range tend to display far better colour and contrast rendition than their later counterparts. This example clearly shows the superior reproduction of Adam Faith's image on the 1974 tape.