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The (lost?) art of album covers...


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We went from big LP records to smaller cassettes and CDs, and album art suffered in the process. Today at the tail end of the MP3 era and with streaming taking over, art is even less connected to the listening experience, with just a small avatar of the album art shown, if anything. Credits, liner notes and other goodies that used to occupy our eyes while we were feasting on the music with our ears have largely disappeared... but once upon a time, album art was a big thing, and closely related to the music within.

 

Which leads me to two questions: First, should we, and how can we get some of that album art and credits info back in the hands of listeners? Should that be included on the streaming site if someone wants to access it, or on the artist's website?

 

Second, what are examples of some of your favorite album art and/or liner notes? Feel free to post images if you'd like. :) If you need some inspiration and suggestions, a Google search might lead you to some articles on the best album covers of all time...

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Man The first thing I did after buying an album and sticking it on the turntable was to study the album cover and its artwork while listening to the music. Some studios went to great lengths to make them interesting. The Beatles white album comes to mind. I can recite the words to nearly every song on that album because it came with a large poster. On one side of the poster it had pics of the band and the other side had all the lyrics.

 

There are some creative things that can be done with even CD's. One that did impress me was one of Cheryl Crows CD's. When you played it back on the computer it gave you the option of installing a musical screen saver. There was an instrumental song there in an endless loop that would play. That idea right there could easily be tapped and expanded. You could have a slide show of the band playing one of their songs. You could include links to their website that exposes more information liner notes, fan clubs email etc.

 

Of course you'd have to be careful with the spam. You don't want to be so invasive that you turn people off or become suspicious of your intensions, but I think its an untapped resource that can bring fans closer to knowing what the bands all about if its properly implemented. The patrons who do by the CD can be given insight pirates wouldn't have access too. heck you can even add some discount tickets there to see the band. I'd rather have people who bought my CD at full price over an MP3 download where you only make pennies. You simply repay them for being loyal customers with a discount coupon.

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Man The first thing I did after buying an album and sticking it on the turntable was to study the album cover and its artwork while listening to the music. Some studios went to great lengths to make them interesting. The Beatles white album comes to mind. I can recite the words to nearly every song on that album because it came with a large poster. On one side of the poster it had pics of the band and the other side had all the lyrics.

 

That whole experience largely vanished with the advent of CDs and cassettes with their smaller packaging, and is pretty much extinct for those who primarily consume music via MP3s and streaming services.

 

More's the pity IMO.

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That whole experience largely vanished with the advent of CDs and cassettes with their smaller packaging, and is pretty much extinct for those who primarily consume music via MP3s and streaming services.

 

More's the pity IMO.

 

Cassettes -- The importance of album art diminished omewhat, as certain record labels had a more or less standardized cassette insert. But some labels still put forth lyrics and liner notes that were identical or similarly-themed with the LP counterpart.

 

CDs - I really didn't see it diminish that much aside from physical size. I still got a LOT of education reading CD booklet lyrics and liner notes. And some artists used non-standard packaging (i.e. Digipacks) which used little or no formed plastic in the packaging, and the artistic theme extended into the full package.

 

In the Download-era, artists could make a downloadable .PDF file available on their website (or the file included in the download archive package, if possible, that contains art, lyrics and liner notes. It's obviously not standard practice, but some artists can take advantage of the uniqueness of that to stand out from the crowd.

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Then there was the mystery cover on Led Zeppelin In Through the Out Door.

Wrapped in brown paper.

115142594.jpg

If my memory correct I thing I have the first one in the upper left corner. I could look.

 

Kept all my albums from my youth.

 

inthrough_fronts.jpg

 

 

 

Before that one was Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" in the blue plastic.

I remember riding home from the store wondering what it might look like.

I wanted to wait till I got home in my own bedroom before I opened it and could play it on my new stereo.

 

 

-587572010745020390_zps3lkkohot.jpg

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I loved the "jackets" that came with the art that had the lyrics in them. I would be so disappointed when I would by an album/cassette/CD that didn't have the lyrics in them. The first thing I would do when I bought a new one is open it up, look to see if it had the lyrics, and read them while listen to it.

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Cassettes -- The importance of album art diminished omewhat, as certain record labels had a more or less standardized cassette insert. But some labels still put forth lyrics and liner notes that were identical or similarly-themed with the LP counterpart.

 

I can remember some cassette releases that had seemingly endless J-card panels. The liner notes and all the other material of the vinyl release version was there - but it was really, really small type.

 

CDs - I really didn't see it diminish that much aside from physical size. I still got a LOT of education reading CD booklet lyrics and liner notes. And some artists used non-standard packaging (i.e. Digipacks) which used little or no formed plastic in the packaging, and the artistic theme extended into the full package.

 

Again, some CD booklets were pretty elaborate and had tons of data included, while others had less. All other things being equal, I always preferred "more" over less.

 

In the Download-era, artists could make a downloadable .PDF file available on their website (or the file included in the download archive package, if possible, that contains art, lyrics and liner notes. It's obviously not standard practice, but some artists can take advantage of the uniqueness of that to stand out from the crowd.

 

And I really just don't get this. Since it's relatively easy to put out, I don't understand why more artists don't release a corresponding .PDF file for the release and liner notes, extra album art, artist's comments on the songs and recording sessions, etc. etc. for their projects. Fans want "more", and this is one area where I think artists are missing the boat and failing to give it to them.

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Yeah, IIRC David's really into art, and he served as the art director for all of their albums, although I think the label changed his original design for the first album.

 

I think I read somewhere that either the model for the Candy-O Vargas painting, or the lady in the photo on the cover of Shake It Up (or maybe both?) were onetime girlfriends of his.

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