There was a time when people played records. People would go to the store, buy an album, take it home, put it on their record player, sit back and look at the album cover, read the liner notes and just chill. Some albums came with extensive liner notes, and album cover art was one of the selling points of records, designed to attract attention. It was a 12″x12″ canvas that could showcase the work of a band’s favorite artist, or a photo of the band itself (pictured is Supertramp’s iconic album cover for Breakfast in America).
Some of the art was good, some bad, some so bad they belong in a class by themselves. Making a record album became cheaper, and many albums were produced in small runs, very often by religious groups or families looking to spread the good word. Such albums had an uncanny knack for creating the most bizarre, weird and head-scratching album covers.
With the rise of compact discs, album cover art began to lose its impact; there’s only so much you can squeeze onto the front of a CD jewel case, after all. And now, with people not even buying CDs anymore, album cover art is pretty much a lost art.
Or is it?
People are starting to listen to record albums again, because the sound quality is undeniably better on vinyl than the compressed data files we listen to on our ipods and in car stereos. And along with listening to record albums is the ritual of looking at the album cover.
Public Pool, a community arts space in Michigan, is commissioning people to create album covers for fictional bands, complete with liner notes, a track list and art for the spindle label. A randomly chosen record will be slipped into the submissions and sold, with proceeds going back to the artists (minus a commission for Public Pool, natch).
I’m digging this idea; I think I may submit an entry. The deadline to submit is August 15th. Also, check out these galleries of some of the best, and best awful album covers.
- The Last Record Shop
- Bizarre Records
- Cover Browser – Worst Album Covers
- The 50 Coolest Album Covers
- Top 50 Most Iconic Album Covers
- Project Thirty-Three