Good or Bad, Give Us the Covers Back (and the LPs)

Orchestra Pit
05.11.2012..

I Need Nothing - a nearly useless odyssey from Cãoceito on Vimeo.

 

There are those of the Portuguese graphic studio Cãoceito, maker of the video that you can see up here. The words of the song are written on the covers, as they were record titles. The protagonist, in a film subjective shot, look at them, turn and move them throughout the video. Over two thousand covers, ideated and created by a group of designers, illustrators and artists who have drawn their inspiration from some famous covers of modern music, pop and rock in particular, and have revisited and adapted them to the narration.

Then there are the covers that deserve to be listed in the horror chart. In the gallery on the left, linger on the unwilling humour given by the match of some album titles – all existent – with as many photos illustrating the content. There are just some examples of the Worst Album Covers of All Time blog: actually, the worst covers in the world.

 

Another example is the chart made by the Urlesque site. We start with the unmissable record by Paddy Roberts, whose title fills a gap in the international record panorama: Songs for Gay Dogs… Do not forget to click the Like button on the Facebook group Awkward Band and Musician Photos: the most embarrassing photos of bands and singers, a vileness repertory in terms of record marketing.

 

For people of a certain age: find your old records. Take two or three in your hands. A wave of nostalgia and a painful resignation gnaw you. As an audiophile, I miss the LPs. As a publicist, I also miss their covers. They offer more expressive space: for better or for worse. They claim your attention filling the entire visual field. Have you ever seen a 33 rpm cover hung on the wall like a picture? It was and it is “instantaneous art”, ready made, if the subject or the title are suitable. Obviously, they are more expensive to realize, the LPs are more bulky, we are at the dawn of the streaming music, we must go ahead, we must dematerialize our affections, we must switch from the inactive possession to the shared use of the goods… Blah, blah, blah… Leave me a bit of nostalgia: those objects, I mean the covers, were amazing.

 

Small phenomenology of the cover

The LP covers have always been “bigger” than their appearance. Clearly they have always had the right size to contain a thin but large LP. Here, we are talking of the perceived size, not just the material size. Because their shape followed so completely their function, the covers of the vinyl have given the impression of being pictures, coats of arms, imagines for the posterity. Since always and from the start. Those images were independent from their content. Never ever just “envelopes”. They had inside more than a simple LP. They expressed something else. They said who you were. Strolling with your iPad makes you “in”. A record by Miles Davis made and makes you “cool”. Who knew that, immediately realized that you were one of his cats.

 

The confirmation? The boxed sets, although rich in contents, had no appeal if compared with the covers. They were and always remain anything but “boxes”.

 

Another confirmation? Young people like covers. The graphic project of Cãoceito says between the lines that the record shops are OK for them, they are a plausible set for a modern video: legitimized, accepted, lived. If you go inside a record shop like Marquee Moon, in Florence – provided with a pair of Goldenote speakers, not with a boombox – you would get surprised from the number of young customers attending.

 

A further confirmation comes from the Sleeveface’s crossover design. You can find some pictures in the gallery below. Here we are at the apotheosis: the album covers come to life. The procedure is very simple. You choose a suitable cover and make it coincide with your body, with absolute fantasy. Then you take a photo and share it on line. The illusion can be astonishing. The results are fresh, creative, ironic, sometimes even touching. A real collection of emotions and feel of conveying. Try to do the same with a CD leaflet…

 

So, give me the cover back: I am feeling cold.

 

 

P.S. Take a look at It Might Get Loud, a documentary of 2008 dedicated to the electric guitar from the point of view of three historic rock guitarists like The Edge of U2, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jack White of White Stripes and Raconteurs. They meet in the film and speak about their relationship with the guitar, their musical techniques and at the end they even play together. An unmissable comparison between three different rock generations. All them suggesting album titles or listening to LPs, historical or not. Not even a CD on the horizon. The three of them compulsively pass along LPs only. As if they were drugs for personal consumption.

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by Giuseppe Castelli
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