Showing posts with label Design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Design. Show all posts

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mojave 3 Puzzles Like You Digipack Covers

This is a wonderfully packaged album from Mojave 3 called Puzzles Like You. I can't believe it has already been ten years. 

All of the Mojave 3 releases that I have are a treat to behold. This one is a fantastic example as to why their stuff is special.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Replacements Tim Covers

The Tim album by the Replacements is pretty much the apex of the band--the high point that happened at exactly the moment when they were recorded about as poorly as possible while making the best music of their lives. If this album sounds bad, that's because it does. Tommy Erdelyi was a terrible choice for a producer and the fact that Tim sounds worse than Hootenanny is, well, one more thing to bitch about.

It was the end of the Bob Stinson era and the beginning of the corporate sell-out era, but the drinking and the shenanigans would continue well on through to the end. The songs would never be as good.

The real crowning glory of this era of the band is found on two of the cuts contained on this album. Bastards of Young and Here Comes a Regular are two sides of the same broken heart, and you could build the quintessential novel of the Eighties around those two songs, weaving them in and out of whatever plot full of fuckups and failed glory you could imagine. There are brilliant songs scattered throughout their career, but these two are the two best songs they ever did.

I have never been able to figure out the cover, though. It has an industrial feel to it, with the band portraits designed to make them indie darlings. There were ideas behind it, but how do they match up to the words "a picture on a fridge that's never stocked with food?" And why didn't someone just put that image on the front and call it a day? 

Primal Scream Country Girl Covers

This is where I really, really started to get into Primal Scream again.

This single has a fantastic cover. Country Girl is a classic rave up. Live, this song brings down the house. The cover here is classically presented with a dark and sinister top and bottom bar, just like a scene from a letter-boxed film. I love what they did with this package.

Ten years? Really? It feels like it just came out.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Echo and the Bunnymen A Promise Cover

Another old favorite, and why not?

The cover for the 45 rpm single for the song A Promise borrows from the cover art and theme of the album Heaven Up Here. This is an excellent use of the method of tying in the single to the album.

Sleeper Inbetweener Single Cover



Single features a fantastic piece of commercial art, and it works on so many levels.

The song, in and of itself, is a novel set to music, and it is so intelligently rendered as to demand the sort of packaging and artwork seen here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Psychedelic Furs Forever Now Reissue Covers

I would like to do something on the first five Psychedelic Furs albums because they're all very vital pieces of rock and roll history. I realize that there were seven major label releases, but I think they could have ended before Book of Days. Really, after Mirror Moves, what was left for them?

The third release was Forever Now and I'm going to get this one out of the way because I think it has one of the most God-awful covers of the 1980s. It has always sort of bothered me, and I realize I'm probably the only one who has this issue with it, but, oh well.

The music inside? Excellent stuff. The cover? Bleh.

I just think the patterns and designs that mar the cover photo are too much. The stars and diamonds are too distracting. Pink and green isn't an awful color motif but when you lay that over a blurry black and white photo, it just doesn't work for me. There is probably nothing wrong with it, but that's how I see the cover. I see it as too busy and too distracting. Their other album covers are all much more appealing. I think All of This and Nothing is probably the best cover. Nothing could be more different than this one.


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Johnny Marr and the Healers Bangin' On

This is a great way to package a single and promote something and give fans a pretty good value. The idea of the CD single often ends up going south for a lot of bands. But Johnny Marr and the Healers have a great thing going with this, the Bangin' On single.

The elements are very simple. Three songs are fine (I consider anything with four songs an EP, or extended play single, but that's not a hard and fast rule--that's just my rule), and there's over fifteen minutes of music here. The cover is artsy, and gets a little busy, but when tied into the artwork for the back (and the band photo) as well as the CD labeling itself, well, we're talking a home run here.

So many singles fail to find these simple elements and make them work. They either get the cover and design wrong (a tendency to go cute or gross or shocking comes to mind) or they fail to offer anything worth buying. I tend to prefer this kind of single--anything with B-sides is perfect. Occasionally, someone will stick three live tracks on a single--I like that, too. I'm not too keen on remixes, never have been. A single with seven remixes is not as interesting to me as something with B-sides or live tracks, but, again--that's just me being weird.


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Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oasis Promotional Single Covers From 2009

Here are three samples of the covers used to market the singles from the last Oasis album, Dig Out Your Soul. I have a feeling this will be the last proper Oasis album for quite a while, but I could be wrong about that.

These have always bothered me. I hate the white text in the middle; I hate that font with a passion. Love the music, love the colors and the overall design ethic used here, but that font was and is a disaster.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Adorable Sistine Chapel Ceiling Video
Adorable - Sistine Chapel Ceiling on MUZU.TV
This is well worth embedding. There is so much going on in this video that I can't help but wonder why this wasn't a huge hit. Visually, I love this clip. The song is intense and the experience is unforgettable.

Felt Absolute Classic Masterpieces Covers

Felt's Absolute Classic Masterpieces is as minimalistic as it can get. Eschewing any pretense of artwork, you could almost call this one "Song Titles and Bar Code."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Peter Astor Submarine Covers

There is nothing that says that you HAVE to put a picture of a submarine on an album that you call "submarine." And that pretty much sums up the barren nature of this release.

And that's a shame. This could have been done with a lot more creativity. The album, in and of itself, is a classic. But the cover and the presentation marred what could have been, I feel.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Railway Children Reunion Wilderness Covers

I'm not going to say that this is bland, but it definitely could have been a better package. The Reunion Wilderness release from The Railway Children goes in a minimalistic direction, and leaves very little else to recommend the album.

Serving as the Factory Records debut when it originally came out, these views are from the release that Ether records put out. The original Factory release might look a little different. What strikes me, though, is that this doesn't look anything like a Factory records release. It's not awful, but it does lack the sort of visual hook that would have helped the band out a little in terms of attracting the attention of people who browse through record stores.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The House of Love The Beatles and the Stones Remix EP

A very bright, very vivid cover and a wonderful, wonderful recording. Yes, I did a double-take when "Beady Eye" put out their own song called "Beatles and Stones" or whatever and I thought that, perhaps, they were doing a cover. They didn't. They just used a very similar title.

I like this for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the quasi-3D image on the back, which is very much in line with the non-image projected by bands in the early 1990s.

This one, though, is a classic. I really enjoy this single, although probably not so much this version. At the time of this release, Fontana was using multiple producers who couldn't relate to the band and this somewhat "unauthorized" remix of the single came out without the full blessing of main songwriter Guy Chadwick. But, you could flip this thing over on your turntable and get Love IV and call it a win for the home team.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

That Petrol Emotion Manic Pop Thrill Covers

Manic Pop Thrill is the sound of urgency and agitation, a whirling and crashing of guitars and beats. The band was formed out of the ashes of assorted bands and created a well-before-their-time sound that left people scrambling to keep up.

I am a huge fan of all of their work, particularly It's a Good Thing, which is a brilliant song. The packaging of this debut album is very well done. I love the video still cover and the band look respectably Indie without any pretensions. The back photo, where Mack stands with his foot on the wall and all that is a shot they probably wish they could take back. Never pose for a band photo with your legs crossed or with your foot up on anything. Always look like you're ready to spring into action and go make more music, I say.

This is the first version of the band, which would evolve as members came and went, and commercial success never really found them. I've never been able to figure out how things worked in the early 1990s. It always seemed like the really good bands were struggling and the really lousy ones were being feted with success and limos.

Like any reasonable human being, I blame MTV.

Robyn Hitchcock Invisible Hitchcock Covers

Compilations and rarities and releases that are created with an ad hoc sort of mentality have always appealed to me. One of my favorite releases of all time is the original Glass Fish label release of Invisible Hitchcock.

I found it at a record store somewhere in Minneapolis about as long ago as I can probably safely recall. It was the late 1980s. Each purchase was carefully considered and quite dear. A few misses, but a lot of hits that I still have. Is this completely and utterly out of print and forgotten? It should not be.

Embedded somewhere on this disc is an early performance of the Screaming Blue Messiahs, backing up Hitchcock. Virtually all of these tracks are weird, but wonderfully so, and they possess magical properties. Recorded in small studios with virtually no money across the years throughout parts of England, these tracks were cobbled together by the label and released into the world with careful liner notes.

It's too bad that the use of lightly colored text on a light background makes them hard to read. The interior credits weren't even worth scanning--it would tax your eyes to try to read them. Suffice it to say, they are worth reading, just not worth reproducing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Verve She's a Superstar

The Verve's She's a Superstar single is a wonderfully designed package. I love the cover and I love the layout of the package. This is one of the most magisterial singles of the 1990s and I highly, highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Verve All in the Mind EP

When Verve put out the All in the Mind single (I should really call it an EP because of the importance of the songs here), it was as if the whole flaccid music scene of the early 1990s needed to be blown up. And Verve blew through it without a care in the world.

A better song than U2 could have done, All in the Mind hits with the kind of mastery no one was attempting at the time. One Way to Go and Man Called Sun are two of the greatest B-sides ever. You could rotate them around and any one of these tracks could have led off the EP.

I love the design, and the feel of this sleeve. I think the text disappears at the bottom, but the rest of the sleeve is so well done.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Loft Model Village Single

Someone who worked for the Static Caravan record label came up with a very nice design for this single. The concept is easy to relate to--if the song is called "Model Village," then find something urban and contemporary. By choosing a scene with garishly lit logos, rather than a rural English village full of storybook houses, are we to infer a bit of social commentary? Or is this just a great single from one of the lost bands of the 1980s?

The Loft were Peter Astor's band before signing to Creation and becoming the Weather Prophets and all that. Some of the songs from The Loft ended up being recorded later; there's one that I know of and there could be others. Model Village was a great single.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians Gotta Let This Hen Out Covers

Never mind the fact that this was a mind-blowing live album. Robyn Hitchcock's Gotta Let This Hen Out! was a brilliantly conceived project, from front to back and from side to side. The cover illustration alone is worth the price. The music inside has never gotten old or musty on me. I think I have had this since at least 1987 or so. I remember that it came out with the Fegmania album and I have owned both of those without shame or remorse since being brought into the cult of Robyn Hitchcock.

The lettering style is wonderful as well. Everything about this album has an independent sensibility and if you're looking for a reason why this kind of music was so vital in the 1980s, look no further than this terrific album. In the context of 1986, music was bland, overproduced, over-commercialized, and devoid of any warmth or sentiment. Album covers were done with scissors and glue and garish colors. Now, imagine seeing this in LP format (which I still have). I can't really describe the difference that the album version makes as opposed to the CD format (seen above).

Robyn's artwork glows from the cardboard, luminous and pulsing. The cover image is so unique and surreal that it can't really even be described.

I have numerous releases from the old (and I believe completely and utterly defunct) Midnight Music label. They always did an interesting thing with the graphics and images and text on the things they put out. They had a very distinctive style.