Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shrug Records (2007)

I bring my stint at Collector Not Completist to a close with a plug for my band Roommate's vinyl label Shrug Records and a few associated friends... This soundtrack to Jim Finn's breakthrough film Interkosmos features a gorgeous matchbook sleeve designed by Dean Rank and printed by Jeff Mueller at Dexterity Press. Dean designed the artwork for two Roommate releases, and the LP label was as important to him as any other element of the artwork. He really outdid himself with this one here.

Thank you Alexander for inviting me to post to this most excellent blog!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Columbia (1993)

Mercury Rev's Yerself Is Steam is one of my favorite albums of the 1990s, and I'm a big fan of the 10" vinyl format, so I was excited to find this relic at Encore Recordings in Ann Arbor. I was curious to know how faithful this faux-vintage design is to actual Columbia Grafonola Symphony Series LPs of the early 20th century, and some googling took me to this page--I'd say this 1993 10" is a decent but perhaps not quite satisfying facsimile of the original?

Friday, May 28, 2010

United Artists (1968)

Here's another record I rescued from my dad. I have a few United Artists records, and none of their labels are particularly dazzling, but I do very much dig the UA logo on this one. If I want dazzling I look no further than this LP's paper sleeve:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bestline Products Inc. (1973)

Since I devoted four days of posts to my mom's Japanese 45s, I figured I'd post a label or two from my Dad's record collection. This one is a true oddity from the brief period when he worked for Bestline Products, a pyramid scheme of a company that suckered scores of people into selling crappy cleaning products door-to-door and attending expensive conventions with motivational speakers and lavish award ceremonies. This LP is an artifact of one of those conventions, complete with gatefold and 10-page color booklet. This was probably the last of such conventions, as Bestline's pyramid came crashing down later that year.

I'll admit that I've never listened to the record (I'm pretty sure it's just recordings of a weekend's worth of motivational speeches), but I find its label to be surprisingly attractive. I love that the lowercase A is the biggest thing on the entire label.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Victor (1967)

My mom went to a Yukio Hashi concert during her 1967 Tokyo trip and bought a few of his 45s, including this morsel. This and a couple of her other Japanese 45s include an unusual physical design feature: the 45 RPM adaptor is built into the 45. When I briefed Alexander on this one he asked "I wonder if people were supposed to snap that thing out to use an adaptor?" Upon close examination I concluded that it's a permanent feature--you'd need a serious blade or tool to remove the thing.

This A-side ("Koi No Mexican Rock") is by far my least favorite song of these Japanese 45s, but I sure love its sleeve:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

King Records (1969)

Once again, silver and red pair spendidly. Need I even point out everything else that makes this label so delicious? Big thanks to my sister-in-law for confirming the release date of this 45 and for locating a recording of its A-side on YouTube.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Denon (1969)

I was under the impression that all of the Japanese 45s in my mother's collection were from a trip to Tokyo in the summer of 1967, but considering its 1969 copyright, she must have picked this one up on a subsequent visit. The music is blissful 60s pop with male and female vocals and a touch of enka melodic stylings. Not unlike its sublime label art, it spins like a soft, cool breeze on a hot summer day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Minoruphone (1967)

My mother was born and raised on the tiny island of ChiChi Jima, far off the coast of Japan. In 1967, after graduating from an American high school on Guam, she visited mainland Japan for the first time. She picked up some 45s in Tokyo, and I rescued them from her several years ago. This is the first of four labels I'll be posting from her collection of Japanese 45s. I love the silver/red color combo and the graceful layout (especially the way it incorporates five-line staves).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lo Recordings (2001)

These labels aren't nearly as stunning to me as those in my first post, but I like the way each side gets its own layout scheme and the way the hole is incorporated into the design.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kemado (2007)

It seems like it's hard to go wrong with things that just look plain cool as they're spinning around.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

GDR (1974)

I tried very, very hard to get rid of the moiré pattern in this scan. I even followed the instructions in an online tutorial called "Moiré Go Away." But apparently the fine white concentric circles on this label are no match for the square pixels of a digital scanner. In some ways the moiré gives this image some extra razzle-dazzle, but if you can imagine the uniform white circles without the messy, swirly patterns overlaying them, you will imagine a deliciously sublime and elegant label. Moiré and circles aside, dig that fantastic 3D GDR logo!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Indian Records (1972)

One of my earlier memories is of being mesmerized by the dances and songs of some sort of Native American advocacy group who visited my elementary school in Colorado Springs, so I was excited to find this LP years later at Wax Trax in Denver. I love the tall skinny Indian Records font, and how about these drawings! What I wouldn't give to strut and dance atop a human-sized vinyl platter. Side 1 of this LP is all War Dance Songs. Me, I'm more of a Social Dancer.

(Note: I had a difficult time finding any information about this record including its year of release, but I eventually found it listed as a cassette in this article on the recordings of Plains Indians. )

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cadet (1968)

When I'm looking for a one way ticket to my happy place, I pull out this record. And just before I put the needle to it, I admire its label's tricolor font, blue gradient background and amazing radial stallion/sun logo.

(Note: I just found Alexander's post of an almost identical label. I almost took my post down, but I decided that the subtle differences between the two labels are worth noting--I much prefer the more muted colors of the Cadet font here, and I think the logo pops a little more as a filled-in shape rather than an outline. Still, I absolutely agree with Alexander that an ideal Cadet records label would be nothing more than "that logo, printed large and crisp, spinning around.")

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sähkö (2009)

How could I ever choose just one of these beauties? Oh, I have to? Side D.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back Beat (1970)

This Back Beat label is one of my favorites. I'm a fan of hand-drawn fonts, and this one is great. I also like the subtle shading of the shadow of the sticks.

A few years ago I found a trove of Southern soul 45s at a thrift store in Alabama, which introduced me to a lot of Stax and Hi artists. When I dropped the needle on this O.V. Wright record I was instantly hooked on him, as well as on the producer of this, Willie Mitchell. Wright was later on Hi, but at this point he was working with Willie Mitchell and putting out records on this label Back Beat from Houston. This track is a real funky jam too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Parrot (1964)

I love the yellow and green on black color combo and the font.

The sassy parrot speaks for himself.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Virgo (1972)

Great font layout here. The flower and text combo works really nicely, and I like the Virgo symbols around the border. Crisp color scheme.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

People (1973)

The People label was part of the James Brown empire in the early 70's. The JB's stuff is of course classic superheavy funk jams. I really like this layout, the heads at the bottom are nice, and the text and white outer ring are so excellent. And damn if this thing isn't PURPLE. You just don't see this kind of purple that often. Purple People!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Josie (1969)

The color stripes on this are great.

The Meters albums on Josie are unreal, but the later ones, yeah right, no way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mega (1971)

I really like the drawing of the building on this Mega label. It seems like the headquarters for something, probably a cabal of plotting businessmen in a superhero comic. Meanwhile, at the headquarters of M.E.G.A....

The label was based in Memphis, and put out lots of country stuff. A lot of it looks silly, but there are a few great cover designs (check out Mack Vickery Live at the Alabama Women's Prison). There are a couple of heavy-hitters that mysteriously ended up in their catalog through some association with Flying Dutchman, including Bernard Purdie, Leon Thomas, and Eddie Cleanhead Vinson. This Apollo 100 record is by a British group who did rock renditions of classical music, which was a genre I tried collecting for a while. The track "Joy" is pretty well known.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Map City

Hey record collectors! How 'bout a one-way ticket to MAP CITY?

I love this label. It's from an astrology record by Maurice Woodruff, who was among other things the astrological advisor to Peter Sellers. For a while I was trying to collect all the astrology-themed records I could find, but the problem with this idea was that astrology-themed records mostly come in sets of 12. Maybe one day I'll get back to this collection when I have more space for records.

But wow, isn't this a great label? Check out the sort of crystal-shard rainbow deal in the distance. Sort of a combination of a sunset and a rainbow. I don't know what awaits in MAP CITY, but sign me up!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lightning (1978)

My initial inspiration for this blog was noticing hand-drawn images and hand-colored compositions on labels, both things that are somewhat rare approaches in graphic design today. This label sums up some of the qualities that I love about that approach - a fun, cartoony font with idiosyncrasies (the S in "records" seems to be missing the bottom inner loop,) a weird stippled gradient between the orange and blue, and a cool (as in, elaborate-doodle-on-a-10th-grader's-notebook cool) drawing of a gnarly tree. Plus, check out that lighting!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poppy (1970)

The watercolor leaves on here are nicely done, although the text color is hard to read on the vivid background. Poppy put out Townes Van Zandt's records, as well as this fantastic album by the Mandrake Memorial, which has cool MC Escher cover art.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kama Sutra (1970)

This Kama Sutra label looks like packaging for a Barbie doll. I would probably like this label a whole lot more if the color scheme were tweaked away from the pink. Honestly, this Pepto-Bismol shade of pink really must be the hardest color for a designer to work with tastefully in the entire spectrum of visible color. Maybe there are some garish purples and sickly greens that could be as tricky, but I think this one is pretty tough. I do really like the layout with the arc of icons.

This Caldera album is pretty crazy. It's a "moog mass" and features vocoded religious choral singing over moog arrangements, with a British guy reading prayers. Really spooky at times. It's not a totally freaked-out listen, the tracks are short and relatively concise, but the whole thing has got a very distinctive and interesting sound. Highly recommended for anyone interested in weirdo psych/religious stuff.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kama Sutra (1967)

I believe that Buddah Records was started by the same people who ran Kama Sutra, which explains why the multi-arm label icon is so similar. The border here looks like a nice piece of Spin-Art.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Buddah (1969)

The Buddah text and icon along the bottom are one of my favorite label layouts. The trippy background really makes this one. Funny that this is a soul compilation, but is graphically styled like a far-out pysch head trip.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

AIR (1971)

Great clouds and sky on this cheerful label.

This is the soundtrack for a crazy Bette Davis movie where she disguises herself as a hippie and robs banks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hi (1978)

Now here's a nice design. I love seeing labels where the printed artwork plays off the turntable spindle.

A couple of years ago I got on an Al Green kick, and then started looking for any Willie Mitchell albums I could find. Based on the late date, I assumed that this O.V. Wright album would be some disco-funk. Boy was I wrong. This one sounds like disco never happened, crisp Hi records sound. It's remarkable that Mitchell kept up the classic Memphis Sound production for as long as he did. Great record, amazing cover photo too.