Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Public Image LTD - Album (Elektra 1980)

An aspect of record design I intend to explore here over the next week(s) is the relationship between cover art and label design. It's odd that "Raw Power," "Bitches Brew", and "Blood on the Tracks" all look the same - but it makes more sense that Talking Heads and Ramones share the same Sire label.

On one hand, there's a sense of continuity - despite the changes in styles over time, each work is part of a modernist continuum, an addition to the catalog of human achievement. And there's also a legitimacy conferred - "this is like that", so it's going to be similarly good. But then fundamentally, they sound different and look different on the outside; why don't they look different on the inside?

"Album" (or "Cassette" or "Compact Disc" [unfortunately it's listed as "Album" on iTunes, and not "Download") exemplifies a close relationship between the cover and the label. There's no mistaking which sleeve this goes in. I love its literalism. I also particularly appreciate how the songs are subjugated to the album - on the the sleeve, the tracklisting is a small row of single words separated by commas. This object is not "Collection of Songs" or "The One with Rise" - it's "Album."

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