Long before the Internet, iTunes, music-videos and the late-night talk-show circuit there existed a unique platform indigenous to the music industry. A medium by which musicians could express themselves directly to their adoring public. A visual identity often created by the artist and delivered to the fans in a carefully crafted image.
Album covers have long been a part of my own home décor and that of my music-loving friends. As a pre-teen, I collected records by my favorite artists of the 1970s and 80s. REO Speedwagon’s High Infidelity often stood propped up proudly atop my bedroom record player. Billy Joel’s Glass Houses was another. In my teenage years it was posters of the classic Beatles albums such as Revolver and Abbey Road that hung on my bedroom walls (and no doubt on the walls of millions of fans the world over). In my mind’s eye I can still visualize a poster for London Calling by The Clash on the bedroom door of my friend, Peter back in 7th grade. His older sister, Michelle wallpapered her room in U2 posters. And to think there was actually a time when music was sold in the artistic equivalent of a throwaway lunch bag.
|The first album cover design|
Legendary pop artist, Andy Warhol entered the cover design arena in 1967 with an innovative wrinkle. For the debut album of The Velvet Underground and Nico, Warhol created (at great expense) a multi layered paper banana that could be peeled back to reveal the fruit underneath. His second cover design for The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers in 1971 featured an actual zipper on an illustrated pair of jeans. It is considered iconic now, but at the time it caused many of the vinyl records to be damaged during the shipping process, angering fans who actually wanted to hear the music.
In my novel, Poet Of The Wrong Generation, my pop-star protagonist, Johnny Elias is a keen observer on the decline of the album cover in the early 1990s. He’s a music fan who was raised on classic vinyl. His dissatisfaction with his record label’s artistic deficiencies pushes him to take matters into his own hands when it comes to the cover art for his debut album. A throwback design concept that he dreams up (executed by a dear friend) proves the ideal match for his collection of songs inspired by an earlier era. It ultimately helps to launch his career into unlikely overnight superstardom.
Poet Of The Wrong Generation by Lonnie Ostrow is now available in paperback and eBook format. CLICK HERE to order your copy.