Thursday, May 13, 2010

The most lovely 45 RPM label designs

Costello ponders the number 45.

Internet killed the record-label design, in my heart and in my mind.

I've been a fan of 45 RPM record-label designs as long as I can remember.

Quick definition for "the kids:"
Hey, kids! The 45 is the old, vinyl format for hit singles. You'd place it on a turntable and it would spin around 45 "revolutions per minute." When it was over, you'd flip it over to play "the flipside" and repeat the process, like a human jukebox. Or iPod.

No, vinyl wasn't the most convenient format, which is probably why the Tubes, on their album the Completion Backwards Principle, opened by begging us to (jokingly) "Please play both sides at one meeting."
Just like you can judge a book, album, or CD by its cover, you could judge a 45 by its label. To see the famous green apple Apple logo meant that the Beatles liked this artist. Never mind that the artist was probably George Harrison.

To see the famous Sun logo meant that you were going to hear Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, or at least something that Sun records was willing to put its name behind. An early example of a "family brand" if there ever was one.

And, best of all, the labels worked hard to have a distinct design that stood out from the pack. Because there was no Photoshop, Illustrator, or even CorelDRAW (shudder), that meant that every label was distinct and charming - packaged with all the love of a homemade greeting card.

My faves:

1. States Record Company:

2. Sun Records:

3. Old Town Records:

4. Checker Records:

5. Apple Records (two designs):

6. Roulette Records:

7. Duke Records:

8. Motown Records (literally putting Detroit on the map):

9. Rama Records:

10. RCA Records (featuring the iconic "Nipper the dog!")

See ya on the flipside!

The Alarm: 45 revolutions per minute!

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