Tuesday, January 25, 2011
My favorite 45 cover designs
Q: What's a 45?
A: Only a 45-year-old knows for sure.
Why, it can only be the seven-inch vinyl record: the iTunes single of its day.
From roughly 1950 to 1990, the 45 rpm (revolutions per minute!) record was the format of choice for anyone who only wanted "the hit song" without having to buy an entire album full of mostly bad songs.
Formats may change, but bad albums are forever.
I still remember the first handful of 45s I ever bought: "You Better, You Bet" by the Who, "The Waiting" by Tom Petty, and "The No No Song" by Ringo Starr. I don't recall having even an inkling that everyone's favorite, happy-go-lucky Beatle was singing about rehab.
I only partly bought these 45s for the music; equally important was the 45 cover - a sleeve, actually - which worked to differentiate and market a product that looked exactly the same without the packaging, and express the artistic intent of the musician/music as a visual.
So predominant was this format, just a few years before I entered the Creative Communications program as a student, a standard assignment in graphic-design class was to create a 45 rpm cover for the artist/song of your choice.
Later, the assignment changed to "a cassette tape design for Lloyd Cole and the Commotions," followed by "a CD design for Dire Straits," followed by an intangible, invisible, downloadable file design for...?! D'oh!
The 45 is dead. Long live the 45 sleeve!
1. Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen
2. Pete Townshend - Rough Boys
3. The Beatles - All You Need is Love
4. Elvis Presley - All Shook Up
5. Bob Dylan - I Want You
6. Rolling Stones - Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?
7. The Clash - Pressure Drop
8. Talking Heads - Take Me to the River
9. Sex Pistols - Holidays in the Sun
10. Donovan - Mellow Yellow