Monday, June 01, 2009

Picture Sleeves: A Lost Art?

I was thinking recently about what a thrill it used to be to buy a new 45 at the record store. It was different from buying a full album; in some cases you bought the single because you didn't think you wanted the full album, or because you hadn't saved enough paper route or babysitting money yet. In other instances you would buy the single and the LP because you loved the band and you wanted everything they put out. For those in the latter category, fans and/or collectors, the picture sleeve was an added bonus.

Throughout the 70's and 80's record companies paid significant attention to the 45 picture sleeve, to the extent that sleeves were often pieces of art in their own right. As the cassette single came to prominence in the late 80's, the 45 and picture sleeves got pushed aside by major labels. With the recent return of vinyl there's reason to believe that the 7-inch artform may also come back -- in the U.K., for example, the picture sleeve has already made quite a healthy resurgence.
"Play the Game" by Queen (1980).

So I thought I'd use this blogspace to highlight some of my favorite picture sleeves, ones from my own record collection that I consider particularly striking. Stay tuned for more of my favorite super fancy sleeves!


ChuckO said...

I appreciate when a 45 pic sleeve compliments the album in some artistic way, and the b-side has a non-album track, but in general I've never been much of a 45 guy. If I like the song enough to buy it, I've always bought the album (since so often the album has a longer version) or at least the 12" extended version. If I love the song, I want the longest version possible.

Getting back into vinyl, I have yet to see a 12" with an old fashion extended version of the original track- or [dreadfully] drastic remixes.

Now I would love to get more into 45's, but Columbus has nowhere to buy them- only a few show up on the counter at my fave place, or punk stuff crammed in a box at my second fave. (I'm def not willing to pay $4 shipping for a 45 from eBay).

Mark said...

I miss 45's. I bought them for the same reason as you, and it was also fun, way back in the 60's, to put a stack on the automatic changer and sing along with totally random stuff by the Cowsills and the Kinks!

Simone said...

Yes, as a graphics designer I've always preferred a good picture sleeve! There's a humourous blog I follow called What LP sleeves really mean that showcases some well-known sleeves, and quite a few sites around that feature the awful ones!