We’ve been adding quite a few popular Australian vinyl records from the 1960s, 70s and 80s  into the collection lately, and it got me thinking about all of that wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful!) cover art that made vinyl record albums so memorable.

The greatest album covers of all time by Barry Miles, Grant Scott & Johnny Morgan

Collins & Brown, 2005

Collins & Brown, 2005

This decade by decade smorgasbord includes some of the most iconic album covers from the 1950s through to the mid 2000s, covering not just the great days of the long-playing record but also the first decade of the compact disc. The authors are at pains to point out that the covers are chosen for their design, not the quality of the album itself, but I’m afraid that doesn’t really explain the inclusion of Barry White’s Rhapsody in White (crikey!!). Some decades also come off better than others (the 50s and 60s), as do some genres (jazz and punk), but there is plenty here for just about every taste.

 

It’s another World Record : album cover art 1958-1976 presented by Geoff Hocking

New Chum Press, 2008

New Chum Press, 2008

If, like me, you were a classical music nerd growing up in Melbourne in the 1960s you will probably be all too familiar with the World Record Club. The local branch of this British institution was remarkably productive, and many of the records they released came complete with locally designed and produced cover art, much of it startlingly original and inventive; and some of it just plain awful! This wonderful book captures the best and worst of this much loved company, and some of the names involved will definitely take you by surprise!

The album cover art of soundtracks edited by Frank Jastfelder & Stefan Kassel

Little, Brown, 1997

Little, Brown, 1997

The movie soundtrack album is tailor-made for some exceptional graphics, feeding as it does off the poster art and graphic design that is part and parcel of a film’s commercial release. This extremely browsable volume goes from the deeply cheesy through to the truly iconic, and functions like a cinematic trip down memory lane as well. What more could you ask?

100 best Australian albums by John O’Donnell, Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson

Hardie Grant Books, 2010

Hardie Grant Books, 2010

While not specifically targeting cover art, this survey of 100 of the most important Australian albums definitely does the job as far as reproducing some pretty iconic imagery. Whether its the uncompromising blackness of AC/DC’s Back in Black or the distinctly dustbowl outback of Diesel and Dust by Cold Chisel, this volume captures a uniquely Australian approach to the art of the rock album.

 

Album : style and image in sleeve design by Nick de Ville

Mitchell Beazley, 2003

Mitchell Beazley, 2003

Though no less lavishly illustrated, this work takes a slightly more scholarly approach to its colourful subject as it seeks to chart the entire history of record sleeve design, from early attempts in the 78 RPM era through to the 1990s and the dominance of the compact disc. Only time will tell where design fits into the scheme of things as we slowly but surely move away from physical discs into the world of online music delivery.

And if you just can’t resist the good, the bad and the bizarre, then LP Cover Lover is the site for you!

And here’s one of my favourites from the classic Westminster label. So good!

Westminster Records

Westminster Records

 

 

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  1. Another great source of information on contemporary Australian cover art design is the regular column on cover art in Cyclic defrost (ISSN: 1832-4835), the Australian electronic music periodical, available online through the SLV catalogue and through PANDORA.

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