Lost art

My whole family is Apple crazy. Between the four of us we’ve had, at some point in time, nine different versions of that tiny musical wonder, the iPod – ranging from the Classic, to the Mini, a couple of different generation Nanos, and an iTouch. We also have three different generations of MacBooks, several smartphones, and a first generation iPad.

I can’t help but feel that with all this technology we use to buy music off the Internet, my kids are missing something of my generation’s musical heritage. I have dozens of LPs moldering in the garage. I can’t remember the last time I played one though – being that when my son was just an infant he managed to remove the drive belt from our turntable. Ever try to buy a turntable, or an LP… not happening without some trouble, and serious expense.

With the ability to buy single tunes, my children don’t get the same exposure to a vanishing art form that was once uniquely tied to music – album cover art.

I can still remember arguing with my mom about me buying Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Mom was aghast over the implied sexual content of the cover image.

She had a specific problem with Mick Fleetwood’s belt and in general an issue with Stevie Nicks draping herself over his leg. I had a problem in that, being the sheltered teen that I was, I never would’ve even noticed such raciness had she not made a big deal about it. I still have the album somewhere and can still sing along with EVERY song.

Here’s a little taste of some of the top albums of the 1970s and early 80s, when the art on the cover was almost as important as the art on the vinyl.

Who can forget the sultry chick on the cover of The Cars’ Candy-O (who doesn’t love a Vargas Girl), or the weirdness of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy? There was something a little naughty about The Who’s Who’s Next, and a bit creepy about The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls.

I loved the irreverence of the Manhattan skyline built of breakfast cutlery and dishes, and the Statue of Liberty portrayed as a matronly diner waitress in Supertramp’s Breakfast in America. The Police were perhaps prophetic with their Ghost in the Machine. The images are LCD depictions of the three band members – from left, Andy Summers, Sting (spiky hair) and Stewart Copeland (bangs)

I pay absolutely no attention to album art today. Why bother if I’m only purchasing one or two songs and not the entire play list. On our iTune screen display we can sometimes see the album cover while a song is on, but we’re rarely parked in front of the computer just listening to music or watching our iPod screen. It’s not like how we use to read the album back or liner notes, following along with the lyrics, as our music played.

Old albums are now making a come back as wall decorations. You can buy special frames designed just for these square, cardboard canvases. I need to go through my box of albums. I know there are some great covers hidden away and some great memories waiting to be rediscovered.

*From the Vault of IMSO. Edited and updated; originally published May, 2008. I was inspired to resurrect this post after reading about my friend, Melisa’s trip to a couple of vinyl record stores over the weekend, in celebration of Record Store Day.

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

13 thoughts on “Lost art

  1. In my area they still have record shows twice a year, where music geeks (many of them unbathed for what must be at least a month), come to swap, ogle and purchase. I go every time (though I am one of the ones who showers first), and on one recent trip, I was able to re-purchase what I thought back then was one of the coolest album covers of all time – the debut effort for We’ve Got A Fuzzbox & We’re Gonna Use It… =)

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