Monday, July 25, 2011

The father of album cover artwork

"I needed to shake up the industry. We had to do something like 
European poster art to draw the attention of the buyer.”

Alex Steinweiss died last week at the age of 94. Before he transformed them in the 1930s, record sleeves consisted of brown paper. As the art director at Columbia Records, Steinweiss pioneered illustrated jackets and sales zoomed.

"I love music so much and I had such ambition that I was willing to go way beyond what the hell they paid me for. I wanted people to look at the artwork and hear the music." —Alex Steinweiss
The cover for Thelonious Monk's 1964 Columbia album Solo Monk carries on the Steinweiss tradition beautifully.
In regard to CD art, this cover for Gillian Welch's The Harrow and the Harvest is one of my recent favorites. And the music is great too.
Any LP/CD cover favorites, past or present, to share??? I actually own this 78 package of the Jerome Kern musical about a fashion house:


  1. And I have the sheet music to "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," the cover of which screams Art Deco style. Cover art will be dearly missed in an age of e-books and I-pod downloads. (Frankly, I miss the music more!) I guess the artists will be laboring in videogames and anime.

  2. cool!
    You're right, that's where they are ... just as the composers are working in Hollywood.

  3. When I was a child (grew up during the 80s) one of my favorite past times was going through my parents record collection because I loved looking at the album covers. My favorite collection was my Father's Beatles albums, and a few years ago he gave all of them to me.

  4. Lucky you!! Which is your favorite?

  5. The Sgt Pepper Album for sure! the album came with paper dolls and they are in perfect condition. Still in there original forms. My Dad left them in the album sleeve and had forgotten about them for years and years.

  6. Yeah, the new Gillian Welch is one of my favorite new covers (and albums!). The artist, John Dyer Baizley, has been my favorite artist for quite some time. He's the vocalist for Baroness, who are well worth checking out (not for the faint of heart, though). His work is typically in the Heavy Metal genre. Sort of like a sinister Alphonse Mucha!

  7. I am so envious of the Sgt Pepper legacy ... didn't know about the dolls!

    And WF, your frame of reference continues to amaze.