What’s In A Cover?

dark_sideBeen thinking about record covers today and the roll they (used?) to play in the overall enjoyment of an album. I used to pour over the details as the slab of plastic played and my brain would form a connection between the music and the art that lingers on to this day, but that’s all kind of changed with the download revolution, hasn’t it? It’s no longer important, no longer an integral part of the enjoyment. I like to think that the artist used to take great care in ensuring that the covers of their albums were simpatico with the contents, and I as a rabid music consumer really appreciated that they did. The cover told the story of what was possibly inside the grooves and the best of the best seared the images with the music indelibly and permanently in my memory. An obvious example is “Sgt. Peppers“, of course, with it’s psychedelic colors and eclectic character cut-outs, but even albums like ABC’s “The Lexicon Of Love”, “London Calling” by The Clash and even “Raw Power” by the Stooges stand out as prime examples of this theory.

Of course LP’s were the ideal format, with their large square footage, gatefolds and glossy finishes. And although the CD was a smaller vessel I still believe that cover art was fairly important and still mattered, even though you couldn’t read the damn lyrics or liner notes most of the time. Cassettes were the worst, though. Tiny, brittle and vertical, cassettes were a terrible format to showcase artwork. Yes, square was best. But that’s all gone now. Yes, I am aware that most downloads (virtually all) come with some sort of “multi-media” booklets but that, in my humble opinion, is a poor substitution for holding the thing in your hands. It doesn’t seem real to me, and before you think I’m some sort of luddite who pines for the “good old days” you should know that I have embraced most technology with fervor for the most part. With a “multi-media” booklet, or with an MP3 you never really own it. It’s like downloading a Picasso. Worthless. Disposable.

So maybe I am pining for the good old days, secretly delusional that vinyl will make a comeback and the importance of album art will follow suit. It’s not so crazy, as long as the record companies price it right, and continue to include digital download codes for each release. Who knows?

How about you fine folks? Am I crazy here, or did/does album art really matter and does it give the viewer an inkling of what’s inside? Or does the listener subconsciously connect the two? At any rate, I surely miss it…