A Requiem for Album Art

Yes Relayer Album Cover

Yes Relayer album cover, 1974

I recently started drawing up plans for a series of wall racks to display some of my favorite LPs. I like looking at the covers of albums from bands like Yes, Uriah Heep, Trapeze, Deep Purple, UFO, Captain Beyond, and Molly Hatchet because they’re incredible and they would actually make great wall art. It seems like all the bands with great album covers are from decades past. So it feels like this collage of album covers that will adorn my wall is less of a celebration of this art and more of a memorial to it. This has me seriously wondering why the bands of today can’t come up with decent art for their albums. I think for the most part they don’t even care to try. It’s definitely a lost art.

Now days we have single track downloading and internet music streaming, and even the CD is becoming ancient history. Hardly anybody likes to buy whole albums anymore; almost nobody understands the enjoyment of listening to a whole record while studying the jacket art and reading the album info. Pretty soon album art won’t even exist anymore, and what does exist now is largely not worth looking at. Musicians (I use that word loosely) of today seem to think that a close-up of their face is sufficient cover art.

Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can usually judge an album by its art. If the art is lousy or stupid, or a glamorous photo of some singer’s face, you can pretty much safely assume, with a few exceptions, that the music will disappoint. Album art is important. I picked up the Trapeze album Medusa just because I liked the cover, and I discovered a great band because of it. I hate to see this art form die. Where are the Roger Deans and Frank Frazettas of our generation? I wonder if we’ll ever see them again.

Albums pictured:

Firefly, Uriah Heep, 1977

Medusa, Trapeze, 1970

Pulse, Pink Floyd, 1995

Captain Beyond, Captain Beyond, 1972

Broadsword and the Beast, Jethro Tull, 1982

Stand Up, Jethro Tull, 1969

Fly From Here, Yes, 2011

A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Pink Floyd, 1987

Animals, Pink Floyd, 1977

Beatin’ the Odds, Molly Hatchet, 1980

Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti, 1975

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV, 1971

Relayer, Yes, 1974

All original content copyright S.D. de la Rosa, 2013.

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~ by Sara on January 7, 2013.

11 Responses to “A Requiem for Album Art”

  1. What a great selection of records! I’ve been wanting to get the Captain Beyond album for ages…

    I totally agree with you about album art becoming a lost art. There are still some great bands keeping the flame alive but, by and large, they are becoming few and far between. But vinyl is becoming increasingly popular so maybe this might change. Fingers crossed!

  2. I could not agree with you more. Music, and album artwork, has been cheapened by today’s society. True talent, creativity, and originality seem to be ghosts of the past.

    • There is still some great creativity out there, it just seems to be largely ignored for some reason. You’re right, today’s society does seem to glorify garbage and disregard stuff that’s actually worthwhile.

      • Hm, a very true statement. I just have yet to find that “great creativity.” In the meanwhile, I’ll stick to listening to the great bands of the 70’s and 80’s.

      • Haha. You really can’t go wrong with that. I like to try to dig around and find lesser known bands too. What’s sad is I have a lot of trouble finding more recent stuff that’s worth listening to. Really good stuff is VERY few and far between.

  3. Agree about album covers, *almost* becoming a lost art. One of your images up there, “Fly From Here”, by Yes, was actually released in 2011, Roger Dean is alive and well and still doing great cover art for bands like Yes & Asia.

    • I know. I noticed when I included Fly From Here in my list that it went against my point, but hey, it’s a cool cover, and my argument is not without exceptions. You’ve got me wondering if there are more recent Roger Dean covers I have not yet seen. I must look into that.

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