The LP artwork–Part Three.

When making editorial decisions about the artwork to include in the LP artwork book, a couple of basic decisions had to be made: which versions should I use (stereo, mono, first printing, particular geographic printings)? should I include record label logos and text (or stick strictly with the artwork), and if so which ones?

The easiest decision to make was regarding the label logo question: It was important to use label logos, as they were an intrinsic part of the artwork as we knew it. That EMI was very gracious and quick to allow me to use their logos made that a “gimme”.

The other decisions took a lot more thought, but, as I stated earlier (a number of times…. sorry if I keep harping on it, but its the key point through all this), this was never intended to be a “reference” book. The paramount concern was not making this a consistent set of a specific “releases”– e.g., all the original, first printing mono releases. What was paramount was the artwork– getting the best presentation of the artwork itself. As we began to collect 15, 20 copies of each LP cover, the range in differences from coloration and photo cropping to record company text, selection and classification numbers made it clear that there is no specific exact set of covers that one should say is the “official” set or even the best. While in most cases the earliest printing was usually the clearest, cleanest and “best” printing, that was not always the case. And because each fan’s collection is undoubtedly likely to differ from any other (and to have a mix and match selection of mono, stereo, early printings, later printings, and different geographical printings) it seemed more representative to have a broader sampling across the board– as long as it presented the best artwork.

Finally, as I have mentioned before, another important guiding concept was to make the book engaging for younger fans. Just as we used to read the liner notes and text on the original LPs, “cover to cover” and absorbed every word as significant, it seemed important to give a new, young fan a sampling of various textual variations (e.g., the different record company legends regarding “stereophonic reproducers” and “monophonic sound”) and label logos and selection numbers to peak their interest about the history and give them some context to set out to discover more about it.

The more difficult decisions to make were the specific content ones.

As some of you have noted (!) the book does not contain a full size reproduction of the “White Album” poster. Obviously I considered how I could do this and none of the choices were satisfying. Breaking up the poster into individual pages just seemed wrong, and I hated the thought of a “fold out” page– just too messy and awkward and just likely to get torn or crumpled, especially if it was fixed to the book.  I considered a separate individual insert, but just did not feel that that was consistent with what the book format was supposed to be. I thought of including a smaller version in the book, but then decided that that would work much better in the Catalography. And, when I found out that the Remastered CD would include a smaller individual version (and yet another in the Mono package), I felt okay with my decision to leave it at the Catalography version.

While I have probably never mentioned this in a public forum before, I was denied use of the Richard Avedon portraits that were included in the “1” album package. To the Avedon estate’s credit, this was never a financial decision on their part. They make simple “yes” or “no” decisions based on the context of the use, and for whatever reason they were not swayed by my requests. Because these photos were part of the “1” album, and not part of the original, body of work, I never felt this was an essential omission. (And I note, I have not received a single email about it.)

The rest of my editorial decisions were based on the 200 page limitation to the book, that as I mentioned before was key for me to keep the size, weight and cost of the package within reasonable bounds.

I decided against simply replicating identical artwork used for the US releases. So, obviously, no redundant reprints of SGT Pepper forward in the US section. (The only variation here was the “Let It Be” cover, which just seemed necessary to wrap around the gatefold center photo that woudl have been awkward to include by itself). And, as mentioned before, no reprinting of back covers where the UK cover was essentially identical, but for the tracklistings.

The one regretful exclusion: the US liner notes for Yellow Submarine.  Because I would have had to include the front cover yet again in the US section as I had done with “Let It Be,” which just did not sit well with me, I made the regretful decision of excluding it. I since found out that for some of you this was a bad decision on my part (not many of you..but the ones for whom this was a noticeable omission, your complaints were certainly passionate). So, for that, I accept your beatings. Perhaps I can remedy that somehow, someday….



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2 responses to “The LP artwork–Part Three.

  1. pinocchio

    what a great post. I really appreciate all this info, and it makes me enjoy my BOV even more. And after your videos I am pretty sure I’m going to move my other CDs into the box (Anthology, LIBN). I have moved the Capitol box 2 into some of the unused spaces, and it is working out great. Happily, I am not one who misses the US YS. But if it’s ever possible, I would spring for a full size white album poster to slide under my catalography!

  2. Lynn Fairbanks

    Outstanding product and I’m having a lot of fun with it. But just had one thought–instead of actually having pre-designed spaces for other CD’s (besides the remasters) might not it have been a better idea to have spaces for other discs such as the Capitol albums? Perhaps the Beatles logo could have been used for a backdrop or just generic scenes of the band itself. I don’t own the red or blue albums but I do have both Capitol box sets and I’ve seen whereby a previous person has inserted theirs into unused spaces. This seems to be a great idea and I’ve done so as well. Again, just my opinion. Am looking forward to your next product and keep up the great work.

    Lynn Robert Fairbanks

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