Here’s a beauty that came to me via a friend and fellow 45 collector—an Alex Steinweiss cover for a box of Morton Gould 7-inch records on Columbia. Here’s the wonderful Steinweiss script we’ve come to love contrasted against some microscopic Futura type amid some rather basic geometric line art. Simple and beautiful and a great example of Steinweiss’ thin-line, slightly jittery, script lettering. Enjoy!
I found these two Alex Steinweiss-designed and illustrated album covers gathering dust in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in South Austin. None of his beautiful, signature, curly script, but still fun nonetheless. They’re still there, so go grab ’em!
Behold this recently acquired stash of Bell Records 45 RPM and 78 RPM 7-inch vinyl records, which were distributed by Pocket Books and featured cover versions or “sound-alike” versions of popular tunes of the time. Sound-alike versions were cheap to produce and, beyond the flat rate the musicians were paid, cost the record company only publishing royalties on top of manufacturing and distribution. A nickel and dime game perhaps, but there was certainly profit to be made if enough unsuspecting customers bought the sound-alikes instead of the real McCoys. Some of the songs featured in this collection are Jackie Wilson’s That’s Why, here performed by otherwise-lost-to-history act, “The Muses” and the Kingston Trio’s hit, Tom Dooley, performed by the equally anonymous “The Four Dreams.”
The home page on Bap-Tizum.com contains two lines of text. The first of which reads: “Bap-Tizum.com is an archive of Black-American Christian spiritual music & sermons from the 1930s to the 1980s.” ‘Nuff said. Nothing about the drab, gray background or the poor quality Polaroid image that embellishes this page would clue you in to the fact that the site is a goldmine of forgotten audio recordings, ripped from the original vinyl records and organized by record speed: 33 (1/3), 45 and 78 RPM. Being a fan of old gospel music I’ve been loyally listening to Kevin Nutt’s Sinner’s Crossroads show on WFMU for years and I discovered this site from its contributions to the Free Music Archive.
But what pulled me into this site was its rather humbling collection of album cover and record label designs, which make up the entire user interface for listening to the audio tracks. Clicking on 45, for example, in the top navigation bar reveals an ever-expanding page displaying small-ish images of 45 label scans, each a link to their respective audio recording. I wish there were larger images available for us lovers of visual junk, but that’s just me wanting more of an already good thing. Spread the good word, Bap-Tizum.com is an inspired feast for the eyes and ears.
I just received my handmade vinyl record clock from vinylclockwork and love it! Mine was carved out of a Roger Williams LP on the classic and colorful Kapp Records label. I opted for the free-form version that I thought added to the uniqueness of the piece, though there is a ringed version with abbreviated (3, 6, 9, 12) numbering and a cool dot pattern fill. As a vinyl record collector I can assure you that no listenable albums were harmed in the making of these clocks. I applaud these folks and others who find a creative way to deal with the mountains of corny, cheesy, syrupy goo that our parents and grand parents listened to and that now collect dust by the crate-load.
Got a yearnin’ or a hankerin’ to hear some scratchy 78rpm goodness? Then listen no further than Wester Swing on 78, a blog chock-full of freshly-ripped vinyl and acetate just waiting to turn your computer into a dusty ol’ Texas dance hall. Consisting of mostly ZIP archives of MP3 song collections, the blog entries contain historical information, publicity photos and playable sample songs of such iconic western swing artists like Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys as well as flour-pushers like the Hillbilly Boys and the Light Crust Doughboys. Click, download and two-step the afternoon away.
Those of you familiar with NoRelevance.com and perhaps my other blog, CrateDiggersGold.com, know of my love, er- lust for 45 RPM records and their label art. Well, I’ve had to practically be medicated to prevent myself from starting another collection: 45 RPM factory sleeves. I thank Ms Kavel Rafferty for taking on this task and doing such a swell job of it. Design is certainly part of the allure of collecting paper ephemera, but process is also part of my curiosity. As modern printing goes digital it’s nice to have on hand several references of one and two color printing that look great despite their age and the cheap papers and inks most of these sleeves consisted of. I still consider the large hole 45 RPM record label and sleeve to be among the more difficult design challenges. Good think vinyl’s making a come back!
How quickly time passes when you’re busy. Here we are again, one year later, observing Record Store Day, this time in Austin, TX–truly the “live music capital of the world.” In fact, I stopped in to a great Austin record store (one of many), End of an Ear, to pick up some vinyl and happened to catch the last four songs by BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet before they headed back to southwest Louisiana. They were in town playing at the Old Settler’s Music Festival (one of a gazillion fests here this time of year) and were gracious enough to give us a free show in the parking lot. Oh, and I scored this UK pressing of Pete Kelly’s Blues featuring the silky-smooth voice of Peggy Lee and sporting some great typography to boot.
Though I’m still mourning the loss of Final Vinyl in the East Village, that won’t stop me from seeking out and patronizing my local record store this Saturday, April 19th, on Record Store Day. Get out there and support your local music retailer–more specifically, the ones selling vinyl!
I’ve now received as gifts both the paperback and hardcover versions of 45 RPM: A Visual History of the Seven-Inch Record, an interesting and amusing survey of 45 RPM record sleeves from the 1950s through the 1990s. And while my preference is (obviously) for label art, I can’t help but to pull these books out from time to time and flip through the actual-size reproductions of such visually interesting covers as the Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance” donning a photo of one of Yoko Ono’s installations or a Jackie Gleason “Lonesome Echo” single with a custom Salvador Dali painting on the cover or the Rat Fink-inspired Man… or Astro-Man? seven-inch. Quite possibly the main selling point for me is the index in the back of the book that lists all of the meta data on each record including, whenever possible, designer and illustrator. Turns out I have a couple of Burt Goldblatts in my collection.
Join “black crack” addicts worldwide on August 12th as we celebrate Vinyl Record Day commemorating the anniversary of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison. Go crate-digging at yard sales, flea markets and thrift shops, support your local vinyl record store, shop for new and used vinyl online at such great stores as Dusty Groove and Gemm, or finally get a replacement stylus for that used turntable you bought off Craig’s List.
If, like me, you have lots of rare, out-of-print vinyl records that just don’t exist digitally, the Numark TTUSB Turntable with USB may just cure your ills. This is a true plug-and-play solution for importing 33 1/3 & 45 RPM vinyl records into your computer via a standard USB 2.0 interface. The bundled Audacity software allows you to save songs as MP3s (or virtually any other digital music file format) and has a filter that allows you to easily remove scratches and pops from older records without compromising sound quality. You can use the turntable to play records through your computer speakers via USB or connect it to a home stereo system using the included RCA cable. I recently set one of these up for a friend and was amazed at how utterly convenient it was to both install and use. And while it’s not as heavy duty as my Technics 1200s, the belt-drive Numark TTUSB Turntable still produces a respectable sound considering what an amazing value it is. At under $125 bucks, I give it two thumbs up!