Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Michael Ochs, 1000 Record Covers

“1000 Record Covers” is exactly what its title says it is – a collection of photos of 1000 record covers.  The covers are grouped more or less by decade in three sections covering 1000 coversthe 1960s, ’70s and 80s.  There are a few 90s covers in the last section and some 60s covers show up in the ’70s section for unexplained reasons.  The album sleeves are all from the rock and pop genres; no jazz, classical or country.  Each section is preceeded by a very brief two page essay in English, German and French that summarizes the (rock and pop) music of the decade.  The essays are pretty much empty fluff; this book is all about the pictures.

By and large the album covers are nicely reproduced with bright, sharp color reproduction.  Some of the album sleeves show wear but many of the older covers are in very nice condition.  The main problem with the pictures is that some are a bit too tiny.  Albums are usually presented either one or two to a page with the two-to-a-page format resulting in small pictures given that the book is midway between the mass-market and trade paperback sizes.  Some albums, such as the nude version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, are given a two page spread which results in some of the album art or photo being lost in the gutter between pages. 

Other than an inaccurate chronology by decades, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the overall presentation; sometimes albums are grouped by artist, sometimes they’re not; sometimes they’re grouped by sub-genre, sometimes they’re not.  Also, albums do not seem to be included based on the importance or quality of the music as the collection includes a hodgpodge of important and obscure musicians and groups while some influential musicians whose albums were known for their cover art (e.g., Cal Schenkel’s covers for many Frank Zappa albums) are absent.  The subsequent fame of the artists or the visual interest of the cover also does not seem to play a role in how the covers are presented as R. Crumb’s famous and detailed cover for Big Brother’s “Cheap Thrills” album gets a small half-page while the Bee Gee’s “Odessa” (name of band, album and record company stamped in gold on a flat red background) gets a whole page. 

“1000 Record Covers” looks like a random set of photos of the albums in someone’s personal record collection.  There are a lot of great album covers here and with very few exceptions they are well photographed and well reproduced.  If you like the music and the album sleeves of rock and pop from the period covered, this is a nice book to browse through.  If you want a collection of album photos that have been selected and organized based on the quality or importance of either visual art or musical performance, this isn’t it.

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01/16/2008 - Posted by | book reviews, music

2 Comments »

  1. You nailed this review. I own this book but am a bit bewildered by the placement, organization, and themes throughout the book. Interesting resource material but could have been much better done.

    Comment by M Gosnell | 10/31/2008 | Reply

  2. […] 1000 Records Covers, de Michael Ochs […]

    Pingback by Chegou na Itiban 2 | Blog da Itiban | 07/12/2012 | Reply


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