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For the Record:
Before Alex Steinweiss invented the album cover in 1938, at the age of 23, all albums came in plain brown wrappers. Steinweiss's idea to create a package that would protect the record and that had something visual on the outside to lure the consumer was a huge success; sales of the record "Smash Song Hits by Rodgers and Hart" soared. That simple idea revolutionized the record business and spawned an entire new field of illustration-album cover art-that is now inseparable from the product it announces. Steinweiss's covers are still regarded as icons of the genre. He designed them as miniature posters, with eye-catching graphics, distinctive and vivid colrs, and creative, even playful, typography, often incorporating his much-imitated "Steinweiss scrawl" lettering. The Steinwiess style went hand in hand with the golden age of jazz, classical, and popular music dominated by Columbia, RCA, Decca, Victor, and London Records. This book collects over 125 of the most famous and original graphics created by Steinweiss, including cover designs for Benny Goodman, Xavier Cugat, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Cole Porter, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Esquivel, and many others. Designed at the same size as a 45 rpm record, this chunky book is not only a feast of graphic design, but also offers an illustrated history of music in the '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s. Anecdotes on musicians? history of album cover design? Brief essays by Steven Heller and Jennifer McKnight-Trontz discuss Steinweiss's career and the indelible mark he has left on the graphic design and music industries. A must-have for music fans and designers alike. [via]