The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Labelled with Love

with 4 comments

It might not mean as much now in an era dominated by digital files (not to mention a music business that is more or less split between four major labels), but there’s a certain beauty in looking at the label on a piece of vinyl. Next to a picture sleeve, it’s the prettiest art you could get in the early days of buying music.

With that label, there would be an image, not only literally but spiritually as well; the image a label projected onto its LPs and singles usually called a certain emotion to mind. Capitol’s unmistakable ringed rainbow added a dash of whimsy to an straightforward company, not unlike how their Beatles brightly cut through the musical landscape. Motown’s road map, with that star in the dead center of Detroit, spoke to audiences of where the music was originating from – a magic place where almost impossibly good R&B came from. Even a label like Casablanca matched their image on the record (decadent, exotic landscapes) to their output (disco and KISS).

It’s a sorely missed art nowadays; most current CDs will just give you a title or an image. There are some exceptions – John Mayer has designed his last few CDs to look like different Columbia labels, and some well-organized reissues replicate those great old designs – but they’re few and far between.

What labels speak to you? And which would you like to see immortalized on reissues? Your thoughts are always welcome.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 22, 2010 at 11:49

Posted in Features, Open Forum

4 Responses

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  1. Tom Petty also uses some variation of old WB labels on his releases. I think “Wildflowers” had the original snot green label, IIRC.

    I love the old Casablanca label, and would love to see that affixed to reissues. The boxed set was an obvious missed opportunity there.


    March 22, 2010 at 14:53

  2. As you noted, a lot of recent reissues have featured replicas of the LP labels on the CD art. Most of the Genesis reissues had this, even differentiating between the Charisma labels for the UK and the Atlantic/Atco labels for the US.

    Interestingly, the reissues for U2’s Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, War and Boy all have CD art that is based on the original LP labels. But the CD art for October and Under a Blood Red Sky is different, at least from the labels I’ve seen (October CDs have a brown image of the band, whereas most versions of the October LP have a generic Island Records logo; UABRS CDs are orange with a black Bono silhouette whereas most UABRS vinyls have a purple, stylized video still for the LP label).


    March 22, 2010 at 15:22

  3. I believe that the CD art reflecting vintage vinyl labels was a trend that began in Japan. I have some early ’90’s Lovin’ Spoonful discs from Japan that faithfully recreate the Kama Sutra label.

    Columbia has recreated some vintage logos and record labels for many of the recent Bob Dylan reissues, vault releases and albums, and has even invented some clever “new” vintage artwork. (I’m not sure what “361 Sound STEREO” is, but it sure sounds better than the “360” version.) The recent Japan-exclusive “Dylan ga Rock” compilation featured a wonderful hybrid LP mini-sleeve for a set that has never actually been issued on vinyl.


    March 22, 2010 at 17:14

  4. And of course who can forget the packaging on The Beatles in Mono. It made me want to get little plastic sleeves for all my CDs!

    Mike Duquette

    March 22, 2010 at 17:46

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