The Art of Making Art
Once upon a time, there was the LP. Big and bulky, and oh so easy to scratch. Unveiled in 1948, they lasted roughly half a century until the clear digital quality of the CD finally replaced them. That’s a damn good run.
I love CD’s and the sonic realms that they have brought us, but I’m not enough of an audiophile, nor are my ears attuned enough, to get all weepy over the difference between analog and digital sound. But I do miss the physical substance of an LP, particularly in its packaging.
Now there’s a new site devoted to the cover art for vintage soundtrack LP’s. This used to be a separate dedicated site, but has since been morphed into an offshoot of Runmovies.eu, an archive of articles and interviews from the old CinemaScore and Soundtrack magazines. This site in particular does what the internet does best–it catalogs information online that would be difficult, if not impossible, to find, and otherwise would be lost to the sands of time.
There are no commentaries, no frills. Just beautiful front-and-back scans of old soundtracks. I hope they move the old scans onto the new site eventually. Some of the joys of the site are seeing soundtracks you had forgotten or never even knew existed. Some of those soundtracks deserve a CD release, others deserve to be lost in the ether of cyberspace.
LP cardboard sleeves were easily torn, bent, and scratched as they were pulled and returned from their storage place, but there is no sensation quite like sitting on the floor and thumbing through a pile of LP’s in front of you. The thinness and size of the LP made it ideal for browsing. Plastic jewel cases, no matter how they’re packaged, can’t be thumbed through, though their spines are far easier to read. But spines are missing one crucial element of the joy of album packaging–the artwork.
Soundtrack cover art never quite entered the creative realm that pop and rock albums did, but thankfully it rarely succumbed to the hokey, esoteric, and often bland realm of classical music LP’s. After all, soundtracks were marketing a specific product–the film.
Not much has changed in soundtrack artwork since the arrival of the CD. Usually the main poster artwork is used for the cover, but CD’s offer the opportunity for booklets that LP’s never had. Movie stills, composer pictures, scoring sessions, and vintage posters are all possible in CD liner notes, not to mention the exhaustive research that we are now blessed with in many liner notes.
And yet, as wonderful as all those elements are, I still miss LP’s. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and my eyesight is getting worse and worse. But no matter how beautifully presented, artwork loses some of its punch when shrunk down to coaster size. And I can forget about even reading the notes. Even with my trifocals (yes, my eyesight is that bad!) I’m far too proud to purchase one of those tacky Owl reading lights to help me.
LP artwork (and the accompanying vinyl sonic product) in every genre is now beginning to get paid its due. It often sells big at auction, is featured in museum exhibits, and even graces the walls of our homes. It’s nice to see soundtrack LP cover art being celebrated over at Vintage Scores. I guarantee it will bring back memories as well as introduce you to scores you’ve never even heard of.