Art of the LP (book review)

The Art of the LP – Classic Album Covers 1955-1995 – Johnny Morgan and Ben Wardle (Sterling) – book review

In this Itunes era, music is easy.  No more digging through dusty record stores for that hard-to-find song; it’s readily available at the click of a mouse.  No need to drag heavy crates of albums or CDs from place to place; every song known to man easily fits in the palm of our hand.  But, this convenience comes at a price: the loss of an entire aspect of creativity.

In the Art of the LP, authors Johnny Morgan and Ben Wardle showcase a time when music and art coexisted happily in the form of the record album.  One of the points of the book is that what was on the cover was just as important, if not more, than the music inside.  Whether it was attitude, humor, sex, or politics, the album cover helped set the mood before you ever dropped the needle.  What sets this book apart from other album art compilations is the way that they’re presented: not grouped by music genre, but by the subject matter on the cover.  You get sections on rock n’ roll attitude, sex, drugs, politics, ego and death.  In this grouping, it’s interesting to see albums in different musical styles sharing a similar theme.

The editors also make good use of side by side comparisons, showing how Elvis’ first album influenced London Calling from the Clash; or how Queen mimicked Meet the Beatles for their second album.  Each of the over 300 LP covers contains a paragraph that gives background not only on the sleeve, but oftentimes on the music that corresponds to it as well.  They even throw in the occasional awful cover, showing just how far poor taste can go (several LPs by the Scorpions fit this description).

What’s also nice is that the Art of the LP is a coffee table size book, 12 inches tall, so the covers can be enjoyed in their pre-CD full LP size glory.  For anyone wanting a glimpse into the music world before the mp3, the Art of the LP will make an excellent gift. –Tony Peters