Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
Location: California

uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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A Sampling of Articles, Reviews, and Essays:

Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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THE DEEP FREEZE:
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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Friday, March 18, 2005
 

Art Lover

Shorty Rogers: Shorty Rogers Courts The Count (1954)


Today, we'll have a little art appreciation at Freeway Jam.

The Bestles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)


Back in the vinyl days, rock and jazz were good patrons of the visual arts. In rock's case, this was particularly true from the mid 1960's on. After the classic album covers on the late 60's inspired many a stoned rap, lavish attention went into the album cover art of many a recording. No longer would a simple, smiling picture of the bands' mugs do; the art had to signify something, further an image, catch the eye and make people go 'wow', or in some other ethereal respect, stand out from the crowd.

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (1971)


Jazz albums had been featuring excellent graphic design for years before rock, ever since the early 1940's; much of it is museum worthy now. A lot of collector albums garner premiums based as much upon the cover art as the music in the grooves; sometimes a lot more.

Herbie Nichols: the Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 2 (1955)


The vinyl album was an artist-friendly medium, with a perfectly square 144 sq. inch area to work with. This is a respectable amount of space; you can really fit a lot of detail into 144 square inches. Museums are full of paintings on canvases of roughly equivalent size. A gatefold could double this, creating a fine 288 sq, inch mural.

Ohio Players: Honey (1975)


There was a whole ritual to opening a vinyl record for me. On the way back from the record shop, I'd look over the covers intently. Some were classic designs in simplicity: Dark Side Of The Moon's prisms, for example. Others were intense, long meditations: how many faces on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club could I identify? Some were erotic, like the Ohio Players' gatefolds, some were depraved, like the H.R. Giger's art, best known on Brain Salad Surgery. Some brilliantly reflected the music inside the wrapper.

Deep Purple: Machine Head (1972)


They could be interactive, like Andy Warhol's banana peel on The Velvet Underground and Nico, which really peeled, or his Sticky Fingers cover, with the real unzippable zipper. Some covers were beautiful; some trippy; some frightening; some cerebral; some humorous; some unintentionally funny.

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)


Some were spoofs.

Bow Wow Wow: See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over , Go Ape Crazy! (1981)


I loved slitting open the shrink wrap next, and peeling it away (I had always heard that keeping shrink wrap on would warp the record; I have no idea if this old wives' tale is true), feeling the static cling to the hairs on my arm. I'd study the inner sleeve inside the album. Before Sgt. Pepper, inner sleeves were blank, or advertised other albums by the artist or label. After Pepper included its psychedelic red-to-pink toned inner sleeve, the sleeve bcame a secondary canvas, a place for more art, lyrics, artist photos, or other arcana.

The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Inner Sleeve] (1967)


Slipping that disc out of the inner sleeve, and looking at its slick, petrochemical grooves glisten in the light, pristine and untouched as a virgin snow, the moment of rhapsody before the actual listen, was a delight. I even loved how a freshly-pressed vinyl record smelled; a vague hint of tar, pleasingly pungent to the nostrils.

Captain Beefheart: Doc At The Radar Station (1980)


During the first playback, I'd study that cover even more, especially if it turned out to be a good album. I recall entire afternoons spent reclined in my room, as sunlight spilled through the windows, staring into album covers in a semi-dream state, tranced-out, as a soundscape unfolded.

Yes: Tales From Topographic Oceans (1974)


Or nights spent surreptitiously listening, well past midnight, the volume turned up just loud enough for me to hear it without waking the rest of the house, staring into album covers as night blanketed the world outside. Times when the imagination was most fertile, alone in the darkness, illuminated by bedlamp, times when music and art left their deepest impressions.

Miles Davis: Jack Johnson (1971)


I developed intense crushes on beautiful women and ogled them for hours, even if their music didn't move me.

Olivia Newton-John: Come On Over (1976)


Or, I'd visit creepy distant worlds.

Roxy Music: Siren (1975)


Or, I'd ponder dark mysteries.

Blue Oyster Cult: Blue Oyster Cult (1972)


CD's changed all that. They cut the artwork space from 144 sq. inches to a puny 36; not a whole lot you can do with that, and you will seldom see art that small hanging in a museum. The artists do the best they can; perhaps as much creativity goes into CD design as ever went into vinyl. But a CD cover seldom has the sonsory wallop its larger forbear did. It's hard to obsess over them.

Emerson Lake & Palmer: Brain Salad Surgery (1973)


There is a young generation now in its early teens growing up among us. Many of these young people may never own a hardcopy disk of music in their life; they'll be purely digital iPod listeners; art will be what flashes on a screen, completely up to the user.

Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath (1970)


Tonight, I just felt like taking a larger-than-usual look at some favorite album covers. Feel free to nominate some of your favorites as well; I'll post any recommendations.

X: Los Angeles (1980)


In Freeway Jam's second-ever post, I talked about the technical set-up I use when I listen to music these days.

Funkadelic: Hardcore Jollies (1976)


One thing I mentioned in the list was where to find album cover art: All Music is a good starting point, since it is very artist inclusive. The files are pretty small though, and don't look good in full-screen mode. Amazon is an obvious resource; the cover art files are usually (but not always) a nice, large size.

The Who: Who's Next (1971)


For the rare out-of-print stuff, ebay is hit-or-miss, but literally anything might turn up. Useful not only for album art, but for concert posters and memorabilia. Music Stack, a nexus of 3000 record collector's shops, is a trusty place for vinyl and 45 covers. All of the above deserve thanks from Freeway Jam, for helping provide some visual aids here that help illustrate the history we get into. Hope they don't mind too much.

The Clash: London Calling (1980)


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