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Music by Design - CD vs Vinyl

Considering myself, with Dolan, one of the few to buy CDs, I’m proud to be part of an even smaller group: (hard to believe) I actually buy music in the vinyl media.

While it’s no term of discussion that the CD media has superior quality in sound clearness and purity, the vinyl still leads in graphic appeal. The CD’s surface is smaller, and the leaflet is just plain paper, soft, thin. While you may achieve nice graphic results on CD cover, is it still possible to have a ‘masterpiece’ as you had in the vinyl format?

I’m thinking of covers the like of: ‘Unknown Pleasure’ - Joy Division, the all black cover with the small frequency diagram in the center, it’s a clear example of a subject that loses most of it’s appeal when “translated’ on CD; and what about the good old singles mania, the 45’s? as we call them here in Europe, had the great value to offer the chance for unknown bands, and cover artists, to express themselves in a more honest way (read: less commercial), I’m thinking of the 1st single from Dinosaur Jr. (known at that time as Dinosaur), Repulsion, and it’s great expressionist cover.

To be honest, there are great examples of CD covers as well, they make great use of the space they have, it’s sort of a more technical approach, graphically speaking, but there’s plenty of great artwork too.

Take a look at the CD single by UNKLE - ‘Rabbit in your headlights a neat alien shaped cardboard, that renders exactly what you will find hearing the track. Or, in a more artistic way, the special edition single CD from Sonic Youth, Disappearer that contains original artwork by contemporary artist Raymond Pettybon packaged in superb art direction by Kevin Reagan.

It seems now it has to be the DVD turn to exit planet platitude and show something original.

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PUBLISHED ON Sep.15.2002 BY long-gone author
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

I have every Joy Division and New Order release on vinyl (I'm old enough to have bought them when they came out) and you are 100% correct. They are amazing objects. They're in plastic sleeves, being well-kept. The New Order Power, Corruption and Lies diecut cover is perhaps my fave of them all. Anyone who has Unknown Pleasures on vinyl is alright with me.

On Sep.15.2002 at 10:55 AM
Tom Deja’s comment is:

What about design ON the actual vinyl itself? I'm talking about things like, speaking of Dinosaur, the B-side of the 12" version of Bug/Just Like Heaven (by...I can't remember) or the Savage Pencil work on the original version of Lee Renaldo's (horrible) first solo record.

Or there were picture disks too. Does anyone remember the series of picture disks that Blast First put out in the late 80's/early 90's of music chosen by artists with art by those artists--I know there was a Savage Pencil thing with music from motorcycle movies (called "Angel Dust," I believe), an amazing double lp that was essentially a history of hot rod songs that Robert Williams put together ("Chrome, Smoke and Fire" if I'm not mistaken)and Joe Coleman did some kind of serial killer thing that I never heard.

Picture disks...one more thing you can't really do with a CD that you can with an album. At least not as well.

On Sep.16.2002 at 02:15 PM
Kiran’s comment is:

This may be a bit off topic but I found it interesting none the less.

In today's New York Times there was an article about Epic Records taking a new approach to protecting unreleased music from being traded over the internet. Music critics are apparently getting the CD already in a disc man that is glued shut and headphones are included that are glued in as well to prevent connecting the disc man to a recording device. One critic took the device apart to gain access to the CD to listen to it on his stereo.

I can understand that record companies are getting very desperate in their attempt to thwart the �illegal” music trade, but this is pretty pathetic.

On Sep.16.2002 at 03:41 PM
ale’s comment is:

And there was a time when records were made of components you actually could took apart/interact with.

Remember the 'peel slowly and see' (The Velvet Underground - by Velvet Underground) album where you may peel off the big yellow banana?

What about the Rolling Stones album you were literally allowed to 'unzip', 'Sticky Fingers'?

On Sep.16.2002 at 04:02 PM
ale’s comment is:

With some delay, I'm sorry for that, I put the links to the covers I'm talking about, except for Unknown Pleasure (Joy Division) which has been allready linked by Tom Dolan (thank you).

Hope you may apreciate them.

On Sep.16.2002 at 04:49 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Picture discs live. I just did one for indie label Emperor Norton for the Finnish punk band Cato Salsa Experience. It printed wonderfully. Great object. The kids went nuts. People (a few) are actually still buying vinyl.

On Sep.17.2002 at 10:47 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Could we see the design? so we can go nuts, like the kids.

On Sep.17.2002 at 10:53 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Sure thang.

On Sep.17.2002 at 09:39 PM
Armin’s comment is:

It sure looks good. I liked the first side better. How did you print it? slik-screen?

On Sep.19.2002 at 02:46 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

No, it's a photoshop file that is printed (offset) and then sandwiched in between the vinyl of the record. Final product is the 7" picture disc 45.

On Sep.24.2002 at 11:37 AM
ale’s comment is:

I found this site, 5inch.com, who's offering custom CD cover and discs from an Adobe Illustrator template.

Starting from $735 for 500CDs, I don't know if it's a big deal or not.

They also do pre-customized cd, via a sister company, www.segura-inc.com, based in Chicago.

I guess Tom allready knnew that, anyway.

On Sep.25.2002 at 12:55 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I do not support anything that has to do with Segura, Inc.

FYI - Carlos Segura is the guy behind Segura Inc, 5 Inch and T-26.com (the type foundry).

On Sep.25.2002 at 01:14 PM
ale’s comment is:

I dunno neither the man or the company, it just seemed related, in a way, with the post.

Didn't want to advertise this stuff, anyway.

On Sep.25.2002 at 02:55 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Didn't want to advertise this stuff, anyway.

I didnt' mean it in that way. It was more of a "by the way..." kind of thing. It's not like we are selling their stuff here.

On Sep.25.2002 at 03:24 PM
pk’s comment is:

i haven't seen many companies do work with the preciousness one can achieve with an album sleeve. there's neat german company su collects...gorgeous built-paper sleeves with graphics printed directy on. i think they take orders as well. site's not working, but they're emailable.

v23 also did some gorgeous collectors editions for 4AD records. i have one for spooky by lush. one of the most amazing pieces of printing i've ever seen. you can see tons of lush stuff here.

On Sep.25.2002 at 11:39 PM
ale’s comment is:

I stole this link from kaliber10000,

but it's so nice:


On Oct.03.2002 at 05:23 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Wow! This is more than just cool, it's very practical: you could add a directory of the disk contents, so you don't have to pop the thing in to see what's in it. The one problem is that it doesn't have a lot of contrast, especially on some substrates.


On Oct.03.2002 at 05:42 PM
Armin’s comment is:

That really looks so cool. It's nota available yet, is it? I didn't read all the way through. It's so nice to see new inventions, now that wheel has been taken care of.

On Oct.04.2002 at 08:23 AM
ale’s comment is:

Seems this topic will last forever:

the bollywood cd cover collection

on show now.

On Nov.27.2002 at 01:54 PM
ale’s comment is:

Really, I can't stop posting comments on this one,

but there's plenty of interesting resources out there.

Chek This one, this is not really about CD/Vynil covers but it's about music and superior, vintage graphic.

On Nov.28.2002 at 09:32 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Both are great sources for retro-inspiration.

On Nov.28.2002 at 11:07 AM
Red C.’s comment is:

Are you kidding me? Vinyl is the PURE-sounding of the two. CD output is nothing but digitized mechanical crap.

On Oct.07.2005 at 09:46 PM