Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: 'Rock Covers'

I used to keep a copy of Michael Ochs’s 1000 Record Covers on my desk. It was a handy reference for cool album art and fit perfectly next to my little dictionary and thesaurus. One thing the 5.5-inch x 7.5-inch book did not do was provide an accurate representation of the scale and detail of those covers. That kind of thing may have cut the mustard during the CD age when we forgot what we were missing, but vinyl has now made a resounding comeback (do I need to refer you to the wild hype surrounding the release of the Beatles in Mono vinyl box a few months ago?). That means the 1-foot-square sleeve has too. For a better idea of how it feels to actually hold a copy of Here's Little Richard or Pet Sounds or Atom Heart Mother or Marquee Moon or Goo or The White Stripes in your hand, dig Busch, Kirby, and Wiedemann's Rock Covers. Like 1000 Record Covers, it is published by Taschen, but it probably won't fit on your desk. Just a half-inch shorter on both sides than your average LP jacket, Rock Covers is surely intended to provide an authentic experience even though every one of its artworks is not presented at full-page size. The editors also fill in a lot of Ochs's blind spots, giving much more space to punk, college, and alternative albums than Ochs did. Not only do we get some classic Vaughan Oliver sleeves but we get a short interview with the man himself, as well as others such as Henry Diltz and Black Crowe Chris Robinson.

That this is a great art book is a given since it contains so much great art. It does lose a few points for authenticity when compared to Ochs's book because everything in it is so straight-out-of-shrink-wrap clean. Ochs did not whitewash what goes down in a real record collection. You could tell his records were used, abused, bruised, deeply loved, and regularly rotated. I also like how he'd juxtapose sleeves that shared some sort of aesthetic trait. Busch, Kirby, and Wiedemann go for straight alphabetical order. Still, if it's between tiny, damaged images and great, big, unblemished ones, I admit size matters. Rock Covers comes out on top.

Get Rock Covers on Amazon.com here:

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