by Evan Chapman, 11 June 2012
When the recent reissue of Taschen’s Jazz Covers arrived at RBHQ, we were a little shocked at the size and weight of the collection – so much so that we instantly dropped it. If your arms are weak and feeble from hours behind a monitor stabbing desperately at a keyboard, we urge you to take care. Featuring over 500 album covers, from the classic to the obscure, this is one comprehensive and chunky collection of design.
Though the collection features covers designed right up to the 1990s, it celebrates an era in record cover design where, for a brief moment, artists weren’t as heavily involved in decisions about how their album and single artwork would look. Though some labels still involved recording artists in the process, in-house graphic designers and photographers had a great deal more freedom to experiment.
Spread over two volumes, Jazz Covers pays tribute to artists including Bob Ciano and Reid Miles with high quality, full page images of the album covers they designed for labels including CTI to Blue Note. The collection is split into two weighty books (their spines photographed to look just like your record collection) and comes in a slip case which we can happily report is fairly indestructible. The presentation is just lovely. And those who revel in the finer details will be in geek heaven as each album cover is accompanied by details of the recording artist, designer, illustrator, photographer, year, record label and more.
Jazz Covers serves as a source of design inspiration, a record of a potentially fading artform, a collection of facts that would make any music nerd’s eyes water and a homage to some great recording artists. It should be compulsory browsing for music fans, jazz fiends and lovers of great graphic design.
Despite the extortionate amount we’re going to have to pay for shipping and the health and safety risks involved with getting it to the local Post Office, we’ve got a copy of Jazz Covers by Joaquim Paulo and Julius Wiedemann to give away to one lucky person (and no, it’s not the one we dropped).
To be in the running, all you need to do is share this review on Twitter (use #rbjazzcovers). One lucky winner will have this enormous collection shipped to your door where it can be put to work making your coffee table look more stylish, or propping up your car if you need to change a tyre.