Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jerry's Records, Westminster Gold Genius

As a treat to myself for a teaching successful first piano lesson, I stopped into Jerry's Records in Squirrel Hill and discovered a vast cavern of literally millions of record albums. It was more than I could ever dream of. In fact, the classical albums alone take up an entire apartment-sized room, floor to ceiling.

I was looking for one record in particular, and thought I'd take a long shot at seeing if they had it. It's the Berlioz 'Romeo and Juliet' from the Westminster Gold collection, a record label in the 1970's that used humor and irreverence (while still maintaining great design work) for their classical album art. I'd been looking at this record on an online auction for over a year and it was about $25--more than I wanted to pay, but the image is so great I really debated it for a long time. But I found it at Jerry's! And I got it for $8, which I think was totally fair, even though I probably could have bargained. But it's totally worth it to keep them in existence!
Here is the full folio spread, in all its hilarious soft-focus glory.
Not only does it capture my interest in male nudes (and cute ones at that) but Romeo is wearing socks! When the album is closed, you think it will be the typical 'star-crossed lovers' shot and then the surprise gets you on the back. Brilliant!
They have many witty covers, one of which is this album for Flute and Harpsichord Sonatas. Think about it.
And then there are some simple yet effective beautiful designs, too. I especially like this cover for string quartets, with a clever allusion to literal string, but there are four hands working together to make their creation (Cat's Cradle). And in string quartets, the ensemble playing of all four musicians, rather than the individual players, creates the work. Also, the weight of the typefaces is always carefully chosen. It's a great package deal! I think that kind of clever design is totally missing in this modern age.

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