Is album-cover art as important now as it was in the Age of Vinyl?

Since CDs are so much smaller than vinyl records, and CD jewel boxes so much smaller than vinyl-album sleeves – and what is smaller is less visually arresting – it seems to me that the age when cover art was a really important part of marketing an album, and a memorable element of the album’s cultural legacy (e.g., the Beatles’ White Album) is over. A friend of mine – an aspiring musician who has already designed the covers for all his yet-to-be-recorded albums – insists that cover art is as important as it ever was. Who’s right?

Pretty well over, I’d say. The first thing I do with any new CD I buy is pop it into the computer, rip it, copy said rips over to my portable jukebox gadget, remove cd, back in case, case in stack, and commence to dust-collecting. And it’s been years since I bought any album at an actual physical store–it’s always cheaper online. So no more sifting through racks, which I don’t find much of a loss, personally.

I would say that between CD’s and digital music, cover art has gone the way of a Dodo - I haven’t bought a CD in years, much less cared about the cover art back when I purchased my music in hard copy.

Yes, great album cover art is dead. You usually just get a photo, usually of the artists, and there’s none of the experimentation (gatefolds, poster inserts, die cuts) that marked LP art.

Man, I just love album cover art. But I think it’s been replaced by the music video. I don’t think it’s nearly as important as it once was. I don’t ever hear people talking about cool album covers anymore.

It’s a lost art. I’m glad your friend is into it. Some day it will make a comeback, just like everything else. Cool is cool! :cool:

I can tell that no one here owns a copy of Tool’s Lateralus.

Seriously, cover art isn’t dead at all, it’s just gone underground. I don’t have my CD collection with me at work, but when I get home I’ll look for some recent albums that have fantastic cover art.

Fantomas’ <I>Delirium Cordia</I>: the entire booklet is a piece of art that goes with the music.

The Melvins, I love how all their albums have the back for the front and the front for the back.

Anything from Godspeed You Black Emperor is great.

ultrafilter, you took the words right out of my mouth. Tool has some exceptional packages. I also think Mr. Bungle’s California has some terrific art, and it (like the Tool examples) seem to be specific to the cd medium. (Incorperating the size, jewel case and etc.) I was super sad about the loss of the art form that was wax but some clever folks seem to be picking up the torch, even if it is not commonplace.

Steal this Album by System of a Down is pretty special too, but for different reasons.

I agree that it’s a lost art. Look at some of the later Pearl Jam Albums (No Code, Yield, Binaural). If you have the vinyls like me you’ll see they’re fantastic. I really love my mother’s LP collection just because so many of them are so great. I’m very disappointed in the artists who just have pictures of themselves on the cover, especially back then.

One time I was searching for music to download (back in the day) and tried a “space” genre search. There weren’t many songs that showed up, but Godspeed You Black Emperor was one of them. The name intrigued me, so I DLed it. To this day, “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennae to Heaven” is the only thing I’ve ever seen that shows they have some existence, but wow it blew me away.
Know a place that can hook me up with some?

Amazon has a lot of their stuff.

In the new file-sharing craze that is bit torrent, people are trading albums instead of singles, and in the folder with the songs you usually get high resolution cover scans these days.
I would agree that overall there is less value placed on good album art these days, but you are still going to be able to find thousands of exceptions.

Re: Godspeed

Yeah, check out Amazon for all of their stuff. And allow me to suggest “Slow Riot for New Zero Canada” as their best. Moya is the most moving song I’ve ever heard - and there aren’t even lyrics to it.