Saturday, May 27, 2017
As you can imagine, in my work at the music store I see a constant stream of CD and LP sleeves and packaging, day in-day out. Of course, I see a great many that are already familiar, but also a whole ton that I have not seen before. There are occasions where a sleeve design or packaging element is so impossibly bad that it stops me in my tracks. It could be a dreadful painting, poor layout, crappy font or whatever, but all I can think when I see them is that someone, or more than one person, and more often than not also the act in question, will have approved that design as the way to sell that product. In so many instances I simply cannot believe how terrible the sleeve is, and that it has been approved, making me wonder 'what were they thinking?!'
Speaking of, just take a look at the utterly fucking useless example above. After watching a wonderful documentary about her, Susan and I have been buying and enjoying what we can find by the late jazz-blues singer, Alberta Hunter. There isn't too much out there, especially of her really early work, so we were delighted to learn that a brand new 4 CD set of her recordings between 1921 and 1940 was to be released this month. As soon as it arrived at the store I snapped it up, eager to hear it at home. However, upon unwrapping it I was astonished, angry and amused all at once to see what you see above.
This is what is revealed upon taking CD 1 from its tray. There, right in the middle, is an archive photograph of Alberta, her face perfectly obscured by the retaining hub. God alive, how can this have ever been approved?!
Picture the scene: the four disc set has been meticulously compiled after the recordings have been restored; a lovely booklet of biographical information has been researched and written, and the CD set's packaging layout has been drawn up. It is all sent to whomever at the record label and someone - OBVIOUSLY A MORON - looks it over and says, "Yes, that looks awesome."
Seriously, I am lost for any more words on the subject. Everything about this piece of design packaging is totally shit. It is a fact that cannot be disputed or argued against. It is a pitiful oversight blighting a historically significant collection of vintage material, and poor Alberta would be turning in her grave if she could see it.
Really, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!