Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mourning the Lost Art of the Home-made CD Cover

Wuh-haaaay back in the days of cassettes, aka mix tapes, I stole an idea from a co-worker who would cut out pictures from magazines to use as covers for his homemade cassettes. "How cool" I thought. It was an art project unto itself. I think I still have the envelope of the ones I haven't used yet. Next time you go through a magazine, note how many pictures would look cool cut down to the size of a cassette cover.

Then came CDs. Their covers are large enough that your average magazine pic just won't do it. However, the advent of popular CDs coincided with digital tools to create covers from scratch.
Which I did a lot of:

(I was never much of a Skynryrd fan, and to make space on the CD rack, I compressed my wife's set down to a hits package of just the songs we both like. My pic selections often betray my feelings about an artist.)

I have vast swathes of graphics and photos saved just for that purpose. I have entire backup CDs filled with potential covers.

But now, I find I'm buying music online exclusively. The only time I play an actual CD anymore is in my car because it's old and doesn't have an mp3 player or connectiod for one. At home, I now have a DVD player that has a USB port, so I just plug in my thumb drive if I'm going to play anything new.

Here's right were I left off with CD cover-making. I happed upon the directory on my box where I stored in-process art for CD covers while writing this, and this was in the queue. I was going to use a pick from this selection to make a cover for Shatner's Has Been. Poignant, ironic, and appropriate, no?

What got me to pondering all of this in the first place was this wonderful pic:

It needs almost no fixing up. Feel free to use it if you're still cruising in hardcopy-land.

My one leftover thought is how much I miss liner notes. I wish Amazon would include a set of .jpgs of the CD cover and booklet (even though I won't use them for that purpose) because it's nearly impossible to get the album credits anywhere. After I bought Santogold, I really wanted to know who'd written the songs and produced the album. Luckily allmusic had the goods. But, darnit, this is one of the last things that needs solving as we go totally digital.

Oh, btw, Amazon almost always has free mp3s you can snag. As of this posting, they're celebrating Black History Month by giving away a bunch of tunes from obscure black artists, and the not-so-obscure like Sam Cooke. And a tune off the new Alanis Morissette offering (whom I think of every time I use the word "ironic" as I did above.) I've found about 1/3 of the freebies are worth the button-click.


Whisky Prajer said...

Glad you're enjoying the Supersuckers. BTW, lead singer Eddie Spaghetti's second album cover looks like this.

Yahmdallah said...

I saw that after I bought the Supersuckers in the "you might like" Amazonian "would you like fries with that" area. I wondered who was first.