C30, C60, C90 go!

Far from disappearing, the humble compact cassette has found fresh favour on the DIY music scene, with the return of tape-only labels being one of the most surprising developments of recent years. However, taking into account the digital ‘loudness wars’ eloquently deliniated in Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever, which saw the likes of Metallica’s huge fanbase lambasting the ‘everything louder than everything else’ approach, mebbe the humble analogue cassette’s ability to absorb serious overloading and sound simply triffic makes more sense… and then there’s the excellent blank tape insert art, as reflected by this excellent Flickr set.

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Monkee Business — coining it in…

Monkee Business, Eric Lefcowitz’s new tome about the world’s first boyband, is now available in a nifty limited edition run of 300 copies that feature a die-cut cover inset with double-sided coins depicting the respective noggins of Messrs Nesmith, Tork, Jones and Dolenz, as used on the regular paperback shown below. The limited edition is available here.

Field Notes – share the love

We love Field Notes notebooks and we love print and this video shows why.

That’s the way to promote your product: show people you love what you do and that you’re competent at it.

Elektra hits 60 — art and commerce in perfect harmony

The label’s masterpiece? Love’s third album, 1967’s Forever Changes.

Elektra records is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, and as far as independently-minded, hugely successful labels are concerned, it’s managed to surf atop six decades of musical mayhem with great aplomb, maintaining a textbook mix of art and commerce — from Love and the Doors, through the Stooges, MC5 and New York Dolls, to Charlotte Gainsbourg, Björk and Cee-Lo Green.

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The 45 sleeve — packaging as art

“Sleeves were designed originally to serve as a protective device for records and labels during shipment. In the case of “45” rpm records, however, a device of this nature becomes unnecessary. The raised label area on 45’s fully prevents any harmful contact between the grooved surfaces of records during shipment. Paper separators – such as this sheet – are designed to protect record labels during shipment. They have no other useful function and may be discarded at your convenience…”

Sage record care advice from the folks at RCA Victor, circa 1952.

As you can see from the small selection of 45 sleeves shown above, thankfully, the rest of the music industry — and, indeed, RCA itself — didn’t share this rather quite touching faith in the durability of the company’s new vinyl medium, and quickly turned the humble shipping protector into an art form in its own right.

RCA’s numpty claim is very redolent of those made on behalf of the CD when it was first introduced — most famously on a 1981 episode of the popular TV science show, Tomorrow’s World, wherein the presenters happily smeared a shiny biscuit with jam, then wiped it off and played it, as if proving that it was virtually indestructible! And we know how that ended…

“Off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush”

Ellroy's prime source material - propaganda disguised as a TV tie-in!

Noir icon James Ellroy is well known for his almost seamless blending of fact and fiction, but a recent chance purchase of a copy of 1940s magazine On The QT at a market stall in Bath popped another piece of his creative puzzle into place.

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“Greetings, grapple fans…”

With the large-scale pomp of the WWF, it’s easy to forget that wrestling (like football) used to be a resolutely down-at-heel kids-to-grannies spectacle that was one toe-hold away from the carnival. Whether it was Kent Walton intoning “Greetings, grapple fans…” on ITV’s World of Sport, ushering in such unforgettable characters as Kendo Nagasaki, or Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler (who taught Andy Kaufman to wrestle!) broadcasting live from a church hall in West Memphis, thrills aplenty were to be had.

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