Vinyl Design

the space base

A lot of people buy records by bands they like. I also do that but usually I'll buy something just because of the cover. If it looks interesting and is cheap, I'll usually get it. I also buy records to find samples I can use in my own music, so I like records that I've never heard of. I'm not concerned with the quality of the songwriting as much as I am with finding cool isolated noises and loops I can use.

At thrift shops and garage sales, you can't always listen to a record before you buy it. So I like talking to beat makers and learning what they look for when deciding to buy an unknown record. Some people look for certain design styles, or specific producer or studio credits on the back. I was once told that you should always buy a reggae album when the band photo has one white guy in it, but if there are two, leave it! I haven't come up with rules that specific but I think its fascinating the way people decide whether or not to buy a mystery album.

I went through my record collection and pulled out a few that I think are really visually interesting. Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite album covers are.

nice letters marantz

don't call me shurely


Weird fantasy art like this usually makes me think prog rock.

Fairyland by Larry Coryell

I had no idea who Larry Coryell was when I picked this up. I still don't really but this record is excellent. Like most records I buy, I chose this because it was cheap and the cover was interesting and I didn't know what it was. I guess it's "jazz fusion" or something like that? I just know it's got some killer guitar licks and some interesting type.

And there's Larry boy himself rocking out on the back. Cool Mega logo top left.

Very detailed lettering.


Neat type and illustration.

Percussion Espanol

This one has some cool type. The large narrow white letters on the orange are pretty killer. So is the Sterophonic type across the top. The Spin-O-Rama logo is neat too. Music is not too interesting. This is one of those records I pick up just for sampling purposes, it has some cool open percussion sounds on it.


Merry Christmas Carols With Organ And Chimes

This is pretty boring to me musically. I bought it solely because of that typeface. That fat geometric didonic(is that a word?) typeface! And the color is really nice too. Even the Million Seller mark at the top left is cool.

I love the angles on this typeface


Concerto for Organ and Chamber Orchestra by Hindemith Rheinberger

The music is not too bad if you're into this sort of thing but the type and colors are awesome. This seems like the designer was just having fun and nerding out. The way the color highlights the negative space between the letters is really neat and looks like something from a typography textbook. 

Nice type on the back.

always a fan of the LP logo

nice thick slab serif in the Colombia logo


Persuasive Percussion

This cover rules. Josef Albers designed covers for the Persuasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion series for Command Records. I wish I owned all of them. Beautiful, abstract and modern. Great records for sampling too!

Nice illustrations inside

Command has a nice logo too.


Echoes of Paris and More Echoes of Paris

Vox Logo is nice.

I really like the colors and type, especially on the first one. I like how the letters are very clean and geometric except for the ends. Musically kind of a snooze fest for me but not bad as background music. Definitely bought these for the covers.


Grazing Dreams by Collin Walcott

All the covers on ECM Records releases are pretty great. Ultra clean layouts with images that really seem to match the music. Label founder Manfrid Eichner has been in charge of the label's art direction since 1969 and has kept it on point! Music wise this is sitar based jazz, which holds my attention for a few minutes but then drifts into the background as I scroll though instagram.

cool little graphic on the back.

ECM logo is very small but still readable. Thumbs up!


Music Of Jerome Kern by Andre Kostelanetz And His Orchestra

Graphic designers love this one. Maybe because kern is also a word in our secret typography language that we think we're sooooo cool for knowing. It's also just a great looking cover. The colors and the big 3D slab serif letters are gorgeous. And the way the blue behind the E overlays the yellow and makes green is cool . The colors are printed off a tiny bit which is something I like a lot even though its not a design choice but just a result of the printing process.

It was designed by Alex Steinweiss, the guy who invented the LP album cover! However, he lost rights to the patent due to his contract with Columbia Records. History! 

the black airbrush adds nice texture to the background.

the black airbrush adds nice texture to the background.

LP logo!


Space Odyssey by Leonard Nimoy

Awww snap! I love this album, visually and musically. It's so fun and cheesy. Its such a mix of cornball silliness and touching hippie optimism. It also has one of the most ridiculous songs ever recorded, The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins.

Really cool image on the back

RIP Leonard

good job Daniel!


Exotic Percussion by Milt Raskin

Seems like they were kind of going for the same thing as the Persuasive Percussion albums but it came out less classy. I still dig it a lot. The music is pretty good too. The are some great samples on here.


Great Moments In Sports

This is a weird record. It's a collection of radio broadcasts of sports moments and was a promotion for some upcoming radio special. It such a product of its time. The big red letters look nice. I really like the Grand Awards type on the back and the Autolite logo.


How To Buy Meat

Consumer meat specialist Sara Beck enjoys good meet and good radio.

Weird PSA from the Department of Agriculture. Cool meat illustration! It has a track thats just background music so radio stations could record their own versions. 

"We feel the spots are very timely, and of special interest to your listeners who enjoy good meat and good radio."

Bongo/Flutes/Guitars by Los Admiradores

I love this cover. Command Records had some great art direction during this time. The type, the white space and the abstract shapes make a really slick composition. The cover was designed by Brownjohn, chermayeff & Geismar.

nice layout inside.

cool dots bro


Solo Percussion by Tatsuya Nakatani

This is the only contemporary record on this list. I was going to stick to just old records but this one is so beautiful. All the text is letter pressed and the image is silver foil stamped by Studio on Fire in Minneapolis. Very interesting experimental percussion.

cool logo!

It does leave silver dust on my fingers when I handle it, so thats a bonus!


An Audio Obstacle Course

This cover is real trippy. The record is meant to test a stereo cartridge so it's pretty boring to listen to. I love the cover though.

Cool Shure logo

chart on the insert