It might not mean as much now in an era dominated by digital files (not to mention a music business that is more or less split between four major labels), but there’s a certain beauty in looking at the label on a piece of vinyl. Next to a picture sleeve, it’s the prettiest art you could get in the early days of buying music.
With that label, there would be an image, not only literally but spiritually as well; the image a label projected onto its LPs and singles usually called a certain emotion to mind. Capitol’s unmistakable ringed rainbow added a dash of whimsy to an straightforward company, not unlike how their Beatles brightly cut through the musical landscape. Motown’s road map, with that star in the dead center of Detroit, spoke to audiences of where the music was originating from – a magic place where almost impossibly good R&B came from. Even a label like Casablanca matched their image on the record (decadent, exotic landscapes) to their output (disco and KISS).
It’s a sorely missed art nowadays; most current CDs will just give you a title or an image. There are some exceptions – John Mayer has designed his last few CDs to look like different Columbia labels, and some well-organized reissues replicate those great old designs – but they’re few and far between.
What labels speak to you? And which would you like to see immortalized on reissues? Your thoughts are always welcome.