When creating an album you have several different processes, each one important in their own function. You have the songwriters, who craft the perfect sound and lyrics. You have the band, who come together to form the best performance of those song, which they may or may not have created themselves. You have the producer who will work diligently on each track. But on the creative side you also have the lesser-sung hero who designs the album cover.
It may seem like a minor detail, but the look of a cover is an important part of the overall reception of an album. It has to be recognizable, interesting, but provide a quick way of seeing what it holds inside. The way this has been done has changed a lot over the years, but there are some classic formats that have remained the same. Fonts area good example of this, and none are so popular as typography.
Typography has remained a well used font that takes us right back to that beloved retro style. Because it has been applied to so many different medias for so long, from the record covers of the 1960’s, to the cartoon theme screens of the 1980’s and beyond, everyone will have a memory attached to the lettering that makes it a great choice for designs today.
Here are ten well known album covers that utilized typography successfully.
1. Kisschasy’s “Hymns for the Nonbeliever”
Kisschasy’s “Hymns for the Nonbeliever” has an almost Victorian feel. The typography is shaded with black and gold, giving the cover an epic and almost gaudy flair.
2. Eugene Ormandy’s “Magnificent Marches”
Just because typography is a classic, doesn’t mean it can’t be applied to a less traditional look. Eugene Ormandy chose to go with a significantly more psychedelic theme for his “Magnificent Marches“album. Set to a yellow-gold background, the title of the record is repeated in bright purple over and over again, fading into the distance.
3. The Blood, Sweat & Tears – “Greatest Hits”
Blood, Sweat and Tears took a new approach to their typography (“Greatest Hits“). While the lettering is in the usual font, they created a three dimensional look that made it appear that the text was made of wood carved letters, which had been stacked on a frame. It is interesting, modern, attractive, but still keeps that retro feel.
4. XTC’s “Go 2”
XTC is well known for being a little out there in their style, music and message. They are also known for approaching things with a refreshing sense of humor. When they made “Go 2“, they continued that tradition with the cover of the album. It starts out by saying that it is record cover, and follows through by explaining that with the long and rambling writing, they are drawing you in much like with a picture. In this case, the typography is less poignant, but just as eye catching with white lettering in a small text size all the way down a black cover.
5. Mary Martin’s “The Sound of Music”
Every time I see this album it reminds me of my grandmother. The typography has been presented in an incredibly old fashioned way. The pictures are simple and match well with the what everyone thinks of when they imagine “The Sound of Music“. The whole design is a little busy, but the use of font and color brings it all together well.
6. Cream’s “Disraeli Gears.”
If you like bright colors, you’ll love Cream’s “Disraeli Gears.” The blinding pinks and yellows add to the psychedelic feel of the layered cover – a statement of the time. The typography is a classic rounded graffiti style.
7. Harry Revel’s “Music From Out of Space.”
Another crazy yet inspiring album cover is Harry Revel’s “Music From Out of Space.” Using a very simple font and tilt, the typography definitely makes you feel far out.
8. Grant Green’s “Live as the Lighthouse”
Grant Green’s “Live as the Lighthouse” is another “far out” album cover. The typography is reminiscent of Flash Gordon as it stretches off into the background.
9. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “Greatest Hits vol. 3”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “Greatest Hits vol. 3” displays beautiful classic typography. The type has a slight shadow, giving it a 3D effect.
10. Lew Davies & His Orchestra’s “Strange Interlude”
Lew Davies & His Orchestra went with a bold choice when settling on a look for the album cover of “Strange Interlude“. Rather than providing a picture to express the meaning of the title, they used typography to put across the message. The background is plain white, and the lettering is large and black. But they added some color interwoven between the letters to add a splash of dramatics.
Now that you’ve seen these amazing album covers, don’t you want to go and design something? If you or someone you know is in a band, why not design a retro style typography poster for them? You can use typography and font selection not only to convey the music but some of the emotion the listener can expect to feel by listening to it. Pick a typography style that fits and go crazy.