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Requiem for record design

By Nick Crowe   June 2003

When the album cover became the CD booklet, designers faced an ultimatum: shrink or die. Either way, an era was ending. As a vehicle for graphic design, the record cover had generated mainstream art out of an experimental form. Standards were set in the early 1960s by Reid Miles and Francis Wolf, designer and photographer respectively at the Blue Note jazz label. Their iconographic portraiture froze Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane behind sleek typefaces and bright colour blocks, transporting fans into the underworld of jazz before the needle even hit the record. By the middle of the decade,…

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