On March 27th 2012 a massive crowd amassed on Heddon Street, London to watch the unveiling of a blue plaque.
This was not for your average poet or politician blue plaque. This one is special as it’s on the site where the front cover of David Bowie’s album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” was photographed, a pioneering and inspired album that thrust Bowie into rock messiahdom. Vinyl art lovers have pored over the cover like Dan Brown fans trying to decode a work of art.
The good news is, we might well be seeing resurgence in the art of the album cover as vinyl is on a rightful come back. NME reported a 39% rise in vinyl sales in 2011, the sixth year in a row and so far 2012 looks to be going the same way. 24,0000 vinyl albums were sold in the UK in the first 10 months of 2011. The U.S sold 3.9 million in 2011 compared to 2.8 million in 2010. On top of that CD sales have slumped, a real victim of the mp3 that will go the direction of the eight-track or some other pre-historic format.
So what’s brought all this about? Vinyl’s return is not only due to its deeper, warmer resonance or its tactile presence, nor the sleeve and wonderful artwork. A younger generation has been charmed by vinyl. Since music blogs came about they have started to listen to music that isn’t found on iTunes. They want to go deeper and they want the physical reality of a record collection. It’s fashionable again to have a ‘cool’ record collection. It says; I understand the craftsmanship of music and it paves the way to more personalized and textured collections.
It all means that vinyl has taken back its rightful place as a quality medium for music of all kinds. Vinyl is a beautiful object and deserves wonderful art to house it.
Vinyl’s comeback means a bold and exciting move back to the art of the album cover.
I look forward to reading the sleeve notes about the artist, sleeve designer, engineer and thanks to mum and the rest of the world.
R.I.P – MCA