“The LP Show”

IN THE HISTORY OF GRAPHIC DESIGN there are few surfaces more burnished with dreamland desire than album covers. That’s probably the fault of Alex Steinweiss, a designer who in 1939 talked Columbia Records into letting him spruce up some of their standard blank sleeves. First was Smash Song Hits by Rodgers and Hart, for which Steinweiss created a collage of Broadway marquees floating over a red and black spiral. Sales spiked on Smash Song Hits, and soon enough, faux-surreal album covers were de rigueur. Every big label cleared space for an art department, and the rest, as they say, is Dark Side of the Moon.

Growing up in some very dull places in the ’60s and ’70s I was glad for the epiphanies provided by albums on display at the local chain stores. My first encounter with anything like the art of the insane was seeing a trippy painting of Neil Young on the cover of his first album. Staring

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