ISBN: 978-0-9561439-0-7 / 160 pgs + cvr / Softback 210 X 210mm
The first illustrated book on this fascinating area of record design, devoted to the hey-day of Japanese single sleeves of the 60s, 70s and early 80s.
Japan was one of the first countries to adorn their vinyl singles in special colour sleeves back in the late fifties, almost as soon as the format had been launched. Teenagers there took a keen interest in the popular music of Britain and America, which Japanese labels quickly began to license. As most British and American singles came in plain sleeves, Japanese labels were free to do their own thing.
The resulting blend of Western music and images, coupled with exotic Japanese typography and design, was visually unique. It was a look which soon adorned thousands of attractive single sleeves as pop music quickly became as big an entertainment form in Japan in the early sixties as it had done in the West.
It was not until the late seventies that these unique Japanese sleeves came to the attention of music fans in Britain, thanks in part to a growing import scene (centred on Flyover Records in London) which valued the pressing and packaging quality of Japanese releases.
This book draws on a number of archives to present a visually stunning selection of 7″ covers from the sixties to the eighties, many seen for the first time in Europe. It is of necessity a selection – there were over 100 Beatles singles releases alone in Japan – but the compilers have carefully chosen those covers which will most interest collectors, music fans and designers, with close on a thousand sleeves featured in full colour. The bulk of the sleeves are reproduced at a standard size, and a further selection shown almost full size. Track titles, label and release date are given for every single, with notes about the acts.
While many of the biggest European, British and American bands are included, numerous cult (and downright obscure!) acts are also featured; the emphasis being squarely on the visual look of the sleeve. A comprehensive written introduction to the book gives the background to the Japanese singles industry, the way the designs developed, and other details, while there is also a full index of all the artists featured.
The sleeves included many photographs of the bands not seen outside Japan, while their exclusivity and the unlikely coupling of tracks often not issued on single anywhere else has made them highly collectable today. Many of the early and rarer releases can fetch three figure sums, some even more.
The dawn of the compact disc quickly saw off the 7″ single format in Japan; in any case labels in America and Britain had begun issuing singles in picture sleeves and the Japanese increasingly began to copy these designs, losing their creativity in the process.
This book, the first of two matching volumes, is the first survey of Japanese sleeves outside the country, and even there the sleeves have never been published at this size and quality. It comes at a time when sales of vinyl overall have begun to grow in Europe as the format enjoys a renaissance amongst indie bands and fans seeking an alternative to the dull experience of the digital download.
NOTE : The lack of the definite article in the title is deliberate, reflecting the way many Japanese / English translations also omit this!
UPDATE MARCH 2012 • This title has been rescheduled for 2012. Our deal was with the original Japanese publishers of this now long out of print book. It was a difficult problem to overcome due to the language issues and also the fact that we are doing a completely new book rather than just reprinting the original (which was much smaller and with very small illustrations). We thought this was sorted but then the photographers who shot all the material felt they needed to clarify their position with regards a license to us. This has at last been sorted out. We dare not get on with scanning several hundred images in case the problem could not be overcome. Now we can!
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2013
• Layout and scanning work on this is now done and we will announce final release date shortly. The book had to be put on hold when easy on the eye got asked to help produce a couple of large format titles for another publisher during 2012 (read more about those here
). We can now get the ball rolling again.
Sample pages from the book. Please note these are subject to change and revision.
3 page PDF downloadable colour sales information sheet for this title. Click on the link and the sales sheet will download to your browser window. You can then go the your File menu and click ‘save as’, and save the sales sheet to your desktop. File size is quite small, approx 300KB.
Colour sales sheet
PDF downloadable colour sample pages and book cover. File size approx 450KB.
Book cover and sample pages