Japanese sleeves

runaways japanese single starstruck art of japanese single sleeve

The Runaways - Little Sister

Final layout work on the Art Of Japanese Singles title is now going on. At last. The layout will feature four main sleeves per page, along with one or two smaller back-up sleeves for comparison in with the accompanying text. I must say dong the work has rekindled my own interest in the genre and I’ve not been able to resist picking up a few more covers along the way. I even found a couple on Oxfam in Huddersfield the other week at an affordable price (very unlike Oxfam! They’ve had a couple of Tracey Thorn 12″ singles in our local shop for a tenner each since last year, and they’re now getting so dog-eared even if they do drop the price to a sensible level they’ll be too scuffed to buy). There was always something very exotic about these Japanese sleeves which made them a must for collectors. I can’t be the only one who remembers trips to the legendary Flyover Records at Hammersmith to gaze at the racks full of these imports.

Pac Man Fever

Pac Man Fever

The book is being put together using InDesign – as a graduate of the Pagemaker school I was pushed towards this at an early stage (Adobe make great software but treat their loyal customers really badly at times) – and never got on with Quark at all. I’ve always found InDesign very stable and flexible for handling multi-page projects like this which contain a lot of linked images – 1,000 or more of them in this case.

It’s also been quite a logistical challenge just naming the files. Macs give you a lot of freedom to name image files how you like but in this case all the source archive material was carefully filed in music genres. Each genre section was given a number, and each page a number within that section, then every sleeve a number on that page. So I decided with the scanning work to reference each image using those original numbers rather than try to use artist and title. I also had to organise the scanning work precisely.

Beatles Can't Buy Me Love  japanese single starstruck art of japanese single sleeve

Beatles Can't Buy Me Love

To this end I generated a sample page layout with blank boxes, printed a couple of hundred out and worked through these writing in image reference numbers, rearranging and shuffling them about, swopping images etc., until the final book worked. This then provided an exact guide for scanning. It’s almost the reverse of how Covered book was done, where we had several thousand scans to juggle. As most of this initial layout stage was done some time back it’s been a case of spending a few days refamiliarising myself with the material. I must admit there was a couple of hours of growing panic when two whole sections seemed to be missing but happily it turned out they were in with the others, and had just lost their sticky notes, so frantic scouring of the office shelves could cease!

For now, I’ll add another trio of groovy examples and then get back down to work.

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Record Collector Review

record collector 400th issueA nice review of Covered in the April 2012 issue of Record Collector magazine, which also happens to be their 400th edition. I remember buying it when it was a small pocket size A5 magazine stuffed full of classified adverts from buyers and sellers, poring through on the lookout for stuff I wanted. Those days are largely gone, and the magazine is a different beast now, but still good for a browse. Anyhow, their reviewer really understood what the book was all about:

Wearing their art on their sleeves
There we were thinking that record sleeve books had been exhausted. Well, we’ve been proved wrong with this: a bizarre and well-researched project, compiling record sleeves that copy classic record sleeves. What’s great about Covered is that it’s been staring us all in the face for ages, but only now, and across 160 pages, do you realise just how much has been used and abused by so many.
Highlights and lowlights decorate every page, while the book is presented with the same graphic enthusiasm and anarchy that has created the homages in the first place. The depth and multi-genre studies that must have gone on over the years to put this together must be admired; the results are fascinating. We had no idea there were so many classic sleeve rip-offs, nor so many totally obscure ones. There are, alone, 20 sleeves mimicking Abbey Road, nine for Warhol’s VU banana and at least 19 for Never Mind The Bollocks. Mast fascinating are the unexpected oddities: hilarious homages to Saturday Night Fever, insane King Crimson send-ups. A classic folk album becomes Japanese metal deconstuctivism in a blink of an eye.

Reviewed by Jonny Trunk