07 February, 2008

Christian Musicians Revive "Tacky" Album Cover Art

Oversized pictures, overused fonts, strange song names, bad hair, bad clothing - these were the things that made Christian independent albums so great during the 60s, 70s and mid-80s.  But the trend of "tacky" album cover art dwindled into obscurity as records become less and less used among the general public.  With the advent of 8-track tapes, cassette tapes and compact disks, huge over-designed album covers became less and less of a demand.  

But in an effort to reconnect with the past a number of Christian artists have again revived the practice of designing "tacky" album covers.  With countless editions of shareware drawing software on the market, it seems anyone with an 486DX processor or better can put together a class A, absolutely tasteless album cover
 in just a matter of minutes.

"I remember long summer days at my Grandmothers" said Sachapone Davis, a singer from Memphis, Tennessee whose recently released self-produced album Let Me Tell You About My Friend has sold almost 8 copies over the past 6 months.  "I remember she had just the stacks and stacks of records that I'd look through, all of people I'd never heard of before.  Sometimes there'd be a family all dressed alike on the front.  I remember this one singing duo, it was two sisters.  One was holding a big old bass guitar and the other had an accordion.  It's that kind of stuff that people remember."

Many Christian artists have surmised that the tackier the better.  "When something is just so bad that it's good, people will not forget it" said Bruno Maltise, an indy artist from Chicago.  "People want to see color, big pictures that are just terrible, and every font imaginable."

In order to solve the problem of the limited space available on the front of CD covers, many of the independent artists have resorted to returning to recordings on records.

"Records were the best" said Davis.  "As long as you handled them with white gloves, perfectly got the needle on the record itself and a stiff breeze didn't slightly jiggle the record player while it was going, a record would last up to 9 months.  You just can't beat that kind of quality."

It remains to be seen if the trend will catch on with other artists around the country.  But for now, the few that have undertaken to revive an old tradition are satisfied with the results.

"It's always fun to see people's reactions when I try to sell my records" said Davis.  "At first people think that these are old albums, then they see the copyright date of 2007 and they start laughing."


Lee Shelton said...

I've always been an advocate of a back-to-basics approach in the CCM community.

Anonymous said...

Great album covers!

Let me guess at one of the songs on the first album: "I'm comin' to get you (saved)"

From the looks of the guy on the second album, I'm not so sure I want to meet his friend. (Nice throwback to the 70's!)

As for the third album title, I think I'd tend to agree. Yes, I went to college in Arkansas and the scenery was pretty in the fall. The hay fever I suffered there was most unpleasant. I'll take Chicago (the city) and its snow over NW Arkansas hay fever anytime!

By all means, bring back those albums and the liner notes that went with them! You could read them without having to resort to using an electron microscope!

(Now if only I had a working turntable!)

Anonymous said...

Almost eight copies...Haaa. I'm dying..That's great.

Anonymous said...

For me, this brings to mind the post at http://tominthebox.blogspot.com/2007/11/get-your-honorary-doctorate-today.html
from mikeb, where he talked about the "big face club" with Osteen and the like. Wouldn't it be great to see some albums from Hinn and those guys and ladies, showing their big heads on the cover, and maybe containing a little preachin', a little singin', and lots of prosperity fun? Perhaps we could help come up with some album/song titles, if this hasn't been done already.