When we talk about record cover art, of course in 99,99 % of the cases the very frameable 12″ LP format is meant. But once in a while also other formats deserve our attention. In Warhol’s long career as cover artist, starting as early as 1949, his designs appeared on nearly every thinkable format: 10″ and 12″ LP’s, 7″ EP’s and EP boxes, 7″ singles, 12″ maxi singles, cassettes, 4-track cartridges, 8-track cassettes, boxes for reel to reel tape, and finally cd’s and in their early years the so called longboxes.
With the release of Aretha Franklin’s 1986 album Aretha, the promotional poster proudly announced: “On Arista Records, Chrome Cassettes and Compact Discs”. Let’s have a look at all three then, starting with the LP.
In the early years of the cd, mid 1980’ies, American releases came in a so-called longbox, which made it possible for music shops to present the cd’s in LP displays. Few of these boxes survived, because mostly after purchase the box was torn open to take the cd out, and then thrown away. Which is a pity because some were beautiful, as is the case with this Aretha longbox.
It is also noteworthy that Warhol, who died in February 1987, probably has only seen a handful of his designs on cd (among which re-releases of VU & Nico and Sticky Fingers in 1986 and this new release Aretha).
And to complete the trio, not just a cassette but a ‘BASF chrome cassette’ with Dolby System.
You once told me that the “Aretha” CD was the only Warhol design to be produced on a CD during Warhol’s lifetime (excluding the re-issues that you mention). I had to search for a long time to find an original “Aretha” CD–there obviously weren’t too many sold (after all, in 1986 CDs were very expensive compared to records or cassettes). The longbox looks great. But I don’t think I’m going to try to find one…
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Richard! It’s difficult to find the exact release dates of cd’s. On Discogs I recently found that the Menlove Ave. cd was released in 1986, but then again, Discogs is not the bible, this could be wrong. The person who wrote that entry, might just have taken the year of copyright for year of release. So indeed, because of the Arista poster, Aretha is the the only cd we can be totally sure about.
I also don’t take cd’s in consideration with ‘Warhol covers’ that are not really Warhol designs: Rockbird (1986) and The Smiths (Japan 1984, UK 1986, US 1987 if there is any truth in Discogs).