Andy Earhole

Glorious longbox suits Aretha well

In store promotional poster for Aretha, 1986: “On Arista Records, Chrome Cassettes and Compact Discs”.

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, 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.

Aretha: LP front cover

Aretha: LP back cover

LP inner sleeve with lyrics and graphite drawing

LP inner sleeve, back

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).

Original US CD release with its beautiful longbox.

US CD with its longbox, back.

Side view of the longbox.

The cd’s booklet, or rather a fold out poster.

The cd’s booklet, other side with lyrics and drawing.

And to complete the trio, not just a cassette but a ‘BASF chrome cassette’ with Dolby System.

Aretha on chrome cassette.

Aretha on chrome cassette