The Writing is on the Wall

Of course there are numerous factors that make records desirable to record collectors. Obviously not all records we own can be extremely rare, so sometimes they need additional attributes to make them stand out from all the Fat Wreck in your collection. Amongst many different options, posters definitely match this criteria.  And I mean something more substantial than an insert with lyrics. The appeal of a poster is somewhat ironic because as a record collector, Ill never use the poster for its intended purpose. If the value is of any financial or personal value to me, there's no way I'll allow it to face the peril of everyday life on my wall. Rather, I'll leave it tucked in its sleeve, folds remaining crisp until I decide to look at it again in a few months time. In any case, a good poster will make one record stand out over another. So anyway, here are some examples from my own collection.

A classic has to be the poster for Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. Actually, the Dead Kennedy's did a great job of the packaging of most of their albums, but I'll get some of their other examples another time. Anyway, its basically just a great black and white collage parodying nuclear family values. A great example of punk art propaganda, but less powerful then what Crass would be constantly creating. This poster is is a 6 panel double sided print, with the lyrics printed on the bottom of one side. Lyrics weren't often printed with records in those days, but most politically motivated bands would print their lyrics, as we'll see with Crass. On another note though, I'll admit this was one of the first records I bought (a used repress), and I had this one on my wall for awhile, but I was not a Pretentious Asshole at that point. I have since learnt the error of my ways.

Next up is Crass - Stations of the Crass. I'd consider this to be Crass' magnus opus, but others would disagree. Maybe not the best punk songs, as they begin to become more noisy, but it is definitely, like its artwork perhaps most representative of the Crass idea. On a personal, emotional level, I associate this album with the fall, which has somewhat of a depressing effect, but that's the way I like my punk. This is most seen with songs like "Contaminational Power." Anyway, most Crass records were not issued in regular sleeves. Rather, a 6 panel posters, similar to the Dead Kennedys one, was printed on a heavy paper and folded around the records. Folding this album is somewhat tricky because it's a double album, but it's an interesting concept. They even did this for many of their 7"s. To elaborate on my previous point, I  certainly couldn't put these posters on my wall because then the records would be left without a sleeve. You'll notice in the pictures that Crass, being a very political band, also printed their lyrics.

Alright, so their poster for their first album is so... powerful that I had to include it too. And now that I'm going over these records again, I notice that these posters are extremely powerful. Perhaps the only presenting their message stronger than their music were these posters. It is possible to readily identify their message and ideals, mostly of a pacified anarchism through the printed lyrics, the artwork (by Gee Vaucher, who was considered a band member although she did not contribute musically), the graffiti campaigns represented in the poster, and even news clippings about them are presenting, acknowledging the huge difference in ideals between them and mainstream culture. Gee's artwork, as seen on the cover and throughout appears at first glance to be collages, similar to the Dead Kennedy's aesthetic, but they are actually intricate original paintings.

Many bands would follow the archetypal Crass imagery as well as format, and Fucked Up would do this with their Litany single. This was a 7" released on Test Pattern records, but would also be released as a very limited 12" single to further emulate the Crass albums. The 6 panel design follows many Crass precedents, especially with another common Crass motif, crucification. Another Fucked Up project, Bergenfield Four would follow the aesthetic with the stenciled letters around the border on the limited version of their 7" on Lowdown records. The version shown is a repress on Havoc, but for those interested I do have the first press on Test Pattern on White out of 2500.

A final poster that I don't know too much about is the Disfear // Doomriders split put out by Deathwish. This one is different from the others that it is a 7" with a 9 panel design and is in... colour! This poster is also one that wraps around the record as the sleeve. It was also available for a short time as a separate print, without the band names on it.. Artwork was done by Thomas Hooper, who seems to have quite a bit of similar artwork being put forth in this scene. This version is the Cream/Beer coloured vinyl out of 300. "All paths lead to nothing, there is only death."

On a final note sorry for the poor photos, Im working on coming up with a better photo set up.

No comments:

Post a Comment