This past Saturday 13th October marked the first ever National Album Day, and as a music and sound agency, we here at P&S couldn’t resist commemorating the occasion. Whilst for us, pretty much every day is album day, we thought that it was worth joining in the nationwide celebrations, as, quite frankly, our job would be that bit more difficult without them.
With the format turning 70 years old this year, meaning that it’s well past eligibility for a TFL Freedom Pass, music lovers across the nation have been celebrating the impact that the album has had on popular culture, as well as the personal impact that the format has had.
Arguably, to some, the album has waned in the age of streaming and MP3 downloads, with consumers often choosing to listen to specific tracks as opposed to the album in full. It can be said however, that in recent times, the album has had a somewhat of a resurgence, particularly amongst a younger demographic, with Ed Sheeran’s ‘÷’ dominating both the album and singles charts with all 16 tracks somehow making their way into the Top 20. Last year also saw sales of the album increase by 9.5%, a sign that the album is here to stay.
To mark this special occasion, BBC Music asked people across the UK to listen to an album in full at 3:33pm, though we’re sure there was some disagreement in most households over which one to play. There’s more than one reason to love and appreciate albums. Some view their length in relation to the single as one of the best things about them. “There’s something charming about an LP on one vinyl disc. It's a long player, you have to turn it over...but not for 25-30 mins. I love that!” says P&S Co-Founder and ECD Alex Lavery. Others view the variety in sound that can come across is one collection of music as an attractive feature. However, one aspect of the album that can sometimes get overlooked, particularly in the digital age, is the artwork.
With this is mind, we thought that given music is our raison d’être, we would point to some of our favourite album artwork of all time, as whilst we always talk about our favourite albums, we rarely highlight the oftentimes amazing artwork.
Sometimes the artwork lends itself to an album, helping to tell the artist’s story in a way that words can’t. Take for example, Liz Phair’s ‘Exile in Guyville’ as chosen by music supervisor Jumi. “The whole album is sort of a feminist statement without really intending to be and the artwork really brings that home. It’s a woman who is both literally in your face, completely unapologetically.”
Even albums that generally aren’t viewed as iconic in themselves can be elevated by their artwork. “Bob Dylan’s ‘Self Portrait’ is well known for being one of his more difficult listens. The album in essence is a mishmash of pop covers, pre-rock hits and live cuts from Dylan’s 1969 set at the Isle of Wight Festival. An album not met by rave reviews, but a record that Dylan wanted to release on his own terms. The title and the artwork say it all really!" says P&S production co-ordinator Will.
Whether you’re in it for the music, artwork or both, it’s safe to say that albums have a special place in everyone’s heart. The continued love for them worldwide is further proof that they’re only getting stronger.