Prestige Records Album Covers
“Prestige Records — The Album Covers Collection”
Oct. 1, 2009
Here’s a review by Joe Lang from Jersey Jazz, November 2009 (reprinted by permission):
“Anyone who has spent time looking through jazz LPs in record stores, flea markets, house sales of any other location that draws jazz record collectors, like the sea attracted those proverbial lemmings, is bound to see familiar sights in ‘Prestige Records: The Album Cover Collection.’ Record album covers evoke a sense of time and place. You might not have purchased any of the records that were contained in the covers depicted, but they were still a part of you record searching experience.
“Geoff Gans has done a superb job of selecting, annotating and presenting this collection. Ira Gitler’s informative introductory words give a first-hand perspective on the history of the label, and the different people involved in designing and doing photography for the covers.
“Unlike another popular independent jazz label of the day, Blue Note, Prestige did not develop as distinctive and recognizable a graphic design format for its product. This did not provide Prestige product with the instant visual recognition afforded to Blue Note, but the eclecticism apparent in revisiting the examples set forth in the book, did allow for an interesting mix of photograph-oriented and graphics-oriented designs.
“Some come across as pleasingly eye-catching, while others seem to have an awkward simplicity that sometimes seem like an afterthought just intended to get the product out there, artsiness be damned.
“No matter what kind of thought went into the original decision making process, these images, like most familiar objects from the past, evoke a kind of warm nostalgia that stems from the memories conjured up rather than the artistic merit inherent in their appearance.
“Looking through the covers, you come to realize the amazing selection of jazz greats who recorded on the Prestige label. A lot of the major figures in modern jazz spent at least parts of their careers as part of the Prestige stable of artists, among them Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Zoot Sims, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Mose Allison, Stan Getz, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt and so many more. The CD that accompanies the book has nine selections that are nicely representative of the music that came to market on the Prestige label.
“This book is one aspect of the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Prestige Records. The catalog is currently part of the Concord Music Group. This past March, Concord released a two-disc compilation titled ‘The Very Best of Prestige Records: Prestige 60th Anniversary’ containing 24 tracks, none of which are duplicated on the disc that comes with the book.
“‘Prestige Records: The Album Cover Collection’ is a limited edition available only at
ConcordMusicGroup.com, as are the CD set mentioned above, and other items commemorating that milestone year for one of the most important and influential of all jazz labels.