Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bruce's Covers

The AV Club website had a funny and interesting article last week, "The Problematic Cover Art of Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen." In the article, the Boss gets taken to task, and rightly so, for issuing one of the ugliest album covers in recent memory on his latest album, "Working on a Dream." It's just hideous. The first time I saw the cover I was like, "Is that a fan's rendition of what they think the cover should look like? Oh, no, it's the actual cover? Oh dear God!" It's just so cheap and amateurish-looking. At the most, someone must have spent a good 15 minutes on it.

So the AV Club, or more specifically, Noel Murray, dissects Springsteen's many different album covers, good and bad. Murray doesn't really like "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." But I beg to differ, in part because I have the original vinyl. For being a debut album by an unknown artist, it's odd that the cover isn't simply a huge close-up of Bruce. (Columbia saved that for his second album, "The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle.") In fact, there's nary a picture of Bruce on the front cover, just his name and a 1950's-looking postcard. (Is it a real postcard, or a fake one designed especially for the album?) But here's where it gets cool. The postcard section actually folds out, to reveal lyrics underneath, and credits on the backside of the postcard, along with a picture of Bruce that looks like a stamp. The credits are hand-written, in the same style as Bruce's name on the front, making it look like a real postcard. I think it's a very clever design, it's certainly very different and eye-catching.

Murray also has a problem with the fact that Bruce uses pictures of himself on his album covers a lot. I don't think that's such a big deal, the photos are generally different enough that they don't smack of useless repetition to me. Although, "The Essential Bruce Springsteen 3.0," which I just got last week, on sale at Best Buy, features no less than 3 pictures of Bruce looking down at the ground. Which is kind of odd. But Bruce is a good-looking guy, so why shouldn't he put himself on his album covers? I think the cover of Bruce's "Greatest Hits" is awesome, just a picture of the Boss from the back, Fender Telecaster draped over his shoulder, ready to rock. It's simple and iconic. But Bruce does have some bad album covers, like "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town." (Although, to be fair, it was 1992.)

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