November 5, 2011, at 10:09 am

The art of Studio One

When I first heard that Soul Jazz were going to do a book of Studio One album covers I was quite excited. To get a full colour coffee table size book with dozens of large illustrations of Studio One LP covers is surely the stuff of dreams? No one would be mad enough to do it would they?

Well I’m glad to say they’ve done it and pretty damn good it is too. More than 200 pages in a hard backed book roughly 12″ square in size. There are literally hundreds of sleeve illustrations most in virtually full size and full colour. There are sections for single artists, compilations, the Dub LP’s, 12″ single sleeves and even Calypso and Gospel. There is also a great section that shows different versions of LP covers next to each other, comparing silk screened sleeves with UK editions and so on. Steve Barrow does the honours with a six page biography of Coxsone and Soul Jazz’s Stuart Baker writes a nice introduction too though some illustrations on these instead of pages of plain text would have been nice.

The quality of the sleeve reproductions is not always perfect. Whilst many of the Jamaican sleeves were originally printed on cheap card stock and therefore a reproduction on good quality paper looks nice as you might expect, some of the sleeves have lost some definition, this is most obvious in some of the UK Bamboo sleeves.

My only other quibble is that it would have been really nice to have included 7″ label illustrations too. Accepted this is a book about album covers but as they managed 12″ sleeves and a page of LP labels something similar for the singles would have been great.

Minor criticisms aside this book is a real joy and clearly a labour of love. Soul Jazz once again present Studio One in a superb fashion, long may it continue.

Studio One album cover art
An 80’s Skatalites sleeve and Presenting Larry Marshall from 1973.

Studio One album cover art
Reggae from Alton Ellis and Jazz from the Cecil Lloyd Trio.

Studio One album cover art
Comparing different artwork variations of the same LP’s

3 comments to The art of Studio One

  • Sam Trafford

    Is there anything about the companies and individuals that designed the sleeves, and the briefs they were given?

    For example, Horace Ove did the Bamboo/Banana sleeves, was he interviewed? – I love those designs

  • Timekeeper

    really would have loved to have the 7″ label designs illustrated as well. this actually really makes me reconsider if i am going to buy it or not…
    Maybe they´re saving it for a future project? But then would there be enough label desings to make a whole book?

  • Tim P

    Sam -no there are no interviews but printers etc do get a mention. I reckon this is fair enough as it’s supposed to be a coffee table book, a bit of eye candy, not a book of interviews.

    Timekeeper – I doubt they are saving it for another project but now that you mention it – a coffee table book of reggae 7″ label illustrations would be very nice!!

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