This is the next entry in Best Album Covers, a series begun right here. The first successful long-playing microgroove record for the phonograph was introduced by Columbia Records back in June of 1948. Yet, album covers (the paper board packaging that held them) didn’t come into their own graphically till decades later. Eventually becoming the cultural stamp on the music of the time. Catching the eyes of potential record-buyers and later their ears and minds. Melding the musical experience with the artist into a unique visual form.
Why Compact Disc versions of album art don’t exactly raise the same reaction these days was looked at in this post. Although, music label artistry continues to be noticed and discussed among the material published today. The bits and bytes are looking over their shoulder, though, because vinyl hasn’t entirely gone the way of the dinosaur. Online or at the record shops still out there. Cover art hasn’t lost purpose, either for old and new. Mostly, it’s my contention while digital reigns supreme, its vigor among fans lacks the tactile passion of the past LPs.
Hence the reason for this series. Some register more with me musically than others, though. Yet, the artwork will always take center stage, at least here. Let’s continue shall we?
Rovi Staff for Allmusic described the work of a certain silver-throated foursome bringing back jazz harmonies to the pop fusion going on as this turbulent decade finally finished wringing us out:
“This fourth album from Manhattan Transfer was the first for Cheryl Bentyne, who replaced Laurel Masse after the original singer’s auto accident and subsequent decision to leave the group. Though replacing Masse was difficult, Bentyne‘s energy and style proved to be the perfect complement to the group’s already dynamic performance. Hits from Extensions include “Twilight Zone” and “Birdland,” which earned the group their first Grammy for Best Jazz Performance, Vocal or Instrumental.”
Given my involvement with the Jazz Fusion era beginning this decade, really couldn’t help picking up on The Manhattan Transfer quartet making a name for itself across Pop and Jazz radio stations playing their tunes. And exactly for “Twilight Zone” and “Birdland” that breached new ground on the music charts, especially with Bentyne’s vocals driving the dynamic. Extensions previewed why hit singles “Boy From New York City” and their cover of “Route 66” also crested come the ’80s.
Still, that album cover designed by famed art director Taki Ono and rendered by illustrator Yoshinori “Pater” Sato, who was renowned for his airbrush art in magazines, made this a quite eye-catching paper board package. The foursome of Tim, Janis, Alan and the newly acquired Cheryl futuristically stylized1 in a distinctively angular drawing really graced the album’s front cover. If “Birdland” became the group’s signature tune, then Extensions, and its cover art, was what finally put them on the map.
- “Wacky Dust”
- “Nothin’ You Can Do About It”
- “Coo Coo U”
- “Body And Soul”
- “Twilight Zone” (Bernard Herman)
- “Twilight Zone”
- “Trickle Trickle”
- “Shaker Song”
- “Foreign Affair”
The entire series can be found here.
- “Visually, the group wore futuristic costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier that gave them a distinctive look onstage (as well as on the back of the album cover). The audiences loved it, and the album tour was widely successful at home and especially in Europe.” ~ The Manhattan Transfer Extensions page ↩