Back in the day (late 1960's), my parents were really into music & our home always had music playing. My father worked for Zenith on the west side of Chicago, for many years. I assume that one of the perks to the job was that their employees had access to the most current audio equipment and televisions. I remember that we had one of those record players that was basically a piece of big, cumbersome furniture; it had speakers on both ends and a lift-top on the left side where the record-player was; the right side had a lift top too, but for some record storage. Honestly, the sound it produced was fantastic and it was loud if you cranked the volume to the max. I remember that I literally sat on the floor, exactly next to the speaker and examine every album cover, trying to memorize the words and basically, space out. Some of the themes in the songs were way beyond my understanding, but it never stopped me from enjoying the music ... it sort of made me understand my parent's generation in a better way. The trials and tribulations of being an adult, I guess.
Over time, those furniture-style record players became passé and people opted for the smaller, stacked audio options of the later 1970's. Once my parents marriage dissolved, the music stopped playing, because no one was happy anymore. When my parents went their separate ways, things got dispersed and I don't know what happened to our old record player, but I wish that we still had it! I did, however, managed to save part of the record collection. My mother's taste in music was certainly either very dramatic or sentimental memories of her life in Cuba. Mind you, my mother's family back in Cuba, was dirt poor, so she probably only had access to a radio and most likely didn't even belong to her family. Anyway, we kept the records move after move and she added some newer singers to her collection, like Julio Iglesias, Raphael and El Puma. Sadly, I saw that she was giving some of albums away to some of her Miami friends; I didn't want the collection to completely disappear, so I boxed it up and hid them from her by putting them in my bedroom closet.
As an adult, I appreciate the physical albums for their visual graphics and design; it's such a sampling of what was happening in that period. However, many of the albums are literal 'DO NOT DO THIS!' lessons that I have given my student graphic designers. For instance, using three to five typefaces in a single layout, bad hierarchy, and generally unpleasing visual flow. In the age of the album design app (Adobe Spark) or album template generators, a non-designer could design a pretty successful album cover, given the specific typography or photographic effect. Having said that, many of these old Latin-American albums that I feature on this post are under the 'miss' category, than the 'hit' category. Although, the older the album, beginning in the mid-1970's, the more improved design overall. Anyway, here's a few samples from my mom's record collection. Enjoy.
I loved, loved, loved this album design - it went along with their fun and upbeat sound. It says 'The Best for You All' and Matanzas is a popular Cuban province, so I guess they had a certain 'sound' from their region? I'm not a music historian, so don't fact-check me. You see some design choices being made here, like the two center stars on the left & right, the bandmates decapitated heads look towards each other and the top star certainly denotes who was the band leader.
By the way, I was obsessed with this guy ... I just thought he was so cool and that he just LOOKED like he was in charge. Today I wondered, 'They had transition lenses in the late 60's?' The headline type is san serif with a stroke within the letter itself and the song names are a serif type and those certainly could have come down 2-3 point sizes; it gets a bit 'horsey' with the longer song titles. Honestly, having the song titles on the front is redundant and the exclusion of them would have made the front cover less busy.
The backside was advertising of other albums sold under the Tropical music brand; this all seems to have a newspaper want-ads look and it's a bit overwhelming. La Tropical was one of the most successful music publishing companies, so obviously someone was reading that back cover.
Grade: A, but only if the song titles are removed from the front.
The character of 'Tina' was like listening to a conversation between my mom and one of her girlfriends - it was beyond campy. I didn't know how to deal with it as a kid, I mean, obviously it is a man, but he sounded like a woman. The poses are particularly very feminine and over-exaggerated, but I still loved it. The album title is 'TIna's 7 Phone Calls' with the subtitle of: 'The Travels of An Exile' oddly plunked down at the lower bottom left. In the album, Tina, makes a phone call every day, Monday through Sunday; funny, snarky skits and then he actually sings in between his cute Cuban one-liners. This album was one of my favorites, because it was the closest to a dinner theater that I would come to for a long time; I felt 'adult' by listening to it. I knew this material really wasn't meant for me as the audience, but I memorized the entire album, to my mother's amusement.
The front cover has the character of Tina in a decorated yellow, oval shape on a bright orange field. Again, there is a mixture of font types: serif, san-serif and then some wavy effect on the song titles. The flip side has a short bio on Mr. Cabrera and a serious headshot of him not in his drag character; the paragraph has a large dropped cap initial letter and the body copy is justified. The front of the album is a party, but the back is 60% business/seriousness, and then we end with two campy photos of Tina talking on her rotary phone. By the way, that is the biggest mole that I've ever seen on anyone's face - of course it's make-up!
Grade: B+, because at least they had a photoshoot.
Everything here is perfectly typical of an album cover for flamenco in the 1970's. Nothing to critique here ... what's done is done.
Initially, I liked this cover, because it sort of reminded me of a Blue Note design. Upon further inspection, a few minor changes could have made this cover awesome. The title, 'Los Mas Grandes Exitos de' should have been smaller to have fit neatly on top of his headline name. I would have devoted a bit more space for that top black box, so that the type wouldn't look so constricted.
The blue screened photo of Mr. Magaldi and the pink right box with the song titles,could have been brought up to meet the black box ... just to get rid of that dividing white gutter. I believe it would give the design more overall cohesiveness.
The type alignment is a bit loose - there seems to be no following of a grid, even though it is within a grid. I do like the extended look to his name in the title - it gives you a sense of his masculinity somehow. Apparently, Mr. Malgadi died rather young and he has been forever remembered as this handsome, well-dressed, very talented guitarist. Let me just say, finding this album just recently, I knew he was Argentinian right off the bat - he had that aura of Argentine class and presence.
One more thing, WHY did they cut the photo off on the right? The designer is officially fired, as Alex Heria, would say. There are so many ways to have avoided that awkward chop. Design is a puzzle; you push a little here and move things a bit over there and things should look good. I might just have to re-design some of these album covers for my own portfolio. This one had potential. Bummer.
Another album that I initially liked and then disliked. Again, too many different fonts - the front and back don't match up typographically-speaking. It's almost like two designers worked on it separately and then in production they shrugged and mash it all together. Strange. I absolutely love the diamond-harlequin pattern and the red and blue work great together. An absolute 'YES!' and the placement of the photo on the front - it gives it overall good balance by being off-balance; very interesting work there.
The album back cover is a mess. WAY TOO MUCH TYPE and having his photo there again is redundant. The copy blocks are literally up against the photo and it's just causing a jam for no reason. So, this album design is a good lesson in type consistency and giving elements on a page, a space to breathe. The yellow band at the top and the sliver of the diamond design at the bottom, shows that the measurements were wrong or production was wrong - something is off. I could go on and on about this one, but I'll stop here.
Grade: C, until I see some cohesion on a re-do; could be an easy A with changes.
One of my most favorite album covers in this collection. Beautifully done. Elegant and understated ... the album matches the drama in the songs. The image is strong ... I love the foreshortening of the arm; it fits the square format perfectly. I knew every song on this album and I recall my mother was all a-flutter over the romantic songs of the baritone-voiced Marco Antonio Muñiz. By the way, if you squint, he sort of looks like Joe Jonas with slicked-back hair.
'Listen to My Songs' by Leo Marini is a nicely designed piece; another handsome Argentinian collaborating with a Cuban orchestra of La Sonora Matancera. Nice slab-serif rested on top of a condensed san-serif with some creative type placement with the words, 'con la' tucked neatly between the bigger type. The Tropical music logo is at the top right, so it could have been seen easily by fans of that brand. It's actually a great album.
There's a few Spanish singers that hung out in the Caribbean more than their homeland. Tomas de San Julian had a falsetto, nasal-y voice with a staccato delivery. In regards to the typography, there's a lot going on here. The title is a condensed san serif that has been kerned VERY tightly, with a curious asterisk at the beginning of the title. Having said that, is that the title? Many of these old Latin-American music albums have multiple titles and subtitles. In the center of the album, it says 'The Night of Love' followed by 'And Other Great Hits By ...' (modified by a curve effect) and then his name, in a serif typeface, italicized and kerned rather haphazardly; take a look at the space between the T and O in Tomas - yikes!. Then there is a photo of Mr. De San Julian in his Spanish garb, complete with red sash ... so it's clear that he's not from the Tropics. To further the mess, someone decided to add decorative lines at the top, middle and bottom of the image. It's sort of hard to believe that these design actually went to print.
On the back cover of this album, there are yet MORE titles and information! “Mosaicos Flamencos” is a subtitle and it’s here that it is revealed that Mr. DE San Julian is part of a trio, ‘Los Martinetes’ , but he apparently is the headliner. There are short bios on all three in both English and Spanish along with this short intro: “Los Martinetes is a group of stars, each of whom is a specialist in his own field. Puchito Records is presenting this group to the lovers of Spanish art. In this LP which contains the best of their repertoire one can hear the vibrant and emotional voice of Tomás de San Julián as well at the ‘taconeo’ of the magnificent Anita Martinez. The magic fingers of Paco de Málaga make the guitar sing and talk.”
Finally, there's Juan Legido, another Spaniard, for a love of the Caribbean. The front cover of his album is a bummer ... who the heck approved that photo? He couldn't appear more despondent and disinterested. Or was he trying to be cool? Not sure. The photo is strangely cropped with a lot of empty space of blue background behind him and then that photo box has a rule around it. At least he's using Cooper Black, but with a hideous san serif type on the right that says 'Legido Sings to Cuba'. I don't mind the decorative half-moon motif on the front and back, I mean, at least they're the SAME. Consistency seems to be an issue so far with all of these albums. I think someone pinched him and he became slightly more animated on the back cover photo; again, the Spanish sombrero makes an appearance. I think the two Spaniard album designs miss the mark in regards to design; both of them are rather theatrical and loud when singing.
Grade: Marini, A
Grade: Legido, C
Grade: De San Julian, D
I have to assume that art directors and creative directors were not present at certain record labels. This Antonio Machin front cover was totally mishandled - there's a whole lot of wrong going on. Where to begin? The could have stacked the top title and avoided the uneven spacing in that yellow field. His name is italicized and then placed on a angle and the leading between is enough room to drive a semi-truck through. And this is a case of 'I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm going to add useless elements.' Case in point, the blue bar. Why is it there? Is there a primary color quota to be fulfilled? And the photo of Mr. Machin himself ... he's a dapper man, but that yellow screen on him, makes him look jaundiced. There is no consistency between the front and back covers; and in this case, I prefer the back. Ricky Records seems to prefer its logo at the bottom or not front & center.
Grade: I'd give this cover a strong D, with a chance to redo in a week's time.
As I recall, Raul Marrero could SING! He was very simpatico and he's giving the public two vibes: sultry on the front and 'Hey, whassup, mama?' on the back. The type, ugh, but not THAT bad. Slab serif was popular with the male singers and here that is juxtaposed with a light script under his name ... at least it's kerned correctly and hierarchy exists. And the song titles are nicely handled in a bold serif font, so it's not exactly competing with his name.
The back cover is fine, except where did the pink come from? And I'd get rid of those corner scallops - unnecessary clutter. Grade: B
Not exactly one of the albums from my mom's original collection, as this was produced in 1987. I actually love the type treatment on the album title ... it's consistent on the front and back, thank goodness. It's decorative type, but it's legible ... it works. I think having the song titles on both sides is unnecessary, but I guess that was the trend? My only other complaint is the weird glow around Raphael - it's like an eerie force-field.
I think it’s kinda funny that Guillermo Portables is wearing frilly Tropicana sleeves considering that his music is basically Cuban country music. I’ve only heard him sing on this album and it’s similar to what you call, ‘Ditty’s’ – cute, short, catchy songs. As a kid, I knew that they were corny, but I still enjoyed them.
Anyway, the album title, ‘Here Is Portables!’, released in 1957, is in a brush script typeface and it really IS touching the border ... there’s no ‘safety’ accountability. Actually, the san serif font on the bottom right is also getting cut-off. Also, I wish the designer had just reversed the Rumba logo, so there’s not a big white block sitting on a black background. Someone wasn’t minding the margins! The front cover isn’t awful, it’s perfectly acceptable, other than the complete disregard to the margins.
The back cover is actually pretty good and quite simple. There’s a choppy, but organic winding line from the top left to the middle right ... nice direction device. Unfortunately, the designer was consistent with that Brush script font, but the rest of the type is neatly organized and has great visual flow. This album was manufactured and distributed in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and Puerto Rico.
Grade: B-, fix your margins and you’ll get an A.
Cooper Black is a good choice, but I think the designer condensed it a bit, which makes it lose a little intergrity. I’m not loving the flamboyant script font for the word, ‘Felicidades’ (released in 1968); these typefaces exist on the same page, but they aren’t working together. And then for whatever reason, the tuck all the song title right under his name and the font size for that is entirely way too big. And yes, the have a dark blue for Side A and baby blue for Side B; and it seems like they more or less chose an overall color palette that goes with Mr. Infante’s suit.
By the way, if you’ve never heard of Pedro Infante, you should look him up ... he’s a legendary Mexican singing and movie superstar; and he was incredibly handsome.
The back of this album really makes me mad, because they dump the Cooper Black for a boring san serif and they switched up the color classification. Literally, it looks like two separate designers worked on this album.
Front Cover Grade: B, remove the song titles or make them smaller.
Back Cover Grade: D, because the entire thing is way too busy; go talk to the front cover designer.
There is a naughty asterisk that has flown away and going towards the right of the visual composition. Meanwhile, the other two asterisks are within their little red and green fields, behaving appropriately. There’s a ‘mod’ feeling to this cover and the colorful primary & secondary colored shapes add to that hip mood. Mr. Contreras image is screened with a large dot pattern. The front and type fonts are the same - using a tightly kerned script and an VERY extended serif type for the album title, “His Voice and His Hits”.
On the back, the Rumba logo is dangerously close to the trim and a part of the album serial number gets cut off. His photo on the back is a bit dark and gets rather ‘plugged in’ with ink - almost no mid-tones there.
GRADE: Front cover A, back cover C ... fix the photo.
I’m loving this trippy 1969 Perez Prado album art! The curvy slab-serif typeface with a slight degrade really taps into the style of the times. The male dancer looks like he’s doing the ‘limbo’ and the female is tossing her hair all about. Ok, the type does have goofy effects on it, but that WAS the style and honestly, it would work currently. The back cover shows an illustration of the young woman, who’s face is hidden by her hair ... okkk? And now she’s dancing with what looks like a miniature levitating horse. The typography on the back is all slab-serif, except for the RCA & CAMDEN logos. Really fun and well executed, overall.
Another winning design with ‘Los Papines’ GUAGUANCO album! Really nicely handled font with a yellow stroke to form a sort of megaphone ... the exclamation point is gorgeous. The ‘Los Papines’ logo is nicely integrated into the bongo drum along with a simple line drawing of maracas. The thing I REALLY like the most, is the introduction of Spanglish, which is when Spanish-speakers intermittently use English when speaking ... here, it’s in text: OYE MEN LISTEN. Which translates to, ‘Hey guys, listen!' The song titles on the bottom right looks like a Helvetica italic bold, is both kerned and leaded well. The blues color tones tie things together and circulates the eye around the surface ... this is actually frame-worthy.
The back cover has some linear textural artwork and the words BRAVO STEREO are repeated across the top. The song list is NOT repeated on the back, like most of the albums reviewed so far. Here, they decided to promote their other artists with 4 small pictures of the top four albums and then a short list. Also, there is no wrap-over overprint color from the front cover on the back, which is how it should be. There’s a small blurb that says, “The best artists record on disc’, so maybe this was around the time of the 8-track or maybe the cassette on the market?
Another RCA album, 'Memorias de Carlos Gardel', features one illustration for the Argentinian legend. The line-drawn figure is balance by a yellow half-circle glow. The shadow on the face has a odd splitting the face down the center and the shaded side is a olive-green color. The pants have a stippling effect for the shadows on his pants. It’s a cute little illustration and the boots and spurs have a nice, clean use of negative and positive. This album is a memorial album for Mr. Gardel as he died in the 1935, so the script type used is for nostalgic purposes, I guess.
I really like the lowercase use of his name in a bit-condensed font. It does strike a nice balance with the tall and slender figure of Gardel to the left. On the backside is information for the musical conductor and arranger that put this album together; and Mr. Tucci shares his beautiful signature. There is an initial drop cap to start the main paragraph on the back and the composition is very unfussy and clean. There are some bits of type that needs to be tweaked here & there, but overall, good.
I wanted to include this album front, because I really love the illustration - it reminds me a bit of when Andy Warhol was illustrating for a living. Mr. Beltran seems like he was a good-looking, dapper man with a handkerchief and all. The condensed san serif type has good hierarchy ... could be tweaked a bit better though. I think the type clump of ‘[...] con la Sonora Matancera y Otras’ is handled nicely with a tight gestalt. The Tropical logo adopts the orange in it’s logo from the background. Well done.
This Celina and Reutilio album cover type consists of a bold and a condensed bold san serif typeface and the type hierarchy isn’t that bad. The space that the saint takes up on the page is much more greater than the mere mortals on the right. I would like to see the headline, ‘Santa Barbara’ brought down 3/8 of an inch; the red is in relation to the traits of this particular saint who favored the color red. I don’t like the box that holds most of the type on this front cover - ugh, it has a perspective shadow. Noooo! I would have left it open, so the type doesn’t appear so constrained. My BIG gripe is how the chopped off Reutilio on his left shoulder. It could have at least lined it up with the box below; the chop seems so arbitrary. I have to remind myself that these designs were not done on a computer, that they probably had one last stat of this couple and they screwed it up. They probably ran out of time and money - who knows?
The back cover is a mess because the black and white photos have plugged in too much and the images are flooded with black. There are two other albums featured, in which the front cover is entirely black. Did people back in the 1960’s have this much time to read all that copy? Hmmm, probably.
On a sidenote: I searched the address provided on the album and the manufacturer and distributer were located around the area near the Miami River on between 27th and 36th Streets; today that stretch of road is where you can find scrap metal and car rental places. It’s always been a bit of a desolate road, but I’m sure in the 1960’s it was considered ‘folksy’.
Grade: B-, no, C-, because the back cover should have never gone to print. Come on people!
Another music album dedicated to a Catholic saint - the color symbolism on these religious albums are always on point; purple is always associated with Saint Lazarus. The illustration is typically accurate with San Lazaro - a broken-down old man, barely clothed, on crutches, surrounded by two dogs.
The type treatment is very conservative - a san serif, condensed and regular bold. And I usually dislike any sassy type on a path, but the half-circle line that aligns with the praying figure, actually looks cool. Yes, it’s a script, but maybe it’s less distracting because of the curve. The words ‘Canta A San Lazaro’ are a bit disjointed, but I realize that it could have been worse. Big props to Membi Records for reversing their logo to white to blend in with the cover design.
The back cover has absolutely nothing to do with the seriousness of the front cover. It reminds me of an old Broadway Playbill with the caricatures. It’s a bit confusing, is this an album that praises a saint or is this a comedy skit? It does say it the back cover notes that he is a fervent believer in Saint Lazarus. Maybe the got the covers mixed up with another album that Mr. Membiela made?
Front Cover Grade: B-
Back Cover Grade: F
“Which church do you go to?” is the name of this album ... I guess this was a legitimate pick-up line at one time. Rene Cabel was born in 1914 and most famous for his boleros. It’s interesting that the photographer signed his name on the portrait featured on the front side. For the most part, it’s a visually understated album cover. The background is a pleasing mid-baby blue background, the title is a nicely kerned script font and the singer’s name is in a nice san serif (Futura
Bold?), underneath that it cites, Music by Tony Fergo in an elegant thin san serif. There’s a nice illustration of a church steeple reversed in white stroke, but it has a strange use of black for the negative spaces.There is also a quirky Nuria Records logo with a cute, smiling toddler; unfortunately it’s plopped down on the blue background within a white box.
The back cover is just as understated and organized. The church illustration is correct in its usage and it is probably the proper intent – black strokes on a white background. There’s a bit over blue overwrap from the front cover and this work was performed by Precision Litho Corp., located in Miami, Florida and apparently it still exists! Nuria Records had a Hialeah, FL, post office box address and I don't think they are still around.
The song titles are quite funny to me. Here is some of the ‘Side B’ list: ‘Treat Me Formally’, ‘Last
Night You Were Meant for Me’, ‘My Crazy Melancholy’, ‘Really Too Sad’ & ‘Tell Me the Truth’. Truly dramatic stuff! The back side also features three other albums from Nuria Records, nicely screened and appropriately sized. I supposed the album art does reflect the music and the theme ... I guess this guy wants to find a church-going girl.
Grade: B+; fix the weird black reversed knock-out on the front cover illustration.
Well, sex sells. Women in bikinis were not only popular in Latin American albums, but in the 1960’s overall; and actually, it’s a pretty modest bikini. The spacing is very inconsistent here ... not balanced either at the top or bottom of the image circle. The type feels very constrained at the top and the bottom and it’s unnecessary. The stylized serif is alright, it’s just placed to high on the composition; it’s actually competing against the BRAVO logo at the top right corner. The song titles and bullets are a bold, italic san serif and it sits right on the safety fold. The back cover is a simple duplicate of the ‘Los Papines’ GUAGUANCO album.
The detail picture is a close-up of one of the funniest song titles; ‘They Call Me the Bus'. Ok, what?
These are a small sample of the logos I found on these old albums and I find them all to be pretty much, timeless an memorable. Personally, I really like the Discos Rex and the Stereo logo with the three circles ... I have a penchant for circles.
This album cover is kind of sad. It’s a despondent woman looking longingly into a glass of brandy; her engagement/wedding ring is prominent. She’s leaning on one of those old-fashioned record players ... the logo on that has been blurred. Perhaps she’s sad about the typography on this entire album. On the front, there’s a subtle calligraphic font closely resembling European chiseled letters; the horizontal strokes are thinner than the vertical and the serifs are very slight. Along the bottom of the front cover, there is a condensed san serif Helvetica, that says "With You Savage Kisses".
On the backside, someone decided to use a slab-serif reversed thick stroke font with a drop-shadow and the leading between the two big lines of copy is ridiculous. I like that the little squiggle on the top of the Ñ was left black ... strikes a balance. The song titles are curiously handled by creating a staircase pattern. At the bottom they feature eight more albums under the Modiner label - there are a few that are very tough to read, because the ink has plugged in the small images and text.
GRADE: C; it's just not consistent with typography overall.
This album cover has a pleasant mix of illustration and photography. The name of the album is “When I Left Cuba” by the trio Los Hispano-Americanos - which is probably the most treasured of all Cuban exile anthem songs. The guys have a quirky high-school vibe portrait with two crossed guitars. The illustration is the ‘Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine’ erected in Cuba in 1925 ... the eagle has since been dismantled and the parts went to different parties. Again, as with the last few reviewed albums, the back cover is simple and understated. There’s a grid being used to line elements and type and it works. Simple, but everything is HEAVY ... bold or black. Ugh.
The front cover of Xiomara Alfaro's 'Siboney' album is beautiful and I'm sure it was even more vibrant when it was new and not affected by time. The slab serif typography works brilliantly against the dark background; notice the bilingual 'reissued by request'. This shows that her audience and fans went beyond the Latin-American population - I was told by my mother that she really did cross multiple barriers with her amazing voice. The bonfire set against her silhouetted figure is dramatic and a bit one the theatrical; she's dressed in the typical garb of poor, country Afro-Cubans. This cover reminds me a bit of Aaron Douglas paintings, because of the strong central figure who seems to be empowered; and song and dance were always involved in the narrative. This front cover assured the music lover that they were in for a masterpiece ... very well done.
As usual, the back of of these LP's are disappointing in regards to design and layout. Ms. Alfaro appears beautiful and jubilant in a flamenco-esque dress - she seems to be clearly photographed during a performance. The outline of her figure is a little choppy, but of course, these are the days before digital design. They dropped the slab-serif typeface and picked up a boring (and inconsistent) san-serif type, bold and condensed bold. The song titles are rather small and very condensed and therefore, super difficult to read. As I have mentioned before, it clearly looks like these music production companies had two designers and they did not communicate. The back cover isn't a complete disaster, but it does have some visual flow issues.
Grade: Front cover, A; back cover, B
Blanca Rosa Gil was a very popular singer of her generation, ranking close behind Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot, as all three were women of color as well. Her style was the dramatic bolero and this front cover portrait is channeling that vibe ... 'I'm NOT looking at youuu.' The type is san serif, condensed and extended ... it's not horrible.
The back cover is a bit disjointed ... looks like the paste-up artist at the time, did not use a straight-edge guide, because the word, 'Sombras' doesn't seem to line up with anything. I don't know why they wanted to angle her name - it just doesn't look good. It's either you angle ALL IN or NOT ... and this is sort-of an effort, but let's not go crazy. The song titles are all orderly and organized in two columns, flush left and ragged-right. The bottom of the back cover featured eight other albums under the Modiner label and I really like how all of the albums were screened yellow and I'm sure the black ink at the time of print was denser and the yellow was brighter. I think they did the trick in enticing their fans to buy their other albums. The back side of this album IS boring, but at least it is consistent. It's a passive-aggressive 1950's musical visual feel.
Grade: B+, because the little problems could have been resolved at the final release.
Boxeo de Amor, which literally translates to 'The Boxing of Love', but in Spanish it makes sense, I suppose. The young female model is lovely and sexy with her off-the-shoulder blouse. The typography is BORING ... san serif with a brush san serif; I suspect that they used the default fonts that they were given. I'm not sure what the release date of this was, but I'm sort of surprised that they didn't do more hand-lettered unique titles for their albums. I spared you the torture if the flip-side, as it has the same issues with almost all of the back covers in this article.
The color balance on the main figure is really off and the lighting is strange, because t gives her such weird shadows.
Grade: B-, it's just so dull. I think anyone could have done this - not even necessarily a graphic designer.
The Boleros de Amor album cover again hinges on the visual an attractive young woman; posing on her back in a submissive position on sofa, looking away in a forlorn fashion, playing with her blouse nervously. I suppose you can add the rest of your fantasy here _____________. There's a nice script title on an angle at the top - in a punchy cyan. Below, the words 'En la dulce voz de", or , 'In the sweet voice of' is a condensed font and for whatever reason, the artist's name is in an extended (and super-squatty) extra-bold serif. The opposing visual typographic qualities does not work well together - it's incredible kerned and leaded very tightly and it 's congested for no reason. I would have preferred a white to the red that was chosen - as the overall color tone is reddish already ... the white would have popped more. The song titles are in a white bold italic, in even columns and mirrored opposite - the font size looks good. Regrettably, the Bravo logo disappears in that cyan blue though; it's ok though because it's featured prominently on the back. The album is dramatic and heart-breaking - that was the sound of those times.
Celeste Mendoza's album is fun and vibrant - visually and typographically speaking, even if it is a little cheesy. I count five fonts in the title and subheads - we start with a condensed san serif, which leads into a script font for her first name and then an up & down dance using a slab serif for her last name; clearly this is an upbeat party. Even the stars showed up! Ms. Mendoza herself is an attractive woman, smiling widely, wearing a tropical straw hat, shell necklace and capri pants. I've always loved this album cover just because it was happy ... Celeste is fun! Anyway, the rest of the type is a bold san serif condensed, regular and extended buffet. The kerning is good, but the leading is a bit open, however, it's consistent, so it's not so bad.
Another exotic and fun cover woman, except the model on the Epoca de Oro del Trio Los Panchos, is much more mod and funky. When I was a kid, I didn't notice that she's only wearing that hat and the blue scarf ... it's so 60's, isn't it? There's a lot going on this cover - it's a bit busy. It could be her hat, it could be the birds of paradise flowers, or it could be the type. Ok, it's the type. It's too much and I don't need to give you the obvious play by play. I will say that I do really like that 'Stereo' logo in the top left corner. The title is very reminiscent of the 'Guaguanco' Los Papines album, with the red type and the yellow stroke in that skewed, perspective angle.
I'm not going to review the back - it's overkill. The entire thing is excessively wrong.
Grade: I'm going to be tough on this one, C for both front and back.
'You Made Me a Woman' by Blanca Rosa Gil is campy and I love it! Why do I like this one and not the previous one? Because this one is understated and it's boldly theatrical. Ms. Gil's hair and make-up is spectacular and she's lit like she's on a telenovela. The corny line-drawing frame actually fits with the decorative serif type. The front cover WORKS or as they say nowadays, WERKS! She's framed and she gets our full attention ... it's simple, but effective. The back cover is all about this star - she's centerstage on all sides. The back cover showcases all of Ms. Gil's albums and fabulousness. Clearly, she had a very good designer and hung on to this person - all her albums were on-point.
In conclusion, all these record albums are pretty great in their own right. In regards to design, some are better than others, but I appreciate all of the graphics for the good and the bad. You learn from it - you see where graphics made some of the covers iconic, like the Marcos Antonio Muñiz cover. I gave out some tough grades, but it's all in fun. I tried to do more online research, but there wasn't too much that I could find; one of the albums I looked said it was 'rare'. Too bad they all have some kind of wear & tear on them; I wouldn't sell any of them though. I'm holding on to these gems for a LONG time - a small slice of music and design history.