Often garish and done with no eye on design whatsoever, the K-Tel and Arcade hits album covers are the antithesis of sleeve art, the washing powder packets of the vinyl world. Primary colours and plenty of them! Yet they can throw up some fun covers, and I pick them up if I see them cheap and in good condition. This collection titled Rocket (Arcade ADFEP17) is one of the better examples.  The sleeve artist is not credited, but clearly they must have used a British comic illustrator of some talent, as the background image is fantastic and really well drawn.  It’s a pity they felt the need to cover it in the names of the artists although these are clearly hand-drawn as well; today someone would simply dial up one of the digitised ‘comic’ fonts. There is even a different illustration across the back, where puzzlingly the artists and tracks are buried in some tiny font for some reason (I bet Polly Brown threw a strop when she realised they’d missed her off the front!) It dates from 1975, arguably the peak period for these TV advertised compilations.

Arcade Rocket 20 original hits sleeve back
Arcade must have kept the rocket illustration separate, as different countries used it but changed the names and content as the Dutch version shown below indicates. Hopefully someone is out there collecting and documenting all this stuff properly!

There are a few K-tel heavy metal sleeves on the site.

Arcade Rocket 20 original hits sleeve back

About simon robinson

Having worked as a graphic designer in the music industry, mainly in the reissue sector, I now concentrate on the design and publication of books about popular culture - and even write some of them.
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