Mojo Classic / Emap 2007
Mojo and Q, the monthly UK based music magazines, have been issuing ‘classic’ branded publications for some time, centred on famous bands past and present. They are all done in the size and style of their regular editions and sold through newsagents. Running alongside these specials are themed editions, and this particular title is the second devoted to record sleeve art (the first being The Greatest Classic Rock Albums Ever).
With 150 or so pages for £5.99 it’s a lot less than you’d pay for a book of similar size, but it does sit a little uneasily between a proper book and a magazine. There is the feeling of a somewhat rushed production and time saving techniques to build the content (and I’ve no idea if they’re recycling anything from back – issues). So for example when you get to the History of Sleeve Design, it’s just a few hundred words backed up by five very poorly reproduced sleeves, four of which are from the sixties.
The content is eclectic rather than thorough (and there is some advertising too – so a three page feature on the 4AD designer Vaughan Oliver is rather spoilt by Bono’s stubble-covered visage plugging Q magazine), but once you get used to the magazine teaser-style of writing, there is material of interest dotted in between the lazier sections. They have one section looking at various genres and themes running through record sleeves, and a nice selection of cover out-takes – contacting photographers to reproduce the shots which didn’t make the sleeve. These are often reproduced in better quality than the covers themselves. This includes for example some great unissued shots of Syd Barrett by Mick Rock, and interesting detail on the Madcap Laughs cover – a great sleeve photograph which it turns out Mick and Syd didn’t want (for me Harvest did right to over-rule them!).
Obviously a publication like this is aiming to reach a wider market than a specialist book, and the production budget must be limited to some extent, though you do wonder whether it might not be worth the magazines going up to the next level and taking advantage of their contacts and staff to make something a little more memorable. Overall then worth picking up to flick through, just don’t expect too much!
Many of these magazine editions can be obtained on back-order from Q4music.com