The Music Library

Johnny Trunk

 Fuel / UK  / 2005  / ISBN 0 9550061 1 2

 270 by 210mm

An excellent collection of images from an obscure area of album sleeve design, that of the Music Library record. These carried copyright free mood music designed for TV and film soundtrack use. The albums are rarely seen; they were pressed in relatively small numbers, and were only sold through a few specialist shops and via mail-order from the labels. The issuing companies saw little need to spend much time or money on the sleeves, yet many manage to be graphically excellent almost because of these constrictions.

As someone who has spent more time than is probably healthy crate digging, most of the sleeves here were still new to me. So full marks for the visual content, which is full of inspirational ideas. The covers are grouped by label, with a short introduction on the first page of each section.

Beyond this though the book seems to be unsure exactly what it wants to be. Author Johnny Trunk is as fascinated by the obscure music as the sleeves (and has reissued some on his own label), yet the detail on this aspect of the albums is very sparse.

The layout lacks style and consistency too, while the pressed matt card cover has pretensions to I’m not sure what (and stains very easily – the price label marks cannot be removed). And it was printed in Hong Kong. All this kind of put me off buying it when it was new, which was a bit silly in retrospect, so I was happy to find a copy in a second-hand shop recently.

As a bonus there is a CD of selections from some of the albums housed inside the back cover.

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