Wednesday, March 15, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 003: This Ain’t No Disco”

[Originally posted 27 Feb. 2017. ---RFY]

Jennifer McKnight-Trontz – This Ain’t No Disco: New Wave Album Covers (2005)

As an artist, I have to admit that New Wave album covers (and music videos) were some of the most important influences on me as I was growing up. Brash colors, strange images, geometric designs, and creative juxtapositions combined with a futuristic sensibility, the whole package really appealed to me, visually and ideologically, as a kid. This book by McKnight-Trontz, which nobly covers this freakish and often misunderstood era in music history, is a fabulous resource, particularly for a visual artist. It has a short intro talking about New Wave style, then it dives right into a couple hundred album covers, ranging from around 1970 to the mid-1980s.

Gary Numan, Duran Duran, XTC, Adam and the Ants, the Go-Go’s…some absolutely iconic images find their way into this book, and, as a record collector who specializes in New Wave albums, I was fascinated by the fact that the book’s compilers found SO MANY New Wave albums that I didn’t already own! Combine the variety of design styles with the sheer number of albums, plus the little trivia and notes peppered throughout the book, and you’ve got a collection worth flipping through, over and over again. I would recommend this book for art and design fans, for music lovers, and for anyone who was either too young or too sheltered to have run across the great New Wave aesthetic when it was in full blossom. (I’m tearing up, here…)

—Richard F. Yates

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