13 March 2010

[design] XTC's Go 2: Another Cover Where The Type Is The Art

Referred to me by Ben Lukoff after peeping the Chumbawamba cover two postings back, is this, the RECORD COVER for XTC's 1978 Album, XTC's Go 2:

The text, in full, reads as follows:

This is a RECORD COVER. This writing is the DESIGN upon the record cover. The DESIGN is to help SELL the record. We hope to draw your attention to it and encourage you to pick it up. When you have done that maybe you'll be persuaded to listen to the music - in this case XTC's Go 2 album. Then we want you to BUY it. The idea being that the more of you that buy this record the more money Virgin, the manager Ian Reid and XTC themselves will make. To the aforementioned this is known as PLEASURE. A good cover DESIGN is one that attracts more buyers and gives more pleasure. This writing is trying to pull you in much like an eye-catching picture. It is designed to get you to READ IT. This is called luring the VICTIM, and you are the VICTIM. But if you have a free mind you should STOP READING NOW! because all we are attempting to do is to get you to read on. Yet this is a DOUBLE BIND because if you indeed stop you'll be doing what we tell you, and if you read on you'll be doing what we've wanted all along. And the more you read on the more you're falling for this simple device of telling you exactly how a good commercial design works. They're TRICKS and this is the worst TRICK of all since it's describing the TRICK whilst trying to TRICK you, and if you've read this far then you're TRICKED but you wouldn't have known this unless you'd read this far. At least we're telling you directly instead of seducing you with a beautiful or haunting visual that may never tell you. We're letting you know that you ought to buy this [place album format here] because in essence it's a PRODUCT and PRODUCTS are to be consumed and you are a consumer and this is a good PRODUCT. We could have written the band's name in special lettering so that it stood out and you'd see it before you'd read any of this writing and possibly have bought it anyway. What we are really suggesting is that you are FOOLISH to buy or not buy an album merely as a consequence of the design on its cover. This is a con because if you agree then you'll probably like this writing - which is the cover design - and hence the album inside. But we've just warned you against that. The con is a con. A good cover design could be considered as one that gets you to buy the [album format], but that never actually happens to YOU because YOU know it's just a design for the cover. And this is the RECORD COVER.

Isn't that delicious? They get you with the wit, mess with your head a little, and go out on the same note they went in on … kind of like Samuel Delaney's Dhalgren, only much shorter and with a lot less surrealism.

Are they having you on or having the laugh of you or letting you in on the joke? And how can you be sure either way?

But the design point comes in when your eyes course over the typewriter font (which, in 1978, probably was done by a typewriter) and the stark white on black. The message goes up the side of your head with a two-by-four … a somewhat pretentious and sarcastic two-by-four, but a two-by, none the less. And the type carries the artistic impression of a bare, direct message.

This could have come out of any modern 'zine, so, doubleplusgood there.

Unlike Chumbawamba's album, though, the block text is not the entire title, which is XTC's Go 2 only.

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Benjamin Lukoff said...

I haven't heard the Chumbawamba album, but I do love Go2, the Barry Andrews tracks "My Weapon" and "Super Tuff" notwithstanding

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

I'm going to have to give it a listen, I suppose. I was solidly in my ELO/Duran Duran phase by this time, so XTC kind of passed me by!