45 rpm: ultimate teenager product

by Art Chantry:

here’s a cool bit of packaging that i found the other day. never seen anything quite like it. this is a 45 cover (a 7″ vinyl record). you might note that it’s roughly shaped like an xmas ornament and that you can physically hang it from an xmas tree branch. it even comes with a little red string to do just that. there’s even still an old price tag on this – 85¢!

—i think we designed something like 20-25 round 45 sleeves (at estrus records with dave crider. all in the 1990′s). i designed it with simple tabs at the sides and at the bottom. no problems at all. very simple. why no one was brave enough to try that back then is a mystery to me.—AC

inside is a 45rpm 7″ big-hole vinyl record (an RCA red seal label, no less. real ‘kwality’). the vocalist is jan peerce (big back then, almost forgotten now). he’s backed up by the “columbus boy choir, directed by herbert huffman” (william wirges, organist). the double entendres here are too deep to explore. together, they knock out a bunch of classic (and not-so-classic) xmas crap for your holiday celebration. this front is a red ornament ball, the back side (which is virtually identical) is a green ornament with red trim – a color reverse of this.

back in the early 1950′s, as the 7″ format first started to emerge, the EP (extended play) 7″ record started the ball rolling. originally, they were designed to fit at least 2 tracks per side (thus: ‘extended play’) and came cardboard bound in nice boxed sets (or individually) duplicates of LP’s by popular artists. it was all in all an attempt to change formats to contain MORE music, MORE sound fidelity (segmented studio recording replaced live into the megaphone recording at about this same time), and CHEAPER production. vinyl was so much lighter and durable than the shellac 78′s. you could drop them and they wouldn’t shatter! disk jockeys LOVED them!

eventually, the single as we know it today evolved. that’s when rock and roll really took off. the 45 was the ultimate teenager product. the idea that you could actually carry your own music to the beach or to a party and and even carry battery operated turntables around with handle was a revolution. the cheap disposable 45 eventually came in a thin paper dust jacket sleeve rather than a heavy cardbord jacket. we never looked back.

but, the package was still being worked out as well. the top of this this jacket is die-cut to allow a big ‘slot’ to slip the record in and out from the top. the bottom is still cut square to hold it all together. back in the early 1990′s, i designed a 45 sleeve die-cut that actually trimmed the bottom, too and became a ’round’ 45 sleeve. it worked just fine (again and again and again) and there’s no reason they couldn’t have trimmed the bottom round here as well. they were just afraid to take that dramatic step is all. such were the times. change has to come in baby steps.

one other small problem with this clever little design – the string at the top will tie shut the  record slot so you can’t slide the record in and out without untying the string. their solution? tie the string only to one side, even though both sides has the hole drilled through the cardboard. it’s a lame solution to see, but it works fine. again, baby steps.

they didn’t do this ‘almost round’ design again so far as i know. apparently too many little engineering problems to bother with. but, when they abandoned this clever design gimmick, they also seem to have tossed out the basic idea of taking the shape a step further and actually try it out as an actual round sleeve. that apparently had to wait until some cheezy trash rockers in the the 1990′s (40 years later) took the dare.

… just in time for the 45 to die out.

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