45 rpm: warping and skipping along

by Art Chantry:

the first of the two 45′s here is for a band called “jack o’ fire” (a crazed lo-fi punk blues) and the other is for a band called “the screamin’ furys” (much more of a classic garage rock band assault). please notice the different shapes of these record covers.

---it didn't sell that many - jack o' fire was an acquired taste. and a lot of folks returned them when they saw the warp. that was so funny. collectors are such finicky madmen that if there was the slightest thing 'off' about their copy, they wanted a new pristine one. dave would have to explain that they played fine and that they were warped INTENTIONALLY. but, they just couldn't get their minds around that. the last jack o' fire release was going to be a ten-inch record (pressed on 78 rpm speed) on extra-thick vinyl (like the old lacquer disks). we were going to print the album sleeve on SANDPAPER - on the INSIDE of the sleeve!!! and to top it off, we were going to include NO dust sleeve, so every time you slipped that disk in or out, it would scratch the record!! the band was so lo-fi and primitive sounding that the scratches would only enhance the affect. besides, playing a record at 78rpm allows the needle to simply skip over most of the scratches anyway. that's why 45's can look so lousy and still sound so good. it was going to be our ultimate revenge over the anal collector elite market. but, the band broke up acrimoniously before we could do that. oh well.---AC

when we did the jack o’ fire 45 (called – punkin’) we die-cut the jack o’fire (aka – a jack o’ lantern) face out of the cover and the fabricated it as a standard square sleeve. then we had the printer use a power cutter to trim the corners – simulating the ’round’ effect. the vinyl is glow-in-the-dark vinyl! when you turn out the lights, the jack o’ lantern lights up – and when you put it on a turntable in the dark, you have a happy face spinning around! (we originally wanted to have no label on the disk at all, but the pressing plant wouldn’t do that. the b-side has a label. the reason was they plant said the disk needed the label on both sides or it would warp (we had to insist on at least one said being label-free). they were right, most of these records warped. you could still play them fine, but it freaked folks out).

anyway, after we did this, we thought the cut corners really took away front he full effect, so we set around to figuring out how to make and manufacture a ROUND 45 cover. i layed the design out and dave found a die-manufacturer who would do it cheap. the result was that we had the ONLY round die-cut 45′s on earth. and they worked great. we did at least a dozen round 45′s after that. we kept coming up with new concepts to push the idea around.

this second 45 is an image of an air cleaner from a 383 (a BIG automobile engine) printed with the round die-cut we designed. see how well it worked? in fact, every hipster indie label in the planet started coming after our pressing plant wanting to use that round die-cut, too. but, we always kept it our personal property so no one else could use it for free. if they wanted round 45′s , too, then they had to figure it our for themselves this time. no more free rides, gentlemen.

monkey see, monkey do only goes so far. all those other clowns got all pissed at us, too. but, we just wouldn’t let them use our idea. it was a tiny petty victory over the competition that was forever nipping at our heels. but, it sure felt good. eventually THEY won, however.

that cutting die eventually got burned up in the estrus warehouse fire that destroyed so much of the label. that was the end of that.

---these girl trouble sleeves were made by buying manilla envelopes that were the correct size, trimming them down a tad, then printing the image on the already folded and glued envelope and then die-cutting the hole at the end. they don't make the brown paper blank sleeves any more, so we improvised.---AC

(above) …on this 45 for the enduring (and endearing) band, Girl Trouble, estrus used the old-skool brown paper ‘generic’ 45 sleeve again. like i pointed out earlier, these are ‘faked’ because the industry doesn’t make these any more and to actually do them like they used to be made would require a HUGE expense. so (as usual) at estrus we found a way around the problem and made our own. to make matters even more complicated, we issued this single in three different colors as well. please note that the vinyl, too is in matching colors. dave was really proud of this single and thought it was the best thing estrus ever released (or so he gushed at me over the phone when he got the first samples). i think it sold about 50 copies. oh well. still a great single. go find it.

…also, this actual record ‘label’ design was what we sort of began to use as the ‘generic’ estrus label. usually, we’d design a full custom label for each release. when we did something like this (the old skool sleeve with the old skool label showing, we made an old skool label ‘look’. after we did this particular label layout, dave liked it enough to use it as the fall-back generic label design whenever he put out something

we didn’t go to the crazy extra lengths of a special custom label approach….

…the background and context of design work is always overlooked for the surface value of it. talking about the who and how and when and why of these things really puts it all into more perspective. that being said, i did hundreds and hundreds of covers for dave in all sorts of formats. that doesn’t include posters (promo and concert) and tshirts and specialty items. we really cranked. and because there was no money, we had to solve everything with our smarts alone. it was maybe one of the best collaborative training grounds i’ve ever experienced. so, you can only imagine the tales that could be told….

…t just got hard when some label did nothing BUT copy-cat us and then try to put us under all the time. i mean, the backbiting and gamesmanship got really really ugly. some of those other labels were run by people who should be in jail. no joke. it got really bad. so, the competition was really nasty at times. it’s one of the big reasons dave backed away. he just couldn’t TAKE IT any more. he pretty much turned his back on the whole industry. me, too….

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