Wu Note – Wu-Tang Albums As Blue Note Releases
Now this is what I call perfect timing. I just posted about Almost Blue, the gallery compiled by Rate Your Music user Monocle. This overview lists sleeves that are based on specific releases by Blue Note Records, or that are designed to evoke the classic Blue Note cover art style.
And guess what – today FontFeed reader Logan Walters commented that he is working on a related personal project – Wu Note Records a.k.a. Blu-Tang Clan. In the same spirit of other recent design remix projects like Spacesick’s “I Can Read Movies” book covers and Olly Moss’ “8 Films in Black and Red” posters, Logan has re-envisioned Wu-Tang albums as Reid Miles-era Blue Note Records sleeves. The project is lots of fun.
As Logan explains on his website:
A little while ago I put a bunch of Wu-Tang (both group and solo) albums on my computer. 21 of them, in fact. I inherited some mild OCD from my mom, and as anyone who has seen my iTunes can attest to, it manifests itself in weird ways. I need to have decent-quality album art for every album on my computer, which currently equals over 90 gigs. The problem was that almost all of the Wu-Tang album art was horrible (ODB’s two albums being the only real exceptions) – no offense to the original designers, but as iconic as they might be they’re looking pretty dated these days. So, armed with inspiration from what Olly Moss and others are doing (…) and a book of Blue Note Records covers, I set out to remake all 21.
It’s quite funny that Logan remarks the original art looks “pretty dated these days”, and then revisits the covers as 1950s–1960s designs. But he’s right. Like I wrote in my previous post many of Reid Miles’ designs still look ground-breaking today, and most have aged wonderfully. Conceptually it also makes sense. Tom at FreakyTrigger offers some analysis:
Sample-based hip hop is a conversation between the past (the records producers draw on), the present (the scene it emerges from and the audience who embrace it), and the future (its reception, and the possibility of crossover). Remaking Wu-Tang sleeve art as Blue Note sleeve art is making a point: this music, like that music, is classic African-American art.
Logan pulls it off – he adopts the recognisable style and makes it his own, without doing plain lifts of existing Blue Note covers. His type palette is well defined and looks great. Logan updates Reid Miles’ trademark typography for the 21st century by combining contemporary digitisations H&FJ Knockout and H&FJ Didot with the classic Univers 39 Thin Ultra Condensed and Clarendon. Only ITC Lubalin Graph seems a bit out of place, because it was released almost ten years after Reid Miles left Blue Note Records and the style of the covers had changed dramatically by then. The yellow-ish aged paper effect is just icing on the cake and brings the project home.
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