One of these, Cesar Franck, is designed by Einhorn. If you know who Einhorn is, please let me know. The rest are Curt John Witt, my second favorite designer, possibly because his works look like cut-rate Steinweiss. ca. 1951-1952.
Curt John Witt designed a large percentage of the covers on Plymouth/Merit ca 1950 to 1954. Another budget label, the music of dubious origin. But nice covers, if cheap. The same works showed up on Remington.
Another budget label, Parade. These covers look remarkably like the work of Alex Steinweiss, but I am reasonably certain he never did any work for Parade. Curt John Witt’s work often looked a lot like Steinweiss’, and he always worked for budget labels, so I assume these are his.
The Decca one is a late Steinweiss. I have never seen one that looked just like this. The Columbia one is way too late to have been designed by Steinweiss. But they used his font for the cover, Steinweiss scrawl. Steinweiss scrawl was invented by him to solve a design problem: covers in the 1940s had enormous quantities of information on them. How do you put all this info without interfering with the overall design? It is a brilliant solution. On this late cover, the font is adapted to a new use – lots of info, but the font itself is the main design element.
These are all signed Witt or Design House. Witt worked for only one quality company of which I am aware: Cook Sounds of Our Times. Here are 2 of those. He also did a lot of work for Remington – I posted those a few years back, and for Plymouth, Merit, and Plymouth/Merit which apparently are all the same company as Remington. Here are a few. Rigoletto surprises me, I wouldn’t have guessed it for Witt if it hadn’t been signed.
the next batch of Record Corporation of America covers. All their different labels, including a generic cover on WBAL. A few are probably Witt but they are unsigned.
My favorite record covers are ones that are beautiful and mysterious. Alex Steinweiss dominates the field, especially during the golden age of the 1940s, but some of the RCA 78 rpm sets are right up there, and so are some 1960s psychedelic works and some current things as well.
Best cover of all time, however, is not exactly the same thing as favorite cover. Some of my favorites might be the best. The original cover of Saxy Jazz by Bill Black and his combo is another possibility. Imagine the sedate year 1960, an era of highly mediocre graphic arts. “Elvis is Back” or “Sing Along With Mitch” or “Persuasive Percussion” (even if Josef Albers did design it). Throw into this mix a black and white cover showing couples dancing in a smoke-filled room. Everything about the couples screams “illicit sex”, at least to me. It is not beautiful, but it is powerful and would actually still work for an album of emo. Nothing else looked like it in 1960. Nothing else Bill Black ever did looks at all like it. Nothing else Hi records ever released, and it is their first or second lp, ever looked at all like it.
The cover was redone a number of times. First it was colorized – you can tell the black and white is older because it says Bill Black and His Combo. Bill Black only released four or five lps, and died young. The “Bill Black Combo” was the name used for dozens of faceless instrumental lps after his death. Saxy Jazz was redesigned to make it seem like Bill Black Combo lps were by the same artist that it was. The later reissues dispense with the original drawing, trying for a modern look. The original design would work well today, and the redrawn cover looks like a lame graphic from swinging 1968.
I am sorry I don’t know who designed this cover.