Put the needle on the record is a collection of vinyl cover art from the 1980’s, compiled from Matthew Chojnacki’s personal collection. Although each photo is accompanied by a blurb about the album (or the art), the book is as much a visual representation of the art and music scene during America’s glammiest decade.
Album covers are arranged in pairs with a common theme associating them. Both albums may have a similar color scheme, a particular pose or, in the case of “The Neverending Story” by Limahl and “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart, have skinny cheeked, frosted tipped pretty boys with dark eyebrows.
A plus to the book is that it represents nearly all aspects of the period’s musical scene. Kraftwerk’s iconic floppy disk cover graces one part of the book, while The Smiths “What Difference Does It Make” sets in another. One of my favorite pages showcases “Playground Twist” by Siouxsie and the Banshees next to “The Pictures on My Wall” by Echo and the Bunnymen. Both feature hand drawn covers and speak of their bands independent nature.
Celebrity one hit wonders are not to be left out and Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time” proves it. Tracy Ullman shows up as well.
The real joy in the book comes in rediscovering old favorites while flipping through it. The collection covers everyone from Michael Jackson to hair bands, from Sting to Men Without Hats. The blurbs on each set up pages reveals quotes from the artists, photographers or producers involved in the album. Real gems are revealed, like the blurb from “What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?)” informs everyone that Jon Bongiovi recorded the album – sung by Chewbacca – as his first recording effort. Later, he would change his name from Bongiovi to Bon Jovi and take over rock for a while.
The one problem with the book is its size. It’s built like a coffee table book, but it is still pretty small. Many of the covers come from full-sized albums, so the art loses a little with shrinking. Still, it’s a wonderful book to flip through, and if it’s left out in the open other people will be drawn to it.