What’s hot, sweaty and filled with sexual innuendo? I’m talking about disco — what did you think I was talking about? — but I’m also talking about the design that was created to sell this era of suddenly decadent lifestyles.
The new book Disco: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Cover Art of Disco Records includes over 2000 (!) album covers from the ’70s and ’80s, with at least 95 per cent of them featuring scantily-clad and/or greased-up female body parts. There are interviews with musicians, designers and producers from the era, and the covers themselves include so many oh-so familiar names like Donna Summer, Chic, Gloria Gaynor, Grace Jones, Isaac Hayes, and Kool and the Gang, as well as hundreds of more obscure acts.
With disco seeing somewhat of a resurgence — have you heard Giorgio Moroder’s new single? — plus the Memphis-esque design of the era also having its own comeback, the art doesn’t actually feel that visually dated anymore; if anything, it will be inspiring to the current generation of designers. But if all this talk is making you nostalgic for the smell of moist Spandex and the glittery spray of a mirrorball, don’t worry: There’s a soundtrack to accompany the book as well.
Lime, Lime II | Matra Records
The Canadian label was best known for Lime, a husband-and-wife group headed by Denis and Denyse LePage.
Vine Street Disco Band, Disco Delight | Gateway
This 1977 album was art directed by Cyd Kilbey with the cover illustration by Bruce Emmett. Plus dancing tips on the back cover!
Blackwell, Boogie Down | Butterfly Records
Racy! This 1978 album was designed by Glenn Ross with photography by Buddy Rosenberg and Bob Levy.
African Suite, African Suite | MCA
This African-influenced disco album was produced by the legendary Richie Rome in 1980. Illustration by William Rieser, design by Vartan.
Lightning, Lightning | Casablanca
Roller disco, the most important subset of disco. Design by Gribbitt, Murry Whiteman and Michael Kevin Lee, photography by Scott Hensel.
Le Pamplemousse, Planet Of Love/You Can Get Off On The Music | AVI
Le Pamplemousse (French for “grapefruit”) had a bunch of hits, this one in 1979. Design by The Committee, and photography by James Mares.
Latin Disco, Salsa’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 | Salsoul
The 1978 disco-salsa crossover featured art direction by Stan Hochstadt, photography by Frank Kelleogy and design by Lori L. Lambert.