running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Why Elektra Still Lights My Fire

Saturday, 27 February 2010

For anyone who continues to enjoy the ritual of reading liner notes, handling and physically playing a piece of recorded music, then remastered reissues and box set CDs are still worth buying. Downloading the tracks just doesn't cut it.

I recently picked up a remastered 40th Anniversary Edition of the Doors' 'Soft Parade', and when I opened up the disc and saw the red label and white Elektra logo, it was like seeing an old friend.

Elektra logos 1960's and 1970's

Like Stax, Verve, and Blue Note, Elektra developed a strong, enduring corporate identity. In Elektra's case, the bands and singers who signed up seemed to be more than just rock stars and competent musicians, they were serious, genuine artists. An Elektra recording was a guarantee of quality and signified artistic coolness.

Elektra's style was conceived and executed by designer Willam S. Harvey and photographer Joel Brodsky. Their memorable covers combined clean bold sixties-era typography, startlingly intimate portraiture photography, and of course a killer logo - a chunky uppercase 'E' composed of three simple primitive shapes arranged art-deco style, and set into a red or tan background.

The logo went through various changes, but the classic version dominated Elektra's so-called 'Golden Era', a period between the mid-1960's and the early 1970's during which the label, under the auspices of its founder Jac Holzman, released seminal albums by the Doors, Love, the Stooges, the MC5, Tim Buckley, Lovin' Spoonful and Tom Waits.

In 2007, a 5-CD compilation of classic Elektra artists was released, and in his review of it, Rolling Stone's David Frike summed up the Elektra story, writing "this outstanding set is a study in consistent adventure and excellence in which the star is not a particular artist, genre or epoch - but a logo..."

Some classic Elektra labels and covers:

Love - Forever Changes, 1967, original tan label.

The Stooges - The Stooges, 1969, original butterfly label:

Television, Marquee Moon, 1977, original red label:

The Stooges - Funhouse, 1971, reissued double 'E' label:

Classic Covers ; The Doors, Love, Tim Buckley, Lovin' Spoonful.

Tim Buckley Goodbye and Hello

Lovin Spoonful

Elektra Records.
Elektra @ wiki
Elektra Master Discography