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Album Cover Art

Long before digital music downloads and the iPod was the LP, or long play 33-1/3 rpm phonograph records. Given their size (10 to 12 inches in diameter), the vibrant artwork adorning their covers or sleeves were hard to miss.

An LP album cover is the cardboard sleeve used to package a 10- or 12-inch LP vinyl record. The LP is a type of gramophone or phonograph record, which is an analog-sound storage medium usually made of polyvinyl chloride. The three common types of vinyl records are the 78s, 33 1/3 (LP), and 45s, with the numbers representing rotational speed. The phonograph record became the most popular recording medium for most of the 20th century, replacing the phonograph cylinder. Its popularity, however, started to wane in the late 1980s with the advent of newer technologies.

Aside from protecting the fragile record, the album cover was used to advertise what tracks or songs were included in the album, as well as to promote the musical artist. It also served as a way for the graphic artist involved to display his or her talent in illustration or photography. The album and the album cover thus became a fusion of two distinct forms of media—graphic art and music.

With the advent of other formats or media like cassettes or compact discs (CDs) and their limitations in size, album covers seem to have lost their impact. And with the increasing popularity of digital media and digital music downloads, album covers are no longer a major attraction for music lovers.

The Filipinas Heritage Library pays tribute to this vanishing form of popular art found in its collections of vintage records of Original Filipino Music.