Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 6

April 9th, 2014


Paul Morris is a graphic designer and writer who collects album art of the 1940’s and 1950’s. He finds his examples of influential mid-century design in the used record stores of Portland, Oregon.

This edition features teenagers of the 1950’s enjoying their music!

__________

     This time I’ve brought some examples of 1950s album covers that attempted to appeal to the growing youth market. What I love about these James Dean-era photos is how square the youngsters appear, and how old the models often were. In this teenage dance party one girl is having some finger-snapping fun.

1-paul-teen1

__________

     Boyd Raeburn was a big band leader known for experimental ideas, but here he was reaching for a crossover with “a solid beat for dancers.” The dancers in the photo, credited to Leigh Charell, are collegiates dressed in sweaters, saddle shoes, and skirts. One girl is playing along with her ukulele.

1-paul-teen2

__________

     It’s time for a open house party with Les Brown, with a host of invited singers, “the ideal guests for your evenings at home, with friends or strangers, for a party of two or a party of twenty—even for the listener alone.”  This crowd looks too young for the likes of Hoagy Carmichael, but they’re very into their Les Brown albums. This photo is by Joe Weitz. Note the knotty pine paneling and mid-century bamboo furniture.

1-paul-teen3

__________

     Another party set in a basement room, this one with shag carpeting. I’d be a bit startled if Don Cornell showed up in my basement, but these teens are taking it in stride. As in the previous photo, the drink of choice is Coke.

1-paul-teen4

__________

     Yes, there really were poodle skirts, if this photo is to be believed. And teenagers wore sport coats to the malt shop. Buddy Morrow was another big-band holdover trying to reach the youth market.

1-paul-teen5

__________

     “When the lettermen or campus Casanovas take comely co-eds around the waist…well, clearly the occasion’s a fraternity hop,” say the liner notes. Eddie Miller, the leader, was born in 1911, so it was perhaps a stretch for him to accompany a college party. The very happy couple at left seem old enough to be grad students. The lights and brick wall are great; one of the joke signs reads, “Halitosis is Better than No Breath at All.”

1-paul-teen6

__________

     These 1958 music fans are more believable as teenagers, though some of them are quite serious about their dancing. Apparently four inches below the knee was the skirt length of the day. At Sandy Nelson’s house party, the crowd is on the young side, and Mom has gone all out with the party decorations and snacks. I wonder if Brylcreem is still on the market?

1-paul-teen7

1-paul-teen8

_________

     In the Teen Scene photo the younger kids are loving Chet Atkins, supposedly “a favorite of Young America.” This cover  is from 1963, as evidenced by the skinny ties and big hair.

1-paul-teen9

_________

     These dancers actually are supposed to be adults won over to rock and roll by the Twist, but their dance party is very similar to the teen variety, complete with portable phonograph and soft drinks. There’s no obvious connection between the Twist and Dr. Pepper that I can see. The 10, 2, and 4 used to be on the label — those are the times of day when it’s fun to drink it. The second image, from the back, shows advanced variations of the Twist, including the never-seen Holdin’ Hands Twist.

1-paul-teen10

1-paul-teen11

__________

     And here is a dance party staged for the 1963 movie Bye Bye Birdie. These high schoolers are enjoying the “Telephone Hour” catching up on gossip (notice all the phones) while dancing. The costumes here are a Hollywood costumer’s idea of teen fashion. Some of the colors are very much of the time.

1-paul-teen12

__________

In Volume 1 of “Cover Stories,” Paul shared his collection of covers by Alex Steinweiss, known as the father of the record album cover, and for many years in charge of Columbia Records’ art department.

Volume 2 focused on Columbia covers

Volume 3 featured jazz illustrations from the early years of the record album

Volume 4 revisited the 1950’s with images of fans holding and enjoying their albums

Volume 5 explored the work of Alex Steinweiss when he used the pseudonym “Piedra Blanca”

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In this Issue

“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings by six artists -- Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano. Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian, and Aaron Burnett

Short Fiction

"Crossing the Ribbon" by Linnea Kellar is the winning story of the 51st Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute to the Summer, 2019 collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

“What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

Pressed for All Time

In an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head

Art

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — a continuing series

Poetry

Poetry by John Stupp and Michael L. Newell

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

Interviews

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

Short Fiction

“A Viennese Tale,” a story by Matias Travieso-Diaz, was a finalist in our recently concluded 51st Short Fiction Contest.

In the previous issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...

Coming Soon

An interview with Nate Chinen, director of editorial content at WBGO Radio, former New York Times jazz writer, and the author of Playing Changes: Jazz in the New Century.

Contributing writers

Site Archive