When novelty packaging goes very badly part two: rocking and rolling (off shelves)
The late ’60s were a revolutionary time in every aspect: television burst into colour; the album became the dominant musical art form; the post-pill/pre-AIDS time ushered in an era of sexual liberation; LSD and marijuana proliferated the youth, expanding minds and pant-bottoms; the civil rights movement, anti-war sentiment, and second wave feminism collided in an orgy of protest marches and calls for peace and equality – and things basically seemed like the future.
Some ideas were more successful then others.
Buoyed by the experimental times, The Small Faces released their psychedelic masterwork Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, which — like most concept albums of the era — was less about a concrete concept and more about the feel of the thing. Like The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society, the album was forward-thinking music that leaned on the past, looking back to old England, and the style of the Victorian era. Central to this was the artwork, designed to look and seem like an old tobacco tin.
First pressings were housed in a circular metallic cover: a beautiful and expensive (in manufacturing) piece of art, it was wildly impractical, both in the aforementioned costs, but mainly in practicality. The tin could not be displayed in stores without rolling off shelves, and could not be easily placed in crates with other records, as it was cumbersome and thick.
The label soon repressed the record, keeping the circular shape but killing off the metal. This was even less successful, as the name of the record could not be displayed on the circular sides, plus it all but disappeared when squashed between two conventionally shaped records.
The album still debuted at #1 in England, although this was mainly due to the wild success of lead single ‘Lazy Sunday’, which remains the only successful single to tackle the universal topic of getting high in a park, crying, and feeding ducks with a bread roll.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.