Once upon a time there existed large black vinyl discs with one very long, continuously flowing groove carved into each side of them. These discs would be placed upon a device called a turntable. Set into rotation at the rate of 33 and 1/3 revolutions per minute—music would emanate from these discs when a phonographic needle was positioned in the groove.
Way back when, this is how your ancestors listened to the music recorded by the musicians of their day. Since all of these discs looked pretty much alike, they had to be offered in some sort of packaging to differentiate one from the other. This presented considerable artistic opportunities, as the packages were perfect for displaying photography as well as various graphic treatments, in an effort to convey something of the personality of the artist—or the nature of the music contained within.
These discs were called albums, and the packaging was referred to as “album covers”. Now you do get a small semblance of what they were like today in the thumbnail images representing the music you find on iTunes, Pandora, or whatever other online music you use. Of course, those tiny pictures you see today are nowhere near as fulfilling as what we “geezers” enjoyed back when albums were “full size”. But hey, it’s just one more example that nothing you have is as good as what we had “back in the day” .
So now, for those of you whom we haven’t completely alienated with that last paragraph, we’ll get to what all of this has to do with cars. Turns out, one of the most popular subjects for many of those album covers included cars. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you want to say dirty, gritty and urban, a picture of the Dodge police car the Blues Brothers drove gets that across in nothing flat. If you want to say, “I’m sophisticated and smooth”, being photographed in a Jaguar E-Type speaks volumes. Some bands were even particularly noted for the car. ZZ Top’s hot rod is a perfect example of this.