Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream & Other Delights
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No one is going to mistake the items on display in The LP Show, an exhibition currently at Exit Art, for high art, yet this compendium of over 2,500 album covers does have its uses. As someone who spent a good part of his adolescence rooting around the bins of record stores, I find that The LP Show functions best as an essay in nostalgia. Not just for one’s youth (and please note: While the album covers on view date back to the 1940’s and encompass a wide variety of music, this is, at heart and in fact, a rock ‘n’ roll show), but for the demise of the album cover as a physical entity. CD boxes encourage squinting and filing; album covers, scrutiny and tenderness.
Just how long one partakes of the walk down memory lane prompted by Exit Art’s “social narrative” depends on how much kitsch one can tolerate. While installed non-hierarchically, the album covers are arranged by genre and what genres there are: superheroes and ventriloquists, cheesecake and sleazecake, The Sound of Music and, as a centerpiece of sorts, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ Whipped Cream and Other Delights. Such groan-worthy camp can be amusing, but it is best sampled in small doses, an amenity The LP Show doesn’t extend. Instead, one leaves Exit Art fatigued, having come to the unremarkable conclusion that kitsch demoralizes faster than nostalgia consoles.
© 2001 Mario Naves
Originally published in the July 1, 2001 edition of The New York Observer.