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25.01.10

You can't judge a book by its cover

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Tony Brook

Tony Brook digs out a dazzling gem from his collection. And the cover is a stunner.

Bo Diddley’s You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover chuggs along at pace with trademark trembling guitar going like the clappers. Written by the great Willie Dixon, the opening verse reads:

You can't judge an apple by looking at a tree

You can't judge honey by looking at the bee

You can't judge a daughter by looking at the mother

You can't judge a book by looking at the cover

I can see the logic, but there’s always an exception to every maxim. Images of an Era: The American Poster 1945-75 is just such an exception. The cover is a detail from a poster by Andy Warhol. It is punchy and pretty radical for nowadays. Not many books published today leave the name of the book off the cover.

Published by the Smithsonian Institute in 1975 to support a major travelling exhibition of American posters, the book was designed by the master –  Derek Birdsall. It is a thoughtful, well-curated and beautifully conceived book. You can get an idea of the layout from the images uploaded here, but sadly, not of the stock choices which work perfectly.

Images of an Era: The American Poster 1945-75

The content – from the essay by Milton Glazer to the powerful anti-war and anti-pollution statements (both hot topics now, but where are the posters?) – is consistently strong. Many of the posters, particularly from the 60s and 70s, look as fresh and impactful today as they ever did. Admittedly a few of the early posters and a number of the later ‘trippy hippy’ efforts have dated but even they have their own interest.

We’ve uploaded some more images on Flickr that are worth checking out. Be great to hear what you think.

 By the way - the last lines of the song ...

I look like a farmer, but I'm a lover

You can't judge a book by looking at the cover


Now that I can relate to.

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