The Asch Recordings 1939 - 1945, Vol. 2
Issued in 1967, this album is a compilation of material that first appeared on Asch and Disc Recordings, predecessor labels to Folkways. The cover design features the lively, hand-generated type for which Rosenhouse became known. The two-colour design makes use of overprinting to create a third colour and reversal to render the typographic elements at the top in white.
Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 2: Social Music
The condensed, serif type and Ben Shahn's photograph are rendered in two colours: the brown superimposed on a pale tint of orange, gives a warm, earthy, rural sensibility to the overall design. The three-volume Anthology of American Folk Music by Harry Smith is considered one of the most important recordings in the Folkways catalogue.
John A. Lomax, Jr. Sings American Folk Songs
The structure of the cover, using cropping, a low horizontal image format, and type set along the top edge, suggests the open expanse of the western landscape. In 1925 Moe Asch purchased a copy of Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads by John A. Lomax, Sr., beginning his lifelong passion for American folksongs. The renowned folklorist's son sings this collection of songs.
Negro Folk Songs for Young People
The grainy photograph conveys the honesty and integrity of the legendary Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter), wearing his customary suit and tie, performing for a young audience. A powerful singer and guitar player, Lead Belly possessed vast knowledge of African American music with a repertoire ranging from children's play-party games to prison songs. Moe Asch allowed him to record anything he wished, resulting in a canon that continues to influence musicians worldwide.
The sketchy quality of the image and hand-rendered letterforms give currency and immediacy to this traditional Jewish service. The first recordings made by Moe Asch were popular Yiddish songs, Jewish commentaries, and educational programming for radio station WEVD. Jewish cantorials and liturgical material from other faiths became an important part of the Folkways catalogue.
Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land
The superimposed images of Woody Guthrie reveal his passion and intensity during performance. The orange drop-shadows of the title identify the album as a recording of the 1960s. It was Guthrie's association with Moses Asch that yielded the bulk of his prodigious recorded legacy.
Healing Songs of the American Indians
This photograph of ethnographer Frances Densmore and Mountain Chief, the Blackfoot Nation's last hereditary leader, documents early sound technology. Densmore is shown playing a recording on a wax cylinder phonograph while Mountain Chief interprets the sounds in sign language. The extended, serif type of the title is reminiscent of wood type characteristic in the early American West.
The History of Jazz
The Miro painting reflects the playful, dynamic nature of the wide range of jazz music recorded here. The form and colour of the type subtly reiterate the whimsical qualities of the painting. Contrast is provided by the warmth of the orange ground. Mary Lou Williams was a pioneer jazz musician, arranger, and composer, and one of Moe Asch's favourite artists.
Gazette, Volume 1
Iconic Folkways recording artist Pete Seeger sees American folk music as "a living, vital, creative force in our lives...as much a reflection of the present as the past." The cover design plays on the layout of a newspaper front page to create a tone that is popular, accessible, and reflective of the album's topical songs. The expressive woodcut captures Seeger's stage presence perfectly. Attributed to Antonio Frasconi, the woodcut is, in fact, the work of Leona Pierce, Frasconi's wife.
The simple line drawing by social realist artist and photographer, Ben Shahn, evokes the loneliness and isolation of a cowboy's life on the range. David Stone Martin, who illustrated and designed many of the early Folkways covers, introduced Ben Shahn to Moe Asch.
All the Homespun Days: A Narrative Poem
The weathered face of an old man of the Catskill backcountry is enhanced by overprinting the photograph on a grey-green ground, evoking the regional authenticity of Norman Studer's poetry. Designer Ronald Clyne established the distinctive Folkways look seen here: the dark background and edges and simple, two-toned printing are characteristic of his work.
Eugene V. Debs
The bold, slab serif typeface and posterized photograph give weight and power to this tribute to Eugene V. Debs, trade unionist, socialist, and revolutionary. The red, white, and blue colour scheme underlines Debs's passion for the America "of the people." Moe Asch's first recordings in the 1930s were for the Yiddish radio station WEVD, created in 1927 by the Socialist Party. The station call letters stood for the initials of Eugene Victor Debs.
Statement: Lecture at Columbia University
The traditional, centered arrangement, together with the surrounding border and colour selection, lends a serious and solemn tone to the cover. The drawing of Sholem Asch, along with the word "Statement," conveys a sense of resolve, while the title Sholem Asch Statement adds a sense of defiance. The Columbia lecture was Asch's response to attacks from within the Jewish community over his writings on Christian themes.