November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Jeff Katz

Inner Sleeve Confusion


            Records are my weakness. I never gave up on them. When the masses turned to those new-fangled little discs, I didn’t balk. Far be it from me to look down on new technology. CDs were fine, and I bought ‘em up. Still do.

            But get rid of LPs? I didn’t understand that sentiment. Vinyl was deeply engrained in our musical culture and, God knows, everyone had a record player. What was the hurry to ditch collections of much loved platters? When our second son was born, I didn’t have the urge to dispose of our first because he wasn’t as fresh as the new kid.

            Like the children that I love, my records are a subject of my devotion and care. They are neatly categorized by genre (rock, jazz, country). Alphabetically sorted, of course. That goes without saying. I dreaded thumbing through other people’s stacks of wax when they weren’t properly ordered. How could you have an Elvis Costello record followed by one by the reviled Yes? Then, ten discs further, THERE WAS ANOTHER ELVIS COSTELLO RECORD! Come on, how can you expect one to function under such conditions.

            I take it further. Each artist is lined up chronologically. It all makes sense. Bands are easy to find, and any particular record is right where it should be. There is one extra step I take, one that is the subject of great arguments among friends who care, and, happily for me, most of my friends still have albums. Actually, not surprising, since someone who is likely to have kept their record collection is more than likely to share other similar tastes, in music, movies, and books. This is no fluke.

            For those who know a world populated exclusively by CDs, or, Lord help us, mp3s (having no physical substance they are unworthy of discussion), might need a brief lesson. Every record came with an inner sleeve. You had the cover, simple enough, then, inside, the record was wrapped again in paper. From simple white to photo heavy, some with lyrics, some without, the inner sleeve was important and needed to be treated in such a way.

            Nearly every sleeve would have a taller side. My system is this: side one of the disc always faces the higher side, which is slid into the cover facing front. Obsessive, sure. Compulsive, without a doubt. Necessary, absolutely not. Purposeful, absolutely. Here’s why: I always know what side I’m putting on the turntable without looking, and that over three decades, has saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of seconds, time put to good use, no doubt, picking the next selection.

            In 1988, we moved from our Chicago high rise to a brand spanking new suburban development. My college pal Jimmy, who’d preceded us on the trek west, was living in the city and was keen on taping. I figured, why not let Jimmy have all my records for a while, making cassettes at his leisure. Then, he could drive them up to our new house. He’d gain a huge addition to his music collection, I’d save moving costs. Man, boxes of albums are friggin’ heavy.

            What originated as a simple loan has become a twenty year running gag. Why? You guessed it, Jimmy didn’t put the records back properly! How do I know? Well, because I’ll pull out, say Graham Parker’s Heat Treatment, plop it on the spinning felt pad to hear the title track, side 1, track 1, and what starts playing? “Pourin’ It All Out,” the opener to side 2. Dammit Jimmy!

            And I would call him, or email him, or, now, write on his Facebook wall and tell him what happened. His response is always the same: “So, wait, you’re telling me you haven’t listened to Heat Treatment  in over 20 years?” I have thousands and thousands of records; I can’t be expected to give them an annual, or a once a decade, listen.

            Lately, though, sinister theory has developed among my pals, who scoff at my process. Maybe side 2 should face the larger flap. Ever think of that, wise guy? Paul posed an interesting theory as to why he thought the smaller side of the inner sleeve should face forward. It looks like a t-shirt. Small strains of doubt began to appear. Could I have been wrong all along? Would I have to go through every record and flip them over?

            Nah. I owe my confirmation to Graham Nash and David Crosby. Their first solo album, called, oddly enough, Graham Nash/David Crosby, has provided the answer. Printed on the bigger side of the inner sleeve is side 1 information – song titles, lyrics, etc. There! See! Now I’m on the prowl for more records to validate my theory. I’m on the right side of this inner flap flap, side 1, facing forward towards the high side.


Copyright Jeff Katz. Used with permission of the author.


Happy New Year         Lynda Barreto
The Litchfields/Lynda Barreto


1 recordculprit { 12.21.09 at 8:06 pm }

Two things:

First, the taller side is obviously the back. When facing you, the sleeve should have the lower side facing you, with Side A showing through the circle. Everyone but you seems to know this.

Second, as I’ve pointed out several times now, it’s over 20 years now since I started reordering your collection with the records properly placed within the sleeves. You really need to move on.

Still love listening to the cassettes I made back then, BTW.


2 Ryan { 12.22.09 at 12:53 pm }

Either way – this was a great read. It makes me want to go out and get a record player now. I feel like I am missing out on a huge part of music and want to go home and erase my itunes list.

3 Joseph Lindsley { 01.08.10 at 12:24 pm }

You would hate my two thousand plus collection of LP’s.
Roughly{ to put it mildly} catagorized Classical,Jazz, Rock,vocal,Opera, etcetera. But space, age,energy, preclude an organizational re-do.

4 Jeff Katz { 01.11.10 at 9:07 am }

How do you seperate vocal? Imust know.