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Morgan Howell's Work Celebrates the Art of the 7" Single

Limited edition of Morgan Howell's original painting of the cover of The Rolling Stones' 1971 vinyl single "Brown Sugar". © Morgan Howell

While the golden age of the LP is no more, the vinyl record has been going through a well-documented resurgence over the last few years. No doubt helped by the annual Record Store Day event. And with records comes not only album cover art, but also record sleeves and their art too.

The former type of art is well noted and was, for many, as much part of the album experience as the music within. But its more unsung cousin, the record sleeve art that lied within, is equally integral to the LP format and especially that of the 7” single or, as they’re known, 45s.

Limited edition of Morgan Howell's original painting of the cover of David Bowie's 1974 vinyl single "Rebel Rebel". © Morgan Howell

The 7” single was for many who grew up in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s all part of the teenage musical experience. Unable to afford the full album, getting a single of your current favourite song was a complete thrill. You could then build up your collection of singles like a curator.

But rather than the more throwaway habit of a Spotify tracklist or even a mixtape, it was a far more physical, tangible and, in a way, intimate association and interaction with music.

And while the 7” single may now be a thing of the past, its format and the paper sleeves that contained them—which were so much part of owning one—are celebrated by British artist Morgan Howell.

Limited edition of Morgan Howell's original painting of the cover of The Clash's 1977 vinyl single "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais". © Morgan Howell

Howell recreates the iconic musical format in the form of supersized paintings, enlarging classic 7” singles into 27 x 27 inch forms. Howell doesn’t just paint the images on a flat surface either, but recreates the bags too, hand-painting them and giving the bags crumpled and creased edges to give it that authentic look.

A look that any music fan will instantly be familiar with because it would inevitably happen to the paper sleeve that contained a much-cherished and much-played song.

Some classic 7” singles that Howell has recreated include Bruce Springsteen's 1975 single “Born To Run”, David Bowie's 1974 single “Rebel Rebel”, The Beatles' 1965 single “Yesterday”, 1981’s “Ghost Town”by The Specials, The Rolling Stones' 1971 single “Brown Sugar” and many, many more.

Limited edition of Morgan Howell's original painting of the cover of The Special's 1977 vinyl single "Ghost Town". © Morgan Howell

“I love the fact that a multi-million seller would have exactly the same package as an unknown on the same label.” Howell once said in an interview with The Vinyl Factory about the objects he so lovingly recreates, “My macro examination of them also reveals really interesting aspects which I’m still trying to fathom. For me the objects themselves have an otherworldly quality. How else could an object made in America in 1956 still play on my device in St. Albans in 2014 and make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. How else could Jerry Lee Lewis be ‘in the room’ with me?”

Howell’s original supersize paintings have become collectors, and cult, items and have been bought by musicians including Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Brown, Johnny Marr and Don Letts and can fetch up to £20,000 at auction. And Howell’s version of David Bowie’s “The Jean Geanie” hangs at Sony Music HQ and his work sits next to Elton John’s piano in the Radio 2 Green Room. So his art has now become part of the industry and heritage it celebrates.

Limited edition of Morgan Howell's original painting of the cover of The Beatles' 1965 vinyl single "Yesterday". © Morgan Howell

Rock Archive are delighted to offer a variety of limited edition and signed prints made from Morgan Howell’s original Supersize 3D paintings which you can buy here.

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