A long time ago before the near-apocalypse of physical media, a time when album artwork was just as revered as the music, a young Tower Records employee by the name of Steve Pollutro (seen above) was asked by his superiors to design a few 3D promotional displays to serve as a visual companions for promoting new albums in the store. Using album covers for inspiration and a handful of materials from the neighborhood art supply store, his displays became striking and elaborate works of art. This simple concept ended up morphing into a global standard for Tower stores, with several locations having their own art departments for creating these instant eye-grabbers.
With so many positive reviews pouring in about the recent documentary All Things Must Pass, the Colin Hanks-directed effort which explores the rise and fall of the late-great Tower Records, I thought now would be a good time to discuss (and stare at) one of the distinct and innovative features about the late-great store, the tremendous 3D album displays!
Constructed mainly of foamcore and different paint products, these promotional behemoths were designed to catch the eyes of customers who wandered into Tower. Not only did they help bring the music to life in the store, they also became part of the overall record buying experience. The displays also made the albums seem more important given the grand platform they were hoisted upon. Customers searching for new music were admittedly seduced by the monumental pieces, then motivated to purchase the LP, CD or cassette. Record companies and the artists themselves naturally loved what the store was doing as record sales increased as well. It worked on all levels.
There’s just something thrilling and sincere about seeing Dio’s 8 ft. tall “Murray” mascot hovering overhead while you’re out shopping – feeding your anticipation to purchase Holy Diver and sprint home to throw it on the turntable. If any piece of cover artwork deserved to be brought to life, it’s a heavy metal mascot like this radical demon.
Similar to how most of us agree that practical effects in movies seem more “real” as opposed to computer generated stuff that comes with a degree of emptiness, actually seeing something that you know someone took time to create – using tools, tangible materials and their bare hands – is just way more impressive.
One can only hope that these displays are hung up somewhere safe and deserving, especially that precious ‘Nightmare on Elm St 3: Dream Warriors’ board. Hey Don Dokken – if this thing isn’t hung up in your foyer behind a thick layer of polycarbonate bulletproof glass, please have that squad of local long butts from the “It’s Not Love” music video drop it off at the following address:
645 Pizza Hut Lane
Castle Rock, ME 80106