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
Yes! This is why I miss CD and video stores. To witness these foam creations was just amazing. Just like scrolling down the isle of the Horror section at the local video store and seeing all the amazing gory VHS box covers. That Dokken one is truly epic. I wish I had all these plastered on the walls of my house.
Awesome address by the way Uncle T. I’ve been jamming Don Dokken’s solo album ‘Up From The Ashes’ lately, and I must admit, it’s just as good if not better than Dokken’s other albums. How this album did not get the praise it deserved is beyond me. If it was released 2-3 years earlier, it would have received heavy rotation on the radio.
Up From The Ashes rules! I’ll admit I think I prefer to the Lynch Mob stuff. George is the man, but something about that band just didn’t do it for me. Marko – your t-shirt order was just shipped! Thanks pal
I agree as well, George shreds, but I never was a fan of Lynch Mob. It’s the same for me with Zakk Wylde, great with Ozzy, but not a fan of BLS. John Norum, ex-Europe guitarist, really shines on Up From the Ashes, though. Don put together a great band for this solo project.
Can’t wait for my tee! Any chance on an AOR Mystery-Meat 2 mix?
Yes, well sort of. I’m updating last year’s Mystery Meat mix with all new tunes and treats. I basically trimmed the lard and added a bunch of garnish. Go ahead and delete last year’s mix because this promises to be much stronger!
Hey uncletnuc, very nice piece here. It seems more and more lately, I find posts on this subject and am always pleased with what I read and of the appreiciation for what I created. You may not be aware of the recent Tower Records reunion (for the film release “All Things Must Pass”). It was a large turnout with many stories and memories from glory days past. And although a well documented film, it only spoke breifly of this long past art form (including comments from Dave Ghrol), that created such an impact for this iconic record store’s image. If you haven’t already, see “Art Gods of Tower Records”, a documented discovery of the daily disfunction of a group of very talented artists on a mission to create the coolest art displays…in the world. There’s also a FB page; Tower Records Art Dept where you’ll find posts and updates including (display) photos.
After “Art Gods” was release, blogs and posts started to appear, we took notice and are discussing the possibility of offering once again (handmade, non-digital) old school “Tower Art”. Of course there’s a number of legal and copy right bridges we need to cross first. However, right now we could use as much press, posts, blogs…to help continue to grow and generate interest, before we actually launch. So as you can see, your blog is improtant and relievent.
Thanks for the kudos man,
Thanks for commenting Steve! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I actually purchased “Art Gods” recently and loved it! I neglected to mention the feature in this post (just forgot). Anything I can do to help promote and get the word out about the art you guys have created, let me know! Happy to do it.