4AD changed my life. As a typical kid who didn‘t have much money, compilations were a great way to discover new bands. My first 4AD purchase just happened to be the deluxe LP of Lonely Is An Eyesore at Tower Records—an extravagant purchase at the time for me at $20 plus sales tax. I was seduced by its mysterious packaging...and was duped into thinking all the bands listed on the cover were included inside (come on, it didn’t look like it was a single LP). But, that’s okay—it was well worth it, it turned out, a game changer.
As a student about to study graphic design, the included booklet made me consider new possibilities within that discipline—specifically, typography and texture. Unfortunately for my wallet, the discography in the back of the booklet turned into a shopping list. Through their first two decades, the 4AD logo was a trademark of quality to me.
During the late ’90s, however, my interest in 4AD slowly began to wane. By then, I was lucky enough to land a design job at a studio that did music packaging and marketing, and I tried to implement Vaughan Oliver’s influence at every opportunity (which wasn’t often, unfortunately). Now well into my design career, my interest in 4AD has specifically shifted to v23: 4AD had ceased to be the label I once fell madly in love with, but v23 continues to inform my personal aesthetic.
I still maintain a collection of 4AD artifacts (mostly vinyl) that I enjoy perusing on occasion, for inspiration. While I also enjoy some of the artists on the current roster, the connection with the old 4AD has been diminished—it’s simply not the same label anymore.
This site began as a desire to have somewhere to see all the artwork in one handy place, and it grew from there. The idea itself began as a tangible booklet that soon became unmanageable to update. The decision to take it online made perfect sense, making it ideal to share with others.
While this site is quite thorough, yes, I’m aware that there are many releases not accounted for such as the Soil X Samples promos, several international variants, advance CDs, etc. I could go on, but I would go mad trying to compile absolutely everything and expand this site even more (all this information is available elsewhere anyway). Also, I don’t care to devote the time anymore—it took loads of free time to get to this latest revision as it is.
As they say, there’s nothing like the old days. This website is my tribute to my old obsession, and is dedicated to the friends that I’ve made along the way who more or less shared my obsession. Personally, it’s really more about 4AD’s mid-‘80s to mid-‘90s output for me, but 20 years is a nice, round number, isn’t it? It also—not coincidentally—covers the period when founder Ivo Watts-Russell owned the label until he sold it to Beggars Banquet. Truly the end of an era.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
The Mystery Parade
San Francisco, Summer 2017
FORMAT GUIDE LP Vinyl album · MLP Vinyl mini-album · (#)LP/(#)CD Multi-record LP or CD · 7 7” Vinyl single · 10 10” Vinyl single or EP · 12 12” Vinyl single or EP · C Cassette · CD Compact disc, regardless of length · SACD Super Audio CD · V VHS video · DVD DVD video · BD Blu-ray video · CAL Calendar · PC Postcards · P Posters · BK Book · D Digital · Catalogue numbers reflect the U.K., unless otherwise noted. THANKS Mike, Rik, Ryan, Frank, Bernd, Roy, Lars, Lorelle, Bren, Fedge, and all my other fellow 4AD fans (especially those who uploaded images and data to Discogs, much of which is borrowed here). Special thanks to Ivo Watts-Russell and Martin Aston. & Layout by The Mystery Parade · Catalogue number TMP15k, created using images and elements from various 4AD releases. The font is the almighty Futura. Viewing on a mobile device is not recommended. DISCLAIMER This site is unofficial and was not commissioned by 4AD. For further info, visit 4AD.com, the legendary Eyesore.no, and the rabbit hole known as Discogs.com. For Ivo