Tony Bennett – MTV Unplugged album art
MTV Unplugged is a live album by Tony Bennett that was released in 1994. Backed by the Ralph Sharon Trio, Bennett appeared on the TV show MTV Unplugged to showcase the Great American Songbook with guest appearances by Elvis Costello and k.d. lang.
The album reached platinum record status in the United States and won Grammy Awards in 1995 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance and Album of the Year.
The typography prominently features a typeface that was inescapable in the mid 1990s: designed by Just van Rossum of LettError, FF Confidential was released in 1992 with the fledgling FontFont, back then the font label “by designers for designers” (which was acquired by Monotype twenty-two years later, in 2014). The condensed sans-serif caps with the stamped look are part of FF InstantTypes, a series of five fonts based on found letterforms.
In 1992, there was no OpenType yet. Still, Confidential included two forms for each alphabetic character, one in the uppercase, one in the lowercase. This feature would have come in handy had the designer wanted to obscure the fact that the cover typography is made with a digital font rather than with actual rubberstamps: between Tony Bennett’s name and “Unplugged”, there are lots of repeating characters including three pairs in direct succession. But no, none of the alternates were uses; all glyphs come from the more eroded set of caps.
The MTV Unplugged session was recorded forty-three years after Bennett’s first number-one hit, “Because of You” from 1951, and more than twenty years before the musician set a Guinness World Record for “oldest person to reach No.1 on the US Album Chart with a newly recorded album”, with Cheek to Cheek, a collaboration with Lady Gaga from 2014. With the release of the follow-up Love for Sale in 2021, he broke another record for being the oldest person to release an album of new material. Tony Bennett died this week in Manhattan, a few weeks before his 97th birthday. RIP.
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