Interview With Put The Needle On The Record Author Matthew Chojnacki

Interview With Matthew Chojnacki

Author of Put The Needle On The Record

October 2011



UE: Hi Matthew, congratulations on your new book, Put The Needle On The Record. It seems to fill a huge gap in capturing and documenting some of the 80’s music pop culture, what was the first single from the 80’s you purchased and the most recent?


MC: Hi Steve, well my first 12″ single was “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang.   My very first 7″ is tough for me to peg down.  I *think* it was “Rio” by Duran Duran.  Like many collectors I still purchase them all the time!  Right now I’m going through an XTC revival.  I didn’t grab all of their singles the first time around.



UE: Do you believe that the end of the 1980’s also started the decline in good design for single covers, where once the 7″ single was the normal, they are more often seen as the limited edition physical product?


MC: The canvas certainly shrunk since the ’80s, from 7- and 12-square vinyl inches to CD-sized artwork, and now to about 1 square-inch with iTunes.  With this, in my opinion, came less effort on cover artwork from mainstream record labels.


The exception to the rule, in my opinion, are indie artists.  If you go to any indie concert, vinyl is still available on their merch tables, and the designs are often unparalleled.  Budding musicians are still sticking with burgeoning photographers and graphic designers, and the results are often mind blowing.


UE: Annie Lennox has contributed to the book, which Eurythmics singles did you decide to use?


MC: Annie was one of the first artists to participate with the book, and I can’t tell you how many doors opened as a result.  My original intention was to interview perhaps 5 to 10 artists for their stories behind their sleeves.  In the end, it exploded to more than 125, and I owe a large amount of this access to Annie’s early involvement with the project.


Two Eurythmics singles are in the book: “Thorn in My Side” (U.S. 7″) and “Revival” (Brazil promo 12″).



Here’s an excerpt from Annie that she wrote for the book.  


“As an artist, I’ve always relished the opportunity to explore ideas and prod the boundaries. Having freedom to express oneself via the broad arena of ‘pop culture,’ incorporating the photographic image, symbol and metaphor, word, melody, rhythm, movement, texture, composition, social commentary, style, sex, drama, angst, ecstasy…in fact…the total range of human emotion and experience can be encountered in the process.” – Annie Lennox


UE: The book is quite obviously a labour of love, tell me how long have you been working on the project.


MC: The book took seven years to complete.  This is also the third publisher involved.  Two prior (one in the U.S., one in the U.K.) folded during the poor economy.  While I waited for the right publisher to get involved, I kept interviewing musicians and cover artists to give the best overall experience possible.


UE: Were there any covers you couldn’t track down that you would have wanted to include?


MC: Every cover that I intended to include is in the final version of the book.  However, it took me over a year to personally track down (in good condition) Freddie Mercury’s ultra-rate Brazil 7″ for “I Was Born To Love You.”  It is a fantastic black-and-white tongue-in-cheek image of Freddie that I was really pleased to (finally) find.


UE: Do you think your book will have mass appeal or is it aimed at those who lived through the 1980’s?


MC: There is a wide appeal here, in my opinion.  The book is for those who lived in the ’80s, hipsters that like to look back, musicians, artists and designers, vinyl collectors, etc.  Oh, and of course fans of Annie and Dave. 


UE: Which artwork \ artist to you feel best captured the mood of the 1980’s in their work?


MC: I think new wave music probably captures the overall feel of the decade best. 


Artists such as Eurythmics, Gary Numan, and Adam and the Ants really knew how to push boundaries visually (on their cover artwork, live on stage, in music videos, etc.).  The ’80s was all about freedom of expression, but also to make statements – about politics and sexuality, for example.  Most of these serious statements were wrapped in upbeat pop music, which I think made the music and visuals even more chilling (see Eurythmics’ “King and Queen of America,” for example). 

UE: you make some interesting comparissons between record sleeves, can you talk us through an example?

MC: The initial release for The Smiths’ coincidentally titled “What Difference Does It Make?” contained a still of actor Terence Stamp from the 1965 film The Collector. When Stamp objected to the use of his image, Morrissey reshot the cover and lampooned Stamp’s exact pose, mockingly holding a glass of milk instead of a chloroform pad.


Stamp eventually gave permission and the original cover was reinstated.


UE: Do you own all the records in the book yourself?


MC: Yes!  I have a collection of about 5,000 7″ and 12″ singles.


UE: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Matthew, so our final question for you, can you sum up the 80’s for me in 3 words from your perspective?


MC: Thanks Steve, Experimental.  Provocative.  Visionary.



You can purchase Put The Needle On The Record now from Amazon

Amazon UK Annie Lennox Featured In Matthew Chojnackis Book   Put The Needle On The Record  Amazon USA Annie Lennox Featured In Matthew Chojnackis Book   Put The Needle On The Record 

 Matthew has kindly given us 2 copies

of Put The Needle On The Record to giveaway,

you can enter the competition here