Above is actually the wonderful back cover of the Playboy Jazz All-Stars compilation record. The back is less striking than the front all-important results of Playboy’s first annual jazz poll. Billboard magazine, in its December 9, 1959 issue named it the Album Cover of the Week, and said the “striking design will be a sure attention-getter.” It also referred to this as the cover which further reiterates that this back cover was seen as the main selling point rather than the simpler front cover. The attention that the record received brought McBain’s name into the spotlight which he leveraged to start his own design studio, McBain Associates. In the span of only a couple of years, McBain designed over 75 record covers, mostly for Mercury Records.
The back cover (as front cover) uses Egyptian Expanded to set the names of the artists featured on this compilation. The names are set without wordspaces letting the color indicate the beginning of each new name, creating a clever, and almost an abstract design. The liner notes use Century Expanded for most of the body copy, with Venus for headlines on the opening page.
The image comes from the “African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race” exhibition held in Chicago Cultural Center in October 2018. It is included in an essay that was published with the show (PDF of it). Read more about Emmett McBain and his career on his 2017 AIGA medalist page.