Green Sleeves: 1990s & After: The Fall, Rise & Return of Vinyl

Seven decades of LP covers in Ireland

The 1990s saw the rapid decline of vinyl as the dominant format for music. Manufacture of records in Ireland ceased in 1992 with the closure of Carlton Productions in Dublin. Dance and indie labels both continued to use the format for much of the decade, sourcing manufacturing and printing in the UK and EU. The turn of the new millennium marked the low point for the vinyl album but the last decade has seen a significant revival with manufacturing again taking place on the island. A selection of vibrant contemporary album sleeves demonstrates the quality and diversity of Irish music and design.

The overview page for this comprehensive online version of the Green Sleeves exhibition is here.

1990s Indie 

As the 1990s dawned the vinyl record was moving towards effective popular obsolescence in the face of the arrival of the CD. Small independent record labels and groups who identified with the indie ethos continued to release albums on vinyl although most eventually moved to CD only releases by the turn of the millennium.

Dance & Electronica

One significant exception to the decline in the vinyl format was in the burgeoning dance and electronica scenes where vinyl continued to be a significant presence throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century.

Vinyl Revival

Recent years have seen a significant resurgence in the fortunes of the vinyl record. This selection shows some the range of Irish music released on vinyl over the last ten years. A wide variety of musical genres are represented, from experimental jazz to electro pop, and the variety of approaches taken to the design of the covers reflects this diversity. The 12” format is still a prized opportunity for designers, illustrators and photographers to create thoughtful and engaging work.

The recent rise in Irish releases on vinyl hasn’t seen a corresponding increase in sleeves being printed and manufactured here yet, and all of these examples were printed outside of Ireland.