Now Hanging: Spaced Out! @ EMP/SFM

It's refreshing to seen a museum exhibit that doesn't pretend to offer great music or great art. Culled from the collection of an L.A. music industry executive, Spaced Out! The Final Frontier in Album Covers cheerfully acknowledges its own kitsch and nostalgia value. Thrusting rockets, friendly aliens, Mr. Spock, buxom space babes, The Jetsons (of course), and tuxedoed lounge musicians wandering aimlessly on the moon ("Which way to the gig, Daddy-o?")--this is not the stuff of a serious connoisseur. Rather, as Rhino's Cheryl Pawelski and other explain on a loop video, the record industry and the space industry suddenly found themselves on parallel tracks. 45s were giving way to the larger pictoral surface of LPs just as Sputnik and NASA brought outer space into shag carpeted American rec rooms.

Image and details after the jump...

The eerie, wailing theremin--and there's one here you can play!--supplied the soundtrack to countless sci-fi flicks of the drive-in era. And at the same time, the record biz pumped out countless novelty albums with a space-age theme. The few (very few) recognizable names here include The Ventures, Andre Prévin, Mel Tormé, and Zubin Mehta--if that sounds random, that's because it is random, and enjoyably so. Say, when does cocktail hour begin on Mars?

Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N. (Seattle Center), 292-2787, Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $12-$15. Through Jan. 3.

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