We’ve Got It Covered!
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National Album Day: My Ten Favourite Album Covers Ever
THIS is a visual piece that…
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celebrates National Album Day and shows how important the visual side of music is. I guess we always associate musical history with the physical product and vinyl. Being able to hold a piece of art in your hand is so important and pleasurable and it seems that thrill is being lost more and more I have been thinking about what defines a great cover and how it grabs you. Whether it is a stark, single image or something busy and iconic – I have made some suggestions and picked my favourite ten. Many people might disagree but there have been some incredible album covers since the record was introduced seventy years ago. Have a look at this list and reveal in the visual quality on offer. Maybe you will be compelled to go out and buy that album, on vinyl, and get the real thing in your hand. In any case; I am going to revisit the albums and see if there is a link between the cover image and the music within – just a theory I have. Take a look at this awesome ten and I am sure you will agree how essential and integral the album cover is…
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TO this very day.
ALL ALBUM COVERS: Getty Images
The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
Date of Release: 23rd April, 1971
“In early 1969, Andy Warhol agreed to design an album cover for the Rolling Stones.
The band’s frontman, Mick Jagger, wrote Warhol a letter about the project, telling the famed artist, “The more complicated the format of the album, e.g., more complex than just pages or fold-out, the more f–ked-up the reproduction and agonizing the delays.”
Warhol ignored this, creating one of the most complex and memorable album covers in rock history for “Sticky Fingers,” the 1971 album that took the Stones from stars to legends” – New York Post
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Date of Release: 26th May, 1967
“This was a period when McCartney was asserting himself more and more when it came to the Beatles’ career decisions, a trend that would continue for the remainder of their time together. He produced ink drawings of the cover concept and shared them with Blake and his wife Haworth. “I did a lot of drawings of us being presented to the Lord Mayor,”
Paul explained in Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now, “with lots of dignitaries and lots of friends of ours
around, and it was to be us in front of a big northern floral clock, and
we were to look like a brass band. That developed to become the Peter Blake cover” – Rolling Stone
FKA twigs - LP1
Date of Release: 6th August, 2014
“Just before and during the release of her debut album LP1, there was a flurry of impressive song snippets and videos, and then the cherubic album cover was finally revealed. It was all over the Internet, pasted on city corners, and had an exhibition at Wallplay in NYC with accompanying images by Jesse Kanda. It's both a strong audio and visual presentation for what promises to be an exciting, long-term career for FKA twigs” Complex
The Clash – London Calling
Date of Release: 14th December, 1979
“Two people were responsible for the striking black and white image on The Clash’s London Calling. The first was the band’s statuesque bass player, Paul Simonon, who is shown driving his bass guitar into the stage of the New York Palladium on September 21, 1979.
“The show had gone quite well,” he recalls, “but for me, inside, it just wasn’t working well, so I suppose I took it out on the bass. If I was smart, I would have got the spare bass and used that one, because it wasn’t as good as the one as I smashed up. When I look at it now, I wish I’d lifted my face up a bit more” – LOUDER
Patti Smith – Horses
Date of Release: 13th December, 1975
“The simple black and white portrait gracing the cover of Horses was taken by Smith’s good friend, and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith had met Mapplethorpe on her first day in New York City in 1967, when she accidentally wandered into his apartment looking for someone else. The two became close friends, even sharing the smallest room at the Chelsea Hotel (as it was all they could afford), where they would stay up all night and work on their respective art forms. Mapplethorpe has described his collaborations with Smith “like taking drugs; you’re in an abstract place and it’s perfect”.
At the time Horses was recorded, Smith was becoming well-known in the New York underground circuit, along with other bands such as Blondie and The Ramones”- lomography
Nirvana – Nevermind
Date of Release: 23rd September, 1978
“Take the now-infamous image of a naked underwater baby floating across the cover of Nirvana‘s ground-breaking “Nevermind” — arguably among the most eye-catching album covers ever produced. It was “a fluke,” said photographer Kirk Weddle .
Kirk completed the “Nevermind” assignment over three shoots on location in Southern California. Working at a public pool in Pasadena, he convinced friends to press their four-month-old boy into the service of rock n’ roll. “The mom was on my left, and blew a puff of air into the child’s face,” Kirk recalls. “Then we dunked him in and, bang bang, pulled him out. We did it twice and that was it.” The record label’s art department added the fish hook and dollar bill as finishing touches” – Huffington Post
Hole – Live Through This
Date of Release: 12th April, 1994
“Courtney Love stated in an interview that she
“Wanted to capture the look on a woman’s face as she’s being crowned… this sort of ecstatic, blue eyeliner running, kind of ‘I am, I am— I won! I have hemorrhoid cream under my eyes and adhesive tape on my butt, and I had to scratch and claw and fuck my way up, but I won Miss Congeniality!'” – Feel Numb
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Date of Release: 1st March, 1973
“None of the band members offered an explanation, leaving it up to fans to add their own meanings, a process that required repeated album listens and discussion with other fans. (In an interview with Ed Lopez-Reyes of Floyd news site Brain Damage, I likened Pink Floyd to magicians who don’t explain their tricks.) It’s no wonder that the album turned Pink Floyd into major stars, sold 50 million copies and remained on the Billboard charts 741 weeks.
The Dark Side of the Moon design is another product of the fertile creative team of Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, who are responsible for creating some of rock’s most memorable album covers, such as Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. As discussed in Mark Blake’s Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd, the original design emerged from Powell’s and Thorgerson’s practice of conducting brainstorming sessions that stretched from late evening until 4:00 a.m. (Hipgnosis had been given minimal creative direction by the band other than a suggestion by keyboardist Richard Wright to “do something clean, elegant and graphic.”)” – Medium
The Beatles – Abbey Road
Date of Release: 26th September, 1969
“In keeping with the pencil sketch that Paul McCartney had given to photographer Iain Macmillan, the sleeve simply shows the four Beatles walking across the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios in North London.
The famous cover shot was one of six taken by Macmillan at 10am on August 8, 1969. As a policeman held up the traffic, the photographer had just 10 minutes to balance on a stepladder and get the shots. The result was striking and iconic. But few could have imagined the reaction it got.
Shortly before the release of the Abbey Road album, an American newspaper ran a story that claimed Paul McCartney had died in a car accident in 1966, and that the current ‘Paul’ was actually a lookalike called William Campbell. The rumours gathered pace and when Abbey Road arrived that October, its sleeve was pronounced by conspiracy theorists as final proof of Macca’s demise” – Louder
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane
Date of Release: 13th April, 1973
“What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the name David Bowie? For many millions of fans, it’s one of the musician, bare-chested, with a bold red lightning bolt scrawled across his ethereally white face and a mystical pool of water nestled in the nook of his collarbone. The photograph is one of the most famous ever made by photographer Brian Duffy, taken for the cover of the pop icon’s album Aladdin Sane in the second of five sessions which the pair conducted together, and has become one of the most recognised photographs ever taken.
The famous red and blue lightning bolt which is painted across Bowie’s face was, in fact, inspired by the logo on a rice cooker in the studio kitchen. “In the studio we had a sort of mobile make-up table with mirrors on it, and on wheels,” Duffy's studio manager Francis Newman recalls. “I remember David sitting in front of that with Pierre Laroche, and they had obviously talked about using this flash. Well, Pierre started to apply this tiny little flash on his face and when Duffy saw it he said, ‘No, not fucking like that, like this.’ He literally drew it right across his face and said to Pierre, 'Now, fill that in.' It was actually Duffy who did the initial shape – I’m not saying he did the actual make-up. It then took Pierre about an hour to apply properly. The red flash is so shiny because it was actually lipstick” – AnOther