|Album Cover Album book by Paper Tiger|
It was album art from my early childhood that inspired me to be a graphic designer, so I thought I would try and recall a few covers that really stuck out for me. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of influential album art, I'm sure there's plenty out written out there already...but just a few of my memories. Having two older brothers it was their music albums that I first saw and perhaps influenced me and they were kids of the 70s. So that giant yellow banana has always stuck in mind from The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967 - yes I wasn't born!), well, it's by Andy Warhol so who knows better about pop art and what grabs your attention than him, and still now in the nouties it's influencial and remembered!
|The Velvet Underground & Nico. Artwork by Andy Warhol|
|Joni Mitchell - Clouds|
|ELO - Out of the Blue. Cover and gatefold|
Fleedwood Mac's Tusk wasn't gatefold as such, but had a double album with 2 separate inner sleeves. What I do remember is that it was an understated suble cream colour with raised tactile embossed dots. What was really weird was the photo of the snarling, biting dog which was really unexpected and does what it's supposed to...throws you off kilter a bit. The inside sleeves featured a surreal montage of photos that I spent ages as a 10 year old trying to figure out!
|Fleetwood Mac - Tusk|
And then, there's Roger Dean. As a kid with a huge imagination, I was a sucker for anything and everything Roger Dean. Looking back, I suppose those images are really overblown, mad fantasy kitch, but at the time, in the late 70s, prog rock itself was really overblown, fantasy music, so it matched. I don't know that I heard much of the music, but I used to love the fantasy landscapes and dragons. Roger Dean worked for a design company called Hipgnosis and were responsible for the album art of bands such as Yes and Asia.
|Fantasy landscape - Roger Dean|
|New Order - Blue Monday|
|Grace Jones - Living my life|
And before, this entry goes on for too long, I'll finish off with another icon of the early 80s, Grace Jones. Her covers always portray an astoundingly, strong image of a black woman. At the time, in general, women were portrayed with lots of sex appeal with lashings of makeup, big hair, big shoulder pads and frocks, soft focus, air brushing to make them look the epitomy of alluring womankind. During this period of time, in the UK there was a lot of racism towards blacks and minorities, so Grace Jones challenges the societal norm of how blacks are seen. She challenges you, rather than soft edges she's a stark cutout - black on white, and she's still an icon even now.
I know that bands still try to impress and shock us or use art to try and emote their music with their album art, but the size of CDs just doesn't really give us the impact album art used to. And now with digital downloads - it is a dying art. But what bands do give us now, is an interactive, visual experience when we see them live! Art moves on.