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Thread: Album Covers and Their Artwork

  1. #1
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Album Covers and Their Artwork

    Been flicking through some old LPs lately and struck by how integral the album artwork was to the product - and, in some cases, the success of the album it was attached to.

    This came to my mind recently owing to the release of the new Bruce Springsteen album and its striking cover, which reminds me of some of the work of photographer Laura Wilson (Owen and Luke Wilson's mother) that was exhibited and published as 'That Day: In the American West'. It also makes me think of some of the photographs taken by Magnum photographers on the set of John Huston's THE MISFITS.

    I don't think album artwork has been killed by the move from LPs to cassettes, then CDs and onto digital downloads, etc, but certainly there's a specific impact in holding an LP-sized object and looking at the artwork - especially if it's enigmatic and requires processing - whilst listening to the music. Sometimes this artwork requires further digging.

    For example, I'm not a huge fan of Dire Straits but their music seemed in part a soundtrack to my childhood as my family had a few of their albums, and the cover image that still fascinates me the most is the painting that adorns the front of their first album, released in 1978. It's a mysterious image of a woman in an empty room. The painting is credited to an artist named Chuck Loyola, though this seems to be a pseudonym as it's a too direct reference to James Joyce's ULYSSES. An obscure online article suggests that the 'Loyola' was an artist from Lincolnshire, which by coincidence is the county in England where most of my family are from, and only worked on a handful of album covers before retiring in the 80s. It's a striking image with a lot of enigmatic narrative suggested by the composition, and in my memory I remembered it as an out-of-focus photograph rather than the painting that it is.



    I'm also a sucker for a chiaroscuro portrait of the musician in question. These are simple yet can say an awful lot. One of my favourites in this regard is the chiaroscuro portrait of Elton John that is on the cover of his 1970 self-titled album. It's a photograph that I think is by Stowell Stanford.



    A year or two back, there was a similarly striking chiaroscuro portrait of Ben Howard, by photographer Roddy Bow, on the cover of Howard's album I FORGET WHERE WE WERE.



    Others that come to mind include the pop art majesty of The Velvet Underground's first album or the stark and combative simplicity of The Sex Pistols' NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS.



    Leaving aside discussion of the merits of the music aside, are there any particular album covers that strike you or stick in your memory, or which have led you to investigating the stories behind them?
    Last edited by Paul L; 06-19-2019 at 12:16 PM.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

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    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    I love this one. It's MICROCASTLE/WEIRD ERA CONT. by Deerhunter:

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    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    And these two by Aphex Twin:

    ...I Care Because You Do:

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    Richard D. James Album:

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    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    I love this one, but it makes me sad:

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    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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    I like the original version of this one, before they had to change the tattoo on his chest to "Body Count":

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  7. #7


    An obvious choice given this is basically my favorite album, but if there's one cover that's evocative of the music contained within, it's this one. Appropriately, considering the band, the mysterious witchy woman remains just that, a mystery. The most anyone can remember is that she might have been an actress or model named Louise. A few years later, a girl claiming to be her went up to the band after a gig but they had no idea if she actually was. What is this that stands before me, indeed.
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  8. #8
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt H. View Post
    I love this one, but it makes me sad:

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    Some good ones there, Matt. The cover for CHAIRS MISSING is particularly strong. That cover was photographed by Annette Green, who also shot the minimalistic cover for PINK FLAG.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

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    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Clark View Post


    An obvious choice given this is basically my favorite album, but if there's one cover that's evocative of the music contained within, it's this one. Appropriately, considering the band, the mysterious witchy woman remains just that, a mystery. The most anyone can remember is that she might have been an actress or model named Louise. A few years later, a girl claiming to be her went up to the band after a gig but they had no idea if she actually was. What is this that stands before me, indeed.
    Another excellent choice, Tom. The photo was taken at Mapledurham Mill: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapledurham_Watermill. There's an interesting piece about Marcus Keef, who designed that sleeve, here: https://rarerecordcollector.net/2013...eeve-designer/
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  10. #10
    MCMLXXX Matt H.'s Avatar
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