Posts Tagged ‘Album cover art’

Great covers: Curtis Mayfield 1975

September 1st, 2009 1 comment

The message of the cover of Curtis Mayfield”s 1975 album There”s No Place Like America Today is unambiguously direct: the American dream is a lie when there is so great a disparity in the experience of comforts among Americans. The happy, white middle-class family is symbolically running over the (mostly black) poor on their way to a promising future. Curtis Mayfield, always the most eloquent political spokesman among the soul men, is calling bullshit on the great American delusion. Note also how the billboard serves as a front “” a physical barrier as well as a tool of propaganda “” for the capitalist palaces and at the same time shields them from the poor in the welfare queue. It”s also striking that the Rockwellian billboard image recalls the 1950s, while the welfare line evokes the Great Depression, communicating the notion that the great lie and the divide between American affluence and poverty transcends generations. Read more…

Great covers: Satan Is Real (1960)

August 18th, 2009 5 comments


The Satan Is Real album cover routinely is included in lists of “worst ever covers”, alongside Millie Jackson fighting constipation, Orleans getting closer than close, and dirty old John Bult parking his cigarette as he seduces Julie on her 16th birthday. Of course the Satan Is Real cover is a bit naff “” the dentally disadvantaged Evil One at the back is not very convincing, never mind real. And yet, I think it”s a fabulous cover. Read more…

Great covers: Josh Rouse – 1972 (2002)

June 29th, 2009 4 comments

Josh Rouse marked his 30th birthday in 2002 with an album inspired by the year of his birth. It might easily have turned out as a pastiche of the worst clichés. Happily, it didn”t: the sound is contemporary. Rouse evokes rather than recreates what he imagines were the sounds of 1972. Imagine the concept as the subtle but essential spice in a delicious meal. The album borrows its influences wisely: James, a song about alcoholism, is a psychedelic soul workout, with Jim Hoke”s excellent jazz flute and Rouse”s falsetto positioning the song closest to 1972. Elsewhere, swirling strings and saxophone (also by Hoke), handclaps and Latin percussions serve as a marker for the “70s influence being filtered through Rouse”s sound. Read more…

Great covers: Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson – Winter In America (1974)

May 19th, 2009 2 comments

How many albums are there which bear the name of one of the artist”s most epic song which does not appear on it? Winter In America, the song, made its appearance a year later, on 1975″s The First Minute Of A New Day album, written at the decree of one Peggy Harris who created the artwork on the inner sleeve, and who believed there just should be a song called Winter In America. Read more…

Great covers: Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream and Other Delights

May 12th, 2009 9 comments

I cheerfully admit that I like this album cover for all the wrong reasons. The picture is not exactly, to use the dreaded and misleading term, “politically correct” (less so in an age when the troubling terminology of bukkake is gaining mainstream currency). The woman is objectified, of course. The whipped cream is not supposed to guarantee her modesty, and, in the mind of the male heterosexual beholder, it is not meant to be removed by such conventional means as a cloth. The model”s come-hither look and suggestive lick of her finger communicate as much. So the reader will have to believe me when I claim that my attraction to the cover relates only and exclusively to the very attractive typeface. Read more…

Great covers: The Mamas and the Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears

May 6th, 2009 8 comments

In this series of album covers I would hang up on my wall, I previously featured the artwork of Dexys Midnight Runners” Searching For The Young Soul Rebel album, which features a defiant looking Belfast lad named Anthony O”Shaughnessy. A couple of weeks ago, Anthony commented on that post, which marks the first time the subject of a post (who was not a fellow blogger) responded to something published here.  Let”s see if Michelle Philips leaves a comment to this post. If she doesn”t, you are more than invited to do so”¦ Read more…

Cover art: The Smiths – Hatful Of Hollow (1984)

February 24th, 2009 1 comment

The Smiths released their debut LP, and seven months later a compilation. How”s that for audacity?  Hatful Of Hollow included singles, their b-sides and BBC session versions of songs from the eponymous debut album (and, it must be said, the BBC session tracks are not all superior). It was just the first of several albums featuring repackaged Smiths material (The World Won”t Listen, Louder Than Bombs etc) Read more…

Great covers: Dexys – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels

February 18th, 2009 19 comments

Although Dexys Midnight Runners drew their influences widely, the debut album Searching For The Young Soul Rebels sounded like nothing before it. Certainly Kevin Rowland’s voice was unique, and his lyrics never far from idiosyncratic. Although Rowland took time with his songs, eschewing radio-friendly abbreviations in favour of giving songs the treatment he thought they deserved, the sound was nervous and insistently impatient. The cover articulated the record’s atmosphere of agitation. The green-tinted cover photo communicated a sense of chaos, confusion and commotion.

Chaos, confusion and commotion were exactly at work in the scene the image captured. It was taken in a Catholic neighbourhood of Belfast in 1971. The British government had just announced that “suspects” could be indiscriminately detained without trial at Her Majesty’s pleasure, leading to people fleeing their homes in panic (other versions of the event speak of evictions). Among them was Anthony O’Shaughnessy and his brothers, seen in the photo which was first published to illustrate a news report in London’s Evening Standard. While the guy in the denim jacket urgently leads a boy away, Anthony defiantly stares into the camera. In the midst of a tense buzz, he looks detached, almost cool.

Emerging from the trauma of such upheaval, and the longer agony of The Troubles, one might expect O’Shaughnessy to be a bitter man. Apparently not: now in his early 50s, he is evidently a man of peace ready to forgive those who were on the other side.

The Dexys cover appeared without O’Shaughnessy’s knowledge. Legend has it that some time later he turned up at a Dexys gig with a big cardboard cut-out picture of himself.

[Edit: Anthony has responded to this post in the comments section. Thanks, Anthony.]


More album covers

Great covers: Donald Fagen – The Nightfly (1982)

January 15th, 2009 11 comments

The cover of The Nightfly is my default answer when the question of favourite LP sleeves comes up. I”m not sure whether it actually is my favourite (how can there be just one anyway), but it is not a false answer either. Read more…

Great covers: Johnny Cash – American Recordings (1994)

January 2nd, 2009 6 comments

A new year, and a new series. Here I plan to visit album covers which I like. I have no idea if they are the best ever “” an entirely subjective game anyway “” but the featured covers will have made some kind of impression on me. To limit things further, I think I”ll feature only cover art of albums I actually own. We kick things off with Johnny Cash. Read more…