The album artwork for Blur’s 2003 album Think Tank was created by the legendary Banksy, famous London street artist and renowned worldwide as the world’s leading graffiti artist. Banksy doesn’t normally head down the commercial route – tending to do all work off his own back – so it was a surprise to learn that Banksy had let Blur pay him for this album cover.
“I’ve done a few things to pay the bills, and I did the Blur album. It was a good record and [the commission was] quite a lot of money. I think that’s a really important distinction to make. If it’s something you actually believe in, doing something commercial doesn’t turn it to shit just because it’s commercial. Otherwise you’ve got to be a socialist rejecting capitalism altogether, because the idea that you can marry a quality product with a quality visual and be a part of that even though it’s capitalistic is sometimes a contradiction you cant live with. But sometimes it’s pretty symbiotic, like the Blur situation.” As well as the commission, the album art was sold for £75,000.
The unaltered and roughly displayed artwork reflects the rough, alternative style of the band, but the use of big shot Banksy also reflects the extremely popular nature of the product.
The art on the front is very similar to another stencil Banksy created two years later of two policemen kissing – a work that fetched £345,000 at an Auction in the US.
(my scanner wasn’t big enough for full record sleeves)
I bought this album recently purely because of the artwork and it turns out that the debut album from Slow Children is actually a brilliant album, with a sound similar to that of Blondie or The B-52s. It has one of my favourite album covers of all time and the concept behind it is excellent. It is an adaptation of a scene in Jean Cocteau’s film The Blood of the Poet and it is referenced on the front and back of the album.
The film looks absolutely mental, but it looks like it has some artistic qualities that i’m interested in. Some of the stills from the film are brilliant, the black and white being key to the aesthetic of the film (whilst being the only film available. The adaptations on the covers are taken from the following stills:
As you can see, they have replicated the film well and put their own twist on it with the band member acting in the mans place, the silent part of the film allows for the expressions to be extremely exaggerated, making a still from the film extremely theatrical and easy to copy.
Another still from the film that I really like is the one below, it is framed really well and although I couldn’t guess what was happening from this still, it is intriguing enough for me to want to watch the entire film. You can see the entire film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RomiX0YTqKI
The artwork on front of Ágætis byrjun was originally done in ballpoint pen by artist Gotti Bernhöft, the design was then inverted and placed on the front of the cover. Ágætis byrjun translates to “A good beginning,” so the foetus on the front seems like an apt cover for the album. The alien nature of the foetus also fits the band because, although not on this album, they sing in a completely jibberish language and to many people the icelandic sounds can seem pretty alien.
Sigur Rós actually assembled and glued the first print of the album themselves. A lot of the albums were rendered useless because of the shoddy job they did.
Tame Impala’s album Innerspeaker was created by Australian artist Leif Podhajsky, an artist who has created many other great album covers over the years including Bonobo’s 2013 masterpiece North Borders and Kelis’ most recent album Food. The picture itself is of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, USA and he has altered the image with the Droste effect to make it seem as if the image is going in on itself. The effect is mind numbing and was named after the dutch cocoa brand Doste, which featured a maid carrying the identical packaging that she was featuring on on her tray.
The bright colours and the psychedelic effect match perfectly with the bands psychedelic sound, vision and image. I have seen them live, and album cover echoes the video that plays along to their set. Even the inside of the vinyl echoes a sound wave and is extremely easy on the eye.
Leif Podhajsky’s style is one I deeply admire and his impact on the psychedelic album covers of today has been huge. I hope to do a post about his work soon.
(this hand doesn’t belong to me)