Slow Children – Slow Children:1981

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(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.

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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:

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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

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Tame Impala – Innerspeaker: 2010

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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)

Queen – News of the World: 1977

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Queen are almost the biggest band in the history of music, creating one hit after another, the album News of the World contains two of their biggest hits – We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. The album went 4x platinum in the US and 2x platinum in the UK.

For such a big name the album cover had to be good, and they delivered. By taking the front cover from the October 1953 edition of Astounding Science Fiction and placing the members of the band into the robots hand, they have created an extremely eye-catching cover that really pops out on the shelf.

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The artist behind the original artwork is Frank Kelly Freas, an artist renowned for his illustration in the sci-fi business, who they contacted and asked to repaint the artwork to get the desired effect of the dead band members in the robots hand.

Other work by the artist includes many science fiction book covers, some shown below. He has won the revered Hugo Award ten times for his illustration so is the perfect choice for the award winning musicians.

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Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures: 1979

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One of the most famous album covers in the whole universe originates from PSR B1919+21, a “pulsar with a period of 1.3373 seconds,and a pulse width of 0.04 second.” Picked up by Peter Saville, one of the best graphic designers in England, he transformed something extremely scientific into a design so famous people can recognise it without having any idea what it is.

Technically the design was initially the bands idea because they had handed him a folder of astronomical images from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy and all Peter Saville had to do was pick the correct one and go with it. The choice was perfect – he picked the design because it demonstrates both technicality, sensuality, rhythm and a shape like that of a heartbeat.

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The pulsar originates from the constellation Vulpecula, shown above.

Peter Saville and the band also decided against putting the bands name on the front due to the post punk movement and the band not wanting to become “pop” stars at the time.

Nick Drake – Pink Moon: 1972

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Pink Moon is one of my favourite albums of all time, with a cover that matches the creative spirit of the genius that was Nick Drake. The cover displays a Dali/Magritte quality, displaying the predominant “Pink Moon” in the centre of the work.

Keith Morris was commissioned to photograph Drake for the cover of the album (because of the success of his photography on the 1970 album Bryter Layter) but the photos taken weren’t used, as Drake’s figure and complexion became weaker and lighter as his depression continued and his marketing team decided against the promotion of his current state.

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Nick Drake was very vague with what he wanted on the front of his new album and the only thing his friends could gather from him was that he wanted a pink moon on it. A friend of Drake’s sister, Michael Trevithick had a surrealist style to his name and his label decided that he was the perfect man for the job. Drake never gave a formal opinion on the album cover itself but his friends seemed to gather that he was as happy with it as he could be at that point in his life.

Rolling Stones Magazine said “The beauty of Drake’s voice is its own justification. May it become familiar to us all.”

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New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies: 1983

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Peter Saville is the brains behind this album cover, or rather his girlfriend is. Whilst looking for a machiavellian painting (to fit the title) at the National Gallery, Peter Saville wandered into the gift shop and picked up a postcard of the painting shown above. His girlfriend came up behind him and questioned whether he was going to use it as the cover and without a shadow of doubt he decided on it there and then.

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Peter Saville is the creative genius behind the infamous Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures and many other great album covers, but despite how iconic the Joy Division cover is, I still love the Power, Corruption & Lies design more. The way he has taken the colour palette from the image and collated it into a little key in the corner as if to say the artist has painted by numbers or cheated, pointing towards the title of the album.

With one of the best graphic designers in England, it’s hard to go wrong, and Peter Saville has proved his worth once again.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me: 2013

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The cover for The National’s Trouble Will Find Me incorporates a cropped section of Bohyun Hoon’s work Fragmentation, a piece that has carved sections of mirror placed equally over naked human bodies.

The title of the album matches perfectly with the situation the woman would be in if she wasn’t part of a piece of art, the mirror acting as a guillotine on the cover, with no sense of what is below the top half of her head. The black and white image and the old typewriter style font combine to match the dark, melancholy songs that the National produce, especially on their new album.

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The album cover is a slight change from their 2007 Boxer, with the text being the predominant component, it suggests a return to their roots and a more down to earth sound compared to their slightly more uplifting 2010 album High Violet.

The song “I Need My Girl” was the promotional song for the 13-track album and as it is the poster track it seems fitting for the picture on the front to be of a woman trapped in a seemingly inescapable trap.