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)

David Bowie – The Next Day: 2013/ Heroes: 1977

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The first album by Bowie in over 10 years and he recycles an old album cover – genius – Bowie wanted to represent “forgetting or obliterating the past” by obscuring the photograph from the 1977 album Heroes, photographed by Masayoshi Sukita. The album was kept as secret as possible, and then a huge campaign, designed by Johnathan Barnbrook exploded all over the walls,the internet, and the papers. The campaign was simple – stick a massive white square over any other musical commercial reading “The Next Day – 03.12.13.” 

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Some of the images, like those above, were constructed for the campaign a lot more, but the image below is literally forgetting the old and posting the white square over another band’s poster, in this case Foals.

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I don’t know how happy some of the other bands were, but the hilarious advertising helped the album jump to the number one album spot for the ninth time. The designer Johnathan Barnbrook had the chance to create his third work for Bowie and decided to show off a new font.

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The font, Doctrine, is a sans-serif font that is clean cut and reads well on both a large and small scale. The font started from the North Korean National Airline livery on the side of the plane and evolved from there. On the packaging it looks extremely professional and not too industrial.

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The photography of the original Heroes cannot be ignored however, and the photographer Masayoshi Sukita went through multiple shots with Bowie before the perfect one was chosen.

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Many of the shots look fairly messy and not fit for an album cover, whereas the final shot makes Bowie look extremely on point and is probably one of the most famous pictures of all time. The picture below is my favourite that wasn’t chosen for the album, it is however slightly too similar to the cover of his album Low.

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The idea of the white square works on all platforms and the vinyl design is as simple as it gets, the white square spinning around on the record player leaving a blurred circle in its wake. The simplicity of the design and the comedic value it carries with it make it a brilliant album cover and the perfect marketing scheme due to its minimalistic thought provoking qualities.

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