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Jul 08 2016

The greatest albumcovers

Preface

I still buy physical media. Physical media still have covers; These contain information about who performed the music, who wrote the songs, but also who produced it, in which recording facility recording took place and, often, extended thank you notes.

New media has its advantages, but when I was young(er) albumcovers were often just as important as the music itself. I knew exactly where and how, when, why and for/by who. Some album covers were genuine pieces of art by themselves. So, here, I present to you my favorite albumcovers.

Note
After the first selection I noticed that there was one great distinctive element among the covers: the covers seem to reflect the (mood of) the music.

 

Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours

Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours

(1955)

The cover reflects the desolation associated with lonely nights. Sinatra, smoking, in a foggy alley connected to an abandoned street, standing in the corner with just one street light in the corner which causes the vaguely blue-green light.

The cover fits the character of the music perfectly.

 

Kraftwerk - Autobahn

Kraftwerk – Autobahn

(1974)

The original cover shows a hilly scenery traversed by a freeway (“Autobahn”), on which a Mercedes-Limousine and a Kraftwerk - Autobahn - OriginalVolkswagen Beetle are driving. A flyover and a sunset are visible also. The image is based on advertisement images from the 1960’s.

IO personally like the covers to the re-editions more, for the clarity and directness od image and icon, which immediately gives a clear impression of the content.

 

Parliament - Mothership Connection

Parliament – Mothership Connection

(1975)

On the album George Clinton commented: We had put black people in situations nobody ever thought they would be in, like the White House. I figured another place you wouldn’t think black people would be was in outer space. I was a big fan of Star Trek, so we did a thing with a pimp sitting in a spaceship shaped like a Cadillac.

The album (and the cover), are greatly responsible for the themes Parliament is connected to: funksters in space.

 

Ramones - Ramones

Ramones – Ramones

(1976)

Classic punk album; recording cost $ 6400 in 1976. The cover image (which cost $ 125) is straight forward and extremely effective. The image was published earlier in Punk magazine. It was shot in a garden at the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, close to CBGB’s, the famous punk headquarters of the US.

The pose the groupmembers took would be continued on a lot of their following albumcovers. The cover is one of the most imitated covers in the world.

 

Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks

The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

(1977)

At the time a revolutionary cover. Designed by Jamie Reed. Because the Sex Pistols were extremely infamous (and so facially known) and ugly (according to Jamie Reed), an image on the cover was not the way to go.

The cut- and paste way of the lettering, introduced on the previous two singles by the Sex Pistols, seemed like extortion notes (combining various letters from newspaper clippings to a text).

 

Raymond van het Groenewoud - Kamiel In Belgie

Raymond Van Het Groenewoud – Kamiel In België

(1978)

Beautiful minimalistic cover, which (intentionally?) seems a bit silly. The record is very much fun and exciting. The cover drawing is made by Kamagurka, at the time (I discovered this album around 1979/1980) a new (comic)artist with often absurd humor. Upon release of the album Kamagurka was considered to be controversial in Belgium. His drawings and humor were considered vulgar. Van het Groenwoud selecting Kamagurka for this cover, was a statement in itself.

 

Clash - London Calling

The Clash – London Calling

(1979)

Iconic cover. The image was shot at a show in New York in 1979. The photographer initially didn’t want to give permission for use of the image, because it was out of focus, but the band thought it would be perfect.

The artwork is designed by Ray Lowry and was Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley a tribute to the design of Elvis Presley’s debut album (1956).

 

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Bass Culture

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Bass Culture

(1980)

Designed and executed by the English photographer Dennis Morris, who, during the 1970’s, was well connected to Bob Marley & The Wailers and the Sex Pistols. The cover is, once again, straight forward and extremely effective and draws a grim picture life in the English suburbs and the (run-down) stairwells of the many projects, where a lot of Jamaican immigrant were housed and were confronted by police brutality and violence.

 

Trockener Kecks - Schliessbaum

Tröckener Kecks – Schliessbaum

(1981)

(Dutch punk band) Silly cover, but, again, fitting for sings like (mijn hartje gaat van klopper-de-klop voor het) Meisje Van De Donutshup (my little heart does hop-hop-hop for the, Girl of the donutshop).

 

Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

(1988)

Uncompromising, tough, angry, political and revolutionary album. The cover oozes it. These weren’t rappers conforming to the norm at the time, with the training suits and rapping subjects consisted of My Adidas and bling. This was about (black) empowerment and was driven by the desire for awareness for the black communities.

 

In closing

These are my 10 favorite covers.

Do you have another? Let me know and I will add the cover!

 

Additions

Nirvana – Nevermind

(1991)

From Jochem Stricker (Dutch site)

From Timur (Dutch site)

Nirvana - Nevermind

 

Queen – A Night At The Opera

(1975)

From Paul (Dutch site)

Queen - A Night At The Opera

 

The Cult – Sonic Temple / Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour / John Lee Hooker – Nothing But The Blues / Scorpions – Tokyo Tapes / Chuck Berry – The Anthology / T. Rex – Electric Warrior / Ted Nugent – Double Live – Gonzo! / Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys; Live At Fillmore East / Frank Zappa – Guitar

(1989 / 1974 / 1993 / 1978 / 2000 / 1971 / 1978 / 1999 / 1988)

Kees’ cabinet by Kees de Jong (Dutch site)

KastKees

 

Various – Carry On Oi!!

(1981)

From Tom (Dutch site)

Various - Carry On Oi!!

 

Velvet Underground & Nico – Velvet Underground & Nico / New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies / Beastie Boys – Licensed To Ill / World Party – Goodbye Jumbo

(1967 / 1983 / 1986 / 1990)

From Andre van Alphen (Dutch site)

Keuze Andre

 

Jean Michel Jarre – The Concerts In China / Santana – Amigos / Vangelis – Spiral / Doe Maar – Skunk

(1981 / 1976 / 1977 / 1981)

From Vincent (Dutch site)

Keuze Vincent

 

Prince – 1999

(1982)

From Vincent and your blog-author (Dutch site)

Prince - 1999 (allmusic.com)

 

Big Brother & The Holding Company – Cheap Thrills / Lou Reed – Transformer / The Outsiders – The Outsiders / The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland / Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica / Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A Changin’  / Bob Marley & The Wailers – Catch A Fire / Osibisa – Osibisa

(1968 / 1972 / 1968 / 1968 / 1969 / 1964 / 1973 / 1971)

Van Fons (zie reacties hieronder)

Keuze Fons ( allmusic.com / apoplife.nl)

 

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!