Initially used as a protective cover for the fragile breakable CD inside, it’s become evident that the rise of digital music threatens one of the greatest art crusades seen in the 20th Century – the album cover.
Once upon a time it was used as a means of artistic expression, because let’s face it, it was! Often becoming as important as the music itself – and at times, even more so. And get this: it’s rumoured that the cover of New Order’s Blue Monday was so expensive to make that their label lost money on every copy sold – that’s crazy! That’s why Olimpus decided to pick some of the most iconic album designs ever created…
Artist: The Beatles
Designer: Kosh/Iain MacMillan
Plain and simply put, this is a totally iconic image, with the Magnificent Four themselves at their best: John glorious in a white suit, Paul barefoot. Impeccably in synchronisation, and totally British. The crossing itself was given Grade II listed status in 2010 – there aren’t many traffic relics that can brag about that.
Artist: Van Halen
Designer: Pete Angelus, Richard Seireeni, David Jellison, Margo Zafer Nahas
A very mischievous baby angel, with a naughty look and cig in hand. This proves that rock ‘n’ roll can taint anyone and anything. The Devil has the best songs, but this Angel’s got Jump and Hot For Teacher underneath its cover…
Photographer: Mick Rock
Queen recruited Rock to shoot the photo for the cover of their second record, keen for some of the glam rock kudos that he had – following work for David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop – to influence them, after their launching album had been a flop, contrary to what they had hoped. They originally thought the photograph too showy, but Rock convinced them to go for it – and what a good move that was! Thanks to Rock’s suggestion, the array of faces becoming truly iconic when used in the video for breakthrough opus Bohemian Rhapsody a year later.
Album: Who’s Next
Photographer: Ethan A. Russell
The Who have always made eccentric, but vivid covers. This one was certainly no exception. With the band photographed having deceptively urinated on a massive stone monolith in Easington Colliery, an old coal mining town, the meaning of the monolith, or the band’s ‘desecration’ of it is unknown. Maybe it’s a rejection of progress – the coal representative of industrialisation; or maybe it’s an allusion to the monolith discovered on the moon in 2001: A Space Odyssey (director Stanley Kubrick had turned down the chance to direct the film version of the band’s Tommy, so maybe this was some form of retribution). Or maybe, it was just a strange idea, who knows? Either way it’s a very striking, and cool, cover image.
Dark Side of the Moon
Artist: Pink Floyd
Designer: Storm Thorgerson
Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s bassist and singer suggested to designer Storm that possibly for the cover of Dark Side of the Moon, he might not use a photograph. He replied, “What do you mean? That’s what I do. Pictures…I don’t do graphics.” Gratefully, for the history of album cover design, he welcomed the challenge given to him. Using identical visions of Floyd’s live light show, coupled with a triangle – a symbol of thought and desire – he created this cover and a piece of both musical and art history.
Without a doubt, finding the most memorable album covers in musical history is more than a challenging feat. Some are thought of as amazing, others controversial, then there are ones that are simply outlandish. Whatever your opinion is though, it’s undeniable how both the graphics and music of such albums managed to perfectly capture such creative genius.
Do you share a similar passion for art and music as much as these artists’ and their album covers? If so, you always need to ensure that you’re well-equipped with the best quality musical instruments. We invite you to come visit us at our one-stop-music-shop. We can give you tips and tricks to remember when choosing all your music equipment.
Is there an album cover you feel should be in this article? Let us know in the comment section. Feedback is always welcome!