Favourite album art?

Me and my housemate have decided to start a project whereby we recreate album covers (probably quite badly). As a result, we have been trawling through a lot of album’s trying to find suitable ones to have a crack at (mainly simple ones or containing only 1 or 2 people).

This got me thinking - what is my favourite album cover?

As some of you will have seen I quite like my music and contribute to the What music are you listening to at the moment? thread. I listen to a wide range of music spanning decades despite my young age, but I’m keen to hear others’ opinions on this! I’m sure there are plenty of fantastic pieces of art that I am unaware of, so please post your favourite album art/covers/sleeves. Ideas for my project are also welcomed by the way! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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To be clear, I haven’t really decided what my favourite is, but I’ll kick it off with Broken Machine - Nothing But Thieves.

It hits the 2 main judging criteria that I have really - Simplicity and meaning.
The font is attractive.
Most importantly the album art is relevant to the story of the album. It is inspired by the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, Kintsugi. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Kintsugi and the art of making repair visible - Austin Kleon
I’m also wanting a tattoo inspired by this, but that’s for another thread :wink:

Oh and there is also a deluxe version in white :slight_smile:

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White version makes me think of Nitin Sawhney both Beyond Skin and Human.

http://www.nitinsawhney.com/

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Definitely, thanks for sharing!

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Great thread!

So the first album cover where I remember really being blown away by the cover was also the first album I ever bought with my own money, and that was Dangerous by Michael Jackson.

There’s just so much to absorb about it.

A couple of years ago, I saw the original painting of it, in person, at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now that was a surreal moment.

Got to jump into a meeting now but will share more later!

Never mind, that meeting got cancelled and I forgot! So here’s a few more.

lovesexy

Lovesexy by Prince. It’s bold, it’s daring, it’s high art. Shot by French fashion photographer Jean Baptiste Mondino, who is also known for directing several iconic music videos like “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley and “Justify My Love” by Madonna.

Some American chain stores refused to stock the album openly on shelves, believing it to be obscene. Which is hilarious to me. Fun related fact, Prince is the entire reason the “Parental Advisory” sticker exists on albums, due to politicians getting offended at the reference to female masturbation on his song “Darling Nikki” from the Purple Rain album.

In Utero by Nirvana. Some albums have covers that just match the music perfectly and for me this is one of them. It’s visceral, it’s raw, it’s dissonant, something about it affects me mentally when I see it, making me feel a little off-kilter, and the music does the same, but in an amazing way. The album cover to “Nevermind” is probably considered more iconic, but that album cover doesn’t make me feel anything, it’s quite dry and satirical. This one really gets to me.


The 7 Day Theory by 2Pac (as Makaveli)

This came out right after Tupac was murdered and was the last thing he was working on before he was killed. It’s a brilliant album, and the artwork I think represents the tragedy of what his life had become at that point, and I suspect he knew he didn’t have long left. He, inadvertently or otherwise, had become the pivotal figure in a lot of problems in the music industry, in pop culture, and in the subcultures of hip-hop and the LA music scene. On top of that, he was traumatised by having been jailed under false pretences and shot 5 times. It’s almost impossible to understand what that trauma combined with being one of the biggest stars in the world was like. It was all going to catch up with him, he knew it was coming, and that’s reflected both in this album and it’s artwork.

Finally, one more MJ one.


Michael Jackson - HIStory - Past, Present & Future.

I vividly remember this album coming out, I remember that they floated the statue of him down the Thames, the album was everywhere. I also got to see him live on the HIStory Tour, which is a pivotal moment in my life.

But in regards to the album cover, it’s really misunderstood. Some people viewed it as egotistical, the statue of himself. It’s actually a testament to the legacy of great art and how global figures are remembered. Far from egotistical, it’s actually incredibly self-aware, almost biting in it’s message.

Not long ago, a good friend of mine hipped me to what was very likely the inspiration for it, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise given that MJ was incredibly well-read with a deep knowledge of global history (no pun intended).

It’s this Soviet poster from the early 20th century.

The text translates to “Lenin Lived, Lenin Lives, Lenin Will Live”.

A clear parallel with the full album title “HIStory - Past, Present and Future”.

Without getting into too much of a rant, this is what I feel is missing from the major pop stars of today. I can’t imagine the popular artists of today being so educated on topics like high art and fashion (a la the Prince cover) or Soviet history (the MJ cover) to reference them in their art. And these two were the biggest artists on the planet!!

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Thanks! I thought it would be a good discussion and education tool for me also!

It’s cool, very grandiose. Ah that’s awesome that you got to see it!

It’s awesome. Certainly eye-catching and if it kicked up a bit of a stir at the time then that’s good PR! Though I’m guessing he didn’t really need it anyway! That’s how album covers become iconic anyway.

Thanks for that fact! Bound to be used at some point in my life be it a pub quiz or attempting to interest a date :grin:

This is the important thing that I wanted to hear from people! As you say, Nevermind is the iconic one, but I love hearing why people are attached/keen on certain things.

This is an interesting point. Do you think that with streaming being dominant now, album art isn’t so important as people won’t actually usually pick up a physical copy? I doubt small/medium sized artists even really get 100% of the say of their image and subsequent album art. Modern Indie covers are usually a bit better than pop artists and I guess I would attribute that to the fact that they are more likely to create and sell vinyl’s nowadays. That is a bit of a baseless assumption to be clear, but from experience it does seem to be indie bands selling physical copies now as their fans are a bit ‘edgier’ and will have a vinyl player.

Is now a bad time to slip in the fact that I’ve never listened to either? :grimacing: :grimacing: I haven’t seen any of the new video content about MJ either, except for loosely watching Louis Theroux’s episode where he tried to meet him.
Of course I know their main hits, but I have just never delved into them. I can vividly remember the day that MJ died though. I was in Year 5 I think and our quite trendy 65 y/o headteacher used the entire morning assembly to dedicate it to his life and basically teach us about why he is the king.

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Most shows about MJ aren’t well made, IMO. They are often sensationalised and focus on the wrong things. The best ones are the ones that focus on the music. I’d like to see someone like Netflix commission a high quality piece. They are doing that on Prince, but it’s probably a couple of years away from being released.

It’s easier to get into MJ than Prince, because he released much less material. The “holy trinity” is largely considered to be “Off The Wall”, “Thriller” and “Bad”, but for me his best work was “Dangerous” and “HIStory”. It’s all worth listening to though for sure.

Prince released over 40 albums in his life, so people often find it difficult to know where to start. So I often just advise people to start with either a Greatest Hits set, such as “Prince 4Ever” or “Ultimate Prince”, or to start with listening to “Purple Rain” or even watching the Purple Rain movie, since that is probably his most immediately accessible album.

The great thing is that every album he ever made is distinctly different. So there’s something for everyone. For example, “1999” is probably the album that influenced electronic music the most, since it’s synth heavy and he pioneered the use of drum machines in pop music, but then “Purple Rain” is very much a rock album and “Around The World In A Day” is very psychedelic. One friend of mine from BBC Radio 1 has argued very publicly that’s it’s more influential on psychedelic movement than “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles, which is usually held as the yardstick. I’m inclined to agree.

My personal favorite Prince album is “Sign O The Times” though - it got a deluxe remaster a few months back, which is well worth a listen.

I think you have a very valid point on cover art. Since for most people, it’s no longer a physical artifact, a lot of artists just aren’t making the effort anymore.

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For me it has to be the gatefold sleeve albums of Earth, Wind & Fire middle period with Once Upon a Time by Donna Summer in a close 2nd position
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Human BeyondSkin

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Thanks for the write up! :slight_smile:

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In case anyone was interested in the project, here was my first effort :smile:
Points to the first person to name the album.

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Arctic Monkeys debut!

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CIPlVX4A_300x300

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