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Run for covers

One of the great joys of possessing CDs is that it perpetuates that old joy of mulling over album covers. Here’s a list of my favourite album covers, writes Indrajit Hazra.

music Updated: Mar 12, 2009 18:18 IST
Indrajit Hazra
Indrajit Hazra
Hindustan Times

One of the great joys of possessing CDs is that it perpetuates that old joy of mulling over album covers. The death of LPs was supposed to end album art. But even as mp3s and downloads nibble away those CD sales, cover art still remains a CD-centric experience. Here’s a list of my favourite album covers. If you have yours, write in so that I can tell those


what they’re missing out on.

1. Dark Side of the Moon: This 1973 Pink Floyd album works for the purpose of staring at better than it does for listening. The simple light-going-through-a-prism image nicked from Newton was thought up by Storm Thorgerson, a member of the British graphic design group, Hipgnosis. Great idea to keep it simple with the black background. Which is why the 30th anniversary cover of the album with the ‘trees’ background sucks.

2. Is This It: Leather on skin and a title that’s a query without a question mark. Everything’s left deliciously aesthetic in the Strokes’ debut 2001 album photo by Colin Lane. More continental than Upper West Side, the image seems more like a cropped close-up of a Vogue image than the motif of the first offerings of a rock-boogie woogie beer ‘n’ fags band.

3. Weasels Ripped My Flesh: The funny-cruel pop art image of the smiling, office-going man shaving with nasty effects is the 70s riposte to the ‘Honey, I’m Home’ pop of an earlier generation. The controlled chaos of the Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Inventions 1970 album is captured by the artwork by Neon Park, whom Zappa hired after seeing his artwork for Man’s Life magazine. The ‘inspiration’ showed a blond man waist down in water being attacked by weasels. Zappa had only point to make Park: “What can you do that's worse than this?”

4. London Calling: The Clash’s Paul Simonon bending low with his Fender Precision bass guitar mid-swing as we wait for it to be smashed into smithereens. What else can capture punk — or indeed rock ‘n’ roll — better than this image on this 1979 album? The concert photo, taken by Pennie Smith at the New York Palladium in 1979, was originally thought to be ‘too out of focus’. Graphic designer Ray Lowry not only ‘saved’ the photo with his artwork but made it iconic. The lettering on the cover is an homage to Elvis’ debut album. But Lowry just swung it around and smashed the old image.

5. Sticky Fingers: The copy of the LP I have back in Calcutta still has the real zipper down the front of this cover intact. The 1971 classic (in my mind the Stones’ second best album after the 1969 Gimme Shelter) had its cover conceived by Andy ‘Pop’ Warhol, photographed by Billy Name and designed by John Paschi. So whose crotch is on display? Mick Jagger’s or Keithe Richards’? The answer pretty surely is: it’s that of American underground films sex symbol, Joe Dallesandro.

First Published: Mar 12, 2009 17:01 IST