Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Great Album Covers Vol. 4

So it has come to this. Part four of my series on great album art. I think after this one I'll leave this series for a bit as I've come to the end of the original list I drew up in November. However I will continue it in the future. But in the mean time feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what albums I should cover. What I'll do next is a similar format, but looking at music videos... maybe that one will be a little more infrequent. Who knows???

Alien Sex Fiend - 'Acid Bath', 1984
Mr and Mrs Fiend's second full-length outing which produced the classic Goth club anthems 'EST (A Trip To The Moon)', 'Dead & Buried' and 'Hee Haw'. Personally my favourite Fiend album was the somewhat overlooked 'It [The Album]', but as far as album art goes ASF hit the mark with 'Acid Bath'.
Nik Fiend's iconic artwork of a Technicolor character with bulging-bug eyes sums up the demented style of the band perfectly. Best of all it has what all album art should ideally possess... T-shirt credibility. In fact the 'Acid Bath' T-shirt surpassed it's album sibling thanks to an appearance in Tim Burton's 1996 ode to B-movies, 'Mars Attacks', in which a character wears the T-shirt (actually the T-shirt design was taken from the 12" single of 'EST' but two colours are cheaper to screen print).
The longevity and level of exposure of this album cover for such an underground band playing such underground music, even by Goth standards, is absolutely astounding.
Play Dead - 'From The Promised Land', 1984
Now, the sound may have been so plain that the band limited the release of 'From The Promised Land' to a mere 1000 copies to remix and re-release in 1992 as 'Resurrection', but the cover is stunning. The simple, haunting and minimalist composition of the cover photo is quintessentially Gothic. The numerous figures stand solemn and still in the water as the sun is either setting or rising out of frame. The light feels cold, the water looks cold and the people seem to snake throughout the composition. It's so quiet that it seems sinister.
The cover of the band's singles compilation album and the single 'Sacrosanct' may have more immediate Gothic overtones. However for me, 'From The Promised Land' wins out with its subtlety.

Pink Floyd - 'Wish You Were Here', 1975
Pink Floyd's ninth studio album and perhaps one of their most poignant. Opening and closing with 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' the album deals with the loss of their former band mate Syd Barrett. Barrett had left the band soon after the release of their second album and had released to fantastic solo albums, though commercially they were eclipsed by his work with Pink Floyd. Barrett's experimental and acid-fuelled lifestyle had taken its toll on the singer and left him burnt out. The album is haunted by the spectre of Barrett who actually visited the band when they were recording it; they failed to recognize him though as he had gained weight and shaved his head.

The album cover, once again created by the great Storm Thorgerson, is a serene but violent image. Two men, virtually mirror-images of each other calmly shake hands as one is combusting before the other. The shaking of the hands is, by the suggestion of the tracks 'Have A Cigar' and 'Welcome To The Machine', an empty gesture. The image is reflected in the original LPs packaging which was shrink-wrapped in black plastic with an image of two mechanical hands clasped together.

Great Music Videos Vol. 1 coming soon...
However Great Album Covers will return with Vol. 5!


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