Essay by Luke Foster
“The mystical poetry of William Blake’s artwork also forms the basis for the album cover.” Bruce Dickinson
Since I was a teenager, I have had a fascination with vinyl and their album covers. Then it was albums by the Doors, REM and the Cure that attracted me.
Then about five years ago I had a dream that I bought a record player and started collecting vinyl and also that I got an apple smart watch and I did both but the smart watch was on sale at JB HI FI and was to early a version to sync up with my later model iPhone.
Now I have a collection of over 100 interesting records.
This is a list of my top ten album covers.
- Ritual De Lo Habitual by Janes Addiction. This photo of a sculpture of three figures was made by Perry Farrell and is by far my favourite album cover of all time. I have drawn it in my artist books many times and as a young adult had it in poster form in my bedroom at North Avalon.
2. The Velvet Underground & Nico. This album was the debut album by The Velvet Underground and featured the amazing banana album cover by Andy Warhol. Lead singer Lou Reed had a haunting voice.
3. Dinosaur Jr Bug. I had this album in art school and the cover with the plastic fly and gooey mess was very interesting. I saw J Mascis performing live in a solo gig at a pub in Byron Bay a few years back. He still has it.
4. The Beatles Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album by the Beatles was iconic with the Beatles dressed in unusual period costumes and a collage of famous people in the background. It suits the eclectic style of music on the album. My mum saw the Beatles perform live in Australia during their suits and mop hair era and said she couldn’t hear them as the stadium was filled with screaming women.
5. Katy Perry Prism. This album featured the song Roar that has become iconic and is also one of my favourite songs. This is the first album that I collected, and I got it cheap on sale at Aldi and featured a double album with photos of Katy and butterflies on the records with a clear plastic sleeve.
6. The Stone Roses Self-titled. This song featured the epic ten-minute song Fools Gold, and the album cover was designed by a band member. “As with most Stone Roses releases, the cover displays a work by the band’s guitarist John Squire, in this case a Jackson Pollock-influenced piece titled “Bye Bye Badman”, which makes reference to the May 1968 riots in Paris.”
7. Doolittle by the Pixies. I have this album on CD but not Vinyl but is on my list to collect on vinyl. Doolittle was the first album where Simon Larbalestier, the Pixies’ cover photographer, and Vaughan Oliver, the band’s cover artist, had access to the lyrics. According to Larbalestier, this “made a fundamental difference”.
8. Sonic Youth Goo. This album cover is by American artist Raymond Pettibon is my second favourite drawing artist after Yoshitomo Nara, and I have bought a few t-shirts over the years until they became tatty
“Goo was released by DGC Records on June 26, 1990. The album’s front cover design was created by Raymond Pettibon, who was responsible for early covers for Black Flag.”
9. Jimi Hendrix album Axis Bold as Love. This album came out in 1967. I loved Hendrix when I was a teenager and had a few of his albums. It featured amazing songs such as Little Wing.
“The album cover depicts Hendrix and the Experience as various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a painting of the musicians by Roger Law, from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris.”
10. Nirvana In Utero. I didn’t have a big CD collection when I was at art school doing my masters in the 90s as I didn’t have much money, but I did have this on CD and would love to have it on vinyl. My favourite song off it is dumb.
The art director for In Utero was Robert Fisher, who had designed all of Nirvana’s releases on DGC. Most of the ideas for the artwork for the album and related singles came from Cobain.
This essay or list is about the album covers but the back cover by Kurt Cobain himself of In Utero was even better than the cover and featured a collage of plastic dolls, turtle shells and other bits and pieces.