CWA’s favourite album covers
Here at CWA, we’ve got an office full of creatives with an eye for some great design work. We also have varying tastes when it comes to music, which is evident when someone’s picking the radio station. To show this, we thought we’d go around and ask what everyone’s favourite album cover is and why. Here’s what we found…
Artist: The Underwolves
Title: Under Your Sky
The cover’s designer, Martin Grover, is an artist from London. In recent years he is best known for his large scale still-life paintings of 45rpm records and witty takes on London Bus Stops, but this cover is more typical of his work from that time. Ordinary London streets featuring people going about their daily routines. This piece was commissioned for the album, featuring members from the group and also references to some of the music sampled within. As a child, I would travel with my Mum to Kilburn, London regularly to visit my Gran, and being there, especially at night with the tubes and double deckers seemed other-wordly. This image couldn’t be more London if it tried. I love it so much I have an oversized version, without the text hanging in my dining room.
Artist: Flying Lotus
Title: You’re Dead!
This is the 2014 album from Flying Lotus, which is designed by Shintaro Kago, a Japanese Manga artist known for his “fashionable paranoia” style. Flying Lotus is known for his psychedelic artwork and 3D visuals at concerts, which I got the chance to see in 2015. The colours and patterns perfectly represents the music and it’s just too surreal to not love!
Artist: Daisy Chainsaw
I have always loved the Eleventeen album cover by a band called Daisy Chainsaw. I love it because the design is very quirky, there’s a lot going on and it has all my favourite colours in. All their album and single covers are a bit weird like this one.
It reminds me of when I was a baby – My parents often made me chase money in a pool naked; it made me the man I am today! The album was not too shabby either! I used to sing my heart out to this while crying into my pillow.
Artist: System of a Down
Title: Steal This Album!
The fact the band did this I think made a massive statement as people were gradually moving away from CDs to digital platforms. There was no cover in the CD case, nor on the back, just the CD above inside
Title: Hail to the Thief
It was a tough choice, but I think I’d have to pick Radiohead – Hail to the Thief. The artwork is compelling in a vacuum, but I think knowing what it depicts makes it even cooler. The front cover and accompanying sleeve artwork depict a roadmap of Hollywood, with words and phrases taken from billboards and advertisements filling in the city blocks.
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Some Girls
It had cut out so you could see the celebrity faces underneath! Also, the artist (Peter Corriston) got in trouble for putting celebrity faces amongst it and they got threatened with a law suit; uber rock and roll! I also absolutely love the track “Miss You“, form the album, described on wiki as a prowling, moody number built on a stripped-down disco beat – don’t you know!
Artist: Led Zepellin
I loved the rotatable disk that was behind the front cover. The cover had holes cut into it so the rotating images would show through. Fantastic album too. Played it a lot when I was a student.
Artist: Manic Street Preachers
Title: Journal for Plague Lovers
The cover is painted by my favourite artist Jenny Saville. She is renowned for her reinvention of traditional oil paintings, her arresting images of weighty, foreshortened female forms, and her examinations of the physicality of the body. This cover was censored by four of the top UK supermarkets whom deemed it as ‘inappropriate artwork.’ Bradfield quite rightly says “You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs, but you show a piece of art and people just freak out.”
Artist: Elvis Presley
Title: Elvis Presley
Difficult choice but this one solely down to my childhood. My dad wouldn’t let me listen to much else and it was the first vinyl I bought too as a teen. I love the colours and love his music even more so. The Clash also did a homage to this with their ‘London’s Calling’. It’s perhaps very minimal, but I like it.
Artist: Elton John
Title: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Mine is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John – I love the song and the meaning behind the lyrics. It also reminds me of coming home after a night out with the girls; this was playing so loud, windows open, and my husband laid cold out on the garden slabs after a boozy night out! We were young then!
Title: Back in Black
This was a hard one, could have been Parallel Lines by Blondie as the first band I went to see, then considered Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath. But decided on Back in Black by AC/DC, First album with a new singer after the last one died. Ended up being one of the best selling albums ever and I saw them play it at Leicester De Montfort Hall. From what I remember the copy was just embossed – and yes I still have it in the cupboard!
Artist: Def Leppard
I was so obsessed with this album when it was released in 1987 and even replicated the album cover onto a huge piece of black cloth for my GSCE in Design & Technology. Seem to recall some strange tie-dying process to get the face effect in the middle then lots of embriodery to get the shapes and lettering – I put my heart and soul into it and mum and dad still have the shocking result – they never throw anything away!
Artist: Lemon Jelly
Title: Lost Horizons
Really difficult choice! I nearly went with ‘Leftism’ by Leftfield, (probably my favourite LP of all time) – it has a great cover and brings back memories of good friends and ravey days… However, my final choice would have to be ‘Lost Horizons’ by Lemon Jelly.
On first glance, this cover seems just a decent illustrated landscape, nothing too spectacular… but you have to take in the whole package. The balloon & tag showing the band/title was a sticker, which appeared in different places on every copy of the album; and the landscape extends out to a full panorama, getting more urban as it crosses over onto the back. When you open it up, the inside features the same landscape but as a ‘nighttime’ version. The music is great too, laid-back chilled out electronica built with all sorts of samples.
All of their cover designs are great, not surprising as one half of the duo is renowned graphic designer Fred Deakin, and they just had a refreshingly original approach to pretty much everything they did, including their live shows, one of which I was lucky enough to experience.
Brings back lovely memories. First LP I was given… amazing songs and one of my favourite groups ever…
Title: Make It Big
Because it’s George Michael. Enough said.
Artist: Gary Reader
Of course, it’s this one… it has my name on it!
Artist: The High
Title: Somewhere Soon
An album from 1990, when i had a permed haircut and listened to this and The Stones Roses constantly.
Artist: Britney Spears
Title: …Baby One More Time
I watched the video to the single many times and it shaped my youth! The first album i bought!
Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Title: Axis: Bold as Love
As with all his albums, revolutionary from a guitar perspective back in the 60s and still probably would be if released today. I also enjoy all the pretty colours.