With the advent of CDs in the early 80’s and its slow take over of the consumer market from vinyl throughout that decade, the size of album artwork went from a large graphic space of 12” to a teeny tiny CD case size. Artistically, this was a big loss, with 12” folds becoming rarer and people becoming less likely to adorn their mantels with outward facing CD cases or screenshots of their iTunes library.
Ahead of our planned frolicking in the fields of Hertfordshire at this year’s Farr Festival, Frankfurt’s finest Roman Flügel has shared with us three of his favourite album covers and an insight into his views on artists presenting their ideas through more than just the music.
1. Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata
What is written as a very important advice above the album title makes this artwork even more special to me than the actual painting on the front: “You Must Read The Back Of The Album”. The useful beauty of a vinyl cover is obvious since the artist is able to transmit a lot more information than ‘just’ his music only by the naturally limited but beautiful amount of creative space that comes with the album sleeve format – a benefit that no digital download will ever provide.
2. Einstürzende Neubauten – Kollaps
The main colour of the minimalistic sleeve is dead gold. It could be a reference to the gold that’s part of the German national flag. On the back of the sleeve you can see the band posing with their instruments in front of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, an iconic building that was once finished by Adolf Hitler’s favourite Architect Albert Speer. The Neubauten are probably playing with German clichés here but those clichés mostly have a true core and they seem to be ready to make the stadium (perhaps Germany) ‘Kollaps’ just by creating their very own sonic quake.
3. David Bowie – Lodger
I bought this album before I was even a teenager and one of the reasons was not only the intriguing music but perhaps even more the irritating sleeve. Bowie doesn’t look too good on the cover. He seems to be injured and floating weightless through a bathroom. Some of his body parts are twisted and there is no obvious explanation in the artwork why the album is named ‘Lodger’. Everything becomes even more mysterious once the double folded cover is opened. Several photos with a connotation to topics like time, life and death politics and religion are popping up and make you think. Recently someone told me that the twisted pose of Mr. Bowie on the front is actually a reference to the paintings of Egon Schiele. To refer to paintings makes a connection to the other two albums of the so called ‘Berlin trilogy’.