Album Cover Analysis FAMOUS ALBUM COVERS - By Anna Broomhead
Out of the Blue is a double album by Electric Light Orchestra, first released in 1977. The large spaceship on the album's cover was designed by Shusei Nagaoka and Ria Lewerke with Kosh based on Kosh's earlier logo he designed for the previous album A New World Record which had elements of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind . It also looks like a space station with a docking shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The number JTLA 823 L2 which is featured on the shuttle arriving at the space station is the original catalogue number for the album. The spaceship is used here because E.L.O are associated with a spaceship and space theme, with giant electric flying saucers on stage at their concerts. I think this album cover is successful because it uses a theme that the band are well-known for, and so allows people to identify with the band. It also uses bright colours to catch the eye of a potential audience. The crayon element of the image adds a childish sense, while the jet docking at the spaceship is surreal, and so represents how surreal the band and their work are.
Rumours is the eleventh album by British and American rock band Fleetwood Mac, released in 1977. It was the second album recorded, following the successful self-titled Fleetwood Mac album in 1975. In 1978, Rumours won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. As of 2007 the album has sold more than 40 million copies, and is on the list of best-selling albums of all time. In addition, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Rumours at #25 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album features band members John McVie and Stevie Nicks on the front cover. I think that this album cover is successful, as it is not too complicated. The image was captured as Stevie randomly danced around John in a small room, and this, coupled with the plain black and white album cover shows that the band Fleetwood Mac do not take themselves too seriously. It also draws attention to the title of the album and band, as there are no cluttered images to distract a potential buyer from the main message. The image is also quite sexual, with the appendage on John’s trousers and Stevie’s pose, and this adds a poetic justice to the cover and album.
Van Halen is the debut album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released in 1978. The album was recorded in 1977 and released in February 1978. It has sold over ten million copies in the United States alone and is one of the most successful debuts by a hard rock band. Along with 1984 , it gives Van Halen two original (non-greatest hits) albums with Diamond status in sales. The album shows each member of the band mid-action, live on stage. I think that this makes the album work well, as it shows the band rather than a cartoon or abstract image, allowing an audience to see exactly whose album they are buying. It also shows the band members at their best, and so advertises them as a brilliant band. If they had been pictured at home on a Saturday in casual clothes, this album would not look as impressive. As each band member is lit by a different coloured light, it suggests that each member has his own personality and talent. The album also does not single out any of the band members as being more important or significant than the others, but highlights them all as having their own role in the band. I think this cover is successful, because it focuses directly on the band and shows exactly what they have to offer to an audience.
Axis: Bold as Love is the second studio album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Under pressure from their record company to follow-up the successful debut of their May 1967 album Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love was released on Track Records in the UK in December 1967. It reached #5 in the UK and later, #3 in the US. In 2003, the album was ranked number 82 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. This is not the original album art. Originally, the album's cover had a photographed copy of a cheap, mass produced religious poster showing the different forms of Vishnu with a small, superimposed painting of the group blended in. The pink and yellow background of this album was once used as a backdrop at one of Hendrix’s gigs, and was used to replace the first cover. Writing was added at the top of the cover to make it look like a real poster, and replaced the dull original cover. I think this cover is successful as it has a story behind it. The cover was completely redesigned to suit the band, which shows that the group are influential enough to get their own way. It also reflects Jimi Hendrix’s American Indian roots. The bright colours grab and hold attention and compliment each other well.s
Abbey Road is the eleventh official U.K. album and seventeenth U.S. album released by The Beatles . Though work on Abbey Road began in April 1969, making it the final album recorded by the band. The idea of this image is that Paul McCartney is dead, which is also suggested in a song called Paul is Dead, and hidden lyrics in various other songs. John Lennon is dressed all in white, like a clergyman . Ringo Starr wears a black suit, like an undertaker . Paul McCartney wears a black suit without shoes, and walks out of step with the other Beatles. It is traditional for people to be buried barefoot, and Paul is pictured barefoot, suggesting that he is dead or a ghost. There is a hearse in the background, and it looks like that is where they are walking to. I think this cover is successful because it tells a story. At first glance, it looks like a very poor, lazy photograph taken on a random street, but upon further inspection, the story is revealed, although it takes a lot of knowledge about the Beatles to find, which ensures that true Beatles fans buy the album for the story.
The Dark Side of the Moon is a concept album by Pink Floyd. It was released on 17 March 1973 in the United States and 24 March 1973 in the United Kingdom. The Dark Side of the Moon built on the ideas Pink Floyd had explored in their live shows and recordings, but it lacked the extended instrumental excursions which had characterised their work following the departure of founding member, principal composer and lyricist, Syd Barrett. The album's themes include conflict, greed, aging, and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by Barrett's deteriorating mental state. This album cover is different but striking. The light prism is a well-known symbol in science, suggesting a confidence that Pink Floyd are well-known and intelligent. The rainbow against the black background stands out and draws attention. This represents the fact that Pink Floyd have an important message. The lack of a title is unusual, as at first glance you cannot see whose album it is. However, this could be a good thing, as it forces a potential audience to look at the album further to find out who has made the album. This could either generate more interest, or annoy and disappoint the buyer. Either way, the cover still ensures that the album is looked at.
I think that the most successful album out of these 6 is Abbey Road by the Beatles. I think this because at first glance, it looks plain, ordinary and lazy, but on further thought, it tells a story. The use of hidden messages is clever and requires a lot of thought to work out. It features all of the band members and so you can instantly recognise whose album it is. The idea that Paul McCartney was dead was carried on as a publicity stunt by the Beatles, and is therefore supported by this cover. The use of props and costume such as the clergy outfit and the hearse hint at the idea that Paul is dead, and gives the album a slightly surreal feeling. I think that if you do not understand the meaning behind the main image, then this is a very poor album cover, as it doesn’t have anything to offer to people who cannot see the message or who are not Beatles fans. I think that this cover is successful when targeting fans of the Beatles, but not as successful when attracting new fans or buyers. I do not think I will be able to use hidden messages when making my own products, as not everyone will be able to understand them, and my chosen cover may look poor and lazy, simliar to how I first viewed Abbey Road.