What’s your favourite album art?

August 29, 2018 in Blog

 

One of my favourite albums is a 1957 compilation from RCA called Mambo For Cats. I’ve never actually heard it. I’m just in love with the cover art. It’s a classic design by graphic artist Jim Flora – the man responsible for some the best album covers of the 50s. I suppose that was my first introduction to art.

The Beatles understood the importance of a great cover, commissioning Jann Haworth and Peter Blake to conjure up the Sergeant Pepper collage. The boys were just as radical in 1968 with the White Album (perhaps a nod to Kazimir Malevich) and a year later with Abbey Road – a cover with no text. That was the work of art director John Kosh, who was also behind another favourite, ELO’s Out Of The Blue. Its kaleidoscopic flying saucer always reminding me of that electronic game, Simon. 

As a kid I’d sit listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours staring at the cover, admiring the fancy footstool and wondering why the man with a ponytail had a pair of balls hanging between his legs. I later learned they were toilet chains he’d nicked from a from club years earlier. 

Treasure Seeker is my first album as a songwriter and I wanted it to look different to my other work. Through (Un)finished Works I found Portuguese artiste Mariana Baladia. I explained how Jon Nickoll and I created the songs, and after listening to the album, she got to work.

She came up with a fantasy concert at London’s Savoy hotel, where Jon plays every week. The cover features me singing as my producer, Chris Traves, plays his trombone sitting on trumpet valves coming out of the neck of a gigantic double bass. On the back there’s Jon playing his piano on keys which morph into the Savoy’s tiled reception floor.

Through a window in the giant bass we see the chef in his kitchen sneaking a peek at this art deco, psychedelic spectacular. Inside, we see the rest of the orchestra, complete with violins and a very smart percussionist playing the triangle. The giant bass makes another appearance, this time as a swanky bar for the smart-set, enjoying the music and the Savoy’s famous cocktails. It’s quite a spectacle. 

As technology gets smaller, so too has album art. We’ve gone from supersized vinyl, to compact discs, to postage-stamp sized graphics on our phones where you can’t tell a tuba from a triangle. Maybe one day the resurgence of vinyl will see the return of album art we can hang on our walls. 

In the meantime, try this for a full sensory experience: get yourself of copy of Treasure Seeker, gaze at the artwork, sipping a Savoy signature cocktail, and enjoy the music. Who knows, you might find some treasure of your own.

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