Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Will resurgence in vinyl bring back cool LP cover art?

Chattanooga Now Mind Coffee: Will resurgence in vinyl bring back cool LP cover art?

October 5th, 2017 by Staff Report in Chattnow Music

Ever bought an album just because the cover was cool?

Strawbs' 1977 album, "Deadlines," shows a man floating upside down in a phone booth filled with water in the middle of the desert. Too cool not to buy, although the music isn't all that memorable.

These days, downloads are the rule, so the good-cover/meh-music paradox is not really an issue. But with vinyl making something of a comeback, perhaps the 12-by-12-inch sleeve will become relevant again, too.

It's doubtful that anyone could tally up the number of teenagers and college-age students from 1970 to 1990 who decorated the walls of their bedrooms or dorm rooms with album covers.

Shawn Ryan

Shawn Ryan

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

The 1970s had some of the best and most iconic covers, which makes sense; it had some of the best and most iconic bands. The '80s were no slouches when it came to bands and LP covers, though. The '90s had its share, although CDs had taken over by then and the roughly 6-inch by 5-inch case didn't provide the same artistic canvas as an LP.

Hipgnosis may have been the best-known set of artists making album covers back in the day. Best-known because, day in, day out, they were the best. Their work included Led Zeppelin's covers from "Houses of the Holy" to "Coda," Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," many covers for UFO, Scorpions, Renaissance and Peter Gabriel. The late Storm Thorgerson, co-founder of Hipgnosis, created all of Pink Floyd's album covers from 1968 until 2007, including "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here."

Many of my favorites are Hipgnosis work, but there are others, too.

* UFO. "No Heavy Petting." Perhaps my favorite cover of all and, yes, Hipgnosis. A woman facing away, head slightly turned, a monkey on her shoulder and a couple of clear, medical-looking tubes coming out of her neck and into the monkey's chest. A tad weird, yes. A bit disturbing, oh heck yeah. And the album itself is pretty darned good, too.

* Golden Earring. "To the Hilt." One middle-age man, chains around him, lying on the railroad tracks on the cover. Underwater with a concrete overcoat, sharks swimming around in another. Falling from a building on a third. Striking.

* Yes. "Tales from Topographic Oceans." A double-truck album that, when opened, shows a scene of fish swimming through the air, an Aztec temple far in the back and, if you look closely at the rocks in the center of the cover, the same organic airplane that was on the cover of "Fragile," now covered by plants.

* Rainbow. "Rising." A huge hand holding a rainbow is shoving itself out of the sea, waves crashing around it. Impossible to deny the sheer oomph! of it.

* Frank Zappa. "Weasels Ripped My Flesh." Once you see it, you won't forget it. Whether that's good or bad depends on you.

Contact Shawn Ryan at mshawnryan@gmail.com.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com