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Eye, Eye, I, what have we here?

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

On the 5th. September, Roger was invited to listen to a talk given in that evening by Christopher Wilson based on his Album Cover Albums article, ‘Heavy Rotation’ ( at St Bride’s Foundation, London.

It’s been a while since Album Cover Album was first published, (46 years ago). The in-depth research that Chris Wilson has done, has thrown up some surprises, apparently there was a book that examined the history of the art of record covers that pre-dated Album Cover Album, called, ‘Graphis. Record covers: the evolution of graphics reflected in record packaging’, by Walter Herdig.

Wilsons' talk also elaborated on his Eye article in several ways for example, by deconstructing a spread from one of the books and rearranging the covers chronologically, showing how some of the featured designers (Neville Brody, Vaughan Oliver, Peter Saville, Storm himself) selected their own covers in their own books.

In addition, Wilson reviewed the birth and death of an art form, Album Cover Art, that has now been diminished to a stamp size logo on streaming channels, rather than part of an object of visual and audial wonder. It was a fascinating and very enjoyable re-visit to this brief moment in history that engendered an art form that was almost entirely unconstrained by money, editorial good sense, or even survival.

When Album Cover Album first came out it was the size, shape and price of an album. It’s hard to remember now, and for those who weren’t around then, it was customary to have art books with lots of text and little black and white images.

Album Cover Album was glossy, bold and brightly coloured. It was a book that was inspirational, it put contemporary artwork in an affordable package that made it accessible for anyone who could afford a record. It brought colour and pzazz to many a grey wet and grim, rim of civilisation.

In those days however, not everyone could afford a record, can you imagine that?

Art Colleges and University Libraries bought copies for reference and students could see what was happening in this branch of the arts anywhere in the country, in fact anywhere in the world. In those days, at least in the UK where ACA was produced, there were but three T.V. channels and very few programmes a day. There was no internet and everything exciting seemed a long way away.

Album Cover Album was a bright note from where things were happening.

After the talk about Album cover Album, Aubrey Powell, Storm Thorgerson's partner in Hipgnosis, talked about the recent film on the methods of production of album covers by Hipgnosis, including covers for Pink Floyd's, 'The Dark side of the Moon' 'Animals' and 'Wish you Were Here' called ‘Squaring the Circle' ( directed by Anton Corbijn, a film director well known for his association with musicians. Aubrey Powell from Hipgnosis was there, his partner, Storm Thorgerson was sadly missed.

It is an elegant and entertaining film about extravagance, beauty and madness.

Roger Dean, Jill Furmanovsky and Storm Thorgerson

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