Win a Copy of For the Love of Vinyl

The holidays are nearly here and the DRB will be, well, catching up with some holiday reading.

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As Christmas is also the time of goodwill and generosity we are giving away a copy of the superb book, For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis, that we reviewed last week because we liked it so much. Rest assured, we won’t be giving away our copy of the book, but a brand spanking new one sent via Amazon.

You don’t get something for nothing, however. The winner of the copy of the book will be chosen from the best comment to this post answering this question:

What is your favourite album cover and why?

Is the striking cover art? The memory of shoplifting it as a teenager? Or is was it the anthem to that holiday romance? Tell us your stories.

Post a comment below and feel free to include one link to an image of the cover somewhere (but don’t go crazy with the links otherwise you will trigger the spam filters).

The competition closes on December 24th and we will send the book in the New Year to help you with those post-Christmas blues. The Editor’s decision on the winner is final – no complaining.

[UPDATE: You might want to make sure your cover of choice is not one of these.]

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Andy Polaine

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31 Comments

  • One of the first albums that created an emotional impact based solely on the cover image is the 1979 Scorpions album ‘LOVEDRIVE.’ The cover depicted a man and woman seated in the back of a car, with one of the woman’s breasts connected to the man’s hand by stretched gum. Without being a fan of the band, I immediately purchased the album because of the image. In fact, I bought two copies – one to open and play the record and the other remains sealed in my collection to this day.

  • When I was 16 and finally old enough to go anywhere I wanted, I would often go to “The CD Source.” I had just fallen in love with Bob Dylan. I did quite understand much of what he said, but I felt like he was saying it in the right way. I remember coming across the double disk set of “The Basement Tapes.” I couldn’t tell you why, but I knew looking at it that what was inside was incredible. I could almost hear the lonely sounds of “Katie’s Been Gone” and “Going to Acapulco” just by looking at the cover. It seemed like the sounds of Dylan and the Band was seeping out through case. I bought the album and remember cruising around Little Rock, AR in the summer heat with the windows down, feeling like I had found a lost hidden treasure. I still feel that way even when I listen to it today.

  • Awesome Book! Awesome contest. So here is the few images – http://www.groovemonkey.com/post/64995073 The first is a section of my wall in my office. I have been collecting records for a while now, and on this section are mints of quite a variety of covers. Bottom Row second from the right is a mint copy of LoveDrive that I recently found at Amoeba Records in SF. But my favorite is the cover of Roxy Music’s Country Life. http://www.groovemonkey.com/post/64995540

    I had been looking for this record for a long time, for obvious reasons. My wife eventually located a record collector in Germany, where story has it the cover photo was shot as a brief afterthought shortly after a concert. The cover models weren’t models after all, just women willing to pose for a shot. This cover is difficult to find as well, as it was reprinted sans models due to its racy content. Big thanks to my wife for tracking it down.

    On a personal note – love the site, and have actually purchased a few books because if it. I am a creative director for a media company, and have recommended your site to many people. Keep up the amazing work. – monkey

    groovemonkey’s last blog post..Photo

  • If my father weren’t an engineer, I think he would have been a graphic designer. Thankfully, I’m the one who is the designer. My father has a lovely album collection that he refused to get rid of (good idea) and I used to rifle through them looking for different music and drawing inspiration. My favorites was the Moody Blues A Question of Balance and Harry Nilsson’s The Point.

    This book is going to be my gift to him (if I should win) as a thanks for my love and appreciation of music and art because of him.

    Diane Faye Zerr’s last blog post..Paper – One of a Kind

  • I would have to say

    For a few reasons, first of all when I was right into the style of music, the CD was just so awesome, i would have loved anything on the cover, but as I’ve learnt more about graphic design, the more I love the play with the graphics. ie. the caring hands factor, making the B & C from Body Count, the vignette giving focus to the center while bringing out the over the top of the city feeling, with a nice red undertone symbolizing the blood and pain that the album is clearly about.

    Then the type treatment looking like it was scratched into the surface with a knife or something to that effect.

  • Like a lot of designers my age, it was a bunch of album covers that made me want to enter the field. Peter Saville, Vaughan Oliver and 8vo led to Reid Miles and Emigre magazine (thanks to issue #9).

    The cover that first really grabbed me and made me want to figure out how they did it was 8vo’s cover for Durutti Column’s The Guitar and Other Machines. The cassette cost what seemed like a small fortune at the time, since it was an import. When you look closely at the cover, you can see the pieces of scotch tape holding the different pieces in place, and you see that all of the lettering was hand-drawn in ink. The process photos in 8vo’s recent monograph show a set-up far more elaborate than anything my teenaged brain could imagine.

  • Wow, to narrow it down to one album is a daunting task. I will give my top three off the top of my head.

    The Pixies album design of Doolittle – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6b/Pixies-Doolittle.jpg – by Vaughn Oliver with Simon Larbalestier is pretty up there for me. Not only was the music itself the most incredible stuff I had ever heard when it came out (it was 1989, and I was fifteen at the time), but the printing method and imagery was completely mesmerizing. I would spend the entire duration of listening to the album, staring at that cover and its incredible interior artwork. There was some type secret geometry, cool treatment of type, a monkey with a halo, and it all faded and washed out, looking like it was created using some now defunct antique method… yes please.

    In a completely different direction, another album I always loved the cover art for was Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/da/HA_WhippedCream.jpg. A curvy model covered in whipped cream (made from a drop cloth and what presumably is real whipped cream) with excellent hand lettering, layout and color scheme. Campy, ridiculous, sexy, and the title treatment has this weird antique south of the border quality to it that I have always loved.

    However, when you get down to it, I think my number one favorite piece of album art is Sonic Youth’s Goo – http://www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/lp/lp08k.jpg. I love this album. The Do-It-Yourself aesthetic of it was an enormous influence on me and how I would come to view art and design for the rest of my life. It was the first thing I had ever seen as a youth that made me say, “Hell, I could make some album art if I wanted to.” An ink on paper drawing for the main artwork, off-centered and tilted, the type hand drawn, dirty and gritty looking, with visible scotch tape piecing all the elements together – it was perfect. The illustration, by Raymond Pettibon, I would learn was based on an old paparazzi photo of two murder witnesses and features the haunting phrase, “I stole my sister’s boyfriend. It was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. Within a week we killed my parents and hit the road.” The picture alone told such an interesting story, and raised a million questions in my head, but the way the design looked as if it was urgently just slapped together and printed at home, made it that much more intriguing to me. The whole thing, front and back, to my eyes, really captured the raw intensity of rock and roll and the DIY aesthetic perfectly. The “Lo-Fi” qualities of it just made everything that much more tangible to me – that much more in reach. The little pieces of tape made it seem like I was privy to some secret world that most designers didn’t want you to know about. It was an incredible feeling. I still love looking at (and listening to) that album today.

  • Thank you. I know I have to choose my favourite cover – I feel morally obligated!

    To Gregory, Vaughan Oliver teaches occasionally at Central Saint Martins where I work – he’s a modest and very nice man who deserves greater recognition. I’ve featured some of his recent work on Hard format. One of my treasured possessions is the promo-only double 12″ of Scott Walker’s The Drift that he gave me.

    Colin-at-Hard-Format’s last blog post..snd – makesnd cassette, tender love

  • The 1971 Barbra Streisand album STONEY END has my favourite cover art ever. The cover is designed by Tom Wilkes and features a photograph by Barry Feinstein of the lady sitting on a classical style sofa heaped on the back of a truck abandoned out in the desert. To me it says a lot about that moment when the culture was shifting from one type of art making culture to another. The album is also amazing with the great Laura Nyro song and many others and two songs featuring and by Randy Newman on it. I think it won a Grammy for Best Album Design or maybe it was called Best Album Package back then but I haven’t been able to confirm that.

  • It’s got to be Dark Side of the Moon for me. I remember buying this at the start of what was Year 9, when I was 13 and it spread round the trendy kids like wild fire. I was already a Pink Floyd fan, they had already had some great covers, the cows on Atom Heart Mother (like DSOTM) with no title on the front, Ummagumma, Obscured by Clouds and others but the simplicity of this was amazing. When you see it on a CD cover it looks nothing as impressive as on an LP cover. It came plastic sealed (which was rare then) with posters and stickers inside and the prism design on the front led you into the gatefold with all the lyrics clearly printed. Despite it selling millions and millions it was a brilliant album (inverted snobbery was crucial at that age) and I wore out two copies on my tiny little stereo record player. I’ve never bought the same piece of music in one format before or since… and it was great opening the new copies up to get pristine posters and stickers. Them were t’days!

  • It’s got to be David Bowie’s Low. The reasons are elevenfold:

    1. It features a still from The Man Who Fell To Earth – one of the greatest films about alcoholic ginger aliens, like, ever.
    2. Bowie looks mysterious, yet not too unwell. I do worry about his health. I think he was past his milk-and-coke diet by this point.
    3. That coat. Damn I want that coat.
    4. The whole thing seems to work despite basically being a stupid pun low profile groan.
    5. It’s a photo but doesn’t look photographic. This brings into question the art of photography itself, challenging some of the greatest artists of the last 100 years, fuelling a debate about the essence of portraiture and the nature of seeing, undermining our understanding of the universe.
    6. It’s orange.
    7. The type is just plain horrible, in a beautiful kind of way.
    8. Those Cheekbones.
    9. It gives you ample opportunity to study Mr Bowie’s ear. It looks like a perfectly normal, regular human kind of ear. But we all know it can’t be.
    10. If you bother to open the sleeve up and listen to its contents, it turns out to be amazing.
    11. It isn’t the cover of Reality, which is, technically speaking, bobbins.

    There.

    Daniel’s last blog post..Oh. Eight.

  • There are so many ways to relate to album covers – from dog-eared flat surfaces used for rolling joints to pristine heavyweight vinyl encased in protective sheaths. And what’s meant by an album cover nowadays anyway? Is it a collection of 78s or one of those wonderful Led Zep fantasies like Physical Graffiti and In Through The Out Door. Might it be one of the huge number of wonderfully imaginative CD cases that bands and designers have come up with for the last decade or two? In the not too distant future, will it even be an iPhone app?

    One of my favourite covers is the first CD I wrote about on Hard Format, the website I set up with a friend more than 18 months ago. It’s The K&D Sessions by Kruder and Dorfmeister. I bought it for £1 in a sale at my local library. It’s not the greatest design or the greatest music, but what I love is that it’s passed through so many hands and given so much pleasure to so many people. The evidence is there for anyone to see: it’s recorded in the frayed edges, torn surfaces and library date stamps. That wear and tear symbolises the brilliance of popular music: everyone can own an artwork that is both mass-produced and an original. However Kruder and Dorfmeister aren’t my final choice.

    I’m tempted to choose one of Susan Archie’s jawdroppingly wonderful designs for Revenant. I’m torn between Charley Patton’s Screamin’ and Hollerin’ The Blues and Albert Ayler’s Ghost Box. Both evoke their subjects with extensive notes, photographs and ephemera – handbills, cards, handwritten notes. I’ll confess something: when I caught sight of the dogwood flower in the Ghost Box, it literally brought tears to my eyes. I’d also love to choose Richard Skelton‘s hand-crafted designs or múm’s gorgeous Summer Make Good book or Faust’s Clear in its transparent record sleeve, but in my heart of hearts I know my favourite design.

    It’s the cover of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, the one with the white motorway symbol on a bright blue background. It’s an absolutely iconic design. I first saw it at the tender age of 8, in 1974, when my dad brought it home. A lifelong classical music stalwart, Autobahn was his one concession to popular music and it had a profound effect on me. I listened to the 22 minute title track over and over again on headphones, loving the synthesized sound of the cars whooshing from one ear to the other, right through the middle of my head. The bridge that crosses the two white lines always seemed to symbolise my headphones listening in to the roar of traffic martialled into a modern-day symphony by Kraftwerk. I wish I had a photograph of the album itself. What makes my dad’s copy unique – like the Kruder and Dorfmeister CD I talked about before – are the two pieces of brown sticky tape affixed to the lower corners. I recently asked why they were there and Dad reminded me that he’d had to repair the sleeve after numerous borrowings in my teenage years. Over the years, me and my dad have had quite a difficult relationship, but Autobahn always seemed like something shared. That cover is the nearest thing to a family heirloom I’ve got.

    Colin-at-Hard-Format’s last blog post..snd – makesnd cassette, tender love

  • Colin – yes, too many links triggers the spam filters. I’d prefer to have to fish the occasional false positive out of the spam bin than let the comments clog up with spam. I’ve de-spammed your comment. Great list of album covers there. But do you have a favourite if you were forced to choose just one?

  • Thanks, that’s what I thought – same with my blog.

    Sorry if I wasn’t being clear about my choice! It’s the Kraftwerk Autobhan cover both because of my emotional investment and the way the iconic design so brilliantly expresses the music itself.

    I didn’t really make that latter point clear before. Autobahn is fascinating because of its translation of the concept of travel into musical form. The concept was not a new one, but the extent to which it reduced the distance between musical composition and referrant was and remains striking. Its central motif isn’t a melody, but the sound of cars approaching and moving away from the listener. The cover perfectly encapsulates this by appropriating the motorway symbol and placing it so that it fills the cover from top to bottom. There is no end to the journey in graphic terms, it’s implied that the road continues outside the frame of the cover. Similarly the music ends with one more passing car rather than the sound, say, of an engine being turned off (Autobahn’s railway counterpart, Trans-Europe Express, ends with the sound of train brakes squealing). Autobahn represents an utterly brilliant synergy between music, concept and visual design. One last thing: there’s no designer credit on the Autobahn sleeve which at the same as being a bit criminal also seems fittingly utilitarian.

    Colin-at-Hard-Format’s last blog post..snd – makesnd cassette, tender love

  • One cover I remember well for both the cover and the music is Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell. The dramatic, fantasy illustration has always appealed to my sci-fi/fantasy interests, and the out-of-this-world (or should I say over-the-top) promise of the art goes perfectly with the music itself. The lyrics to the title song perfectly express the theme of the cover art: “Like a bat out of hell / I’ll be gone when the morning comes.” This album brings back many memories of searching through old, dusty record stores for the next big hit or skating (as in boarding) outside a friend’s home with the music blaring for all to hear or singing at the top of my lungs “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.” What teenager growing up in the ’80s didn’t?

  • At the risk of sounding a little bit mad, can I add one more thing to my ode to Autobahn?

    Typographically, the design is interesting as well. The letters R, W, R, A, U, A and H in the title are escaping from their settings, literally tracing new roads, setting off for multiple destinations. At the same time they’re dancing – the W, U and H waving and punching the air and the Rs and As stretching their toes out. The letter forms presage the tremendous influence the group would have on dance music and on the musical world as a whole. Similarly, the icon-focused design was a key part of the visual design approach the group presented from this point on, the other half being the inclusion of group members (thereby adhering more closely to the man/machine equation they adhered to for the majority of their career).

    Oh and someone on the Kraftwerk mailing list suggested that the designer of the sleeve might have been Barney Bubbles who preferred not to be credited because he felt the focus should be upon the artist not the designer.

    Colin-at-Hard-Format’s last blog post..snd – makesnd cassette, tender love

  • What a difficult choice! They were all good suggestions and I was impressed by Colin and Gregory’s analysis of the several covers they chose. Loved Matt’s ELO, Out of the Blue choice for the childhood flashback it gave me (actually rifling through my brother’s albums).

    Thank you to all of you who entered the competition and offered suggestion, but the winner is… Diane Faye Zerr for two reasons.

    One was the Moody Blues A Question of Balance cover, which reminded my of my Dad’s record collections and is a great find. The other is because she is going to give it to her dad as a gift – you can’t argue with the love of a daughter for her Dad.

    Commiserations to those of you who didn’t win, but we will probably have a few more competitions in 2009, so stay sharp!