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The iconic Rock era, the noticeable style yet to this day holds its place as the king of music. But was it only the music that wrote the history? From the outrageous makeup to their album cover designs, they made their mark as much as the music. The success of the designs reached its peak through the 40's till 70's, yet its ability to write history somehow seem to have declined over the years. This is the motivation for my dissertation. To understand why and how such a strong influence was set aside. The research involved explorations through the initial development of sleeve design to the influences that developed the specific styles. The innovative sleeves and illustrators that identified certain musicians to the hypnotic world of psychedelia and photographers that had the power to create their own history were thoroughly explored for a better understanding of reasons for decline. Notable sleeve designs of this era are studied to understand why they succeeded as they did and how some of the historical designs decisions made at that time yet hold the bar to the designs choices made today.With this, means to overcome and how the current creative culture can use this as an advantage is uncovered.
The volatile, hard edge and unpredictable Rock music has been one genre that is hard to give a straight definition. Since the late 1940's rock music has been constantly reinventing itself. Created its own style with electric guitars, bass, and drums and usually with rebellious lyrics. Rock music morphed into a new sound from country and blues during the 1940's. Most known rock artists ranged from the 50's from Chuck Berry to The Rolling Stones in the 60's. Rock was something that embraced sex and youthful rebellion in their music with controversies that elevated rock to new cultural heights. Psychedelic to hard rock it is a music that has been continuously reinventing its self. Undoubtedly, rock music will keep evolving in the future, drawing from its rich history while continuing to keep its ear open for the next sonic reinvention.
The music history has been documented in its own way visually; a simple blank canvas was picked up ever since which became thrived with stories then, the album cover. From the newborn rock in the 40s, air of seriousness in the 1960's to well established image in the 1970's. Like the volatile music rock album art has also created its own identify through the years. It began with in relation to how the band related themselves to it and how the critics and audiences began to judge it, this developed into more conceptual designs. A unique identity was unveiled with each album cover design.
The dissertation will further deal with the evolution of the sleeve design in relation to various influences that allowed the design to reach its peak and some over time diminishing its intensity. Mainly through the most notable sleeve designs in Rock music through the 1940's till the end of the 1970's. The dissertation will also talk about evolution of sleeve design and packaging.
Chapter 2: Evolution of packaging design
It was in 1938 Alex Steinweiss, Columbia Records first Art Director came up with the concept of cover art. He created one of kind designs that became a huge success in the public eye. By the late 1940's other major record companies followed the lead. Some with their own colorful designs in paper covers in both 10 and 12 inch sizes and other with reproductions of classical art. These designs peaked with the publishing of the first Album Cover Album in 1977. These illustrations simply became a way of expressing what is hidden inside, a way of attracting people to open it and take a look and listen to it. One of the first was Beethoven "hits" record that attempted to prove this theory right. This record had an 800% increase in sales. Soon the importance and relevance of the album art reached its high point. People began to by albums purely based on the attractive cover art.
The exterior of the album had been a blank canvas for the most remarkable graphic designers of all time. Mati Klarwein for example, is noted for his remarkable surrealism inspired psychedelic art. His most well known design to be Santana's second album Abraxas and also his striking designs for the covers of two Miles Davis albums, Bitches Brew. Since the 1960's till today his work is being appreciated by many and has become a part of history in the field of graphic design.
1.Miles Davis , Bitches Brew Album, (1969)
Not only the advancement in creative designing, these designs have helped to give a visual approach to various music and also define and create them as well. XTC's album "Oranges and Lemons" speaks for the music inside with bright and colorful. The cover acts as a symbol and gives a clue before one listens to it.
2.XTC's, Oranges and Lemons, (1989)
The major change in the 1980's from vinyl to CD, made the designers and artist go through a hard time in understanding the smaller CD booklet. There was less detail in the shrunken art work. There was no room for high energetic typography. They did not have the same impact as the original artworks for the vinyl. For example album cover of Johnny Otis 'n' Roll Hit Parade Volume One, would not have worked they did in the bigger sleeves. It would be very hard to figure out the illustrations of the alligator playing the saxophone and the cats playing the instruments on the bottom of the record. The list of titles in the front would be impossible to read.
3. Johnny Otis, Johnny Otis 'n' Roll hit parade volume one, (1957)
From the printed cardboard covers for 10 inch and 12 inch 78 rpm records, single 12 inch LPs, sets of 45 rpm records either in several sleeves or a box to front-facing panel of a CD package, designers came up with art that are Graphically, artistically, and culturally important. It was not only an art work but many albums had inserts with information regarding artists, lyrics and additional artworks inside. It also became an important marketing tool in advertising the music. For example The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street which had a gratefold and a series of 12 perforated postcards as inserts.
4. The Rolling Stones, Stones Exile on Main Street , (1972)
Today the LPs to CDs, everything is still in production. It's for more aesthetic reasons then previously required practical need. The limited edition cases, handmade art and bonus content seem to be only way to attract music lovers to buy them. Yet the album art remains as a way for artists to show their image and brand identity.
Through the years some of the artist gained their fame through their work done on cover art, such as Roger Dean famous for his Yes and Greenslade covers. Not only illustrators, photographers also have shown their talent and creativity in many covers. Over the years albums identity became designer's identity as well. For a successful cover musicians trusted certain designers to create the work of art they needed and wanted for their rise to fame.
Chapter 2: Evolution of cover design into rock
Since the first album art work by Alex Steinweiss, it went developing into many different styles each creating a visual connection for the music inside. Steinweiss works showed a clear inspiration from European poster art and geometric visualizations. It was a form of symbolism to show the meaning of the music or artist. Steinweiss also went ahead and created his own fonts and stenciled them onto the artworks. A clear example for this is Songs of Free Men by Paul Robeson in 1941. This artwork shows a geometric hand holding a dagger pierce through a worm with the Swastika symbol with the type "Song of Free Men" in stencil letters diagonally intersecting.
5.Paul Robeson Songs of Free Men, (1941)
The rise of album art paved way for many different styles, some with the designer's identity and the others with a depiction of the music. In the 50's designers started using photographic elements in their work. It was a cheaper and faster way to the previous artistic solution for the album art. The artist's image started to appear on the cover, which served the commercial purpose much more at that time. The first album by Quincy Jones, This is how I feel about, had a picture of him looking smooth in front of a backdrop of a collage, decades before Photoshop.
6.Quincy Jones, This is how I feel about, (1957)
Jazz was the genre that allowed the flourish of photography. The covers contained creative photography and a creative combination of type and color. When revived now, with a glance it might look as the color was purposely minimized as a design aesthetic but this was not the case, it was due to the budget concerns. The monochromatic covers and type specifically became the style and identity of the album. The designers played with the abstract shapes of letters and how they could put color and type side by side. The music inside was visually portrayed through the abstract composition of type. The greatest photographic covers came out in the fifties and early sixties
7.Jackie Davis ,HI-FI Hammont, 1955
Then came the 1960's, the year in which Rock and Roll became the dominant music. Jazz, rhythm and blues left slightly on the side. The album cover designs began to give and unforgettable look. During this time artist began to make a huge impact on the design of the cover due to the artist approval clause. Most musicians started to verbally express their feeling, mood. In the end they began to express what their album should like. The notable album cover design towards this direction conceptually could be The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, cover designed in 1967 by Peter Blake and Jann Hawarth.
8.The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club , (1967)
This album design showed combination of many popular ideas and media at that time. Allusiveness, collage and eclecticism are used to maximum visual effect on the record. The designs started to reflect and have a deeper connection to the artist. Some with a more "Psychedelic" and claustrophobic approach, where the artwork is almost overflowing.
The media and popular concepts at that time gave birth to new designers as well. The first of comic format album cover came about by the cartoonist Robert Crumb. The album cover design Cheap Thrills in 1967 gave his instant fame, yet he rejected the idea of being part of pop culture. He even turned down the opportunity to do a rolling Stones cover because he hated the band and went on repeatedly rejecting commercial opportunities.
9.Big Brother and the Holding Company ,Cheap Thrills, 1967.
After the much famous comic illustrated covers came in the fantasy inspired surreal cover designs. This distorted design was the typical style of the late 60's. It was a combination of photography and illustration. This style continued to flourish through the sixties into the 70's. One famous cover design was Heavy, Iron Butterfly cover by Atco in 1968
10.Atco , Heavy, Iron Butterfly, 1968
The seventies became the era where a mix of album cover styles came into being, relating to the multiple styles of music popular at that time. The various covers art began to reflect music in deeper sense than before. The inspirations ranged from photography to surreal illustrations. Heavy, Iron Butterfly had a cover design that played with type as well. The lettering gave an exotic, indefinite look but yet read the title.
The much played with symbolism in the fifties was again explored in the seventies. The album cover Abraxas by Santana had a painting named Annunciation, with symbolic meanings as an angel announcing the birth by beating the drum derived from the image of Gabriel shown descending from heaven across a conga drum in the painting. Various forms of media were used as symbolic art, but the main remained to be illustrations and paintings.
11.Santana ,Abraxas, 1970
During this decade artist began to take more control over the sleeve design. The mood and what the artist is about was being expressed in the cover by them. The cover art of Bob Dylan's album Self portrait contained a self drawn image of himself with string use of paint and oblique brush strokes. The lack of pupils in the portrait simply states that it is a mask, avoiding publicizing anything about him, yet expressing his mood on what this album is about.
12.Bob Dylan, Self portrait (1970)
It was the time when the music business boomed, annual business started to pass the billion dollar mark. The rolling Stones albums showed a various play of photography, new and controversial concepts. The original album design for Some Girls had the band members through cut holes alongside images of Hollywood stars like Farrah Fawcett. With legal problems rising it had to be reshot. But this was the begging of legal issues affecting designs. This went on to their cover design of Black and Blue, where the original cover had a women tied up giving the idea of being beaten, which later was changed to group portraits.
13.The rolling Stones , Some Girls, (1978)
Chapter 4: Influences that allowed the sleeve design to reach its peak and some over time diminishing its intensity.
During the 60's it was a time when the artists were trying hard to connect with their music in many different ways. When psychedelia came in, it opened new doors to representing their minds. At that time something that everyone was unfamiliar with. Many of the artists turned to drug induced hallucinations for inspirations for their work. The genre of Psychedelic rock also went hand in hand with the new found style of art. The artists on drugs went on trying to get their mind blowing experiences onto their music. Whimsical, surreal lyrics to long delay loops where added. Sleeve design was one canvas that bands could give the listener a view into the deeper meaning if their experiences. There mind manifesting experiences with LSD. The world of hallucinatory images that were a kaleidoscope of swirling patterns, bright contrasting colors and morphed objects. It was a surrealistic style that was completely new and fantastic. The first group to embrace it affiliate themselves with psychedelic rock were the 13th Floor Elevators from Texas, at the end of 1965. . They came forward with naming their album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, (1966)
14.13th Floor Elevators ,The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
It was young example of psychedelia, yet represented the psychedelic style perfectly. The contrasting red and green swirling around the eye and a smaller eye inside it. It also spoke visually about the band whose main inspiration for their songs where the use of LSD.
Wonderful psychedelic designs came from the album covers, Strange Days by The Doors that were designed to make the viewer curious to the well known psychedelic sleeve Abraxas by Santana which attempted to depict the drug users enhanced awareness. Martin Sharp's two sleeves for Cream are also perhaps the best UK examples of the genre. The mixed media cover gave insight to the style of the band as well as the designers. The fluorescently colored collage of images of the band and Victorian engravings opened a surrealistic window into the mind of both the band and designer.
15.Cream album cover by Martin Sharp (1969)
Soon the famous Beatles started experimenting with LSD, many of their music was inspired from these experiences. Songs like "I Feel Fine" (1964) using guitar feedback, "Norwegian Wood" from their 1965 Rubber Soul album using a sitar and Drug references began to appear in their songs from "Day Tripper". Their album cover for Sgt Pepper was highly recognized as a psychedelic inspired design even though it was not attempted as such. A collage of heroes and images of wax models of Madame Tussauds with the Beatles dressed up in military jackets. An overflowing composition of people.
16.The Beatles ,Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Records like "Light my Fire" by The Doors in 1967 went on to strongly define the Psychedelic rock genre. It was not only the music that artist came up with, bands members sitting round stoned would have wonderful ideas for album sleeves involving cut-outs, fold-outs, double gatefolds, pop-ups, huge posters, embossing and ultimately scratch 'n' sniff sleeves. The sleeve design for the record Soft Machine was such an idea that was a success. It had a large circle and cuts out on the front of the sleeve to reveal the disc inside.
This Soft Machine sleeve was a success: the wheel actually turned to reveal glimpses of the band and obligatory naked women, and the construction was sturdy enough not to fall apart. The intention of a psychedelic sleeve was to get you high, or at least advertise that fact that the band within was, and proud of it. The disc is also pieces by five holes like a wheel mechanism. Through these holes a naked women is viewed as you turn it. A sense of curiosity is created where u have to turn to see each bit of the women as she cannot be completely viewed. The idea of the naked women inspired from the band name The Soft Machine which was initially inspired from the novel by William Burroughs. The title also refers to the human body hence the naked women.
17.The Soft Machine ,The Soft Machine (1968)
Psychedelic rock soon began to subside by the end of the 60's with the decision of making LSD illegal in the US and UK in 1966. Incidents like the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca by Charles Manson , claiming to have been inspired by Beatles' Songs such as Helter Skelter allowed people to focus more on the notorious side of the drug use then the creative aspect of it. The deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison in the early 70's made many Psychedelic rock bands to move away from the drugs to traditional rock. Many of the bands like Pink Floyd and Soft Machine moved towards progressive rock in 1970's. It was a style that wanted experiment and draw inspirations from diverse influences. This transition is seen in the album In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson. The album cover art was done by Barry Godber.
"The face on the outside is the Schizoid Man, and on the inside it's the Crimson King. If you cover the smiling face, the eyes reveal an incredible sadness. What can one add? It reflects the music." Robert Fripp
18.King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
Psychedelic rock gave birth to many genres of music at its decline, pioneering bands in psychedelic rock like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple contributed to Jazz rock. With the movement of Psychedelic music in different directions made the once mind manifesting album covers to move aside as well, yet many artists to this date ad their work is deeply inspired them.
4.2 Design and Concept
19.The Beatles ,Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
In the era where musicians started to express through artwork their feelings and mood in their album, then came the most notable album cover of all time. A very well thought out designed cover art. The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover design in 1967 by Peter Blake and Jann Hawarth. It was something that has never been done before; to many it did not make much sense. The album had specially designed inserts, cardboard cutouts. At quick look it was an artwork that was overflowing with images of people and so many elements in it. It made people think, about why these elements were put together. It created a bond between the people, the album and the Beatles. This was a unique aspect of the album. The album cover concept evolved with a simple idea that Paul and John liked, as if the band has finished a concert and there is a crowd behind them standing. Soon it turned into a collage.
" I asked them to make lists of people they would like to have in the audience at this imaginary concert. John's was interesting because it included Jesus and Gandhi and more cynically, Hitler. But this was just a few months after the U.S. furor about his 'Jesus' statement, so they were left out. George's list were all gurus. Ringo said "What ever the others say is fine by me", because he did not really want to be bothered. Robert Fraser and I also made lists. We then got all the photographs together and had life-size cut-outs made onto hardboard."-Peter Blake
20.Peter Blake's original sketch for the Sgt. Pepper's Cover
Famous people in the cover ranged from actress Mae West, comedian W. C. Fields, actor Fred Astaire, singer Bob Dylan, poet Dylan Thomas, actor Tony Curtis, actress Marilyn Monroe, former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, author Lewis Carroll, child actress Shirley Temple to physicist Albert Einstein. Due to the fear of controversy Mohandas Gandhi was painted the idea of including Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler were rejected.
21.Behind the scenes at the Sgt. Pepper's Cover Photo Shoot
With much letters and permissions the list of more than fifty people were approved. Michael Cooper did the photographing and soon the collage was assembled. It was done in such a way that gave the tiered effect. Adjusting each row with six inches apart, moving forward going till the last row in the front. It was made a complete piece with addition of smaller elements like the palm trees, guitar out of hyacinths and the main focus The Beatles in military jackets. The back of the album had the lyrics printed, which was something that was new. The album opened like a book reveling images Fab four in a yellow background. This was the first ever grate fold album as well. It was a creative solution to the fact that The Beatles wanted to fill in two LPs, but later changed to one LP with lack of material.
The Sgt. Pepper's cover was a innovative piece, in a way though many designers followed its lead the strong build up of concepts lacked in the photographic albums that came after. Following this historical album record labels, bands started to put more thought in to the design of their album covers. It started to be aimed at Specific demography. Lyrics, pictures and more information about the bands started to be put in. In addition, the commercial aspect of it rose with commissioned artists and graphic designers. Many controversial album covers were produced.
Photography is one aspect of design that has given additional meaning to sleeve design. Through the years it has captured various developments in music, as of the musicians themselves and the live images that show the excitement of their performances in detail and ambience of the venue. It has allowed in creating a particular image of the star and even album cover designs. Some photographs have addressed both social aspects and music style at that time. The choice of site, makeup, clothes, how it was lighted and composed all help to associate the artist in their styles and particular social aspects. It was the growth in music industry during the 60's that allowed music photography to be fully fledged profession. Both the recording industry and the specialist music press began to employ photographers.
Photographers who created legendry photographic album covers include Annie Leibovitz (John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith), Karl Ferris (Jimi Hendrix, Donovan & The Hollies) and Robert Mapplethorpe (Patti Smith), among others.
Certain photographers have been linked with popular movements in music history. As previously mentioned Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club album cover, photography by Peter Blake is one of the most historical albums. Certain albums like Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan in 1966 confirmed the mood and image of the artist. The title less album gave no clue of what it was or even whose it was. It just had a blurred photograph by Jerry Schatzberg of a curious figure with long hair and an intense stare, Bob Dylan. It became a full portrait when it was opened and turned ninety degrees. The sleeve perfectly reflects Dylan's increasingly hazy blurring of musical boundaries
22.Bob Dylan ,Blonde on Blonde , 1966
Various photographic albums were introduced some with strengthening the identity of the star and some creating many controversies like the famous album cover "Electric Ladyland" by Jimi Hendrix was released with pictures of nude women. The concept was to show an anti-Playboy image with nineteen girls as they really were with no makeup, hairstyles and Photoshop.
23.Jimi Hendrix ,Electric Ladyland, (1968)
The photography was done by David Montgomery in his studio. Jimi Hendrix did not attend and in the end he did not like it. Even though it was banned in America due morality reasons, it sold lots of it. Electric lady land cover certainly addressed social issues at the time and commercially was a success but it paved to many provocative album covers. The one band which has always been known for their controversial covers is The Rolling stones. The album Sticky Fingers ranked high on sexuality of the early 1970s. The idea of the zip when pulled down to reveal the first use of the lip and tongue logo was simply using the sexual image. It worked for it. As for moral reasons some may not think it works but in most of the cases it seems expressing their sexuality gives them a way to show their freedom. However, the designs in later years, though there is much story behind each provocative album cover, many lacked concept. Most of the albums played with irony and just created a cover that would be a controversy. For example like album America's sweet heart by Courtney love. The covers show a graphic interpretation that totally defies the title. Expressing the artists feelings has always been used in the blank canvas of the album cover, but photography has been always more than that.
24.Courtney love ,America's sweet heart by, (2004)
Whatever the style or image was used it created something new each time in the 60's to 70's. Photographers not only created a still shot, they created a visual timeline of what was going on at that time. In addition to that they had the power to manipulate and create their own. Certain selections were made, cropped, edited and which in turn wrote musical history. Specific visual context became a central element in building the mythology of certain genres.
4.4 Innovative Packaging
Soon after the much talked about album Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in early 1967, the Postmodern album while The Velvet Underground & Nico came out. Andy Warhol with his biggest statement, Campbell's soup that brought him fame came up with the famous print of a banana on a white background. It reeked with curiosity with the message on the cover that said "Peel Slowly and See". When the banana was peeled it revealed a pink, phallic banana underneath. The cover stands out for their bold strokes and sexuality. . Andy Warhol was famous for his depictions of the pop culture's at his time. The Velvet Underground & Nico cover was one that helped t visualize the age of rebelliousness and curiosity of rock music.
25.Warhol's peelable "Velvet Underground & Nico" cover, 1967.
Even though a special machine was needed to manufacture these covers, which took more time than required was yet a technique to boost sales. The association of the cover with Andy Warhol himself made it a quite famous cover. The cover had only Warhol's name on it. The band's name was not shown on the cover. On top of that the covers ability to draw people to it with its curiosity. This was one of the most creatively design album packaging of the Rock era. The later reissued copied did not have the peel off sticker so the peel off sticker on the original albums became a rare collector's item. The cover design was also sign of that art and music were binding themselves. The fact that The Velvet Underground made the choice of trusting Andy Warhol to simply paint a yellow banana for the cover was enough to prove it.
26.Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III (1970)
In the following years the music industry experienced bands with more creative freedom and their expression of music. In 1970, Led Zeppelin their third release Led Zeppelin III was another unique album cover. It had a cover with holes cut out throughout and beneath a rotating disc with surreal images on white background. By moving the disc, you could change the album cover. A year later came The Rolling stones Sticky Fingers.
27.The Rolling stones, Sticky Fingers, (1971)
The controversial album cover featuring a waist-down frontal shot of a male figure in tight figure-hugging jeans, which leaves very little to the imagination. In addition a provocative working zipper when unzipped exposes his white briefs. This cover is a result of merging of Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol. It was Warhol's simple idea having a real zipper on the cover from which the concept was born. To this day the actual model has never been revealed by Andy Warhol. Sticky fingers is also the album that introduced legendary Rolling Stones' 'tongue and lips' logo. That has today become an identity of the band.
Rolling Stones' 'tongue and lips' logo
Even though the cover was known one of the covers with most innovative packaging, it faced a lot of problems. The actual zipper on each album damaged any album that touched it when it was shipped or even stored. In addition, the fact that the crotch area on the cover being very defined left many store owners from refusing to carry the album. However, later this was solved with adding an extra piece of card with the image of a guy with his underpants was put in so that the zipper won't damage the vinyl.
28.The Rolling stones, Sticky Fingers. image on card inside (1971)
It also brought out the curiosity as when the zipper was undone it revealed a glimpse of this image. But then again the problem of damaging the albums stacked on top while shipping rose. Craig Braun, the designer after much threats by the record label came up with the simple solution of pulling down the zipper before shipping so that any damage would only occur to the central label. Even with all this controversies and problems with the packaging it was such a gratifying cover, at the time it was new and challenged designers to come up with innovative packaging ideas. It was not only the music that spoke to the listeners it was the design and interactive package that came in as well.
4.5 Artists and illustrators
Since the first cover by Alex Steinwess in the 40's many artists has designed iconic album cover art. From cartoonist Robert Crumb and father of pop art Andy Warhol to Roger Dean.
Roger dean is one artist who is famous for his surreal landscapes, space like-floating islands and fantasy worlds. His brilliant style of art and talent in calligrapher has created legendry covers. Breathtaking art works primarily created by media such as gouache, ink, enamel, crayon and collage. His talent of calligraphy also allowed him to design titles to praise his paintings. The famous covers include Gun's album ``Race with the Devil", rock band Yes's album covers. His covers not an inspiration or even a translation of the music that it features, as Roger Dean himself said
"I talk to the band about the ideas they want to convey through their music. ... (But) I'm not reinterpreting their music. I listen to what they're saying about their music, When I listen to music, it's for the mood, but not for the creativity,'' he said.
29.Gun's album ,Race with the Devil,(1968)
Even though this was the case most of the artist who used art on their covers used it because it related to their music, because it explained what their music was about visually. Yes guitarist Steve Howe explains, "There is a pretty tight bond between our sound and Roger's art."
During the 70's golden era of rock many bands were influenced by art and was featured on their album covers like Santana's Abraxas album cover by Mati Klarwein. he was famous for albums like Miles Davis' Bitches Brew
30.Santana's Abraxas album cover by Mati Klarwein. (1970)
Carlos Santana chose Abdul Mati Klarwein to design their second album. It was Santana who was found the similarity of his music in this painting by Mati Klarwein after seeing the painting printed in a magazine. A surreal composition of goddesses, elephants, tribal men, and many other elements all adding up to hidden meaning of an angel Gabriel announcing the birth by beating a conga drum while descending from heaven. The cover was a sense of visual expression of Santana music. And art it well complimented it
31.Annunciation by Mati Klarwein
Mati Klarwein was one artist who was able to understand the music, create a bond with the musicians and interpret this into his paintings. His friendship with Jimi Hendrix gave rise to the album cover Earth, Wind & Fire's Last Days & Time by Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix died before this album was recorded; the striking album cover had a portrait of Hendrix himself with a beautiful combination of Earth, Wind & Fire's cover.
32.Jimi Hendrix ,Earth, Wind & Fire's Last Days & Time
Whether it was an interpretation of the music or a symbolic fantasy art piece, the art on the covers created historical covers. Many artists like Roger dean continued with creating album covers for rock bands but with the influence of photography and the ability of innovative computer Graphics work the use of paintings and art has decreased over the years. Yet the surreal worlds that were created in the 70's, the fantasy like spaces that inspired the rock music has remained as the base of the concepts of today's surreal album covers.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
Album cover designs have evolved recording all that that has been going around at the time. Hand in hand with influences like lifestyle, social changes, musician's belief, artists and many more influencing its time line. Some of the influences discussed have allowed the album art and the music industry to broaden its horizons and some at a time even though starting with a strong intensity has over time diminished.
For example Psycedelia opened an unbelievable door to creativity. Surrealistic, fantasy images where created as album art that people could never imagine, a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns. Even though the use of drugs was their base inspiration it went on to create the most remarkable covers of all time. Rock album covers and bands created their own identity in the 60's. It was the peak era of this kind of art. However, with the illegalization in the end of 60's made the designers and musicians to move away from it. Psychedelic art was one of the strongest influences that allowed rock album covers to create an identity. Even though today psychedelic art has moved to aside, many artists and designers take inspiration from it. It was a wonderful era to draw inspiration by.
Moving on to other influences like concept based album covers. Most noted album covers like The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover and The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers came out during the golden era of rock. At that time these albums had come out as something new and as controversial pieces. The way the concept was expressed and sleeve size at that time gave out such intensity. It is true that many concept based albums come out even today but these LP sleeves were the beginning of such album covers. It can be much argued the 5" CD jewel covers does not bring out the same strength as the 12" LPs cover did. Design and concept wise the rock era gave a great base for today's designers but with the change in packaging and size the power the album cover art has diminished over time. The album covers that had cut-outs, fold-outs, double gatefolds, pop-ups, huge posters, embossing, scratch 'n' sniff sleeves and the sleeve design for the record Soft Machine which had a large circle and cut out on the front of the sleeve to reveal the disc inside gave such a personal interaction and created a bond with the music itself. The technology has reduced this bond with the introduction of downloads and smaller and smaller cases. The LPs and packaging during the 40's till the invention of CD was such a great influence in creating creative and innovative album covers.
Other influences like photography were a way that captured music developments and live excitements in the rock music. Photography was one way that artists showed in their covers a more intimate meaning to their music. Starting with a simpler and easier way of expressing the mood turned into a more provocative way of expressing the music and artist. Image manipulation and the control the designers had allowed them to create more specific album covers. It was one influence that allowed rock album covers to show each artist exactly how they wanted. The influence that allowed the peak in provocative and sexual rock album covers. Even today photography is the main media used on the covers. Apart from photography the use of art in the covers was also a way of expressing the fantasy lyrics at that time. Santana's Abraxas album cover to Gun's album cover Race with the Devil expressed the inner fantasy minds of the rock musicians. These covers full of symbolism allowed listeners to be drawn into it. But then again with the change to CD the intensity has been lost as well. For example it would be hard to identity the mix of elements in Santana's Abraxas cover in a 5" CD cover than to an LP.
From psychedelic to photography influences, during the 40's to 70's rock album covers has created history. Some of these influences even though over time have stepped aside from being major decision makers of album cover designs has during its time created remarkable pieces.