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Dean Torrence’s Grammy winning design for Pollution’s album “Pollution”.

The record cover had become Fine Art. Even in England cover art was moving in a similar direction. Many musicians in sixties’ bands had a background in studies at art schools and this was reflected in album cover design, most famously in the design of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

John Lennon had asked his old Hamburg chum Klaus Voormann to design the cover for “Revolver”, The Beatles’ preceding album, and this design had resulted in a Grammy for best album cover. In 1966-7 The Beatles were inbeing influenced by psychedelia and initially suggested a psychedelic cover design for the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover by design group The Fool. Manager Brian Epstein, however, felt that a psychedelic cover would soon become outdated and wanted a “proper artist” to make the cover. Paul McCartney knew gallery owner Robert Fraser who suggested Peter Blake and his then wife Jann Haworth for the job.

Peter Blake and Jann Haworth won a Grammy for the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

For their next album “The Beatles”, the band chose pop artist Richard Hamilton as the designer. Hamilton came up with the antithesis of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover and made a plain white sleeve with the title embossed on the front.

Richard Hamilton’s design for “The Beatles” 1968 album.

Meanwhile in America other artists were embracing psychedelia and their work was transferring from posters to record covers. Rick Griffin (1944 –1991), a master of typography, produced posters and record covers with almost unreadable type as well as some more conventional ones.

The Grateful Dead’s 1969 “Aoxomoxoa” cover by Rick Griffin.

Other California artists including Victor Moscoso and Mouse & Kelly produced startling record covers. Even singer Dean Torrence (1940-2008), of Jan & Dean fame, starting his own company, Kittyhawk Graphics and designed record covers for The Beach Boys, Diana Ross and man others and won a Grammy in 1971 for his design for Pollution’s debut album.

Record companies followed Columbia’s lead and started art departments and hired graphic designers to design their artists record covers. Others such as Command Records commissioned artists to produce their covers. Josef Albers (1888-1976) produced a beautiful series of graphic covers for the label.

BLOG   Blur’s seventh studio album “Think Tank”. Steinweiss’ first record cover illustration. The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”. Nov. 23, 2017 By Rockdoc Dean Torrence’s Grammy winning design for Pollution’s album “Pollution”. Street art developed in the seventies and one of the first protagonists in New York was Keith Haring (1958 – 1990). Haring’s graphics found their way onto record covers. ​ ​ Jean-Michel Basquiat, another New York street artist also designed record covers. This one from 1983 is the cover for Rammellzee vs. K-Rob’s “Beat Bop” 12”. A growing street culture evolved in Bristol in south west England. Artists like 3D, who would later emerge as Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja, along with many others paved the way for Banksy, the most famous of all Bristol street artists.   Not much is known about Banksy apart from the fact that he is said to have been born in 1974. In the late 1980s he had a studio in the same building as John Stapleton’s Blowpop Records and Stapleton asked him to make a cover for a promotional single for The Capoeira Twins first single “4 x 3”. Banksy used a stencil and spray painted 100 copies.   Banksy’s painting on the cover of Nick Cave’s 1989 book.  Banksy’s hand sprayed cover for The Capoeira Twins single “4 x 3”. But this wasn’t Banksy’s first cover. His first commercial sleeve was for a book, not a record. His illustration of a donkey appeared on the cover of Nick Cave’s book “And the Ass Saw the Angel”. ​ ​  In addition to Eastman’s Hombré Records, Banksy was associated with the Wall of Sound label and its subsidiaries. He designed several covers including a second hand sprayed promo for Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.” album. Again, 100 hand numbered copies were sprayed by Banksy.  Banksy was associated with the Wall of Sound label and its subsidiaries. He designed several covers including a second hand sprayed promo for Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.” album.   Banksy’s cover for One Cut’s “Cut Commander” 12” EP. But probably the most remarkable album cover for Wall of Sound Records was for the label’s 10th anniversary anthology in 2003. Banksy designed the cover of the three LP set with many of the labels artists pictured on the cover. In addition, there is a further person, said to be Banksy himself, crouching on the right as if spraying paint on the wall! ​ In 2003, before Banksy had become well-known, Blur commissioned him to design the cover for their new album “Think Tank” released in may 2003 and for the three singles taken from the album. English rock band Blur was so popular at the time that The Observer newspaper included a five-track CD, also with artwork by Banksy, with the paper on Sunday September 21st, 2003.   “Off the Wall – 10 Years of Wall of Sound” LP cover. Is that Banksy on the right?  Keith Haring’s cover for Malcolm McLaren’s EP. What helped to make Banksy’s name in his home country was a cooperative venture with DJ Danger Mouse. In 2006 Paris Hilton, the international celebrity, decided to make a move into the music industry and had many established songwriters provide her with material for a CD simply entitled “Paris”. It was released in August that year.   Banksy decided to satirise this commercial venture and reworked the CD artwork making Paris Hilton appear topless on the cover and DJ Danger Mouse included a CD-rom of his own music. Five hundred copies were made and Banksy managed to place them in the shelves at several HMV stores in the British Isles, where many Paris Hilton fans mistakenly picked them up, thinking they were the real Paris Hilton CD. Banksy’s deed made the headlines in the national newspapers and the CDs became collectors’ items. A second edition of 1000 copies was released later, which included a properly pressed CD. artwork by Banksy, with the paper on Sunday September 21st, 2003.   Banksy’s version of the Paris Hilton CD. Note the reworked song titles on the sticker! The records with Banksy art on the Hombré, Wall of Sound and Ultimate Dilemma and EMI/Parlophone labels are all authorised by Banksy or his representatives. There are several more that have not been officially authorised. The most famous may be Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12” single which featured Banksy’s portrait of Kate Moss. There were two versions; a very limited first pressing with no title or artist on the cover and a larger second pressing with a strip of Dymo over Kate’s eyes on the front cover and over her mouth on the rear with the record’s title.  Banksy’s portrait of Kate Moss is in the style of Andy Warhol, nicely rounding off this “From Warhol to Banksy” cover story. Banksy’s portrait of Kate Moss on Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty.”  FROM WARHOL TO BANKSY PART 2   The Observer’s free CD from September 2003. Josef Albers covers used geometric patterns. This from 1961.

Vaughan Oliver’s wooden box design for 4AD’s 1987 release “Lonely Is an Eyesore”.

In the 1980s several British companies had their own designers; Vaughan Oliver at 4AD, Peter Saville at Factory and Neville Brody at Fetish. All produced fascinating and sometimes extraordinary designs.

In part 3 we’ll be brought up to date with the influence of street art on record cover design.

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