Explore London through the electric album covers of nine bands, ranging from pop and rock to blues and punk.
The Rolling Stones: Between The Buttons
Between the Buttons is an album by the Rolling Stones which was released in 1967. Gered Mankowitz took the picture featured on the album cover in November 1966 in Primrose Hill, North London. It was shot at 5:30 am after a night of recording at Olympic Studios: ‘I was experimenting by putting Vaseline on the lens and using strange, distorted colors’. The record was an experimentation of the band that started to transform their sound as they left their R&B roots; their lyrics turned wilder and the arrangements more original. Between the Buttons proved to be the most solid rock album of their early catalogue. Each song stands on its own musically, independent, and yet fitting into the overall experience perfectly.
The Beatles: Abbey Road
Abbey Road is the 11th album by the Beatles, released in 1969 in London. It has a strong composition and some rock-oriented ensemble pieces incorporating blues, pop and progressive rock. The album’s cover features the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios on August 8 1969 at 11.30 am, taken by Iain Macmillan. The photographer was given only 10 minutes to take the photo whilst he stood on a ladder and a policeman held up traffic behind the camera. The cover was designed by Apple Records creative director Kosh. It is the only UK Beatles album sleeve to show neither the artist name nor the album title on its front cover. He explained, ‘we didn’t need to write the band’s name on the cover … They were the most famous band in the world’. Abbey Road remains the Beatles’ best-selling album.
David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME !
Ziggy Stardust is Bowie’s fifth album. He creates an imaginary rock star that is his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, and he communicates with extraterrestrial beings. This album is an ode to glam rock and explores the sexual exploitation scene together with the social commentary. It is sexy, energetic and inexorable, mixing deep blues and flashy pop style. The photograph for the album cover was taken outside furriers K. West at 23 Heddon Street, London, looking southeast towards the centre of the city.The post office in the background was London’s first nightclub, The Cave of the Golden Calf, which opened in 1912.
Pink Floyd: Animals
Animals was released in January 1977 and was Pink Floyd’s tenth album. It serves as a critique of the political situation of Britain in the 1970s and is an allegory of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The album was recorded in Britannia Row, London. The album cover, featuring a pig suspended between two chimneys in Battersea Power Station, was designed by Roger Waters and was shot by Hipgnosis. In those days Waters lived around Clapham Common and would go past Battersea Power Station on a daily basis. The band commissioned a 30 feet helium pig balloon known as ‘Algie’ to take the picture in front of the power station. The album’s theme continues onto the record’s picture labels. Side one’s label shows a fisheye lens view of a dog and the English countryside, and side two features a pig and sheep, in the same setting. The gatefold features monochrome photographs of the dereliction around the power station.
The Clash: Black Market Clash
Super Black Market Clash is a compilation album by punk rock band The Clash released in 1933. This album is an extension of Black Market Clash that was released in 1980 with nine songs. The latter version adds singles and remixes the original version of the recording but discards tracks like ‘Cheat’ or ‘Capital Radio One’. The front cover pictures Don Letts. He worked with The Clash for diverse projects before becoming a founder member of Big Audio Dynamite.
Oasis: Morning Glory
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is the second album from Oasis, released in October 1995. Noel defined the sound of the album as riot music and for the cover he decided to use this concept that in life there aren’t sufficient answers, but there are a lot of questions. It was decided not to use members of the band but two anonymous guys in order to create a mystery around it. The scene is set in Berwick Street, in front of the Sister Ray shop in London. Photographer Michael Spencer Jones started shooting at 5am while the two walked back and forth making sure to avoid the fruit trucks passing along that road. They left at 8 am. Funnily enough the picture that turned out to be the album cover was the first one to be shot.
Parklife is English rock band Blur’s third album recorded on Food Records and released in 1994. The album includes four hit singles: ‘Girls & Boys’, ‘End of a Century’, ‘Parklife’ and ‘To the End’. The album also has cultural significance as it became a landmark in British rock music as it transgressed the Britpop scene that would turn into the Cool Britannia movement. The cover refers to the British pastime of greyhound racing. In fact, most of the pictures of the album represent the band in Wathamstow Stadium that is a greyhound racing venue. The cover image was inspired by the fact that Damon had bought shares in a racing greyhound.
Wings: London Town
London Town is the eleventh album by Paul McCartney and the seventh of the Wings. Officially the album is attributed only to the Wings and not to Paul McCartney and the Wings. In the record McCarney plays various instruments including violin, flute, Irish whistle and gizmo. The album cover was shot on the River Thames in Tower Bridge.
Home is the debut album by the English group, Rudimental. It became first in the British album chart and has been classified golden disc by BPI after only eleven days after its release. The album cover shows the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural painted in 1985 by one of the greatest street artists, Ray Walker. The picture was taken in Dalston Lane in Hackney.
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