Monday, February 7, 2011

Record Jacket: 25 Favorite Album Covers (25-21)

As a self proclaimed discophile album artwork has always intrigued me since I first started listening to music. The first albums I ever owned had some of the most iconic covers ever seen, like Iron Maiden's Killers and Van Halen's 1984. They were on Compact Disc, since it was the mid 90's and people had stopped listening to vinyl record once they're tune table belt snapped. My dad still had a stack in his old stereo entertainment center, just minus the record player and stereo system... sigh. Eventually, I began to realize that someone had to design these album covers, and I was eager to find out everything I could about the fine artists and photographers who created these iconic images, and the graphic designers that layout the final product. I never judged an album by it cover, but was always interested to see how the sound of the music tied into the images that I held in my hand as I gave my ear drums a stimulating workout. After earning an A.A. In graphic design and printing T-shirts for some of my friends bands at my screen printing job, my love and appreciation for ALL of the artists that contribute to these sonic masterpieces, and the entire art experience that comes with them, has only grown. So with the free time I had I thought I would compile a list of the 25 album covers that have continuously fascinated me since I first started listen to music. So sit back, relax and enjoy the first installment of The Dead Guy's 25 favorite album covers.

25. Toxicity – System of a Down

Besides being probably the angriest, and most powerful anti-war albums in the last decade, which, ironically, was released a week before the events of September. 11th, it is also the only System of a Down album, not to feature the Parental Advisory label, even with the use of minor profanities. It has a particularity iconoclastic album cover, one which suggests at our blur between unreality and reality, which exist in our entertainment and news. This happens in some of the worst places, in this case it's Hollywood. With the words “System of a Down” replacing the traditional “Hollywood” in the Hollywood Hills, and the word “Toxicity” in sprayed in blood red across the bottom of the hill, you'd have to be a fool to think this might be mellow bong ripping album.

24. They Only Come Out at Night – Edgar Winter Group

This album, which was released in 1972, features Edgar Winter himself wearing lipstick, eye makeup, and a cheek stud on the cover. Unlike glam rockers like David Bowie, Winter’s facade has been altered with the addition of mutton chops and lacks those boyish good looks made famous by David Bowie, which makes for a much more interesting assault on the American public. There is just something about a man, like Edgar Winter, in drag that is deeply disturbing, unattractive and highly intriguing. This album cover epitomizes the glam rock scene that would help blur those pesky gender lines and stereo types that are just plain silly.

23.Nothing Shocking – Jane's Addiction

Perry Farrell created the cover image for Nothing's Shocking. Farrell said the image, like much of his artwork, came to him in a dream. Farrell had hired Warner Brother employees to create the cover sculpture, but after learning how to create sculptures by watching them closely, he fired the Warner Brothers staff and created the artwork himself. Farrell hired someone to help create a full body casting of his girlfriend for use as the sculptures. Retailers and PRMC talking heads like Tipper Gore objected to the album's cover, which 9 out of the 11 leading record store chains refused to carry, since and the record had to be issued covered with a brown paper bag. The brashness and beauty speak for its self, the surreal images of naked conjoined twins with their heads on fire, let's you know right away that you should be prepared for a face melting wall of sound.

22. What Am I Doing in New Jersey? - George Carlin

This is one of my favorite albums for two reasons. First, my family is from New Jersey, and I hate it just as much as Carlin. Secondly, it's one of the first album where Carlin treads into the topic of current politics. Carlin opening line sums up the political climate of the 80's with, "I really haven't seen this many people in one place since they took the group photographs of all the criminals and lawbreakers in the Ronald Reagan administration." The Album cover captures the price of industrialization in the most over industrialized states in the union, New Jersey. Standing in one of the many industrial parks that litter the great “Garden State” or as Carlin so eloquently puts it, “The Garden State? Sure, if you're growing smoke stacks!, This album captures America at the beginning of its decline into bad health and stupidity. The Cover captures everything that people around the world have hated about this country, and it's people since then. Who knew a single image could capture the disparity of “Reaganomics” and the trickledown theory, and the demise of the American Dream. It is also one of the few albums covers that features the World Trade Center, how apropos!

21. Given to the Rising - Neurosis

When it comes to iconic imagery look no further then Oaklands very own Neurosis, and their last record Given to the Rising. The simplicity of the overall layout in overshadowed by the very powerful image of a horse with antler armor. The horse in one of many statues in the famous Hosök tere, or Hero's Square. The Horse of Hero Square is symbolic of the sound of this album, and in general, the raw power of the very influential Neurosis.

-The Dead Guy

No comments:

Post a Comment