Saturday, 7 July 2012

Sound and Vision.

Firstly, yes, I haven't written on here for over a month.

I've been especially busy at work and I made a conscious decision not to blog about Euro 2012.
I have no inside links to what's going on behind the scenes at Charlton Athletic, so anything I'd have written would have just been hearsay passed through the mill of rumour and fantasy anyway.

I may have stroked the cat that once walked through the garden of Chris Powell's postman but you're not going to hear about it.
I know nothing.
I do enjoy writing about Charlton games and away days but there are many people far better than me at collecting titbits and broadcasting them.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my Charlton Casual hiatus.

In truth, I've not felt the need to write anything. Maybe my mojo has gone?

Yesterday, two things happened.
Firstly, I paid for my ticket to see the traditional season opening friendly at Welling and secondly, I was having a bit of a fiddle with my iPhone.

While scrolling through the music on my iPhone, I found myself getting rather annoyed that there are a handful of tunes without the cover art.

It got me thinking about how unimportant album covers are now in the age of the the digital download.
To me, and others of my generation, the 33 rpm LP was something to be held and admired. The experience was diminished slightly once I started buying my music on CD but those pictures were still important to me.

I decided to make a list of my favourite album covers.

Simple rules.
a)I must own the album on LP or CD format.
b)The music hidden underneath is unimportant, (though of course, there aren't many albums I own where I would become fond of the cover, without at least feeling a little warm towards the music).

This is in no way a definitive list of my favourite music.
It's more of a list that arrived after a Kerouac style stream of consciousness scribble.
The order is also unimportant.
I know I've missed out on some I'd certainly have remembered and included on another day but here goes.

1. Ramones - Ramones.
This is most certainly a 'classic' of the genre. Even the uncoolest and ugliest person in the world manages to look fantastic if they're pictured against a brick wall, in black and white.
The picture is a gem and the music is just perfection.
If you don't own this you have let yourself and your family down!!!
2. Blur - Parklife.
This cover will always remind me of a period in the early to mid 90's when for a short time, it actually felt good to be a young bloke.
Loaded magazine was letting us know it was fine to like girls and beer and 'Lads' were apparently a new invention.
Blur made a cracking album with a cover photograph that became a classic, very quickly.
3. Stone Roses
Yes, they made two albums and there are a few 'best of' compilations kicking about but *everyone* knows this is the only one that counts.
I love the Jackson Pollock style spattering on the cover and the (possibly made up) story of the French students using slices of lemon to weaken the effects of the tear gas in May 1968 that inspired the image. A tricolore next to the citrus fruit probably seemed a good idea to band guitarist and artist John Squire.
It seems like genius today.

4. The Clash - London Calling.
I had a poster of this image on my wall for about 3 years in my early 20's. I still love the picture today with it's graphics stolen from an Elvis record and the out of focus snap of Paul Simonon smashing his bass.
Nothing more to add.

5. Beastie Boys- Check Your Head
Without realising it at the time, this album cover altered the way I dressed. (I already owned a few pairs of Adidas Campus) so that didn't change but the 'hat thing' probably started around 1992. 
I own more trainers than is healthy. I also have enough beanie hats to service a ski resort.

6. Ride - Going Blank Again.
Even if I didn't like the music of this band, I'd still feel they deserve a round of applause for sending this picture out into the world. I know nothing about it, or who painted it, but it seems to me like it's probably a small part of a larger piece. I like it regardless.

7. Nirvana - Nevermind.
A surprisingly peaceful image to go with a mostly loud album. The kid in the picture probably has his own kids by now.
8. Cast - All Change
I like this album cover as it just looks so natural. How many of us haven't climbed on the lions or the empty plinths in Trafalgar Square? 
This bunch of Scouse chancers took their moment while looking extremely, (I have to say it), 'Casual'.
9. Wedding Present - George Best
Music and football. 
Not always the best of friends, (think of 'Diamond Lights' by Hoddle & Waddle). 
Luckily, George had nothing to do with the music. David Gedge and his band named the album in tribute.

10. Blondie - Parallel Lines
The first album I owned, (though I had to share it with my sister as it had been bought for us by Auntie Mary). It was a bold choice by us to decide on it and one I've become proud of in the intervening years.
A great picture of a cracking blonde with everyman blokes.

11. Dexy's Midnight Runners - Searching For The Young Soul Rebels.
Geno was my first single. It's on this album though I bought it many years afterwards. 
The picture has always intrigued me. Leaving or arriving? Escaping maybe?

12. The Beat - Can't Stop it.
The only bad thing I can say about this is I have it in two versions. 
A good version and a bad. 
While staying in the USA I wanted to buy a copy and found out over there, they are the 'English Beat'. 
The American version of this cover is poorer for the hastily added word.

13. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Live at Lyceum.
An 'action' shot. Nothing wrong with this at all.

Nobody ever stops at 13 so that's what I'm doing.
I repeat, this isn't a list of my favourite music, this is just my favourite album covers.
Having said that, if I was forced to listen to these albums and no others for the rest of the month I wouldn't complain.

So, what's on your list?


ChicagoAddick said...

Agreed, the album sleeves are a lost art. As mind are the CD inserts too.

I have 7 of those albums.. some great choices.

Two of my favourites that come immediately to mind are Too Much Too Young by The Specials and One Step Beyond by Madness.

Marco. said...

Yes- good choices CA.
If I'd remembered One Step Beyond it would have been on the list.

Anonymous said...

Disposable music for a disposable nation. The youth will never have the enjoyment of hours flicking through LP's in a record shop taking it out of its sleeve and lovingly put it on a turntable. If my house was on fire the first thing I'd rescue after the kids would be my vinyl.
My favourite cover Ian Dury and the blockheads. New boots and panties.

algordon_cafc said...

Good post mate. I would have to include Never Mind The B******s, so simple, so iconic, so daylong.
Motörhead by of course Motörhead, if ever an album did exactly what it said on the tin this is it.
Rancid, And Out Come The Wolves, American punk with real ska influences, a superb album and I looked at the time very much like the cover!

Growing up on a diet of heavy metal and rock in the biker scene, I was of course spoilt for choice with both sadistic and erotic artwork. Demons and breasts adorned elaborate drawings but special mention must go to Eddie, star of the Iron Maiden sleeves. Has any album design(s) been featured on more t-shirts? The single The Trooper was the best of the lot in my opinion.

Again there are many more I can't think of having just woken up, but these very much give an insight into my collection.

Anonymous said...

The Cast album cover was photographed at the Royal Exchange, not Trafalgar Square. You can tell by all the City wide boys hanging around!

Marco. said...

I promise not to keep adding to the list as I remember covers I should have included but honestly, this one was on my original list but somehow got left off when I came to write it up.
On the face of it, I don't have much in common with a gay Frenchman from Rennes, yet Etienne Daho is one of my favourites.
I saw him in concert on French television in 1983 and since then, he's been a favourite.
I was also most likely the only Ebglush person in the room when he played at the ICA in London possibly 10 years ago.
The album Pour Nos Vies Martiennes is one I've bought around 4 times, as I lost/ lent it to people.
Happy memories of being in St Malo, with friends, through summer 1989 may cloud my judgement as I first bought it then but I really do like this cover.

Marco. said...

I knew that.
Just testing!

algordon_cafc said...

Predictive text on my phone, so daylong should have read as so dayglo!

Phil said...

Agree Marco, the album cover was very much part of album buying experience and has sadly diminished as the result of downloaded music and the cd.
I really miss the 12 inch single and back in the day often you just had to buy both versions of a single. The Ramones issued a 12 inch version for Sheena and in the middle of the cover was a voucher for a t-shirt. I sent off for it but sadly no longer have it, not that it would fit now of course, would just be good to have still.
I'm very with you on numbers 1,4 & 10. I would add the back cover of The Stanglers' Rattus Norvegicus and The Damned with one and all covered in cake.
I saw the Stranglers at Woolwich Poly when they were just starting out. One of my teachers was there and I remember me and my mates thinking how cool he was as a result !
In those days the late, great John Peel was essential listening and fashioned the majority of my musical tastes.