Infamous Album Art

We badger the Rankin Live featured bands about their picks of the most influential album art and what it means to them...

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Featured in Rankin Live, Dazed speak to the members of 12 Stone Toddler and The Mojo Fins on Amazon Records about their favourite album cover art...

12 Stone Toddler
Dazed Digital: What is your favourite photographic album cover of all time? Why?
Chris: Prince - 'Dirty Mind', because he's wearing a flasher's mac and ladies knickers but still somehow manages to be cool.
Ben: 'Trout Mask Replica' by Captain Beefheart. The album is a surreal masterpiece, it's anti-commercial and was recorded by starving musicians imprisoned in a stinking hovel and bullied into practicing 14 hours a day under Beefheart's Manson-esque regime... As this record represents total artistic freedom there will always be establishment dullards who don't "get" it or it's cover image... The Los Angeles Times even voted it one of the worst album covers of all time. Fuck 'em. For me the image of sleazy 'ole Beefheart in his hideous green coat and stovepipe hat leering at you from behind a fish head, palm open in a mock priestly gesture is, well, perfect.
Randall: Herb Albert and Tiajuana Brass - 'Whipped Cream & Other Delights'. Mmm.
Pat: Pantera - 'Vulgar Display of Power'. I'm sure there are nicer photos on albums and indeed better ones technically speaking, but from an all encompassing standpoint it's my favourite because it's an album that changed and redefined an entire genre of music, not only with their style and musicianship but also with the production and marketing approach taken by the label. The album also went in straight at number one in the American billboard charts and went on to sell tens of millions of copies all over the world and at the time the albums cover gave rise to some hot debates on what was 'acceptable' or not, so its more matter of fact than of opinion. As far as the cover goes, "the man being punched on the album cover was paid $300 by label executives, or $10 a punch. It took 30 punches to get the right shot" - quite a unique approach I'm sure you'll agree!

The Mojo Fins
Stephen: Elliott Smith - 'Figure 8'. Not my favourite Elliot record but I still adore it - the colours and patterns and they way the light bounces from the wall. Also like the fact that the figure is in black and white but his right hand is in colour. The whole image framed in a white border make it a stylish composition.
Steve: My vote goes for "With the Beatles" for its expert composition - an iconic and striking image. For its time and purpose, a pop album cover, its drama and sharp design is very bold. The photo was taken by Robert Freeman in a session that lasted just half an hour in a hotel corridor with only natural light which is excellent. Freeman also took the photographs for the sleeve of "Beatles for Sale" a year later which I'd pick as a close second. Most of The Beatles' album covers are photographic and are an interesting documentary of the styles of the time, of which The Beatles were a part or often leading proponents, and moreover I think this cover portrays a band who demand to be taken seriously in an often disposable pop world.
Adam: Grace Jones' 'Island Life'. What a picture! What a specimen! Grace Jones looks athletic, balletic, swan-like, figurine-like; sculpted out of mahogany - completely and impossibly beautiful. Could a name ever be more appropriate?
Dave: Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited'. A genuine legend looking effortlessly cool. It has the look of a posed photograph with Dylan looking straight into the lens while still retaining a spontaneous, slightly haphazard feel. An absolute classic.
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