My Favourite Record Covers

Before Simon Cowell’s X-Factor and Pete Doherty pretty much put the final nail in the coffin of my musical interest. I used to go in music shops to buy music. Now I only go in for a cheap cup of coffee or DVDs. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of my favourite record covers.

The Return of the Durutti Column

Released in 1980 –  long before I was old enough to buy records – The Return of the Durutti Column was the 14th release from Factory Records, hence the FACT 14 spray painted on to it . It’s not an album I’ve ever listened to so you might be looking at the cover and wondering why I’ve picked it,  it is fairly boring image. I picked it because was a brilliant idea of its time. This is a photo of the sleeve, the sleeve itself was made of sandpaper, which meant that you owned a copy you had to keep it away from your other records* because otherwise it would damage them. That one idea meant if you owned a copy you had to take special care of it, put the Durutti Column record in a special section on its own. Otherwise your other music would be damaged forever. As an idea to me that’s brilliant.

Hilariously it had to be withdrawn from sale after its initial run due to the large number of complaints from record shops about it damaging their stock.

*If you’re not familiar with Vinyl records please consult your parents or your local charity shop.

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

Also a Factory Records release Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasure’s was originally released in 1979. This image is still reproduced on T-Shirts today. A striking image it wasn’t until a few years ago I discovered the origin of the image and what it represents.

This is a graphic representation of radio signals omitting from a collapsed star. The black surrounding the image is outer space and the waving lines are the star itself. One of the band came across the diagram of a collapsed star and in the Oxford Book of Science, and asked the designer Peter Saville if it was something they could use.

Pulp Surfin

Released by Del-Fi records in 1995, this compilation of surf hits was a blatant cash in on the success of Pulp Fiction. Dick Dale and his Del Tones performed Miserlou the main theme to Pulp Fiction, Del-Fi Records and was the record company responsible for a lot of surf bands including The Lively Ones used as the end theme in Pulp Fiction and The Centurions also used in the film in the scene where Travolta is driving around smacked out his Scientological mind.

None of the tracks featured in the Pulp Fiction are on this CD, presumably they were all licensed to Pulp Fiction soundtrack. I just like the image and the cheekiness of the posing the model in the same pose as Uma Thurman  as the Pulp Fiction poster.

The Very Best Of The Smiths

This is the most likely to cause some controversy among people I know. For those of you not aware Morissey used to design all the covers for Smiths records. The most famous covers being those that used images of well-known British actors such as Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner from Coronation Street), Yootha Joyce (Mildred from George and Mildred), Shelagh Delaney (A Taste Of Honey). This cover featuring Charles Hawtrey is from a bastardised collection of Smiths tracks put together by a record company years after the band broke up, and was designed to look like one of the Morissey covers.

Why did I pick it? Because it’s a picture of Charles Hawtrey, who firstly I still find funny, and secondly, what I find funnier is that when I was 19 I had what alcoholics often refer to as “a moment of clarity”. Except in my case it wasn’t the dawning that I was an Alcoholic it was the fact I suddenly realised him and Kenneth Williams were gay. Up until that point I’d never noticed.

Never Mind The Bollocks - Sex Pistols

In 2004 I designed the Poster for my compilation show “The Great Big Comedy Picnic“. The venue that year was the now defunct POD: DECO which was located in the former Odeon Cinema on South Clerk Street in Edinburgh. Knowing the venue was a former cinema and that we were going to be having advertising on those light boxes that you only ever see in cinemas I decided it would be a good idea to make the poster look like it was a film poster. The immediate film that came to mind was the Sex Pistols “Great Rock and Roll Swindle”, and I put together a poster based around that idea. Except I never looked any posters for the film and ended up putting something closer to feel of this cover. The Picnic poster from that year is here

True Faith - New Order

Years before George Michael went off his meds and did a cover version, the original version was also a Factory release. I pretty much like everything about this record, from the music, the video made by a mad french bloke with Michelin men hitting each other to this sleeve. The B-Side 1963 was also a pretty decent track as well.

Gorillaz - Demon Days

I’ve always found Monkeys and Mug Shots funny, so this does it for me on numerous levels.

Complete Madness - Madness

I basically grew up listening to this record. That might not be enough criteria for including it in a compilation for great record covers for some people’s taste, but it’s good enough for me. I like the hats if that makes my inclusion of it any easier to understand. Speaking of not understanding things. I don’t get way a “safe” google image search for the term “complete madness” would bring up a photo of two women fingering each other, but it did.

Debut - Bjork

Never liked Bjork that much, but this poster was on the wall of quite a few different women I banged when I was at University, so for that reason I’ve always liked the image. It is a pretty decent cover to be fair.

101 - Depeche Mode

Don’t really have anything to say about this Depeche Mode cover. I just like it.

Songs To Learn and Sing - Echo And The Bunnymen

I liked the silly hair people had back in the eighties. The silhouetted version of the band here highlights some seriously silly hair.

Shortly after this came out one of them freaked out and disappeared. Two weeks later he was found living in New Orleans and insisted his name was Louis Armstrong. Quite why a white scouse bloke pretending to be a famous black jazz musician should arouse suspicion is an indictment of the cynical times we live in if you ask me.

Elvis Costello - Spike

Quite why Elvis should be half blacked up and his head nailed to the wall is a complete mystery to me. Still if it makes him happy.

U. F. OFF - The Orb

The Orb are to date the best live band I’ve ever seen. The idea of a middle finger blasting off into a space suggests use of substances that are sold out of the back of a van. As does the next cover. Now the Inspiral Carpets had some seriously silly hair, but I don’t look back on that as affectionately.

Revenge Of The Goldfish - Insprial Carpets

Us - Peter Gabriel

No idea what is going on in this image or what it’s about. I do know he was sticking it up Kate Bush at the time so you got to credit him for that.

Ian Fox is a stand up comedian, writer and photographer.

“Ian Fox Exposes Himself” a stand up show about photos is on the Edinburgh Fringe 2:30PM, Mata Hari Room, Espionage. 4th to 28th August 2011. Part of the Free Festival.

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