Where This Meets That
Five of my favorite album covers. So many great ones out there, but as my English professors frequently told me, sometimes less is more. No “bells & whistles” to these.
Despite the apparent simplicity of this shot, no other album cover in history comes with as much baggage. It gave fodder to those buying the theory that Paul McCartney had actually died and been replaced by an impostor. It goes like this: the band is pictured in a funeral procession; Lennon leads in white, symbolizing the preacher; Starr, in black, is the undertaker; Harrison, in denim, is the grave-digger; only McCartney is out of step and walking barefooted. In his right hand (he is left-handed) is a cigarette, commonly referred to in the day as a “coffin nail”. Finally, the license plate of the VW Beetle in the background reads “28IF”, allegedly alluding to the age McCartney (according to Eastern mystics) would have been had he been alive when Abbey Road was released.
2. Atom Heart Mother – Pink Floyd, 1970
Sure, it’s just a cow. But I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more beautiful photograph of a cow. The color combination of grass green foliage and clear blue sky is always one of my favorites. Add in the black and white contrast of the cow . . . how can you not want to check this music out?
3. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen, 1975
Now from the UK to New World, New Jersey. By contrast, not much to report here. Just a great, iconic shot of an amused “Boss” from the midst of a 900-photograph session. The thin, elegant text in the white space complements the photograph perfectly.
4. The Joshua Tree – U2, 1987
As you can perhaps tell by my affection for Pink Floyd’s cow above, I’m a sucker for black & white. I’m also a sucker for U2. This album was the band’s first foray into a more “American” sound, and its cover perfectly captures the vibe of the music inside, that of an Irish band in a wide open American range.
5. Oui – The Sea and Cake, 2000
Likely the only artist here that you’re not somewhat familiar with. The Sea and Cake’s recipe for music is a deceptively complex mixture of equal parts pop and dexterity, topped with a light, swirly frosting of spring air. Guitarist/lead vocalist Sam Prekop also dabbles in photography and supplies the cover art for Oui.