Monday, April 24, 2006

Top Ten Album Covers (that I own)

I was asked another question recently. This time it is a much more tricky question. Previously I had a blog entry about Best Covers, as in song covers. This time it's actual album covers. And I have decided to preclude any by Peter Saville because I really don't want to have it in the list. It renders the list common. I will not include any by the Beatles as well. Having excluded so many usual top ranking album art, I decided that I shall scope this blog entry by deciding on the Top Ten Album Covers (that I own). So although I have all the songs by Joy Division (lovely boxset given to me by the generous Pixel:P aka fullscreamriot), I cannot choose classic Best Album Cover nominees like Joy Division's Closer or Unknown Pleasures. Simply because I don't own them. There won't be any by Beatles because of the same reason. Local free mag, Juice, recently listed their version of Greatest Album Covers. I cannot really remember what was in their list. I must give a warning that this is a very long and boring entry. Only for those who are really into me (hahaha) or into music (me again).

Here's mine: (again, it is in this particular order)

"Tigermilk" - Belle And Sebastian

If you stare hard enough at the top left hand corner of the album cover, you will notice that there are some watermarks. This was entirely due to great 2000 flood in York. During my uni years, I brought along all my CDs, close to 200 I think, and the cd liner notes. And I placed them near the window sill. So during the great flood, when I was away in Paris, the rainwater came in and soaked a few of my precious liner notes. The reason why this cover turn up in this list is the sheer humourous, almost literal manner in which the group presented the album. The band is fun like that. In a Belle And Sebastian album, you can get songs that depict really weird situations, like your brother announcing he is gay at your wedding when he turns up with his sailor friend and also pairing really depressing lyrics set to an uptempo beat. And you often find irony in their songs. So this album cover totally says alot about the band and their music. By the way, the soft toy that is being suckled looks like Tigger.

"Temperamental" - Everything But The Girl

I really started listening and getting into Everything But The Girl from their Walking Wounded album. Before that I knew them as a rather acoustic sounding band with hits like Love Is Strange. There is also that single remixed by Todd Terry, Missing. And if anyone did notice, they are one of very few bands that really transitted well from folksy music to more electronic music. In fact, I don't know any other band that has done that. But their songs never lost its quality in the transition. Tracey Thorn's voice still comforting, production is still lush but in a different manner. I still enjoy their music tremendously, even with Tracey Thorn lending voice to Massive Attack (Protection) or Ben Watt mixing house as part of his Lazy Dog project. I like this album cover because the sketch reflects the songs in the album very well. It's urban, a wee bit of paranoia, cool, "leave me alone" type of music.

"Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness" - The Smashing Pumpkins

I must admit, I didn't get to hear Today and Disarm until about fours years after I bought Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. Neither did I get the wordplay on Mellon Collie (melancholy) until a friend pointed it out to me. But still I was bowled over by the entire album. The Smashing Pumpkins sounded majestic from the get-go. When Tonight, Tonight came on, with the strings and orchestration, the whole "concept" of the album just gelled. I was such a fanboy then that I saved up money to buy the Aeroplane Flies High limited edition box set. I like this album cover because it suggests alot of stuff and that the entire liner note is filled with similar illustrations. The lady in the picture is looking wistfully skywards although she is already popping out from a star. Her right hand in half clutch, perhaps soothing her aching heart. The best part is her left hand, as if she is ready she say, "Yo, what's up my nigga?" And the whole universe is infinite thing with a sad looking girl...sort of complete the album.

"Dummy" - Portishead

Some album covers feature really beautiful pictures. Some have really unforgettable illustration. Some feature only the singer or band members. I realise that non of the albums covers in my list has got any of those. But they all seem to match the sounds from the album really well. It's not as if the album cover will scream "BUY ME"! But they kind of just make me appreciate the album more. Like this Portishead album. I have not heard many albums that have such a killer opening track, Mysterons. Mysterons is the soundtrack to the album cover.

"Dog Man Star" - Suede

The reason why this appears on my list is because I can identify with the cover. I'd probably lie in that position when I'm feeling like how the songs inside is on about. The cover features a naked body but there is no sensuality. The body seems to be sleeping yet you know it is not having a restful sleep. Not really sure why the room don't seem very cosy, maybe it's the height of the window. And what is that on the top left? A mirror or a frame with nothing in it? Dog Man Star asks more questions than it answers. (ok, here I am, pretending as if I know this album oh-so-well.)

"Aqualung" - Aqualung

This goes against all the others in the list. Except maybe Everything But The Girl (if you think that the drawing is of Tracey Thorn). In fact, they are both very similar. I am not sure if the drawing is of Matt Hales. If it is, then this is the only cover in this list that features the singer. The drawing is pretty cool. If you look at it long enough, you will see the guy swaying his head.

You didn't really believe me did you?

"Almost Here" - Unbelievable Truth

This looks like a scene from the London Underground or any urban subway (MRT). The couple could be high on drugs, alcohol perhaps. You cannot really tell if they are lesbian, gay or bisexuals or boring heterosexuals. The photo is grainy and lacking in much detail but they seemed to be disenchanted youths who have discovered that they are happier with only the bare essentials of life and each other. There is a sense of detachment (whatever that means), forlorn and mournful silence that fills the space between you and them. Fits the songs in the album really well.

"3..6..9 Seconds Of Light" - Belle And Sebastian

An over-exposed picture of a young adolescent couple at the beach. Feels summery but the monochramatic scheme subdued the youthful exuberance somewhat. Puppy love, seen in the way the girl is looking at the guy. Total bliss and a slightly cocky "I've got a great looking bird hanging on my shoulders" kind of smugness on the guy. I don't know if the title refers to the number of seconds the film was left exposed, hence the look of the photo. This is not a proper album but an EP instead. Again, with Belle And Sebastian, you never know what you're gonna get. I just love the vibe that is coming out from this cover.

"13" - Blur

Apprentice (1996) by Graham Coxon. 107cm x 46cm.

Prints available at £245.
Limited edition of 300
Individually signed and numbered by Graham Coxon.
Printed lithographically on 250gsm textured art board.

Print Size 100cm x 70cm
Price includes VAT+UK delivery

"Pink Moon" - Nick Drake

The album art for the last album of Nick Drake, I can't decide if it is Dali-esque or Bosch-esque. I am not even sure if it has a meaning. I suppose that is what intrigues me. As does the meaning of Nick's songs. In surrealism, symbols are very meaningful. So who did the album cover? Who choose it? Sigh....questions....I would really like a copy of Duncan Sheik and Gerry Leonard's live rendition of this album though. I scanned both the front and back of the liner notes in by the way.

So here they are, my top ten album covers (that I own).

1 comment:

sweet-avocado said...

I think it looks like something Magritte would have done (man with the head of an apple)...