RIP Storm Thorgerson | Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell, and Peter Christopherson) 1968-1982 | Color in Motion 212
Color in Motion Volume 212
Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell, and Peter Christopherson)
One of the greatest album art teams ever and a constant source of inspiration to everyone here at Sound Colour Vibration. Doesn’t get better.
In 1968, Thorgerson and Powell were approached by their friends in Pink Floyd to design the cover for the group’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets. This led to additional work for EMI, including photos and album covers for The Pretty Things, Free, Toe Fat and The Gods. Being film and art school students, they were able to use the darkroom at the Royal College of Art, but when they completed school, they had to set up their own facilities. They built a small darkroom in Powell’s bathroom, but shortly thereafter, in early 1970, rented space and built a studio.
When first starting out, Powell and Thorgerson adopted their name from graffiti they found on the door to their apartment. horgerson said they liked the word, not only for sounding like “hypnosis,” but for possessing “a nice sense of contradiction, of an impossible co-existence, from Hip = new, cool, and groovy, and Gnostic, relating to ancient learning.”
Hipgnosis gained major international prominence in 1973 with their famed cover design for Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The final design was one of a several versions prepared for the band to choose from, but according to drummer Nick Mason, the ‘prism/pyramid’ design was the immediate and unanimous choice. The record itself was wildly successful—it became one of the biggest-selling and longest-charting albums of all time, putting it in the hands of millions of fans, and it has since been hailed as one of the best album covers of all time (VH1 rated the cover as #4, in 2003). After that, the firm became in-demand, and did many covers for high-profile bands and artists such as Led Zeppelin, Genesis, UFO, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, The Alan Parsons Project, and Yes. They also designed the cover for the original UK paperback edition of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Peter Christopherson joined Hipgnosis as an assistant in 1974, and later became a full partner. The firm employed many assistants and other staff members over the years. Of particular note were freelance artists George Hardie, Colin Elgie, Richard Evans and Richard Manning.
One notable fact was that Hipgnosis did not have a set fee for designing an album cover but instead asked the artists to “pay what they thought it was worth”, a policy that only occasionally backfired according to Thorgerson in his book on album cover design.
The new Gang Gang Dance album comes out in a month or so and I am really blown away by the cover image selected by the group from photographer Miroslaw Swietek. This is a photo of a bug with morning dew on it and shot millimeters away from the bug itself. The band did a nice interview about the cover for Pitchfork Magazine which you can read HERE. ~ Erik Otis
Album Artwork Volume 10: Herbie Hancock
Some of our favorite album covers in the Herbie Hancock catalogue.
It amazes me how good every Fela album is that I have, this one is definitely up there in the top ten. Inclued is the CD reissue version art and the origial LP art released in 1971.
We continue with our Fela Kuti album cover art features in the Color in Motion series. If you are just tuning into what we are doing, Color in Motion is a fast pace art and photography series covering many different materials we find on the internet, in person, amongst friends and so forth.
~ Erik Otis
Sound Colour Vibration
Music // Art // Film // Photography
We are presenting 15 more original hand drawn covers in our podcast series. I completed the first 15 and left them at last months Riverside Arts Walk in a location at the Peoples Gallery called Blood Orange Info Shop. These podcasts will be handed out personally by myself, so I hope to see some of you familiar faces down there at Arts Walk tonight. These are scans of most of the covers that were created for this batch. We hope you enjoy. All artwork by SCV’s newest member Brandon Jeffries.
~ Erik Otis
Check out the first all original 15 covers below compiled by myself, Erik Otis.
Anti-Apartheid Music from Fela Kuti and Egypt ’80, this album covers that reality quite well. Released in 1989, the album shows U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha with devil horns and accompanying fangs with dripping blood, a striking political statement considering how many corners of the world he was pitting himself against with this type of album cover statement. The title track features some really impressive jazz style guitar solos that are not very common place on Fela recordings. This small section is followed by a really solid sax solo from Fela himself, one of the best musical statements from Fela. As stated on the album cover, the uprising will bring out the beast in us! We will continue to bring you many more Fela album covers, please share these with as many as possible.
~ Erik Otis
The second article in our coverage of the many Fela Kuti album covers, we look at the 1976 release of Upside Down with Fela’s Afrika 70 group. This recording is very special in that it includes vocalist Sandra, something not seen on many recordings for Fela Kuti. Every Fela album cover represented the struggle his people were going through. There is so much to say about these covers but we will leave interpretation up to you. Please leave a comment on your thoughts of this cover and the many covers we will be posting in the weeks to come.
~ Erik Otis
The first in many Fela Kuti hand drawn covers to be presented in our art and photography series Color in Motion. This is the 1990 release of “Confusion Break Bone” which was recorded in the 1980′s with Fela’s Egypt 80 band. I wish I had more information on who did the album cover for this release. Confusion Break Bone is one of my favorite Fela Kuti grooves, this two part piece is as powerful as they come. Fela’s album covers have always been a wonderful bonus to the music found on each album, so we wanted to share some of this beauty with all of you.
~ Erik Otis
Volume 9 in our look at the fascinating world of album artwork, this one looks at the multi tonal depictions of vitality Alice Coltrane put into the direction of her artwork. Through peace, love, harmony, precision, creativity and uniqueness, she has set herself a part from any one genre, her music is love. Normally showing her somewhere on the cover, each cover I have seen of hers on vinyl have always pulled me in and the music always takes me on a journey spiritually, further than the covers themselves, but the covers give a nice entry point to whats come. Alice Coltrane is one of the most divine spirits to create music, enjoy this YouTube audio clip while you stare at the beauty that confronts each listener before partaking in these sonic journeys. Read the wiki description below to get a full idea of her background as it will lend a good perspective on the reason the covers look the way they do. ~ Erik Otis
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Coltrane studied classical music, and also jazz with Bud Powell. She began playing jazz as a professional in Detroit, with her own trio and as a duo with vibist Terry Pollard. From 1962 to 1963 she played with Terry Gibbs’s quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. She replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group in 1965. She married Coltrane in 1966, and continued playing with the band until his death in 1967. John Coltrane became stepfather to Alice’s daughter Michelle, and the couple had three children: drummer John Jr., and saxophonists Oran and Ravi. John Jr. died in a car crash in 1982.
After her husband’s death she continued to play with her own groups, later including her children, moving into more and more meditative music. She was one of the few harpists in the history of jazz. Her essential recordings were made in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! Records.
Coltrane was a devotee of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. In 1972, she moved to California, where she established the Vedantic Center in 1975. By the late 1970s she had changed her name to Turiyasangitananda. Coltrane was the spiritual director, or swamini, of Shanti Anantam Ashram (later renamed Sai Anantam Ashram in Chumash Pradesh) which the Vedantic Center established in 1983 near Malibu, California. On rare occasions, she continued to perform publicly under the name Alice Coltrane.