Album covers are one of the reasons vinyl is still popular today. I’d go as far to say that without vinyl LPs and cover art, classic rock would not be what it is today and going to the record tape store wouldn’t be so much fun. We can thank the founders of Hipgnosis for that! In fact, we should thank the members of Pink Floyd while we’re at it.
In 1968, Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell were art and film school students in London. They had no idea what was coming their way when friends in Pink Floyd asked them if they would design their second album cover, A Saucerful of Secrets. This was the beginning of what became an impressive body of work that made a huge impact in the music business, and on our culture. They were responsible for some of the most iconic album covers of all time, including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s a little ironic, but poetic, that their most iconic album cover was done for the same friends who gave them their start.
Think back to your early years of going to your local record store. The rows of record bins and end caps promoting new albums. Stores were all dressed up with promotional posters and signage. Used vinyl was something you only had at home. I remember spending hours at Peaches Records & Tapes finding more albums than I could afford, and then going through the painful process of choosing which albums would have to stay at the store (this is why it took hours). The real excitement would begin as soon as the shrink wrap was opened to allow that beautiful shiny black vinyl disc to slide out, in anticipation of what I was about to hear. The Discwasher brush and D3 solution would make it’s entrance to clean the virgin (clean) surface and then remove the LP to give it the proper zap with a Zerostat gun before placing back on the platter. Then the moment of truth would come as the stylus tip landed gently and music would begin to play. But the fun didn’t end here. It was the album cover and inner sleeve that gave you something to look at while you listened. It added another dimension to the vinyl experience. It brought you closer to the band.
Today, we see people returning to vinyl. Not because people don’t appreciate the lack of surface noise on CDs and digital file formats, but because vinyl sounds different. Yes, there can be pops, ticks and other noises, but what you hear is produced from a physical stylus tip riding in the valley of a vinyl groove that was pressed into hot vinyl with a metal plate. Everything about the process, product, and reproduction is physical. There is a greater sense of engagement with a music format that is also an art form. It requires you to slow down and be intentional in how you listen to music. It changes how you buy music, and it certainly changes how you collect and store your music. You can find images on Instagram and Pinterest of interesting ways people store and display their albums.
If you love album art and want to find out if Hipgnosis designed any of your favorite albums, you can easily find information at the usual sources, including the following recommended links. You may find a book to put on your Christmas wishlist 😉
The following links are recommended, and are not paid links. We don’t get anything from posting these. But if you like what we do, you can support our business by purchasing a shirt, trucker cap, or stickers in our shop. Either way, we are glad you are here!
Taken By Storm The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis
Rolling Stone (May 2, 2017)
The Guardian (April 18, 2017)
The Vinyl Factory (March 1, 2017)