discs | How were the most popular rock covers of the 70s created?

It is impossible to think about it The Velvet Underground and Nicothe first disc of velvet vaultwithout thinking of a huge banana hanging on a white background, and it is impossible to separate the music that contains it It doesn’t matterl Nirvana, from the image of a naked child underwater; Mentionsed Abbey Road Four men making a zebra crossing in single file always comes to mind. The most memorable albums in rock history owe much of their identity to their cover designs, and some of the most shocking and mysterious albums in history. Created by Hipgnosis. Founded in the mid-60s by designers Storm Thorgerson And aubrey father PowellThe British label redefined cover proportions long before Photoshop even existed, and in this way made a huge contribution to showcasing artists and groups like home countryAnd AirshipAnd t-rexAnd Wishbone of ashAnd Electric Light OrchestraAnd thornsAnd Rory GallagherAnd originAnd Peter GabrielAnd police And Scorpions.

Hipgnosis’ artistic path is now the subject of the documentary Squaring the Circle (The Hygenos Story)which was just introduced in Sunday festivals; Its director is Anton Corbijnbecame known as the main photographer for the English band joy section – his subsequent administrative start, controls (2007), is an autobiography of Group Leader, Ian Curtis– And in his day he was responsible for image formations such as u2 And Intercept mode. Told from Powell’s point of view and peppered with interviews with various rock demigods as well as archival footage of Thorgerson, who died of cancer in 2013, the film refers to its protagonists as symbols of an era when the music industry absorbed its most ambitious, economically insane and costly ideas, and which ended with the austerity it brought. the eighties. Until 1982, Hipgnosis designed 190 covers. These are some of the most important ones.

“heart of an atom”

Pink Floyd, 1970

Thorgerson suggested “Let’s do a no-nonsense cover” once Hipgnosis was commissioned to do the cover for the London band’s fifth studio album, and thus their idea of ​​depicting a cow was born. The one that finally appears on the front of the log “is the first cow I ever saw; it was called Lulubelle III,” Powell recalls in the film. “We jumped over the fence, took the picture, and came home. It’s often said that working with kids and animals is the hardest thing in the world, but that cow just stood there and looked at us, as if she was standing in front of a camera.” Enraged, he reportedly exclaimed, “Are you guys mad?”

on the cover A mother’s heart is an atom Neither the group name nor the disc title appear. This lack of information greatly contributed to the album’s sales. And he comments in the documentary: “Everyone wanted to know what was hidden behind that picture.” David GilmourVocalist and guitarist for Pink Floyd. Hypnosis succeeded in imbuing the image of a lazy cow with the mysterious depth that characterizes the works of the great Magritte.

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‘He chooses’

Nice, 1971

In promoting their cover idea, Thorgerson and Powell had to say this to Keith Emerson, the progressive rock band’s front man. “We want to take 60 red footballs to the desert and photograph them. It will cost a lot of money.” The keyboardist asked which desert, and they answered the question by naming the only desert they knew: “the Sahara”. They had to unpack the balls so they could take them on the plane that took them to Marrakesh. Once in southern Morocco, they realized they would need about half an hour to inflate each ball with the bicycle air pumps they had. Instead, they went to a truck stop in Zagora, the nearest town, and the manager of the place agreed to find a group of people to do the work for them. The next morning they came back and saw about twenty teenagers, very exhausted. They managed to inflate 40 balloons. They paid $20 for the job.

‘Dark side of the moon’

Pink Floyd, 1973

Where did this image of a triangular prism that refracts light into the colors of the rainbow come from, which after five decades continues to appear on posters, T-shirts, posters and tattoos? When the group was hired to design the cover, the components of Hipgnosis received only one instruction: this time they didn’t want the image to be a photograph. “One day I was leafing through an old French physics textbook, and came across a picture of a glass paperweight receiving filtered sunlight through a window, splitting it into rainbows.” This inspired them to draw an embryonic version of the image accompanying these lines, and they showed it to the band along with several other ideas. “We put all the graphics down on the floor and they immediately pointed at the post, saying, ‘This is exactly what we want, this is Pink Floyd,'” Powell recalled, “and the discussion lasted two minutes.” Square the circle. Apparently, Thorgerson had become very angry at the general lack of interest in the other designs.

Homes of the Two Holy Mosques

Led Zeppelin, 1973

True to their creative method, Thorgerson and Powell appeared on their first encounter with the British quartet with nothing but a sketch drawn on a tissue paper; Based on a novel by a science fiction writer Arthur C ClarkeAnd the end of childhoodwhose story climaxes when all of the world’s children are lifted into outer space by a gigantic pillar of golden fire. Robert plantThe band’s lead singer suggested that the cover art include some “fun rock” as he recalled in the film. It was decided to take pictures at the geological formation known as the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. “We moved there with a family, three adults and two children, and for five days it was pouring rain, and it was very depressing,” says Powell. “After taking a series of black-and-white photos, I decided to cut out all the children’s silhouettes, create a montage with them of 11 pretty babies scurrying around some octagonal stones, which I then hand-coloured with color intensifiers such as bright oranges, golds, and reds.”

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‘I wish you were here’

Pink Floyd, 1975

Yes, the guy to the right of the photo really does burn himself; The idea for Hipgnosis arose after a conversation with members of the group, one of whom lamented how the industry and the business world ended up burning out the individual. “I found a specialist named Ronnie Rondell, and he agreed to let us light it on fire,” Powell recalled. On the first 14 attempts we were lucky, but when we set Ronnie on fire for the 15th time, a gust of wind blew the fire right in his face. The team immediately pounced on him and emptied the fire extinguisher on him; It wasn’t necessary, because we already had the picture.”


Led Zeppelin, 1976

The cover photo is a montage of three other photos. In the background is a boat show. In front of a family around a table. In the center is a black body made of cardboard and covered in black velvet, inspired by the monolith seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). According to Powell, the object symbolizes “the battery we all need to live, a source of power and energy. That was exactly what Led Zeppelin was about.”

‘the animals’

Pink Floyd, 1977

“Did you know they make us a giant plastic piggy to use during our concerts?” he asked. Roger Waters, bassist and co-founder of the band, for members of Hipgnosis; That’s right, as stated in Square the circleHow was this cover born? It was decided that the huge pig would be filled with helium and fly between the factory chimneys. no sooner said than done. the problem? The only cable keeping the bogus animal attached to the ground broke, and it only took a few seconds for the rounded silhouette to disappear into the heights. As a result, Heathrow had to suspend air traffic, and since plastic could not be detected by radar, fighter jets were sent out to search for the escaped pig. Days later, the group received a call. “Are you the ones looking for a pink plastic pig? Because it’s on my land, and it’s terrorizing my cows.” Instead of a picture, the cover ended with an extension college.

‘big wings’

Wings, 1978

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Paul McCartney called Powell one day to discuss ideas for the cover of his next album with Wings. I saw a statue [la casa de subastas británica] Christie, and I want to put her somewhere really special,” he told him, “Where? ‘ asked Powell, then the ex-Beatle exclaimed: ‘Everest! “Finally, it was agreed that the photo would be taken in the Alps” I had to jump into the air from a helicopter to stand at the top with a 30 kilo statue, and to get the photo I had to stay trapped there for six hours, in a small space, surrounded by three – kilometer drop. “I hate heights,” says Powell.

“Peter Gabriel 2”

Peter Gabriel, 1978

Thorjerson and Powell worked with Genesis to design the impressive double album cover. Aries is on Broadway (1974) and, after leaving the band, Peter Gabriel also relied on them for his solo albums. None of the first three books he published bore an official title; This, the second of them, was adopted scratching For obvious reasons – in Spanish, scratching Translated as “zero” – by fans and the press. Peter Kristofferson, then a member ipso facto of Hipgnosis — and later co-founder of bands like Throbbing Gristle and Coil — took a photo of Gabriel in which the musician appeared to be scratching himself, and then had strips of white paper superimposed on it to give the impression he was trying to get out of the photo using the technology of the day. The process would have taken 10 minutes, but Then it required hours and hours of work and the expert handling of scissors, tape measure, glue and Tipp-ex.

“See hear?”

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10cc, 1980

If you look closely, you’ll see that the cover features a small image of a sheep lying on a chaise longue by the ocean; The animal seems to represent all people who go into the world of psychology, and the sea symbolizes the human mind. “I wanted to take a picture in Hawaii, because they have the biggest waves there,” Powell explains at one point in the documentary. Upon reaching the archipelago, he realized that the sheep there were conspicuous by their absence; He finds out that the University of Hawaii has one, and manages to loan it to him. Instead, he was completely unable to find a sofa, so they had to make one for him. “The session was a nightmare, for the waves frightened the sheep, who jumped off the sofa again and again.” In the end, they gave the animal Valium to calm it down. After devoting much effort and exaggerations to the image, Powell saw how his partner, when it came time to include it on the cover, had reduced it to stamp size.

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