Simple Minds Sidebar 1: Ranking The Cover Art

While the last 162 days have been about focusing on the music of Simple Minds, as a graphic designer, the notion of their cover art was deemed unimportant to the task at hand, yet I cannot end this mega-thread without at least a few words about their choice of album packaging.

ALBUM 1: Life In A Day | 1979| designer: Carole Moss

PVC Records | US | LP | 1979 | PVC 7910

Zoom Records | UK | LP | 1979 | ZULP 1

simple minds - life in a day back

Back cover

The packaging for the band’s debut was a very dated looking pastiche of a Hipgnosis cover from the early-mid seventies. Right down to the hand colored B+W photo on the albums’ back side. The heavily airbrushed cover almost has a kind of early Genesis vibe to it, which makes sense knowing that Kerr and Burchill were such fans. It really sticks out llike a sore thumb in the 1979 New Wave scene with none of the common tropes of that era used, save for the image of the venetian blinds that were used on the inner sleeve. This was not a cover that would have invited me to investigate had I encountered it in real-time.

ALBUM 2: Real To Real Cacophony | 1979| designer: Paul Henry

simple minds - realtorealcacophonyUKLPA

Zoom Records | UK | LP | 1979 | SPART 1109

Back cover

Back cover

An impenetrable cover for some equally impenetrable music. The textured original pressing cover eludes me. My first encounter was with the 1982 Virgin Germany LP pressing. Heck, I didn’t even know about it until 2012! The solid blue field with only an inscrutable grid of losenge-shaped indentations to distinguish it was completely where they needed to be for their rebirth into Post-Punk. This was a sleeve that sat handily next to its possible inspiration, Talking Heads’ “Fear Of Music,” which preceded it in the marketplace of ideas by a scant three months.  It’s almost too short a time for the Grammy-winning Heads’ cover to have been an influence, given the complexities in producing such a cover. It may be a case of something in the air. Next: …More Covers

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to Simple Minds Sidebar 1: Ranking The Cover Art

  1. Echorich says:

    Yeah that debut album cover reeks of PROG! I have the Zoom/Arista fabric/textured cover for Real to Real Cacophony and it happens to be one of Favorite 50 album covers for its ability to convey more sensation from touch than sight. You’re right, it really does reflect the density of the music enclosed within the sleeve.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Arista appointed their staff artist to design the cover and thought they were getting a cheap 1 color job on colored paper! They blanched after they realized it was an embossed cover for this absolutely unfloggable disc. He did a great job at interpreting the music, but the inner sleeve suggests the inner sleeve for Peter Gabriel’s second album. They still had a toe in Hipgnosis cover design.


      • Echorich says:

        It is important in my world that by the 90’s the wonderful Assorted iMages had purchased Hipgnosis…there’s an irony there…


        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – Really?! This is something that I should have known about! Hipgnosis were the AI of the seventies. Great in their time, but past their sell-by date by 1977. They had some great talent. George Hardie was probably trying to be the next Barney Bubbles, and that’s not a bad aim. Peter Christopherson was a triple threat with runs in Throbbing Gristle, PTV and Coil on one hand, and his video work on the other. I think that Storm Thorgerson and his penchant for visual puns was the fly in the Hipgnosis ointment. That Cranberries cover was one of the worst cover designs I’ve ever seen. Like a bad third rate Pink Floyd ripoff reject. The last great Hipgnosis cover was the seminal Peter Gabriel lIII [Melt].


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