ALBUM 11: Real Life | 1991| designer: Stylorouge
1991 saw Simple Minds reflecting tumultuous change in every form possible. Keyboardist Mick MacNeil had left the band at the end of the “Street Fighting Years” tour. The band left their management company for greener pastures for the first time since starting out. Why would their design team not also reflect this state of flux? Steadfast Assorted iMaGes were dropped for Rob O’Connor’s Stylorouge team instead. The UK LP featured abstract images of the three remaining members [Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, and Mel Gaynor] and at least a variation on that insufferable claddagh heart
The back cover featured individual B+W portraits with the group name and album title knocked out in reverse of the photos with color holds. It was such a nice effect, that it really could have been the cover, and they probably anguished over the choice in designs for front and back cover for a long time. They compromised with the UK CD having the cover images reversed.
Other territories perhaps got to pick their preference. Japan and the USA both reflect the UK LP cover scheme, with most other territories opting for the UK CD cover as seen above. This was the band’s last hurrah on A+M Records which had seen the band begin as a cult act, reach the top, and end up again as a cult act after nine years. I have to say that I don’t own any of these as discussed up to this point. I only made a purchasing decision a year later, after seeing the most unique and desirable variation once, in Park Avenue Discs.
The OZ limited edition of the album was the one to get. It featured a five track bonus “Live At Barrowlands” CD and a cover design that was a white variant on the UK LP cover in the slimmest double CD case I’ve ever seen. I can’t say I’ve seen this one ever again. Since the album was tepid at best, I have not bothered with the other covers the times I’ve seen them even in the used bins. I may be a fan, but I’m not an idiot.
ALBUM 12: Good News From The Next World | 1995| designer: Stylorouge
Stylorouge hung on for the next and final release on Virgin Records four years later. As seen from the band shot on the back cover, the band had been through more changes, as evidenced by Charlie regarding Jim as if he can’t believe what he’s looking at. Kerr never looked worse, in my opinion. He seemed to be trying on the “decadent rock star” image and the fit was incredibly bad. I’d go as far as saying that he looked as if his moon-face had been Photoshopped® onto the body of a far more tragic figure. Otherwise, the India-themed cover was a real pleasure to look at, even if I am still wondering what it has to do with the music. I own this album in two formats; the standard US CD and the 2002 kami sleeve remaster, which replicates the original UK gatefold LP perfectly. Both of these are pretty much exactly like the UK LP cover. But there was a single exotic variation …there always is at least one to brighten these posts.
The cassette was not in a normal jewel case. Instead, three sheets of corrugated cardboard had a cassette sized hole in which the tape fit. The top cover was a postcard with a unique cover variation, and a clear plastic sleeve held it all together. The use of corrugated cardboard echoed the use of the same material in the UK CD single packaging of the pre-release single, “She’s A River.”
Next: …[The Return Of] Yet More Covers