Simple Minds Sidebar 1: Ranking The Cover Art [part 8]

ALBUM 14: Our Secrets Are The Same| 1999/2004 | designer: Unknown

Virgin Records | UK CD/in "Silver Box" | CDBOX9

Virgin Records | UK CD/in “Silver Box” | CDBOX9

The next Simple Minds album recorded was released after the next two in this sidebar, but since this was its intended order for release, and we’ve not otherwise considered the “Silver Box” release that it was included in, it’s going right here as if its release had no been the troubled fiasco that it eventually was. Of course, who can say what the cover art would have been had it gestated and had gotten released to market as the band intended. Torkwaz was apparently in the channel again with comp designs in hand when it all started going terribly wrong.

simple-minds---silver-boxUKAOf course, once Chrysalis balked, and the friction delayed and ultimately stopped the release, it was only a matter of time in the climate of 1999 until those files found themselves out on peer-to-peer networks, or in another scenario, on bootleg CDs that were offered on auction sites. When the 25th anniversary “Silver Box” was released in 2004, the inclusion of the album, finally mastered, in that set brought with it a cover design [in the loosest sense of the word] that was informed by the politics surrounding the album. The imagery showed how “hands were tied” and the use of a female model bound in silken ropes, carried with it allusions to bondage, though ultimately of the corporate kind. It’s not the most dynamic cover in the world, but then that fits the vibe of the albums all too well. It must be said that the square imagery as shown above, is the idealized version of the cover. Since “Silver Box” was vertically oriented, as seen at above left, the actual page in the book that carried the disc in it, in a sleeve/page hybrid, looked like this.


That’s what the fans ultimately ended up with in their hands. It’s worth noting that the zero leaded, flush left, sans serif text with claddagh would come back to haunt the band in a few years. Watch this space.

ALBUM 15: Neon Lights| 2001 | designer: Fabrique

Eagle Records | US | CD | WK55944

Eagle Records | US | CD | WK55944

Back cover

Back cover

Dutch design group, Fabrique came out of nowhere to design the album that was Simple Minds’ quick return from the three years of chaos that were the aftermath of their time on Chrysalis. I say quick, because with this band, the period between albums can stretch out pretty far. The period where they were effectively tabled without announcing it as such, is not the longest stretch by far without any new Simple Minds material getting released. When they did stick their heads above the water again, they used the notion of a covers album to act as cover for what was really research and development for their new direction.

Fabrique certainly came up with an honest and direct approach that certainly looks as if it didn’t strain the budget any. It was no doubt an easy cover shoot to coordinate and it may have been shot in the time it took to have lunch. The text is modern sans serif, but in a condensed font, this time! Shocking! Since the design costs for this were probably modest, they made the wise decision to use five color printing for a little class. The money saved on design went into the press costs for the job. And since it was Simple Minds we’re discussing, the choice of metallic gold ink served to remind people that “oh yeah, this was the band that ‘New Gold Dream’ 19 years earlier. Fair enough. At least they didn’t drop a claddagh on it!

As was now the norm, there was no LP and cover variations almost didn’t happen. Except for the limited [10K copies] German version of the CD. That release took the standard 10 track UK CD and bundled the “Dancing Barefoot” EP along with it in a card slipcase.

simpole-minds---neonGER2xCDAsimple minds - dancingbarefootUKCDA

These had no pull for me since the US [and Canadian] CD had the two B-sides from the EP appended to the disc as bonus tracks. Plus, I had bought the “Dancing Barefoot” EP ahead of the album in any case. The only thing of note here was the slip cover for the stock discs inside.

Next: …Frankenstein Meets More Covers!

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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