When Titans…Collaborate: Malcolm Garrett + Peter Saville Sleeves [part 3]

[…continued from last post]

The last post showed Garrett invited to one of Saville’s regular clients on a job that demanded the highest level of thought and accomplishment. The final example of graphic designers Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville pairing up again was the same year, 1983, for one of Garrett’s long-time clients, Howard Devoto. Garrett had housed virtually all of Magazine’s releases [Linder Sterling designed the “Real Life” album] so him continuing on the first solo album by Devoto following the breakup of Magazine, made perfect sense.

Where the project became something less ordinary was in the bringing in of not only Saville on the project, but also Saville’s [brilliant] photographer, Trevor Key. As well as third designer Jules Bates of Artrouble and even a fourth artist, as we will see.

EXHIBIT C: HOWARD DEVOTO • Jerky Versions Of The Dream [1983]

Virgin | UK | LP | 1983 | V 2272

The cover design was a tour de force here. We had a sculpture of Howard Devoto as made by artist Scott Beadle. Intriguingly, the bust of the singer was facing away from the camera. Meanwhile, a monochrome photo of Devoto looking earnestly into the lens by Bates was projected onto the sculpture with the image having a blue tint. Meanwhile, the typography was reeking of Saville with the serif font set in all caps, centered for the “classical headstone” look that Saville was often favoring.

In a radical break from convention here, the song titles were included on the front cover in a move that pointed towards Malcolm Garrett for me. This was evidence of his penchant for modernism in typography even when dealing with a serif font. The forced justification of the carefully kerned title copy under the width of the album title, allowed line breaks to occur; disrupting the easy flow of the language. Meanwhile, the last character in the last song title was set as a superscript at the cap line. And then four divider dingbats evenly filled out the space. Tellingly, these were shifted in color from the process red of the typography, to orange, yellow, then white.

Magnificent! The labels were restrained with the copy centered for gravitas. Again, a typical Saville gambit and not the province of Garrett’s usual approach to typography. The back cover contained all of the liner notes, lyrics, and credits. All set within three wide columns separated by thin red rules. The blocks of lyric copy carefully balanced for maximum reserve and stability.

Tellingly, the song titles to next year’s “Lament” by Ultravox, as designed by Saville alone, also had forced justified text with arbitrary line breaks in the copy. Leading me to suspect that Saville liked the look and used it there on one of his own projects. The blue on black printing of the US copy below makes it easier to see.

ultavox lament back cover
Chrysalis | US | LP | 1984 | FV 41459

too fast to live malcolm garret cover art

Malcolm Garrett pastiched his Buzzcocks work for one cover…

too young to die cover art by peter saville

while Peter Saville went there too for the other cover…

The album marked the final time that Garrett and Saville collaborated on a record release. Two years ago they teamed on the cover design for the book “Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die: Punk and Post-Punk Graphics 1976-1986.” Having both designers on these three projects was a useful example of approaching dangerously close to the notion of overworking a design without losing the plot in a haze of designer myopia. The Duran Duran sleeve was a small, quick project that turned out well, probably laying the groundwork for the much more complex approaches on the OMD and Devoto albums.

In both cases, the vision was expansive enough to accommodate both designers and we can have a lot of fun trying to guess as to which designer was responsible for what elements of the projects. In any case, the designers never found the need to lean on one another again for subsequent projects, which may have been for the best. Poring over the “Dazzle Ships” or “Jerky Versions Of The Dream” covers reveal copious amounts of design vocabulary details to get lost in. Such heady projects cannot be manifest on a regular basis.


About postpunkmonk

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