The New Stuff

Must-Read: The Art of the Album Cover


“How can something so square be so hip?”

Designer Richard Evans, The Who’s in-house designer for 35 years,  sets out to answer this question in the new illustrated history of the 12in album sleeve.  In this glossy hardback, he provides a comprehensive overview of over 70 years of album covers.

Evans recognizes that everything changed with The Beatles’ 1963 debut album sleeve by Robert Freeman, setting design for music on the path to Sgt Pepper’s four years later and then onto the 70s boom-time. There are name-checks for all the leading art directors, illustrators, designers and artists, including Cal Schenkel, Neon Park, Kosh, Hipgnosis, Roger Dean and Evans himself as well as Barney Bubbles, whose work Evans deeply admires.

With concise sections dedicated to Neville Brody, Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett and Stylorouge, Evans tracks the familiar tale of the damage done by the shrinkage of the packaging with the rise of the CD and the ultimately restrictive practices wreaked by increased digitization.

This book is comprehensive but is never a bore since it is filled with great illustrations of great early covers, rare sleeves that you probably haven’t seen before, and the more popular ones like Sgt Pepper’s. It also has some anecdotes and stories about how certain album covers came about which makes it a fun read even for those who hate reading.

Know more about the book here: Barneybubbles.com

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