Stone Roses

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This is the front cover of the 2009 20th anniversary remastered edition of the Stone Roses debut album. Released in varying formats, this one includes the remastered original album, a coloured hardback photo book, a disc of lost demos and a DVD from a 1989 gig in Blackpool.

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As with most Stone Roses releases, the cover displays a work by John Squire. It is a Jackson Pollock-influenced piece titled “Bye Bye Badman,” which makes reference to the May 1968 riots in Paris. The cover was named by Q magazine as one of “The 100 Best Covers of All Time.” In the accompanying article, Q said: “Ian [Brown] had met this French man when he was hitching around Europe, this bloke had been in the riots, and he told Ian how lemons had been used as an antidote to tear gas. Then there was the documentary—-a great shot at the start of a guy throwing stones at the police. I really liked his attitude.” This story was also the inspiration for the lyrics to the song of the same name. The background of the piece is based on the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

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Pulse

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In 1995 Pink Floyd released P-u-l-s-e, a live double album recorded on the UK and European leg of their Division Bell tour in 1994. Disc 2 is a complete live version of ‘Dark side of the moon’ and so includes what could well be one of my favourite Pink Floyd tracks, Money. There again, the opening track on Disc 1 is ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ – so who am I trying to kid?

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I got my copy of P-u-l-s-e from Atomic Sounds in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex (UK), a great little independent record store now sadly no more. I knew the album was out. In fact, I’d gone to the shop that day specifically to purchase it. But, truth be told, I was actually drawn in by the light! Or, to be precise, the pulsating red light on the sleeve’s outer spine which the proprietor, Tony, had placed at eye level on a shelf above the till so that it was the first thing that (quite literally) caught your eye!

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Trouble is, the battery operated pulse – flashing (they say) in time with the average human heartbeat – only lasted about a year. And none of us at the time gave the possible replacement of the battery a second thought. It was, after all, merely a gimmick. Recently though, I found a video on YouTube claiming that replacement was really easy. All you needed was a long-handled flat-head screwdriver to tease out the cardboard housing at the bottom of the box. Then it was a simple matter of replacing the AA battery.  Problem was that whoever made the video conveniently overlooked the fact that the cardboard housing is stuck there with superglue  making it impossible to remove without completely trashing the CD box. No matter. The battery might have died, but the music never will.

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Scissor Sisters

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Ta Dah is the second studio album from the ‘Scissor Sisters’. Hitting shelves in September 2006, the UK release was preceded with the rather excellent single ‘I don’t feel like dancing’ – my favourite track on the album (particularly the extended remix).

I’ve got the deluxe box set version. Primarily for the design which is still rather stunning and reminiscent of the good old days of vinyl gatefolds. The central window with the Scissor Sisters logo opens – concertina-like – when you pull out the CD drawer from one side to reveal a CD each side (covered with a half-flap dust cover) and the CD booklet/lyric sheet in the middle behind now open ‘doors’. The bonus 6-track second CD features rarities and remixes.

Ta Dah was released simultaneously in several countries worldwide reaching differing chart positions in each. Here are some – Argentina (7), Australia (1), Finland (14), Ireland (1) US Billboard (19) and UK (1).

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Artful albums #9: Roger Dean – Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)

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Roger Dean (b.1944), a graduate of the Royal College of Art, together with Storm Thorgerson (more about him later) is credited with the transformation of the album cover from perfunctory packaging to the status of art form in its own right. This example is the gatefold cover for the 1973 Yes album ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’. But you really should check out his website and have a look at the other stuff he’s done over the years – http://www.rogerdean.com

Artful albums #8: Debbie Hall – Rainbow’s ‘Long live rock n roll’ (1978)

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Debbie Hall is the illustrator of the front cover of Rainbow’s 1978 album ‘Long Live Rock n Roll’. A deep ochre coloured gatefold when originally released on Polydor, the first pressings came with an inner lyric sheet. The inner sleeve features a double page photo depicting what the listener might reasonably be expected to believe as being a huge crowd at a live Rainbow gig. However, it is in fact a picture of the crowd at a ‘Rush’ gig with the slogan on the banner airbrushed over to display the fiction of the album title and the fans’ ‘Rush’ t-shirts blacked out.

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