Contributions Welcome!

If you'd like to participate in the *ahem* rapidly growing field of LP-sleeve Analysis, just click here to email your post. The format of contributions is pretty much self-evident from the posts below. Tip: It pays to take your time and contemplate your chosen sleeve for a while - try and resist the urge to just 'burst into print' as it were - it's better to let it ferment (or should that be fester ;) for a while, then fine-tune your submission until it 'reads' just right!

We'll begin with a well-known sleeve that introduces the concept of subliminal messages rather nicely ... and by way of introduction I've included the 'rationale' for my interpretations in parentheses.

But typically, if an interpretation has to be 'explained' like this then it is almost certainly wrong ... but this sleeve lends itself rather well to such an approach, so it's a darned good one to start with!

Beatles - Let It Be
  • The Beatles are splitting up, isn't that sad boo-hoo ... (a black background, and separate photos)
  • ... and it's all Paul's fault (the others are turned away from him)
  • ... and we're splitting cos we've all become way too cerebral for this stupid pop music lark ... (hairy intellectual heads only, no body shots)
  • ... so, get over it girls (in other words, Let It Be)
  • We'll continue for a while with some fairly easy-to-figure interpretations, before we look at some of the more challenging stuff!

    Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother
  • The cow on the front is Syd turning his back on the band, the three on the back are the rest of the band looking mournfully down at Syd.
  • They meant to call the album "Animals". But forgot. Until several years later.
  • It's like the music, it's er ... deep.

  • Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus
  • er, it's a joke
  • no no, not a joke - what's it called when you play with spelling & pronounciation ...?
    ah that's right - a PUN.armour-dillo y'see ... geddit now?
  • OK OK - the joke sleeve is as lame as the album.

  • Nirvana - Nevermind
  • You've been conditioned from birth to chase money.
  • The relentless pursuit of material wealth can get you into deep water.
  • The cheap-skates at the record company only gave us a budget of $1.00 for the album cover.
  • Now let's move on to something a little more 'meaty', to demonstrate that there is indeed more to this 'subliminal' stuff than simply making smart-arse wise-cracks about album sleeves!

    Yes, this is a rather interesting one ... because here we have a whole career in music unravelling before your very eyes!

    Oh dear!

    Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 1
  • My first solo LP!
    Pretty risky, going it alone ...
  • Nevertheless, I must break out of my shell sooner or later
  • So anyway - now that I'm a solo artist, what can I do that's like - really radical ...?

    (Note to self: Think of something really really radical ...)

    Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 2
  • I know! I won't put titles on my albums!
  • Now that is PRETTY DAMN RADICAL!
    The cover-art is the title y'see?
  • OK, good concept ...

    (Note to self: Point this out, emphasise this on the second album's artwork hehe ...)

    Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 3
  • Um, this is harder than I expected
  • I'm starting to see why people put titles on things now ...
  • Still, finish what you started, that's what I say - soldier on and all that ...

    (Note to self: er, I think I could be having some kind of mental meltdown ...)

    Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 4
  • Oh no, it's all going horribly horribly wrong!
  • I seem to be losing my identity ...!
  • I'm not Peter Gabriel anymore - my albums are! (Note to whoever I am: aaaagh!)

  • Joni Mitchell - Blue
  • Sorry about the photo - it's cos I'm down in the dumps, and feelin' ... blue
  • The songs are all a bit ... blue
  • The album-sleeve is ... oh look, wouldn't you know it ... it's blue
  • *sigh* gee, now I suppose I've got to think of a title!!

  • Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick
  • It's er, part of a total concept, man.
  • We spent more time on the sleeve than on the music
  • Actually, you've bought a newspaper with a free LP inside.
  • OK, OK (I hear you say) ... so maybe there's some degree of amusement to be had from this 'analysing album sleeves' business - but come on now - it's hardly earth-shattering stuff is it!

    Well, check this one out!
    And um, as far as I know, no one else has spotted this before, so you could be lookin' at a World Premiere here! :) ...

    Supertramp began life in rather priveleged circumstances - they were initially financed by a millionaire, who withdrew his patronage after their first two albums were commercial flops. Thereafter, the band experienced severe financial difficulties (thus their album "Crisis? What Crisis?").

    So then they changed gear, away from the dark philosophical musings of "Crime Of The Century", towards a brighter art-rock sound with ...

    Supertramp - Breakfast In America
  • We need to break into the American market pretty quick to make some loot ...
  • In other words, we need to er, break fast in America *groan*
  • So um, Hello America!

    This album worked a treat, and the sleeve-art certainly helped - on the one hand a very clever marketing ploy ... but as it turned out, a rather doomsy and prophetic image too - note the World Trade Center (constructed from flimsy donut cartons), as viewed from the window of an airplane banking towards it - very spooky.

    But that's where things get really weird!
    If you horizontally flip the UP in Supertramp (sticking straight out of the Twin Towers) ...

    You get 9/11

  • Men At Work - Business As Usual
  • Kinda hard to believe this sleeve was actually "designed" by someone ...
  • We're from Australia - this sleeve looks much better upside-down
  • It's our entry for "The Worst Album Covers In The World ... Ever!"

  • Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks
  • Oi ... you!
  • hehe, now we've got your attention ...

  • J J Cale - 5
  • This album-cover is like WOW ... a huge 5c postage-stamp!
  • And in case you missed the joke, there's heaps more identical 5c postage stamps printed on the back!
  • My albums are like 5c postage stamps - they're all identical.
  • Devo developed their image and music around the concept of de-evolution - the idea that everything on the planet is gradually degenerating into a pile of yucky goo. Maybe they were onto something ...

    First there was Andy Williams, representing 'Mr. Normal' ...
    He looks kinda normal - s'pose ...

    Then along came Richard Chamberlain ...
    A bit borderline this one, taking that wholesome clean-cut image about as far as it can go ...

    Next we meet Sandy Scott ...
    Now let's face it, Sandy is just trying way too hard to look normal - in fact, Sandy Scott has lost the plot ...

    Which brings us to ...

    Devo - Q: Are We Not Men?
  • Devolution is real - we are not making this up!
  • After all, were these not men ...?
  • 'Normal' is devolving.
  • Of course, it's not just the guys who fall victim to devolutionary processes ... take Mary Hopkin ... after winning a TV talent contest in the early 1970's, her air of angelic innocence became as captivating to the UK public as did Princess Di a decade later. Mary was quickly snapped up by Paul McCartney for The Beatle's fledgling Apple record label, and he went on to pen the No.1 hit "Those Were The Days" as her debut recording ...

    ... but sadly, the corrosive effects of a life in the showbiz fast-lane would soon take it's toll on the young singer ...

    Those were the days indeed - still, that's the world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll for you, eh ;)

    Beatles - White Album
  • Cover-art is superflous to the music within, so there isn't any.
  • A Yoko-influenced minimalist statement.
  • We're the biggest and most successful band in the world, WE don't need to bother with cover-art!

  • XTC - Go 2
  • This is gonna be the ULTIMATE album-cover.
  • It is very ironic - that's because we are very clever people.
  • It's a bit of a mindbender really isn't it.
  • Some artists will go to great lengths to repackage themselves, especially if they're getting a bit past their 'use-by' date ... here we can see aging 1950's singing star Shirley Bassey even 'disguising' her name as part of an effort to head off newly-emerging competition from the likes of Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black and Lulu ...

    Shirley Bassey - 12 Of Those Songs
  • This album is by a cute 1960s starlet (not)
  • You can read her name on the sleeve (not)
  • The music is swinging 1960s pop (not)
  • The sleeve will fool casual browsers into buying the LP (not)

  • ... another female who supposedly enjoyed daubing walls with lipstick-coloured paint was New Zealand's very own Tina Cross - though you could say she looks a Tina-weensy bit dubious about the whole thing ... 

    Tina Cross - Tina X
  • er, not sure about this guys - doncha think it's posed a bit like I've climbed down from a crucifix ...?
  • or is that X meant to be a kiss ...?
  • oh, I see - it's a cross - like in my name.
  • Well, ha-blardy-ha - jeez, are we actually paying you for this ...?

  • Uriah Heep - Demons and Wizards
  • We are NOT a hairy hard-rock band!
  • Roger Dean designs our album sleeves - he does Yes and Greenslade sleeves too.
  • So it follows, we are ART-rock, not 'ard-rock.
  • No, really ... we are NOT a hairy hard-rock band!

  • The sleeve of Man's 1974 album 'Slow Motion' got them into a lot of legal hot water with the publishers of lampooning magazine MAD ... for um, lampooning the magazine's logo! The blatant double-standard on the part of MAD caused quite a stink at the time - the fact that a magazine that made a living out of ridiculing other people's creative efforts, apparently wouldn't tolerate being the target of satire itself!

    At the bottom of this post is the original sleeve for 'Slow Motion' - withdrawn when MAD magazine got er, mad. And below is the severely 'madified' final version - one the magazine accepted once they realised their lack of good-humour was not, y'know - a good look - all things considered haha!

    So, here's our take on the situation, in the style of those famous MAD magazine rear covers - Remember? Where you had to fold the cover in on itself to see the true meaning of the picture ...

    Man - Slow Motion
  • This album sleeve is greatly over-rated ...
  • The band were clearly inspired by MAD, but backed down for legal reasons ...
  • I plan to acquire more copies and flick them at the band at their next gig!
  • Hopefully I will cut a few heads off with some lucky shots from the front row! Yep, a compromising album like this soon turns you into a slobbering mad man fan!
  • Withdrawn sleeve:

    There is a detailed account of the whole saga, with many illustrations ... here.

    As we've seen, you'd better not parody MAD magazine in your album sleeve - or else! But er, apparently it's perfectly OK the other way round! Sheesh!

    Which brings us nicely on to Sgt.Pepper ...

    In March 1966, Lennon ran into a storm of criticism for his remark that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus - the band then spent the rest of the year backing down from this assertion.
    But in 1967 they released Sgt.Pepper - and the sleeve could certainly be interpreted as their way of reasserting Lennon's earlier statement (the original even included a cardboard cutout of Jesus Christ). So maybe this sleeve was just their way of subtly 'thumbing their noses' at the critics eh ...?

    Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Hey, when it comes to being famous, we're the frontrunners!
  • Look! We've even buried The Beatles and renamed the band - yet we still sell millions of records!
  • Now that's famous!
  • er, case proven m'lud

  • Some other parodies ...
    Frank Zappa - We're Only In It For The Money

    Manhattans - Greatest Hits
  • We're The Manhattans - so um, let's put some skyscrapers on the sleeve!
  • Listen to our hits, or simply look at the records - either way, they're all much the same, with only slight variations.
  • Note: Throwing records like frisbees is dangerous! Children - ask your parents first!
  • I recently came across what seems to be an endless supply of truly dreadful album sleeves, and then - by some shocking coincidence - my correspondent therook submitted an interpretation of one of these very same sleeves. So, here is their *ahem* little offering ...

    Millie Jackson - Back To The S**t!
  • I'm really into Classical, currently reworking Beethoven's last movement.
  • And seeing as my record company is planning to dump on me ...
  • ... it's one more *hit then back to paperwork for me.

  • To which I can only add ...
  • Does my bum look big in this ...?

  • Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches
  • My album sleeves either denigrate the entertainment industry ...
  • ... or promote rural themes - bugger, I really wish I'd pursued an agricultural career!
  • Anyway, this album has an Asian flavour, so it's adorned with a mandala (with an agricultural theme of course)
  • But *sigh* I guess Monty Python summed me up really ...

  • Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches
    I never wanted to do this job in the first place!
    I... I wanted to be...
    Leaping from tree to tree!
    As they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia!
    With my best girl by my side!
    The Larch!
    The Pine!
    The Giant Redwood tree!
    The Sequoia!
    The Little Whopping Rule Tree!
    We'd Sing! Sing! Sing!

    "Oh, I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay,
    I sleep all night and I work all day ..."
    George was perceived as the quiet thoughtful Beatle - the mystic - a perception he seemed happy to cultivate after The Beatles split ...

    George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
  • Ah yes, peaceful contemplation of a garden. Or else that showbiz circus ... pah!
  • For verily I say unto you, all is transient - even The Beatles!
  • Now let me alone awhile, perchance to meditate ...
    Behold, there is a beetle in my garden!
  • *thinks* Hmm, that's deep. Heck, that's very deep!

  • George was also the youngest Beatle by a couple of years - a big difference when you're a teenager - and the other Beatles tended to treat him as a kind of junior member, a bit of a 'newb' if you like. One consequence was that his songs were mostly passed over in favour of Lennon/McCartney compositions, thus at the time of the split he had a considerable backlog of unrecorded material. Still, he went on to have the first solo Beatle No.1 hit, with the entirely appropiate (for George) "My Sweet Lord".
    yollie pointed out "Just wanted to say ... he looks like he is passing something himself!" Hmm yes yollie, now that you mention it ... as a "Seeker after Truth" maybe George should've called the album ...

    George Harrison - All Things Must Piss
  • B'room brr'oom! *thinks* ... and amazing George knocks Lennon and McCartney off the track, with a triple album and the first No.1 single!!!
  • So guys, my songs weren't good enough eh ... well at least my new band look up to me.
  • *thinks* ... that''ll show 'em hehe.

  • Brian Eno - Music For Airports
    (tracks are untitled, only numbered)

  • I spy with my little eye somewhere beginning with T
  • nameless sound-tracks trickle downhill into a void
  • Synthesizer Programming Project #1

    VAR PRINT(JPG) sleeve; wallpaper_design; abstracted_landscape;
    VAR PLAY(MP3) ambient; musical_wallpaper; soundscape;
    VAR INCOME($$$) album;
    IF ambient = musical_wallpaper THEN sleeve = wallpaper_design
    IF ambient(TRUE) THEN album = (abstracted_landscape + soundscape)

    #MSG ERROR TYPE MISMATCH: value assigned 'album' not type INCOME($$$)

  • Bugger!!!

  • Brian Eno - Music For Films
  • OK then, next release. Remember minimalism, simplicity ...
  • Synthesizer Programming Project #2
    IF ambient(TRUE) THEN sleeve(FALSE)
  • Yes!!! I spy with my little eye something beginning with tea ...

  • And now, an obscure album by some 1960's beat combo ...

    Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon
    (no title or band-name printed on sleeve)
  • That's cos the meaning of this cover-art is very very deep.
  • Look, we ain't just dumb-ass musicians y'know ...!
  • Cos like, we know particle physics and stuff ...
  • Well, party-cool fizzics anyway - if you know what we mean ... ;) ;) ;)

  • Lindsay Buckingham - Out Of The Cradle
    (no artist name or title on sleeve)

  • What, you don't recognise me ...?
    ... but I'm in mega-famous Fleetwood Mac!
  • Whaddya mean, no name = no sales ...?
    ... so what! I can afford not to put my name on it!
  • Hey look, just kiddin' - study the lyrics, they're aimed at my family.
    ... so you see, I'm really not bothered about anyone else listening to this.
  • No seriously, that's why my name isn't on the sleeve.
    ... after all, my family will know who it is won't they ...
  • Won't they ...?

  • The Human League - Reproduction
  • This is a dance album.
    ... um guys - dance is a courtship ritual ...
    ... dancing could lead to unwanted babies!
    ... Oops!
  • Right then, you dance with your sister ...
    ... while we change the album's production.
    ... OK, we've 're-produced' the album.
    ... this is not a dance album.
  • Phew!