design of the times

Record sleeve covers in their graphic design have always had a psychographic dimension that often transcends and complements the material creating a new, and reinforcing, the intended critical content. ( dave.)

Art Chantry:this may not be the very greatest record cover of all time, but it ranks in my top five without any challengers. This initial Slash label LP release by the band “X” is perfection.

I’ve seen out-takes from this photo session and the band themselves were the ones who lit the fire. They had their portrait taken around the burning X. bu…t, they had the sheer and unvarnished wisdom to realize they shouldn’t detract from the enormous ominous POWER of that burning X. I mean that is one of the most disturbing and frightening images ever placed on a record cover. And after forty years of punk, that’s really saying something.

Chantry:folks who are saying "eh" to the actual design of this (but loving the photo) - i have to pont out that it's more clever and subtle than you might at first notice. take the 'los angeles' type and use the ends of it to define a wide... vertical column that runs entirely down the length of the panel. you might notice that it's approximately 2/5ths of the entire image area. while the "x" image is approximately 3/5ths of the image area. it has a bold stroke carefully defining this division,and neither image or type violates this divider - neithrr leaks over to the other side. this cover is divided at that point into two evenly balanced panels. that's a lot more smarts than you at first notice - just like the photo gets a whole lot smarter the longer you look at it.

The layers and layers of meanings that this image produces drawn from our collective experiences is a beautiful thing. the idea that a simple B&W image like this can strike such a deep chord in our hearts and minds is a a master stroke of utter genius. And the simple phrase (red ink, of course) “Los Angeles” sends a shiver down our spines. It harkens back to the dark primeval violent lizard-brain of the American dream. And for all intents and purposes, Los Angeles has always been the groin of American nightmare.

No other image could possible have set a better standard bearer for this band and it’s music. No other image could possible have been released at the moment in pop history and done more to show the world punk meant business.

I have no idea whose idea this was. I don’t even know who took the photograph.I don’t really care to know. It’s simple elegance and profound impact are all it needs to work forever. It’s a signpost on the highway of the dark underbelly of everything we think we are in this life.

Art Chantry:I wonder how many punk bands had seed work on their records? especially when it came to big-time major record deals? i would imagine all of them. even the lovely Beatles apparently (according to bernie “purdy” purdie, the godhead session drummer) were inspired by Brian Epstein, John Lennon and the record label to ‘seed’ Ringo’s drumming. They didn’t even tell Ringo. he only found out decades later and it really hurt his feelings.There are all ‘Milli Vanillis’ out there – get over it….I’m just pointing out the reality of this stuff. The Clash were a major corporation. the Pistols were punk band. It bugs me that pop history turned that around. c’mon, Joe Strummer was fucking hippie folksinger who cut his hair to join a punk band to get rich. Rotten, on the other hand, hated your fucking guts….the first argument you hear is “they didn’t play their instruments or write their own songs.” Well, after the first two albums, that’s all they did (and on tour, too). most ‘bands’ back then had professional studio musicians actually play… on their albums. the high and mighty self-righteous Byrds didn’t play on their own records. or the Beach Boys. or much of anybody. records were business and they had to make money. that meant pros playing, not amateurs. the whole DIY ethic didn’t emerge until the hippies – and even THEY used seeds and session guys on their record. Even the RAMONES did that. so, that whole argument crumbles under the reality here. That crit describes better than half of the rock and roll pantheon. did Elvis ever write a song in his life? the Monkees did. Great, influential songs. and they played their own instruments after their contracts allowed them.

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