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Classic Sleeves And Their Imitators

Images / captions : Jan Bellekens / Text : Simon Robinson

ISBN : 978-0-9561439-2-1. 160 pages / colour / softback / 210mm by 210mm

You’re browsing through some albums and all of a sudden one crops up which causes a moment of recognition and a “haven’t I seen this cover before somewhere?”

The answer is that you might well have done. For just as popular music seems to rifle the albums and bands of earlier generations, so the designers also often lean on the past for inspiration. Sometimes this is done by way of a deliberate reference point. In other cases the band might be wanting to pay homage to their influences, or maybe they’ve just seen a cover idea which they like so much they want to borrow it.

On other occasions the similarities are less well intended, designed to mimic or even poke fun at designs and bands. Sometimes the new covers are simply a deliberate spoof of a well-know piece of artwork, done for subversive or mischievous reasons.

So you get Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, just kicked out of the group, referencing one of his former band’s classic covers, but blurring away the rest of the group on purpose. Or comedian Barry Humphries commissioning a very clever pastiche of the very familiar Sound Of Music cover painting, only with himself in a frock dancing up the hill instead of Julie Andrews.

Paul Weller’s band The Jam did an album called Sound Affects, and wanted a cover which recalled the pioneering series of BBC Radio sound effects albums of the 60s and 70s, a knowing design which only older fans would have even been aware of.

The list goes on. For this fascinating book, collector Jan Bellekens has scoured the second hand stores and record fairs of Europe and assembled an amazing collection, or which this book contains a selection of over 650 sleeves. The original covers are shown alongside their newer cousins, with explanatory notes for music fans and designers.