Exhibition – For The Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover (The Photographers’ Gallery)

Exhibition, The Photographers’ Gallery, 8th April – 12th June 2022
For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover 

Header image – Vinyl: Miles Davis, Tutu, Warner Bros Records – 1-25490, United States 1986. Photography: Irving Penn. Design: Eiko Ishioka.

When CDs began to nudge records off shop shelves in the 90s, something that was sadly missed by collectors was the opportunity to own cover artwork worthy of display and conversation. Singles were for fun but albums, with seemingly endless possibilities around double albums, gatefold sleeves, embossing and lyric sheets, held the potential to be serious pieces of art.

A new exhibition opening at The Photographers’ Gallery in London on Friday celebrates the album cover as an art form, curated and presented in collaboration with collector and exhibition originator, Antoine de Beaupré, whose extensive and impressive collection form the basis of the display.

Left – Vinyl: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti, Swang Song – SSK 89400, England 1975. Photography: Elliott Erwitt. Design: AGI / Mike Doud / Peter Corriston.

Right – Vinyl: Prince, Lovesexy, Paisley Park – 9 25720-1, United States, 1988. Photography: Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Design: Laura LiPuma.

Vinyl: Grace Jones, Island Life, Island Records – 207 472, France 1985. Photography: Jean-Paul Goude. Design: Greg Porto.

Showcasing the talent of photographers and artists including  famous names such as David Bailey, Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Helen Levitt and Cindy Sherman, the exhibition takes us on a journey through the changes to music and art through the years. There will be covers you recognise, maybe some you own, and certainly some that bring new stories to the table.

Left – Vinyl: Serge Gainsbourg, Love on the Beat, Philips – 822 849-1, France 1984. Photography: William Klein.

Right – Vinyl: Everything but the Girl, Before Today, Virgin – VST 1624, England 1997. Photography: Jürgen Teller. Design: Form / EBGT.

Details from the press release:

For the Record brings together over 200 album covers, highlighting the central role photography plays in defining artists and bands, and showcasing some of the most iconic album covers of our times. While many of the artistes on the covers will be instantly recognisable, the exhibition illuminates the often overlooked and multifaceted contributions of photographers and other visual artists to the identity of the ‘stars’ and the labels themselves.

For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover will be on display at The Photographers’ Gallery, London from 8th April until 12th June 2022.

The Photographers’ Gallery, 16 – 18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW (nearest tube Oxford Circus)

Usual opening hours are as follows – please check the website for news, admission charges and concessions before visiting, tickets may be booked in advance:

Monday (& Bank Holidays): Closed
Tuesday – Wednesday: 10.00 – 18.00
Thursday – Friday (Lates): 10.00 – 20.00
Saturday: 10.00 – 18.00
Sunday: 11.00 – 18.00

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Photographers’ Gallery.

Words excluding press release by Siobhan

6th April 2022

Album Review – The Ninth Wave

The Ninth Wave – Heavy Like a Headache

As The Ninth Wave announce a hiatus to pursue other projects, they leave us with second album Heavy Like a Headache. Mixed emotions for fans as the anticipation of new music is coupled with the knowledge that those intense, intimate performances that the band have been bringing over the last few years are no longer on the cards. Nonetheless, the album still has stories to tell.

Vocal heavy Maybe You Didn’t Know holds elements of traditional Scottish songs of the past, segueing into more familiar ground on the 80s’ fashioned electro-pop of Heron on the Water. There are many dilemmas posed throughout. Recent single Hard Not to Hold You questions, ‘Should I change myself enough so you stop wanting to know me?‘ while closing track Song for Leaving ponders what might happen ‘if we break apart’.

As a whole piece of work, the album is impassioned and heartfelt, befitting of the circumstance in which it arrives. If this is to be their swansong, then at least we have a soaring momento of everything that’s gone before. Heavy Like a Headache, released tomorrow via Distiller Records, is an accomplished reminder of why The Ninth Wave will be very much missed.

Watch the video for What Makes You a Man below.

Vinyl, CD, cassette and download versions of the album available here

Words by Siobhan
Photo by Yaël Temminck

17th March 2022

Classic Albums – The Verve: Urban Hymns

Looking back at the albums that hold a special place in our memories, Derek Rickman reflects on a favourite from Wigan’s big hitters The Verve…

The Verve / Urban Hymns  1997

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The one album I keep returning to through all the diverging genres and phases of music. My battered copy (with the original booklet beautifully photographed by Michael Spencer Jones) still sounds contemporary thanks to Chris Potter’s gleaming production values and the band’s stellar musicianship throughout.

Listen to Richard Ashcroft’s Jay-Z like ruminations on Neon Wilderness, one of the last tracks recorded at the sessions, and Nick McCabe’s wonderful guitar embellishments on the extended jam Catching the Butterfly. Indeed it’s the band songs rather than the folk tinged numbers such as Ashcroft’s maudlin Drugs where their talent shines through. Check out the blistering live version of The Rolling People at their triumphant Glastonbury appearance in 2008 and the rousing call to arms of monumental closer Come On.

For years I had Bitter Sweet Symphony as my ringtone/alarm, to the annoyance of my brothers one morning on a weekend camp where, after a night of over zealous drinking, they couldn’t locate my repeating cellphone buried at the bottom of my sleeping bag.

Richard Ashcroft will release Acoustic Hymns Vol. 1 on October 29th, an album featuring new stripped-back versions of some of his classic songs.

By Derek Rickman 

16th October 2021