Once upon a time it was apparently quite easy to design album covers. You got a photograph of the artist – portrait studio, recording studio, maybe playing live - you did some more or less fancy lettering and there was your album cover.
And then someone came up with the idea – how about we show the artist WALKING?
There are a couple of advantages here obviously, it gives the subjects something to do, and perhaps even more important, it’s a way of asserting they’re men (and in a few cases women) of the people who haven’t lost touch with the street.
When it comes to “most famous walking album cover” it’s probably a toss up between Abbey Road and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I think Dylan just about edges it because even though we know it’s a setup, he actually does look like he’s walking somewhere, whereas the Beatles look like they’re only walking across the street for the sake of the photoshoot.
The Beatles actually looked a bit more natural on this one:
Of course when it comes to Oasis, it’s hard to know whether we’re dealing with homage or barefaced borrowing. This picture is taken in Berwick Street, one of my “beating the bounds” streets when I go back to London. Since there’s some motion blur on the cover you might be tempted to think the two men are the Gallagher brothers, but no, don’t be naïve. The two men are Sean Rowley, who’s a DJ walking towards the camera, and the album sleeve designer Brian Cannon who’s walking away. Apparently Owen Morris, the album producer, is lurking in the background.
I also suspect that photograph, borrows from this Duane Michael series, titled "Chance Meeting," but you know, in for a penny in for a pound, it’s all appropriation, innit?
No borrowings or homage here on this Dr Alimantado album cover, largely I think because walking down the middle of the street, wearing shorts with the fly open isn’t a look that really existed before or after, but in this case I’m glad it does.
Walking in the street too tame for you? Then try the railroad tracks:
Earth too tame for you? Try outer space.
And you can just about imagine what went on in the mind of Randy Jack Wiggins and his photographer when they made this cover.
“Sure,” said Jack, “I know I’m a boring old coot with a salt and pepper beard and dubious taste in shirts, but if we have a couple of good looking girls, and you know, they needn’t be professional models or anything, well if they walked with me holding hands, then that’d be a bitching album cover, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?”
Maybe sometimes it’s better just to walk away from the camera. If it’s good enough for Johnny Cash and Eminem, it’s probably good enough for you.