1. ‘Abbey Road’, The Beatles – St John’s Wood
They don’t come any more iconic than this: so hallowed is the image that the crossing is now Grade II-listed. Photographer Iain Macmillan had just ten minutes to get the shot while a copper held up traffic. An American tourist was caught in the background of the photo, and didn’t realise what had happened until he saw himself on the cover months later.
2. ‘Animals’, Pink Floyd – Battersea
‘Simple’ isn’t in the prog rock lexicon – which is how the Floyd ended up floating a giant inflatable pig above Battersea Power Station. In a story that would make even Spinal Tap blush, the band hired a marksman to take down the helium balloon if it escaped. Poor weather delayed the album shoot and the band’s manager didn’t book the sniper for a second day. The pig broke free, eventually landing in Kent, where it surprised a herd of cows.
3. ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, David Bowie – Piccadilly
If you ever find yourself sipping an overpriced glass of wine on Heddon Street, just off Piccadilly Circus, take a second to look around and you’ll realise you’re on the formerly rundown back street which featured on the cover of Bowie’s epochal 1972 album.
4. ‘The Clash’, The Clash – Camden
Who are those three posing ruffians looking mean and moody at the end of an alleyway? It’s The Clash in 1977 – crystallising the look of London’s punk scene. The shot was taken on a horse ramp deep inside Camden’s Stables Market. It’s still there, and a podium for punky poseurs every weekend.
5. ‘New Boots and Panties!!’, Ian Dury – Victoria
The only apparel punk pioneer Ian Dury would buy new were boots and underwear. The cover of his 1977 debut LP captures the singer and his son outside Axford’s outfitters on Vauxhall Bridge Road. The handwritten sign in the window offering ‘suits from £10’ dates it perfectly.
6. ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’, Oasis – Soho
It’s the album that took Oasis from the pages of the NME to the karaoke machines of every high street pub, and made them the biggest band in the country. As such, its cover is one of the most recognisable musical images of the ’90s. It was taken on Berwick Street, looking south.
7. ‘Parklife’, Blur – Walthamstow (or not)
The shot of two racing dogs wasn’t actually taken at the now defunct Walthamstow Stadium. Blur played around with various images to define London, including Buckingham Palace and Portobello Road. Damon Albarn had the idea of a bookies; it was a short leap to this greyhound image, plucked from a photo library.
8. ‘Under the Influence’, Morrissey – Whitechapel
The Smiths were indelibly linked with Manchester but Morrissey’s solo career was peppered with references to the capital. A lyrical interest in boys’ clubs, boxing and East End gangsters the Kray Twins led to him posing outside one of their old haunts, the Grave Maurice pub in Whitechapel Road, on the cover of this 2003 compilation LP.
9. ‘Original Pirate Material’, The Streets – Old Street
Behind the windows of Kestrel House tower block on City Road, you can imagine the little pockets of life that Brummie wordsmith Mike Skinner rhymes about. The image – ‘Towering Inferno’ by photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg – is a perfect voyeuristic fit for The Streets’ debut.
10. ‘Home’, Rudimental – Hackney
Hackney boys Rudimental have had a meteoric rise to stardom over the last year, with a trail of number ones cemented by this chart-topping debut album. The cover, an image of the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural just off Dalston Lane, keeps their feet on the ground with a little slice of home turf.
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