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London-centric album covers: Time Out recalls the best

Posted at 4:00 pm, October 29, 2011 in Music & Nightlife

Battersea Power Station Pink Floyd © MattbooyA few weeks ago, an inflatable pig was flown over Battersea Power Station to recreate Pink Floyd’s 1977 album cover for ‘Animals’, and promote the release of their remastered back catalogue. Here we present some lesser-known London album-cover landmarks.

The Clash - The Clash1. The Clash ‘The Clash’, (1977) Camden Market
Between 1976 and 1979 Camden Town was the centre of Clash operations. The band wrote, rehearsed, performed, and, at times, lived in NW1. The cover photo for the band’s debut album features the band posing like street-fighting men on the trolley ramp at Camden’s Stables Market. Fans still gather at the spot to recreate the scene – punk’s answer to ‘Abbey Road’, perhaps?

The Streets - Original Pirate Material2. The Streets ‘Original Pirate Material’, (2002) Islington
The dingy council block on Mike Skinner’s debut illustrates the daily grind explored throughout the album. The photo was taken by German photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg, who’s well known for her similarly moody shots of Hackney, taken with extra long exposures. Despite his mockney stylings, Skinner isn’t actually from London. He grew up on a reasonably well-to-do estate in Birmingham. But with an album this good, who’s really bothered?

Motorhead - Ace of Spades3. Motörhead ‘Ace of Spades’, (1980) Barnet
Don’t be fooled by all the sand and sombreros: the sleeve shot for Motörhead’s fourth album wasn’t taken in Mexico. It’s a sandstone quarry in Barnet not far from where they were recording in Rickmansworth. The band even had the sky airbrushed to get rid of the grey clouds.

The Verve - Urban Hymns4. The Verve ‘Urban Hymns’, (1997) Richmond Park
Richard Ashcroft wanted a simple album cover: the Verve’s previous LP had arrived in an elaborate gatefold featuring the band playing chess next to an exploding car. The result is an aloof shot of the five-piece watching deer in Richmond Park. Ashcroft told renowned Britpop sleeve designer Brian Cannon he just wanted fans to ‘listen to the fucking record’.

The Jam - Setting Sons5. The Jam ‘Setting Sons’, (1979) Imperial War Museum, Lambeth
The Jam’s fourth album’s cover features a bronze statue that belongs to the Imperial War Museum. It’s titled ‘St John’s Ambulance Bearers’, and was created in 1919 by the artist Benjamin Clemens. Sadly for Jam fans, the piece is currently in storage. Time to put it back on display, we think: a new campaign for Prime Minister David Cameron (who named ‘The Eton Rifles’ from this album as one of his favourite songs) when he’s not rebuilding the economy, surely?

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