Record Sleeve designs…Brian Cannon and Microdot

Britpop news recently posted a link to this talk from Brian Cannon of Microdot (which is an audio that includes images from the slides used). Brian Cannon was a record sleeve designed who was responsible for designing record sleeves of various artists, these include The Verve, Oasis and Suede – as well as the Super Furry Animals (he talks briefly about the design for the Fuzzy Logic album, above, which actually diverged from his usual work). In the talk Brian describes in detail the process behind the sleeve designs, how they were produced and how they fitted with artists visions. He also talks about the types of inspirations behind the scenes. The inspiration was often taken from fine art or from the music itself, with the sleeve used to explore ideas around the albums content (he also debunks a few myths). The talk also gives the technical approaches used and how the artists were involved in production. The discussion of typography is really interesting, and there is some discussion of the inspiration for the use of sans serif fonts and space.

Some of the most interesting and striking content is in the discussion of the covers for the early Verve covers (Brian also discusses how he met and came to work with some of these artists). The early Verve sleeves were apparently done on a ‘minimal budget’, and create expression was used to find ways around the financial constraints – no professional actors were used either, just friends and those who were available. What is particular interesting is that all of the images are actual scenes captured using various techniques. There was no digital enhancement or postproduction used, they were all photos, without digital post production or photoshopping. The Verve’s album A Northern Soul was one of my favourite albums, it is also a sleeve I know very well. In the talk, Brian describes how this was produced. They took a photo of the band and then projected it against a wall. The project was around ’50 foot’. So this was not produced using computer techniques, but is an image of the projection on a wall. Similarly, the below sleeve was made by photographing and actual waterfall with a neon sign in it, with no digital enhancement.

And the below sleeve used actual burning letters in a cave.

In fact, this sleeve, for the Verve’s A Storm in Heaven album, actually represented four different life stages, with four images populating the different slides of the sleeve (these are all described in the talk).

The talk also focuses upon Microdot’s work with Suede and Oasis. This reveals the different types of creative relations, and the discussion of Oasis shows the detailed preparation that went into the shots and the creative endeavour used to make each piece complete. The sleeve for Definitely Maybe is unpicked in some detail, to show the test shots and how the band members were positioned, and also showing the influences. The below sleeve for the Oasis single Some Might Say is also described in some detail, revealing exactly how the figures were positioned, how the location was used, and even how photocopies of guitars were placed on the stations windows. Cannon also reveals that the source of the Oasis logo was the Decca record label logo.

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