Last Friday I heard the unfortunate news that famous cover album artist Storm Thorgerson had passed away. In honour of his genius I began to write a two part article on his art and contribution to rock music. In part 1 of this blog (see below) I listed my five favourite pieces of Storm Thorgerson’s art that featured on an album. In this second part of the blog I will visiting my five favourite albums, musically wise, which use one of his pieces as the front cover.
Five: Muse – Absolution: Absolution is Muse’s third album and in my opinion their best; the album cut some of the fat from their previous two albums and didn’t try to be obviously different for the sake of just being different (which is what many songs off of The Resistance & The 2nd Law suffered from). Their next album Black Holes and revelations also featured Thorgerson art work and narrowly missed out to Absolution.
Four: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon: The Dark Side of the Moon is a classic. Today that opinion is generally taken as fact, but last year, after watching a documentary on its creation, I realised that I hadn’t actually ever listened to it all the way through. Naturally, I then went and listened to it all (and I can confirm it IS worthy of it’s classic status). Instantly from the introductory instrumental ‘Speak to Me’, through ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ and until the dying moments of ‘Eclipse’ the album is exceptional and is boldy unique and intelligently crafted. My favourite parts of The Dark Side of the Moon are the clever segues which weave through the record, turning a collection of songs into a complete album and an aural journey. If you haven’t listened to it all the way through I strongly advise you to find the 43 minutes to do so – you won’t regret it.
Three: The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute: Like The Dark Side of the Moon, The Mars Volta’s second album is a concept album which has to be listened to all the way through. Oddly this album has a track listing which people still argue about. Essentially there are five songs, but the record label (those pesky little things) wouldn’t accept it as an LP unless it had twelve songs. The solution was to split up the epic half-an-hour finale ‘Cassandra Gemini’ into eight parts. The confusion comes from the fact the song is already split up into five ‘acts’, one of which is shared with the first song on the album and the fourth track also has four ‘acts’. So when the album is listed as the first three tracks plus all of the scenes of the fourth and fifth track it also equals twelve tracks in total. Confusing? Naturally media like iTunes mix things up by just getting the album listing horrendously wrong. It’s probably just as well you are meant to listen to the album as one whole piece.
The songwriting and the pure imagination to create this vast universe of music is incredible and again you should definitely listen to this progressive classic. This album does have one drawback however, which is there are some very odd song transitions which last for minutes and do get boring, but with 80 minutes of music, there is bound to be something you like. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the title track ‘Frances the Mute’ didn’t even make it onto the record because they couldn’t fit it on… But you guessed that already, right?
Two: Biffy Clyro – Puzzle: If I’m honest I think all three Biffy Clyro albums that featured art work by Storm Thorgerson (Puzzle, Only Revolutions, Opposites) deserve to be on this list. However, I made myself chose just one and the result was their fourth album Puzzle. Released in 2007, Puzzle marked the point when they broke into the ‘mainstream’, with tighter and more focused writing, whilst still maintaining their characteristic experimental nature. As well as being focused the songs sound more honest and personal, especially on the songs which were catalysed by the loss of Simon Neil’s (vocals and guitar) mother.
One: The Pineapple Thief – Someone Here is Missing: “The Pineapple Thief? Who?” I hear you cry. The Pineapple Thief are a progressive (I use this term loosely) rock band from Somerset, led by multy-instrumentalist Bruce Soord. The Pineapple Thief are most similar to Radiohead or perhaps a Steven Wilson side project and with this, their eighth album, they finally got the attention they deserved. Someone Here is Missing makes ‘progressive’ rock accessible, with layers of keyboards, effect-laden guitar riffs and Bruce’s ‘Thom Yorke’ inspired soaring choruses. This album does depart a bit from their previous more sombre and relaxed output, but don’t let that stop you from delving into their already lengthy discography.
R.I.P Storm Thorgerson.