Minor Threat: Minor Threat Blue

Minor Threat are credited with being one of the first hardcore punk rock groups to come out of the USA. Along with Black Flag and Bad Brains, Minor Threat are the band to know and their self-titled record (officially known as “First 2 7″s”) is the one to own. It’s debatable as to whether there weren’t a thousand other hardcore bands of that era of a similar quality and ethos, but no other band was lead by a figure like Ian MacKaye.

It is true that amongst the punk-underground-alternative-independent-etc scene this album cover, a photo of Alec MacKaye (Ian’s brother) asleep after a gig taken by Susie Josephson Horgan, has taken on an almost iconic status. And not without merit.

The strength in the sharpness of the colour and the descending print on the right-hand-side is confronting and satisfying. The bald head, the boots, the second-hand clothes and the garbage on the cement floor leave one in little doubt that, if the scene is not desperate, it is one that reflects a subculture of some sort. And I think the band and the label themselves recognised the power of the image by using it three times:

for the first seven inch

003.jpg

for the above mentioned record, and, finally, for the “Complete Discography” CD release

040.jpg

The iconography was taken to new heights in 1995 with Rancid’s homage cover, from Jess Fischer:

Rancid: And out Come the Wolves

Clealy, the band couldn’t simply ape every aspect of the cover and, what they ended up with is something predictable and lightweight. Using their patented punk-rock spray art aesthetic to brand the sleeve as a Rancid record, it looks exactly like what it is, cheap. (This doesn’t reflect my thoughts about the music. It is, in my opinion, a fine pop record.) It is clear that the strength of the Minor Threat cover is in its simplicity and, in contrast to the Rancid photograph, the closeness of the figure to the camera works to emphasise the severity of the situation and, in that way, shouts “MINOR THREAT!”

A recent controversy took off, when Nike seemed to accidentally borrow the Minor Threat art for their own purposes:

Major Threat Nike Flyer

I don’t know that being overly protective of album artwork is useful and constructive, but coming from the idealistic punk standpoint it is to be expected. Personally, I’m unsurprised and unmoved by corporate theft, but would be chuffed nonetheless if the band decide to take action against Nike.

Minor Threat: Minor Threat

Minor Threat: Minor Threat Blue

Minor Threat are credited with being one of the first hardcore punk rock groups to come out of the USA. Along with Black Flag and Bad Brains, Minor Threat are the band to know and their self-titled record (officially known as “First 2 7″s”) is the one to own. It’s debatable as to whether there weren’t a thousand other hardcore bands of that era of a similar quality and ethos, but no other band was lead by a figure like Ian MacKaye.

It is true that amongst the punk-underground-alternative-independent-etc scene this album cover, a photo of Alec MacKaye (Ian’s brother) asleep after a gig taken by Susie Josephson Horgan, has taken on an almost iconic status. And not without merit.

The strength in the sharpness of the colour and the descending print on the right-hand-side is confronting and satisfying. The bald head, the boots, the second-hand clothes and the garbage on the cement floor leave one in little doubt that, if the scene is not desperate, it is one that reflects a subculture of some sort. And I think the band and the label themselves recognised the power of the image by using it three times:

for the first seven inch

003.jpg

for the above mentioned record, and, finally, for the “Complete Discography” CD release

040.jpg

The iconography was taken to new heights in 1995 with Rancid’s homage cover, from Jess Fischer:

Rancid: And out Come the Wolves

Clealy, the band couldn’t simply ape every aspect of the cover and, what they ended up with is something predictable and lightweight. Using their patented punk-rock spray art aesthetic to brand the sleeve as a Rancid record, it looks exactly like what it is, cheap. (This doesn’t reflect my thoughts about the music. It is, in my opinion, a fine pop record.) It is clear that the strength of the Minor Threat cover is in its simplicity and, in contrast to the Rancid photograph, the closeness of the figure to the camera works to emphasise the severity of the situation and, in that way, shouts “MINOR THREAT!”

A recent controversy took off, when Nike seemed to accidentally borrow the Minor Threat art for their own purposes:

Major Threat Nike Flyer

I don’t know that being overly protective of album artwork is useful and constructive, but coming from the idealistic punk standpoint it is to be expected. Personally, I’m unsurprised and unmoved by corporate theft, but would be chuffed nonetheless if the band decide to take action against Nike.





22 Comments

  1. I’m chuffed you “borrowed” the Minor Threat cover that I color-adjusted and added the Dischord logo to in an effort to recreate the original 1987 compilation. Viva la authenticity!

    http://www.hallmonitor.org/blog/?p=18

  2. Great band ! Fugazi have some great covers also. Hope to see some review here one day :-)

  3. Hey Paul,

    we didn’t borrow the cover we stole it! Kane didn’t know the “blog etiquette” and we’ve changed it over to a less polished version but one we can safely say has no ownership issues.

  4. Oh, no problems. I didn’t mind at all, I was just giving myself some attribution.

  5. nike deliberately used the image/ style regardless of consequence’s as any publicity is good for corporate whores. From a marketing sense it makes them look cooler…in a fuk you way, well i think it make them look lamer than ever.
    Fuk off nike!!

  6. I first heard this album over 20 years ago and the cover is so iconic. yet it was only recently (like in the last year) that I found out it was a picture of Alec, not Ian. I don’t think Rancid’s cover has the same power, but, like their music, it isn’t all that original even if it isn’t bad.

    Another cover that has something similar is the Subhumans Reason for Existence EP in 1982:

    http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cch223/uk/albums/subhumans_reasonforexistence.html

    I doubt the two had any influence on each other though.

  7. another punk cover that has something in common with this is by the italian HC band “Negazione”:
    http://www.btinternet.com/~thisispunkrock/ps/ita/negazion.htm

  8. “nike deliberately used the image/ style regardless of consequence’s as any publicity is good for corporate whores. From a marketing sense it makes them look cooler…in a fuk you way, well i think it make them look lamer than ever.
    Fuk off nike!!”

    Kind of. Can you imagine them approaching Ian McKaye? “Hi Ian, how you would like to sell shoes for a corporation that represents the opposite of everything you stand for?” Anyway, Minor Threat: the greatest band of all time. Yep.

  9. [...] ein Blog, dass sich mit dem Design von Musikalben befasst. Wer, wie und warum. Sehr Lesenswert. Von Minor Threat ueber Michael Jackson bis hin zu Arcade Fire werden unmengen Artworks analysiert und Blicke hinter [...]

  10. the best punk band ever from argentina, “flema”, also has a similar image in one of their albums: http://bp1.blogger.com/_P2oqh2mvX7g/RwuuQO00KrI/AAAAAAAABQY/JemDov9MdOs/s1600-h/resaka01.jpg the one who appears in the cover of that album is “ricky” espinosa, the singer. He died in 2001, and he became the icon of punk in argentina (he was before). Here is a video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=NvCMu1lURco , its called “nunca sere policia” (ive will never be a policeman). If ou want more info: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flema_%28grupo_musical%29

  11. I think that band is the best band around the world, ¨couse the songs has a positive messages for our life. that its all

  12. I had the green version, sent to me with a hand-written note from Ian McKaye because I had sent them too much money (figuring that shipping to Sweden would cost extra). I think they threw in one or two more Dischord releases, although I don’t recall them.

  13. God Bless Ian McKaye!

  14. *MacKaye

  15. http://cache2.asset-cache.net/xc/HG0649-001.jpg

    this is where it comes from dumb ass. that's like 25+ years older then any of those images.

    Oi!

  16. thanks for spotting. Who took the original?

  17. thanks for spotting. Who took the original?

  18. No mention of Jeff Nelson? Hes the real hero here.

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  22. from this http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/2638820/Hulton-Archive. I don’t believe there’s any connection between the images. Minor threat one may actually have come first

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