Van Halen: 1984
The best thing about becoming a Van Halen fan in the mid 80′s, admittedly starting with 5150 and then learning that the only true Van Halen was David Lee Roth Van Halen, was i instantly had access to an already great catalogue (ok Diver Down was a bit sketchy).
Once i started visiting record stores in search of their back catalogue it was the cover of 1984 that stood out the most. The odd thing is it’s not the boldest of covers. The colours are all very pale and subdued and aside from the logo and roman numerals everything has a really soft feel. But the image of the baby angel (or cupid) smoking a cigarette is so iconic. It could be a kind of kitsch pop art take on Greek mythological gods. Or perhaps i’m just thinking of Prince Vultan and his merry Hawkmen from Flash Gordon.
Unfortunately the theme of the cover gets shelved and the rest of the album artwork goes all futuristic and bland. Typical band photos, 1984 written in some clichéd digital font and an abstract photo of what looks like to be the tops of ashtray bins. It makes me wonder if the art director was bi-polar or the record label after hearing the keyboard dominated sound thought the futuristic art direction better represented the album. Whatever the reason it’s a big disappointment and it’s a good thing it didn’t spill over and taint the front cover.
1984 peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts, kept from moving into the #1 spot by Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Seems Eddie Van Halen had 2 successful albums in the year 1984, he also played the guitar solo on ‘Beat It’.