XTC: Go 2 Cover

What makes this cover for XTC’s Go 2 interesting is that it was from Hipgnosis, the same UK design group that brought us some of the most original and memorable covers for bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Yes and Black Sabbath.

Hipgnosis’s trademark story like imagery is replaced by copy poking fun at the art form that’s made them famous. It’s unlike any of their work before or after. I’d also say there was nothing like it at record shops back in 1978, this is same year Saturday Night Fever was released.

The back cover continued where the front left off.

XTC: Go 2 Back Japan

Both the album and the cassette had slightly different text. Obviously due to the size limitations of the cassette.

XTC: Go 2 Cassette

As with all good ideas the temptation to copy them was too great for a few other designers. Hey, for an album released in 1978 who’s gonna know right? While the art direction may be different the idea is the same. The following all are interesting covers but I feel as XTC was the first it deserves the credit.

First up was Flipper’s Generic Flipper from 1982.
Here the execution was condensed down to just one word.

Generic Flipper Album Front

Public Image Ltd.’s 1986 Compact Disc gave people browsing the local record store no doubt what they were buying. With the Album, CD and cassette versions all displayed their literal name.

P.I.L were actually called out by Generic Flipper for ripping off their idea. See WIKI entry for more details.

Public Image Ltd. Album

PIL Compact Disc

The Designers Republic used a similar treatment in 1997 for the 2nd print of Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy.

Aphex Twin Come to Daddy

And most recently Hard-Fi have been patting themselves on the back for “breaking the rules” for their 2007 Once Upon A Time in the West release. Read this article on NME if you need a dose of ego driven BS.

The Times have a better article regarding this found here.

Hard-Fi Once Upon A Time Front

And the same treatment for the single Suburban Knights.

Hard-Fi Suburban Knights

There also the System of the Down’s 2002 ‘Steal This Album’, however I feel this is different enough (and inspired by book) to warrant it’s own feature and will post up soon.

Final Analysis:
While the more latter examples are bolder, XTC’s long form copy actually draws you in and compels you to pick it up and read it. (Well it would if it was still in print) I doubt many of you skipped over what was actually written on the cover and very few didn’t find it a refreshing read.

P.S: I wonder if Hipgnosis charged the same amount for this as their other more elaborate covers?

XTC: Go 2

XTC: Go 2 Cover

What makes this cover for XTC’s Go 2 interesting is that it was from Hipgnosis, the same UK design group that brought us some of the most original and memorable covers for bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Yes and Black Sabbath.

Hipgnosis’s trademark story like imagery is replaced by copy poking fun at the art form that’s made them famous. It’s unlike any of their work before or after. I’d also say there was nothing like it at record shops back in 1978, this is same year Saturday Night Fever was released.

The back cover continued where the front left off.

XTC: Go 2 Back Japan

Both the album and the cassette had slightly different text. Obviously due to the size limitations of the cassette.

XTC: Go 2 Cassette

As with all good ideas the temptation to copy them was too great for a few other designers. Hey, for an album released in 1978 who’s gonna know right? While the art direction may be different the idea is the same. The following all are interesting covers but I feel as XTC was the first it deserves the credit.

First up was Flipper’s Generic Flipper from 1982.
Here the execution was condensed down to just one word.

Generic Flipper Album Front

Public Image Ltd.’s 1986 Compact Disc gave people browsing the local record store no doubt what they were buying. With the Album, CD and cassette versions all displayed their literal name.

P.I.L were actually called out by Generic Flipper for ripping off their idea. See WIKI entry for more details.

Public Image Ltd. Album

PIL Compact Disc

The Designers Republic used a similar treatment in 1997 for the 2nd print of Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy.

Aphex Twin Come to Daddy

And most recently Hard-Fi have been patting themselves on the back for “breaking the rules” for their 2007 Once Upon A Time in the West release. Read this article on NME if you need a dose of ego driven BS.

The Times have a better article regarding this found here.

Hard-Fi Once Upon A Time Front

And the same treatment for the single Suburban Knights.

Hard-Fi Suburban Knights

There also the System of the Down’s 2002 ‘Steal This Album’, however I feel this is different enough (and inspired by book) to warrant it’s own feature and will post up soon.

Final Analysis:
While the more latter examples are bolder, XTC’s long form copy actually draws you in and compels you to pick it up and read it. (Well it would if it was still in print) I doubt many of you skipped over what was actually written on the cover and very few didn’t find it a refreshing read.

P.S: I wonder if Hipgnosis charged the same amount for this as their other more elaborate covers?





15 Comments

  1. It’s almost impossible not to read this whole album cover

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  3. The promo CDs from that Hard-Fi album all say “RARE PROMO SINGLE” on them. You get the feeling that they’re very pleased with themselves for coming up with that. It’s not a patch on XTCs.

  4. Have just seen this and has anyone seen the Obey posters? http://obeygiant.com/archives/?page=235&nggpage=4

    Look at the black and white “This is a poster graphic” which is half way down. It’s almost word for word in some areas.

  5. The original Virgin UK release of Go 2 had one corner of the back-cover text missing, and an inner sleeve that had the missing text on one corner. You could lay the inner sleeve over the back cover and put everything together. An incredibly clever piece of work.

    I don’t see the Flipper cover as being related at all. Theirs was a parody of generic food labels, as generics were new and really popular in grocery stores in 1982. The PiL cover was a definite ripoff of the Flipper cover, though (although better designed.) But one could also accuse Flipper of sounding much like PiL (circa “Metal Box”) so perhaps this was Lydon’s way of getting payback :)

  6. Silly me, I thought the PiL cover was a tribute of sorts to Repo Man, where all of the products in that movie are generic (like the can of food that Emilio Esteves eats from is labeled “Food” and that’s it).

  7. I got as far as “SELL the record”. It’s such an aggressively ugly font and layout that I felt kind of put off by the look, I guess.

    To be frank I think the Flipper record doesn’t quite come across. Without knowing what it’s supposed to be, it just makes me go “huh?”. The XTC is just too ugly and dull to approve of, too.

    I love the PiL cover, though.

  8. P.I.L. also had a “Cassette” version.

  9. To Miko’

    I think you’re missing the whole point of the XTC cover. It’s SUPPOSED to be plain and visually unappealing. The text design had never been done before and that is what pulls you in and if you find the text dull than you are truly lacking a sense of humor. I’m old enough to have seen it when it was first released and while I had never heard of XTC, I bought the album strictly because of the cover!

  10. Hipgnosis came up with this cover after an awful lot of their other designs were flatly rejected. So it was probably born out of desperation. They never did an XTC sleeve again.

  11. Great article!
    It's true, this cover's been ripped off a ton of times.
    I'd like to add that the concept was originally designed for Pink Floyd, who rejected it. XTC saw it lying around on the Hipgnosis studio floor, and delighted in having a Floyd reject – “if Pink Floyd don't like it, then we love it!”.
    I love these stories.

  12. Great article!
    It's true, this cover's been ripped off a ton of times.
    I'd like to add that the concept was originally designed for Pink Floyd, who rejected it. XTC saw it lying around on the Hipgnosis studio floor, and delighted in having a Floyd reject – “if Pink Floyd don't like it, then we love it!”.
    I love these stories.

  13. http://manumorales.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/los-latigos-primeros-auxilios/ Los Látigos, band from Argentina (2007). Art direction Manuel Morales, graphic design Gabriel Pardo.

  14. Filter did it too in the 90s.

  15. Love the design.
    Um…before this though was the Beatles “White Album”.

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