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.
Both the album and the cassette had slightly different text. Obviously due to the size limitations of the 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.
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.
The Designers Republic used a similar treatment in 1997 for the 2nd print of Aphex Twin’s 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.
And the same treatment for the single 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.
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?