A great album cover can do many things. It can tell a story, grab your attention, attract controversy, define an era, a generation and an artist.
As host of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, I have made it my mission (one of many to be honest) to celebrate the magic behind the creation of the album covers for The Jam, The Style Council and Paul Weller Solo.
Some album covers are so iconic that they live on decades later in galleries, as wall-art, as mugs or t-shirts. And yet in an increasingly digital world, if somebody were to create a rulebook about making it in music , the rules around a successful album cover are probably out the window now, right ?
“But does it work as a thumbnail for Spotify?” doesn’t really scream ‘creativity’, or maybe it does? Maybe that’s the very definition after all?.
In the world of Weller, the album cover artwork has always felt important – from The Jam and that iconic ‘In The City’ starting point, to Our Favourite Shop’s ultimate challenge for fans of The Style Council to collect ‘the shop’ to that really f**king cool cover for the very first solo LP – Paul Weller back in 1992 to Sir Peter Blake’s outstanding Stanley Road to that beautiful landscape of Black Barn (Weller HQ) on 22 Dreams to the utter coolness of Paul in chair on the cover of True Meanings.
They’re all special in their own way and getting the creatives behind these magical pieces has always been an absolute must for my guest-list.
The designers – Bill Smith, Simon Halfon and Alex Hutchinson
The artists – Sir Peter Blake, Tim Shepard and Alex Borg
The Photographers – Martyn Goddard, Gered Mankowitz, Peter Kodick, Andrew Douglas, Andrew Rosen, Twink, Peter Anderson, Olly Ball, Lawrence Watson, Nicole Nodland and Sandra Vijandi.
Heck I’m even trying to work out who ‘Alwyn and Main Titles’ is from The Gift.
Special mention also to Robin Richards for illustration on Setting Sons, who also hand-painted the Whaam guitar, designed The Jam tour t-shirts and official fan club merchandise.
You can hear some of these people in conversation on Desperately Seeking Paul – The Paul Weller Fan Podcast below with links to find out more about their work…
Here’s hoping we can track down / persuade the others to come on too!.
Bill Smith – The Jam – In The City, This is the Modern World, Setting Sons, All Mod Cons, Sound Affects
EP39 – Bill Smith – The Jam Art Director + Cover Stories… "I've climbed the highest peaks, caught the wild wind home…" – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
It all started with The Jam logo… Well actually it all started many years before that, 1966 to be exact when Bill was 15 years old and not only discovered how much music meant to him but how much the album covers meant too.
Not only did former Polydor Art Director, Bill Smith create that famous spray-paint The Jam logo that lives on today but he also created the covers for 5 of their albums and 16 of their singles!
Buy Bill Smith’s book Cover Stories here
Tim Shepard – 22 Dreams Artwork
EP10 – Timothy Shepard – 22 Dreams Artist – "And all the pictures on the wall, serve only to remind you of it all" – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Tim Shepard was the artist behind the incredible collage for the 22 Dreams LP – reimaging Ripley and Black Barn Studio (Weller HQ) for the cover. See more collaborations, commissions and compositions at timshepard.co.uk
Alex Borg – AKA The Stereo Typist – Fat Pop Front Cover Design
EP36 – Alex Borg AKA The Stereo Typist – Fat Pop Album Artist + Pop Art… "Say what you want, 'cos this is a new art school" – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Alex Borg is also known as The Stereo Typist. The man who created the fabulous cover art for Fat Pop (Volume 1). You can find more of his fabulous designs and prints inspired by modernism and pop culture at thestereotypist.com
Martyn Goddard – Photographer – In the City & Sound Affects
EP41 – Martyn Goddard – Photographer – Jam Sessions – "In echoed steps you walk across an empty dream…" – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Find out more on the book Jam Sessions by Martyn Goddard here
This is the first time that Martyn’s photographs of The Jam have been gathered together and presented in a single volume. Many of the photographs in this book were uncovered by Martyn during a comprehensive review of his archives during the Covid-19 lockdown, and are being published for the first time.
His images appear on the cover of their first album, In The City, and their fifth, Sound Affects. In between, his photographs were used on the front covers of a flurry of picture sleeve singles: “All Around The World”,“The Modern World”, “News of The World”, “David Watts/ ‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street”, “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight”, and finally “Strange Town”.
Gered Mankowitz – Photographer – The Jam – This is The Modern World
EP112 – Gered Mankowitz – Legendary Photographer… ”Look around this world, there’s millions to be seen…” – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Twink – The Jam – The Gift Photography
EP61 – Neil ‘Twink‘ Tinnings – Photographer – Mental Health Ambassador – ”I‘ve got the gift of life can‘t you see it in the twinkle of my eye?” – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Commissioned by The Jam to be their official photographer in 1981, Twink not only captured them on stage, but also their life out of the public eye. Twink’s photographs appeared on the cover of The Jam’s platinum-selling final studio album The Gift.
Nicole Nodland – True Meanings Cover Photography
EP80 – Nicole Nodland – Photographer – Paul Weller & Prince… ”Come and rock my dreams but take the chance for me” – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
From personal photographer to Prince – working day and night with the global superstar to a portfolio packed full of icons & stars from the world of music and fashion, such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, George Clinton, Lana Del Ray, Florence Welch and Dua Lipa.
Nicole entered the world of Paul Weller for True Meanings in 2018 – continuing to work with Paul on shots for Other Aspects and On Sunset.
Album covers from In the City to An Orchestrated Songbook