Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Why did nobody tell Bruce Springsteen he looks like Shakin' Stevens on his new album cover?

That's the cover of the new Bruce Springsteen album. It looks like a Shakin' Stevens reissue on a CBS budget label.  It won't come as a surprise to people who've seen the covers of his last few, all of which looked as if they'd emerged at the end of a long lunch with the Top Gear production team.

It wasn't always like this. I know Springsteen album covers are never going to be the first thing talked about when art directors gather but back in the day there were a few that were excellent and one that was definitive, both of the genre and of him. That one.

Obviously he's never going to have the same glow at 64 he had when he was 24 but whereas the young man looks as if he has his tongue in his cheek, the old man wears the heavy self-consciousness of someone about to take the stage at an advertising agency Christmas party. I know he looks better than most men his age but most men his age have grown-up children who see it as their duty in life to make sure Dad never wears a Levi jacket. You'd have thought they could have told him.


13 comments:

John Medd said...

At least he hasn't got a detachable nose.

Peter Walker said...

Frankly, he has a track record of clinkers throughout his career. 'Darkness' is terrible. 'Tunnel of Love' is embarrassing. On 'Human Touch' he looks like Shane Macgowan. 'The Rising' is out of focus and cheap. On 'Working on a Dream' he appears to be channelling Derren Brown. But, surely the worst is 'Wrecking Ball' where are perfectly good photo of Springsteen is graffitied over by an untalented 14 year old. Let's face it, his Telecaster is more photogenic these days. Having said all that; I like 'The Promise' cover.

Greenbeetle said...

Album cover art died with the introduction of the CD.

Spotify only grant you (or have permission to show) a two-inch box to see it in.

jd said...

The new cover is not that bad. At least it is an improvement on Working on a Dream which was an awful cover. It is also better that the cover (and title) of Eric Clapton's last CD which looks like a selfie.

Tim said...

Mr Walker has it right. Born To Run aside, the only decent covers have been those that don't actually feature Springsteen at all - Asbury Park and Nebraska come to mind. The new album cover is especially horrid though, I'll give you that.

Front of Store said...

Springsteen has always been signed to Columbia/CBS, and that's always been a pretty good guarantee of uninspiring artwork.

Of course, some fine stuff gets through, when illustration and typography align - as Born To Run illustrates. But think of other CBS notables - Dylan, Streisand, Simon & Garfunkel, Santana, The Clash - a few classic covers have slipped through the net, but not because CBS wanted to invest in them, they just got lucky (eg Ray Lowry's cover for London Calling).

CBS rarely indulged their artists in the way that Harvest or Vertigo or Elektra did, with fancy fold-out covers, expensive photoshoots etc. And it would appear, through all the travails of the music industry, that the same philosophy holds true today.

David Hepworth said...

True about CBS covers. But, oddly enough, Epic used to splash out and that was part of the same company.

Front of Store said...

I'd forgotten about Epic - home of Shakin' Stevens, lest we forget: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Epic-Masters-Box-Set/dp/B001RTYL4E.

It was a "the same but different" division, like Random House and Transworld, as I recall, rather than "the man's heavier brother" (Philips and Vertigo). But I was just a record shop timeserver, who knew little of what was happening in Soho Square.

Auteur John said...

It's not a bad record, mind - although the electrified evisceration of 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' is a disaster.

David Hepworth said...

Michael Jackson was Epic, as were Cheap Trick & The Isley Brothers, all of whom had quite lavish covers.

martin norris said...

Is Born to Run really a great cover ?
While it is the album that really defined Springsteen Its a dreadful crop of a photograph. As Clemons used to bemoan - he only had his butt on the cover !
To me its always had a faint whiff exclusion for corporate and commercial reasons in a time when rock groups were less racially inclusive.

George Salisbury said...

Santana had some reasonably spectacular CBS gatefold sleeves

Unknown said...

The Shaking Stevens motive is clearly not accidental. The album inner bags all contain variations on this theme. Sadly in my 50's I have my Levi jacket. Lack of imagination, or is it just comfort, keeps me wearing it. The album, on first listen, is ace. Repetion will probably pull it back to alright. Even so, first time through, much better than The Ghost of Tom Joad.