The Beatles Album Covers Defined


From the very starting, a giant a part of The Beatles attraction was visible. In his guide The Artwork of The Beatles, Mike Evans defined, “their image was always unique. Unlike their contemporaries on the music scene, whose style reflected the times, The Beatles invariably helped to establish fashion.” From their pre-fame days, they all the time had a glance – uniform, in each sense. After they first emerged, the press was obsessive about their mop-top haircuts, their matching Cuban-heeled boots, their collarless jackets. How they introduced themselves was important to what made them so… completely different. And nowhere was this mirrored extra persistently than on their document covers. Pictures, illustration, graphic design – Beatles album covers modified all of them.

Earlier than The Beatles, album artwork was designed to promote the contents – tune titles and gross sales messages on high of the artist’s vivid picture. However inside just a few quick years, The Beatles album covers had been artistic endeavors in their very own proper. Photos such because the half-lit heads on With The Beatles, the psychedelic nostalgia of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band, and the simplicity of crossing Abbey Street rank as among the most influential and enduring artwork of the twentieth century, clearing the way in which for others like The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and numerous others to go even additional.

Listed below are the tales behind a few of The Beatles’ iconic album covers.

Seeking to construct your document assortment with vinyl from The Beatles? The Sound Of Vinyl is providing a particular low cost for all readers that click on this hyperlink.

The Beatles – Please Please Me

(1963, cowl artwork {photograph} by Angus McBean)

The album cowl picture introducing The Beatles’ 1963 debut album Please Please Me was shot by Angus McBean. George Martin made the choice. On the time, in addition to being the group’s document producer, he was additionally the top of Parlophone Information. (Martin and McBean had beforehand already labored on a number of comedy document covers.) The picture shoot was initially deliberate for outdoor the insect home on the London Zoo. The zoo rejected the thought and, ultimately, the placement of EMI Home in London’s Manchester Sq. was chosen, with a shoot organized for March 5, 1963. That very same day, the group recorded “From Me to You.”

“It was done in an almighty rush, like the music,” recalled Martin. The shot that graced the quilt artwork options the fresh-faced Fab 4 grinning down at McBean from a balcony a number of flooring above the lensman: “I only had my ordinary portrait lens, so to get the picture, I had to lie flat on my back in the entrance. I took some shots, and I said, ‘That’ll do.’”

Hearken to Please Please Me right here.

The Beatles – With the Beatles

The Beatles – With the Beatles

(1963, cowl artwork {photograph} by Robert Freeman)

Whereas their first LP was rushed out to capitalize on their preliminary success, by the point of their observe up, With The Beatles, launched on November 22, 1963 (a date that goes down in American historical past for an additional motive), it was turning into clear that The Fab 4 had been no flash-in-the-pan.

Taking inspiration from pictures by their pal Astrid Kirchherr, Robert Freeman shot the album cowl not in a studio, however the hall of the Palace Court docket Resort, Bournemouth, whereas The Beatles had been on tour. As Paul McCartney recalled, the shoot on August 22, 1963 was “One hour in a hotel. [Freeman] found the end of a corridor, a little window where natural light spilled in at about 11 o’clock. And he just sat us, ‘You sit in front, there…’” The result’s a very iconic picture; 4 younger males in matching haircuts and polo-necks, half-lit in black and white, and unsmiling – itself a substantial departure for a pop act. As George Harrison stated, “That cover was the beginning of us being actively involved in The Beatles’ artwork.”

Hearken to With the Beatles right here.

The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

The Beatles – A Arduous Day’s Night time

(1964, cowl artwork {photograph} by Robert Freeman)

As with their earlier LP, the quilt artwork for 1964’s A Arduous Day’s Night time (the accompanying album to The Beatles’ first characteristic movie) consists of black and white portraits of every Beatle in matching polo necks and haircuts. Solely now they’re enjoying as much as the digicam, every pulling a collection of faces. The 20 portraits (together with one of many again of George’s head) had been once more taken by Robert Freeman, however this time, the shoot happened within the photographer’s London studio.

By now, The Fab 4 had turn out to be buddies with Freeman – he and Lennon lived in the identical condominium block. Freeman mirrored on that interval, commenting, “Being with The Beatles was being in the center of crazy activity, the eye of a hurricane… It was an altogether lively and amusing time.” Designed to appear to be reels of movie, the sleeve design nods to the scene the place the person band members are bombarded by journalists’ questions and photographers’ flashes.

Hearken to A Arduous Day’s Night time right here.

The Beatles – Beatles For Sale

The Beatles – Beatles For Sale

(1964, cowl artwork {photograph} by Robert Freeman)

Photographed by Robert Freeman in Hyde Park, London, October 1964, the Beatles For Sale album cowl shot presents a weary-looking rock ‘n’ roll band, devoid of smiles, and – once more – nearly identically attired. “The photographer would always be able to say to us, ‘Just show up,’ because we all wore the same kind of gear all the time,” recalled Paul McCartney. “It was easy. We showed up in Hyde Park by the Albert Memorial. I was quite impressed by George’s hair there. He managed to create his little turnip top.”

This was their first gatefold sleeve, and inside is one other Freeman portrait, this time of the 4 Beatles posing in entrance of a collage of idols from Hollywood and music corridor, reminiscent of Jayne Mansfield and Victor Mature – an idea they’d return to 3 years later for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band. In his sleeve notes, Derek Taylor wrote “The kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today.” After which some, Derek.

Hearken to Beatles For Sale right here.

The Beatles – Help

The Beatles – Assist!

(1965, cowl artwork {photograph} by Robert Freeman)

Launched to accompany their second movement image, 1965’s Assist! album sleeve exhibits the Liverpool band reprising their snowsuit outfits from the film, and seemingly sending a misery sign in semaphore. Whereas photographer Robert Freeman had initially deliberate to shoot the boys flagging the letters H-E-L-P, he finally deserted this plan, as an alternative preferring an association that labored effectively graphically. The ultimate album cowl really spells out N-U-J-V (or presumably C).

By 1965, Freeman had turn out to be the de facto Beatles official photographer, taking pictures 5 of their album covers, in addition to plenty of their best-loved picture classes throughout the Beatlemania years. On his demise in November 2019, Paul McCartney stated: “He was one of our favourite photographers during The Beatles years, who came up with some of our most iconic album covers. Besides being a great professional, he was imaginative and a true original thinker.”

Hearken to Assist! right here.

The Beatles – Rubber Soul

The Beatles – Rubber Soul

(1965, cowl artwork {photograph} by Robert Freeman)

The Beatles’ second album of 1965 was their greatest departure up to now music-wise, with songs like “Nowhere Man” and “Norwegian Wood.” The quilt artwork mirrored that experimentation. For starters, the album artwork didn’t characteristic the band’s identify, simply their 4 faces, peering distorted on the listener beneath the title, Rubber Soul. “It was Paul’s title,” John Lennon stated. “It was like ‘Yer Blues’, I suppose, meaning English soul, ‘Rubber soul’. Just a pun.” The typography was, as with so many Beatles issues, simply forward of its time; inside a 12 months, that fashion could be de rigueur on psychedelic poster artwork.

The stretched impact took place purely by chance. “The photographer Robert Freeman had taken some pictures round at John’s house in Weybridge,” Paul McCartney defined. Again in London, Freeman introduced the images projected onto an album-sized piece of card. “We had just chosen the photograph when the card that the picture was projected onto fell backwards a little, elongating the photograph. It was stretched and we went, ‘That’s it, Rubber So-o-oul, hey hey! Can you do it like that?’ And he said, ‘Well, yeah. I can print it that way.’ And that was it.”

Hearken to Rubber Soul right here.

The Beatles – Revolver

The Beatles – Revolver

(1966, illustrated by Klaus Voormann)

Having designed The Beatles’ earlier 5 vinyl document covers, Robert Freeman had created a proposed picture collage design for 1966’s Revolver. Nevertheless, this was rejected in favor of an illustration by an previous pal from Hamburg, Klaus Voormann. Maybe impressed by illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, an exhibition of whose line drawings had drawn large crowds to London’s V&A Museum in the summertime of 1966 (Beardsley would seem on the quilt of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band), the album cowl featured line drawings of The Beatles alongside cut-up pictures.

Voormann instructed Mojo’s Martin O’Gorman: “Because they were being so avant-garde, I thought the cover has to do the same thing. I wanted to push the design further than normal.” When Voormann introduced his completed cowl artwork to The Fab 4, together with producer George Martin and supervisor Brian Epstein, he was at first met with silence. Nevertheless it quickly grew to become clear that they liked it. Epstein instructed Voormann: “Klaus, this is exactly what we needed. I was worried that this whole thing might not work, but now I know that this cover, this LP, will work – thank you.”

Hearken to Revolver right here.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band

(1967, designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth; cowl artwork {photograph} by Michael Cooper)

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band in 1967 was maybe extra nostalgic than psychedelic, because the uniformed Beatles fronted a montage of over 60 life-size pictures representing buddies, heroes, and icons, alongside waxworks of their Mop Prime selves. “We wanted the whole of Pepper to be so that you could look at the front cover for years,” Paul McCartney defined, “and study all those people and read all the words on the back.”

The Beatles referred to as upon artist Peter Blake and Jann Haworth to tug all of it collectively. Essentially the most celebrated album cowl ever made was a revolution in design, and noticed the packaging itself raised as much as the extent of artwork; particularly pop artwork. As Ringo Starr remembered, “Sgt. Pepper was a special album, so when the time came for the sleeve we wanted to dress up, and we wanted to be these people, all the ‘Peppers’. It was Flower Power coming into its fullest. It was love and peace; it was a fabulous period, for me and the world.”

Hearken to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band right here.

The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles – Magical Thriller Tour

(1967, designed by John Van Hamersveld)

Though not initially launched as an LP within the UK, the place as an alternative a double EP plus booklet accompanied the made-for-TV film, the 1967 US Magical Thriller Tour album has turn out to be the one US launch to have turn out to be a de facto a part of their catalog. The quilt artwork exhibits the group of their I Am the Walrus outfits from the movie (during which, opposite to what John Lennon wrote in “Glass Onion,” the Walrus was John; Paul was the hippo). It was the primary album cowl by The Beatles the place the group member’s faces didn’t seem in any respect.

For the tune “I Am the Walrus,” John had taken his inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” “It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system,” John instructed Playboy in 1980. “Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, ‘Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy’. I should have said, ‘I am the carpenter’. But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it? (singing) ‘I am the carpenter…’”

Hearken to Magical Thriller Tour right here.

The Beatles – The White Album

The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album)

(1968, designed by Richard Hamilton)

In some ways, the quilt artwork of The Beatles – identified to all as The White Album – was the precise reverse of its predecessor, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band. The place Pepper was busy and vibrant, 1968’s White Album was, effectively, white. However as with Pepper, they turned to a longtime artist to deliver their concepts to fruition. Enter Richard Hamilton, one of many pioneers of pop artwork. As Hamilton recalled, “Paul McCartney requested the design be as stark a contrast to Sgt. Pepper’s day-glo explosion as possible… he got it!”

The bundle additionally included 4 portraits taken by John Kelly, in addition to a collage poster created by Hamilton, with Paul performing as his assistant. “For me, that was a great lesson that I was getting from the hands of someone like Richard Hamilton,” stated Paul, “a whole week of his thoughts. No mean teacher, man!” To proceed the inventive theme, preliminary copies got particular person numbers, resembling editions of limited-run artworks or poetry books. In 2015, Ringo Starr’s private copy, numbered 0000001, grew to become the world’s most costly document, when it bought at public sale for $790,000.

Hearken to The Beatles right here.

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine

(1969, director George Dunning and illustrator Heinz Edelmann)

The soundtrack album to the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine is exclusive amongst Beatles albums, in that just one aspect of the document comprises any Beatles music – aspect two options George Martin’s orchestral rating for the movie. There are, the truth is, simply 4 new Beatles songs on your entire LP.

By the point the soundtrack album was launched in January 1969 (whereas The White Album was nonetheless at primary, and because the group started their Get Again mission), their psychedelic alter-egos, as imagined by illustrator Heinz Edelmann, had been so removed from their present look as to make the film seem nostalgic. Regardless of not being of The Beatles’ creation, the Yellow Submarine art work stays iconic immediately, and adorns all the pieces from notebooks and tote luggage to enjoying playing cards and socks – there’s even a Yellow Submarine version of Monopoly. “I loved Yellow Submarine,” Ringo Starr recalled. “I thought it was really innovative, with great animation. The Sea of Holes, the Blue Meanie syndrome – it’s still great and I’m glad we were involved with it.”

Hearken to Yellow Submarine right here.

The Beatles – Abbey Road

The Beatles – Abbey Street

(1969, cowl artwork {photograph} by Iain Macmillan)

Completed up over the summer time of 1969, Abbey Street was the final album recorded by The Beatles, and the working title of Everest (after engineer Geoff Emerick’s model of cigarettes) urged a canopy shot of the group in entrance – and even on high – of the world’s highest peak. However when that concept was scuttled, they settled on doing nearly the precise reverse; coming out the studio’s entrance door and naming the album Abbey Street, after the road the place EMI’s studios had been situated.

The shoot happened on the morning of August 8, 1969, and created essentially the most well-known zebra crossing on this planet. With rumors that Paul McCartney had died and been changed by a look-a-like, followers scoured the brand new art work for clues. Some thought that Paul being barefoot was an indication. John Lennon later dismissed that concept: “Paul walked barefoot across the road because Paul’s idea of being different is to look almost straight, but just have his ear painted blue – something a little subtle. So Paul decided to be barefoot that day walking across the road.”

Hearken to Abbey Street right here.

The Beatles – Let It Be

The Beatles – Let It Be

(1970, cowl artwork {photograph} by Ethan Russell)

Though not the final album The Beatles would document, by the point Let It Be was lastly edited collectively for launch in 1970, this rock band was already a part of historical past. Preliminary copies in sure territories had been issued as a part of a lavish field set, which included an expensive guide of Ethan Russell’s pictures. On the album cowl, the 4 Beatles are introduced merely towards a black background, every shot individually and inside his personal field.

However that hadn’t all the time been the plan. The unique thought was for the document to be referred to as Get Again, with a sleeve mimicking that of their debut, Please Please Me. Photographer Angus McBean was recalled to repeat his 1963 shot – at nice expense. Nevertheless, why this concept was finally rejected seems to have been misplaced within the mists of time. Certainly, in a 1971 open letter to Paul McCartney in Melody Maker, John Lennon requested, “By the way, what happened to my idea of putting the parody of our first album cover on the Let It Be cover?”

Hearken to Let It Be right here.

The Beatles – Blue

The Beatles – Crimson & Blue

(1973, cowl artwork {photograph} by Angus McBean)

The thought had been for The Beatles’ shelved 1969 Get Again LP to imitate their 1963 debut, Please Please Me. Because it was, the general public needed to wait till the 2 volumes of what grew to become often called the Crimson and Blue albums had been launched in 1973 to benefit from the dramatic comparability of the group pictured in the identical spot, simply six years aside.

Angus McBean took cost of each shoots at EMI’s Manchester Sq. HQ. However the second shoot proved trickier than the primary. An preliminary try needed to be aborted as a brand new porch had been constructed within the intervening years, stopping McBean from taking over his unique place. With the porch eliminated, they accomplished the shot per week or so later.

The Beatles – Yesterday and Today

The Beatles – Yesterday & At this time

(1966, cowl artwork {photograph} by Robert Whitaker)

Probably the most sought-after Beatles album covers, the notorious ‘Butcher cover’ of their June 1966 Yesterday and At this time LP in america was a chunk of conceptual artwork, taken by British photographer Robert Whitaker. For the shoot, the 4 Beatles had been wearing butchers’ jackets and draped with hunks of meat and damaged components of child dolls. “My original idea for the cover was better,” John Lennon insisted: “Decapitate Paul. But he wouldn’t go along with it.”

As quickly as the primary copies of the US variations had been despatched out, nonetheless, the shocked response to the Butcher cowl made Capitol Information recall the album. Their resolution? Paste a brand new image excessive of the previous one. As Ringo Starr recalled in Anthology, “The sleeve was great for us because we were quite a nice bunch of boys and we thought, ‘Let’s do something like this!’ What was crazy about that sleeve was that, because it was banned, they glued paper over it and everyone started steaming it off. They made it into a really heavy collector’s item.” At this time, copies change fingers for – at the very least – four-figure sums.

Hearken to the album right here.

The Beatles – Hey Jude

The Beatles – Hey Jude

(1970, cowl artwork {photograph} by Ethan Russell)

It was probably the final time the 4 Beatles would all be collectively for a photograph session. However, as Ringo Starr defined in Anthology, that was by no means meant to be the case. “It was just a photo session. I wasn’t there thinking ‘This is the last photo session’.” The ensuing pictures included one chosen to adorn their 1970 US compilation album, Hey Jude. Taken by Ethan Russell, the shoot happened at John and Yoko’s just lately bought Tittenhurst Park mansion simply exterior Ascot, in Surrey, on August 22, 1969.

The album cowl portrait was taken in entrance of the property’s Victorian Meeting Corridor, the 4 Beatles dressed with little of the colour seen on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band. And but regardless of the darkness, there’s loads of gentle to be discovered – George’s hat perched atop a Victorian bust, for instance, whereas it’s simple to consider from the expressions on their faces that George and Paul are sharing a wry second.

Beatles album cover for Anthology 1

Beatles album cover for Anthology 2” width=

Beatles album cover for Anthology 3” width=

The Beatles – Anthology vols 1-3

(1995, illustration by Klaus Voormann)

The art work that accompanied Anthology, The Beatles’ 1995 telling of their very own story, was illustrated by Klaus Voormann, a pal from their pre-fame Hamburg days, who had performed bass on plenty of their solo recordings – together with John Lennon’s Think about and George Harrison’s All Issues Should Go – and had beforehand illustrated the quilt for his or her 1966 Revolver LP. When positioned aspect by aspect, the three volumes of Anthology make up one lengthy collage.

Hidden in Voormann’s illustration are plenty of ‘easter eggs’ for followers to get pleasure from. On the art work for quantity 1, for instance, the art work from an unofficial album The Savage Younger Beatles sees the top of unique drummer Pete Finest torn off, permitting his alternative, Ringo Starr, to see by means of. As a wry nod to this, Finest later used the lacking part as the quilt of his 2008 album, Haymans Inexperienced. One other, even less-obvious gem associated to Voormann’s Revolver sleeve. On the 1966 cowl, Voormann hid a small snap of himself aged 28 throughout the art work. For the 1995 art work, Voormann hid a photograph of his 57-year-old self within the re-drawn album cowl.

Capitol Information Albums in america

The Beatles’ US LPs had been markedly completely different to these issued within the UK. Early mixes, tough edits, and a radical drenching in echo meant that – till the UK variations outmoded them on CD within the Nineteen Eighties – Beatles followers stateside had been listening to one thing fairly completely different from what The Beatles had been producing. With the notable exception of Yesterday & At this time (1966), The Beatles had little or no to do with the art work on US albums like Meet The Beatles. Certainly, the album artwork usually boasted gross sales messages on the quilt – “Electrifying big-beat performances by England’s Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr” hollered The Beatles Second Album, whereas Beatles ’65 boasted “Great new hits by John • Paul • George • Ringo.”

Seeking to construct your document assortment with vinyl from The Beatles? The Sound Of Vinyl is providing a particular low cost for all readers that click on this hyperlink.

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