Metal Odyssey’s Rock Music Book Pick: “A Brief History Of Album Covers”

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ALBUM COVERS – I recently discovered and bought a book that is about one of my favorite Rock ‘N’ Roll topics, that being album covers. A Brief History Of Album Covers set me back just $5 (U.S. funds). The store where I bought this cool book sells nothing higher than $5, hence the store name: Five Below. Now, this is not a used book store, nor a thrift store, all the variety of merchandise is sold as “new” at Five Below. There are a few of these Five Below stores in my area of Eastern Pennsylvania. Finding a book that interests me seems to be the norm, each time I visit a Five Below.

A Brief History Of Album Covers is an entertaining and insightful book to read. Author Jason Draper covers nearly 200 classic album covers, all in chronological order. From the debut and self-titled Elvis Presley album from 1956, to the (best of) Oasis album from 2006 – Stop The Clocks. From the Fifties to the “Noughties” as Jason Draper refers to the Millennium decade, he chooses album covers that are “the most iconic, unusual or representative” of each respective decade. It’s interesting and simply fun to see the album covers which Jason Draper has chosen for this book.

Each album cover has a brief write-up, with an anecdotal approach that works just well with me. Every album that is revisited has it’s respective cover pictured, in full color, along with it’s record label, release dates and songwriters. I find this book to be extremely helpful with it’s details that it offers. A Brief History Of Album Covers could have easily been a mammoth sized coffee table book, however, in this instance, the “less is more” school of thought comes together very attractively. This book has a soft cover and is 384 pages long. The oddball measurements (approximately) for this book are: 6 and 5/8″ x 6 and 1/4″.

There are not an abundance of Heavy Metal album covers found in Jason Draper’s research here and I quite honestly can live with it. Not everyone will submit the same list or book of what they consider to be the standout album covers that span 60 years. Iron Maiden’s third studio album from 1982, The Number Of The Beast is included, along with Van Halen’s 1984 and Led Zeppelin’s ultra-legendary sixth studio album – Physical Graffiti.

(Led ZeppelinPhysical Graffiti)

The diversity is seen here in A Brief History Of Album Covers that lends itself as a tribute to many Rock Music genres, only not all of them. From Frank Sinatra to Lynyrd Skynyrd with Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols in-between, Jason Draper has accomplished a tidy celebration of album cover art. Sure, if it were my book on a history of album covers I would include representations from Black, Death and Thrash Metal without blinking a Metal eye. As I mentioned earlier though, not everyone will share the same opinion on an absolute list of decade defining album covers.

Even with the lack of Extreme Metal being represented within A Brief History Of Album Covers, I still strongly endorse this book and applaud Jason Draper for revisiting such a tremendous catalog of album covers. His interpretations of the album cover art he compiled, has made me look at these covers with an “open mind” once again. I also commend Jason Draper for paying homage to what is now quickly becoming an obsolete experience for younger generations of music fans, of being able to view and enjoy the album cover art that so often represents the respective music of the album and it’s creators. The LP does live on though, thanks to Jason Draper’s brief journey with all of these cool covers.

There are many interesting facts found in A Brief History Of Album Covers, both historic and artistic. One fact that I was reminded of, (due to my blatantly forgetting about), is the design similarity between Elvis Presley’s 1956 debut album and London Calling by The Clash,ย which was released back in 1979. Jason Draper refers to The Clash cover as “parodying” the Elvis Presley debut, only I beg to differ. My interpretation is The Clash are paying tribute to a true pioneer of Rock ‘N’ Roll, regardless if the initial intent was to be that of parody or not. Both the Elvis Presley debut album and London Calling are serious representations of their respective Rock genres, therefore the tag of “parody” realistically does not apply. Take a look for yourself below:

Elvis Presley (debut/self titled) – RCA Victor – 1956

The Clash (London Calling) – CBS Records (UK), Epic Records (U.S.)

* Jason Draper is the Reviews Editor for Record Collector Magazine, the United Kingdom’s longest running monthly music magazine, with distribution in the UK and worldwide. Jason Draper is described as a “true collector” on the inside back cover panel of this book… I would tend to agree he surely is, without knowing him.

* The foreword for A Brief History Of Album Covers was written by Paul Du Noyer. As the founder of Mojo (music magazine based in the United Kingdom), Paul Du Noyer has also edited many Rock Music reference books and is an author himself.

* A Brief History Of Album Covers was first published in 2008, by Flame Tree Publishing, based in the United Kingdom.




11 Responses to “Metal Odyssey’s Rock Music Book Pick: “A Brief History Of Album Covers””

  1. This looks really cool, I’ll have to check it out. My personal favourite cover is the one for Dio’s Holy Diver album. It scared a Mormon missionary.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Yeah… that DIO album cover is outrageously incredible. I remember listening to a Ronnie James Dio interview on the radio… right after “Holy Diver” was released. He made a statement about that cover that to this day has me thinking. I remember Ronnie James Dio saying: “How do you know the priest isn’t the devil and the devil isn’t the priest?”

      Man… that had me looking at this “Holy Diver” album cover in a totally different light then up to now. Very “philosophical” I suppose.

  2. Hell for $5 who could say no? That’s a good find and I wish we had stores like this here in Orlando

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Thanks… I’m always “sniffing around” for “low end” Rock and Metal deal$ when I’m out and about! I always say… you just never know what your gonna “stumble upon” when you least expect it.

  3. Man, Somewhere In Time should be included, so many references to past Iron Maiden are included there, but this necesarrily isn’t an interesting album cover book (I think it isn’t by the way it sounds) but that would be a bok I wouildn’t mind picking up. But a book Ir eally want to see is a book documenting all Iron Maiden album, ep, and single covers and I am surprised that isn’t released yet, but then again the book woudl be inclomplete when the next Maiden album comes out so I guess we better wait.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      I can understand your allegiance to Iron Maiden… it’s Metal honorable. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, based on the excitement you show for “music” through your reviews and comments, I do think you would enjoy this book for it’s Rock & Art History. The Grateful Dead album artwork has always impressed me… and the album cover for “Cheap Thrills” by Big Brother & The Holding Company is an incredible piece of “comic art” by legendary cartoonist/illustrator/artist Robert Crumb.

      Sometimes, the album artwork “looks like” Heavy Metal, when it is really not the case. For example: Bowie (David Bowie) “Diamond Dogs” and King Crimson “In The Court Of The Crimson King”. Then again, that’s my Metal opinion on those two covers.

      All the titles I mentioned above are in this book too. AC/DC “Back In Black” Led Zeppelin’s debut and Aerosmith “Get A Grip” are featured as well… and again, not much else for Heavy Metal.

  4. Well if I see it I will pick it up, if onjyl there were $5 stores around here, we ahve 99 cent sotres but you can’t find much good stuff at those. Diamond Dogs certainly does look heavy metal, but then I see Bowie and I immediately think glam rock. In the Court of the Crimson King is an odd cover, almost creepy, thjose flaring nostrils are almost like a second pair of eyes.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      That King Crimson album is absolutely terrific. That album helped open the door to Progressive Rock. I have it on vinyl and will most likely take pictures of it and post it up one day. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The vinyl I have is not the newly released (limited) version from last year… the vinyl I have is as close to original as you’ll get!

      • Aw man, that is pretty cool, King Crimson did indeed open up the world to prog rock, but I still think 2112 is the definitive prog rock album, but this album barely comes short

        • metalodyssey Says:

          “2112” is an incredible RUSH album and yes, very well may be “the definitive” Prog Rock album. However, a year before “2112” RUSH released “Caress Of Steel” (1975). This is a RUSH album that doesn’t get the notoriety that it truly deserves… “Caress Of Steel” is a candidate for being a “definitive” Prog Rock album too, IMO.

          At the end of the day though… it is very hard to ignore or dispute your stating “2112” as “definitive”. I have had “spells” where I listen to “2112” every day for weeks on end. Now, due to this “2112” chatting… I’m gonna be all over this album again! ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Man Caress of Steel is another extremely good prog rock album, I love all of Rush’s albums up to and including A Show of Hands, I will probably get into their later work later, but for now I am enjoying all those albums, another great prog rock album is Kansas’ song for America, my favorit esong from that album is Lonely Street, man I am getting on a prog rock kick now!

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