Following my visit to the Art of ZTT exhibition at the Art Vinyl Gallery in London on Monday, I got thinking about the Welcome to the Pleasuredome album cover. It always surprised me that it never got listed as a classic sleeve when it has such strong visual imagery and identity. Personally I love it but maybe I’m just past being objective about the design.
Everything about that album was overblown and it stretches itself to the very limit. I think the very reason that it doesn’t appear as ‘a classic’ is because it was TRYING to be a classic. You simply cannot force creativity in that way.
This by no means diminishes the power of the imagery of the artist, Lo Cole, who was then barely out of art school. What a gig to get so early in your career. To this day this album is still in my Top Five packaged albums of all time.
Iconic images whether art, sculpture or photographs are of the moment and just capture the essence of the time they are in. This applies to other objects too such as furniture or even in changes in the language. “Loadsamoney!”
WTTP takes references from many periods of art and sleeve design and it’s purpose was to shock and I think this agenda and non-specific period of imagery that means it’s not rated as highly as it could be. The inside of the gatefold and the censored ‘tongue’ imagery on the reverse just played to the tabloid view of the band at that time.
I’m not saying it’s not good or it’s not of its time but that it isn’t the artistic icon it set out to be. However, the band and the label already have an icon to their name with the ‘Frankie Say…’ T-Shirt so that is achievement enough. Unlike the album I am pretty sure that ZTT were just producing a striking design, albeit ripped off from Katherine Hamnett, that would sell and not think anything of its longevity.
To finish, back to the sleeve design. Below is the original artwork framed as used on the inside of the gatefold sleeve. An image that is likely to cause some embarrassment if seen by a parent back in 1984!
To view further images of the album including inner sleeves and label designs please visit the excellent Zang Tumb Tuum And All That fan site. “Thanks Bob!”