Posted by: crustynomad | October 15, 2008

Welcome to the Pleasuredome LP – an 80s icon?

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!”

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Responses

  1. When I bought Welcome To The Pleasuredome I don’t think I’d ever seen an album cover like it before – the gatefold sleeve and the inside artwork were extremely provocative and eye-catching. Only in the vinyl era could something this lovably OTT be pulled off – the CD version in its horrible plastic jewel case diminished the power of the packaging. The same with Still by Joy Division – the LP weighed a ton with its thick card gatefold cover (and that was just the normal version), the CD looked rubbish. Of course it was very typical of ZTT that the inner sleeve for record 2 of the Pleasuredome LP contained a mail order service for clothes and other such gubbins. Did anyone ever buy this stuff?

  2. My God, who gave you permission to comment? 😀

    How is California – have your deportation papers not come through yet?

  3. Ha! I thought I’d darken your doorstep with some ramblings. California is okay thanks, it’s gradually cooling down in time for the festive period (though still 30 degrees this week). They haven’t got round to chucking me out yet, there’s some election or other going on right now which seems to have got everybody worked up.

    By the way I read your Frankie Say It Again post about becoming an old git and not having much connection to modern music. All I can say is – embrace it! I have singularly failed to understand most artists/bands since the early 90s and I love it. Once you’ve given up on trying to get down with the kids the pressure’s off and you can wallow in the warmth that nostalgia brings. My era was the 1980s and I’m jolly glad about it.


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