Before 1977, many records looked a bit like this,
Anyone would think that the early 1970s was populated by a bunch of free-wheeling, crimplene loving hippies, with shag haircuts. Oh wait…
Obviously, there were exceptions. Many of the era’s progressive rock bands released “concept” albums, with sleeves plastered in colourful and serious “conceptual” art work to give them an outward flavour of the profound and brilliant music within.
And then there was Punk.
Post 1977, record sleeve art work changed dramatically. Gone were the references to Merlin and Lancelot, gone was the sweet smiling hippy band in their flares, and in their place were stark, often black & white images of our new sullen heroes.
Punk didn’t need expensive art departments or a full colour process to get its message across. In the same way that the noodling progressive covers of the mid seventies hinted at the music within, Punk covers reliably informed you that the plastic disc inside was about to change your world!
By the way there’s an excellent twitter account dedicated to punk art @PunkArt1977 and it’s well worth a follow.