Hard-Fi’s Cover Art Is No Cover Art

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


mojo-cover-hardfi.JPGBritish band Hard-Fi have garnered some negative publicity after the cover art for their upcoming sophomore release, Once Upon a Time in the West, was revealed: a yellow field with the words “NO COVER ART” in large type. The band gave a statement about “breaking the rules” or whatever to the NME, but in fact, cover art that’s anti-cover art has been around for a while.

mojo-cover-flipper.JPGFirst of all, the cover that seems to have directly inspired Hard-Fi’s art prank: San Francisco punk band Flipper’s 1982 release, Album – Generic Flipper. It’s the same Generic Yellow, and features a similar font; somehow, though, I imagine Hard-Fi’s new album won’t be quite as ground breaking.

mojo-cover-pil.JPGFlipper’s generic cover concept was said to have influenced Public Image Limited’s multiple covers for their 1986 release, alternately titled Album, Cassette, or Compact Disc, depending on the format. I even own 12″ Single, featuring an extended mix of “Rise.” Flipper returned the favor by later releasing a live album called Public Flipper Limited.
mojo-cover-beatles.JPGOf course, the blank concept art-cover basically began with The Beatles; the 1968 release was designed by Richard Hamilton, who had put together a Duchamp exhibit at the Tate the year before.

mojo-cover-damned.JPGWikipedia says The Damned was the first band to explicitly invert the concept with their Black Album in 1980, although there’s actually quite a bit going on here. More literally black covers can be found on later releases by Prince and Metallica; for a list of albums featuring basically blank cover art, check out this list here.

mojo-photo-malevich.JPGCan we trace this trend back to Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 Suprematist masterwork, “Black Square?” The painting was placed in the position on the wall traditionally reserved for a religious icon, usurping the image of Christ; are blank album covers similar denials of their creators? Not that rock stars consider themselves Christ-like or anything.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate