Album Cover Art – Fall 2019 Edition

And so we come to another album cover post, the last one having been posted the summer of last year. This post was largely instigated by a windfall of album cover art recently sent to us by a reader of Pigtails (thank you!), and there are definitely some lovely images here.  Not all of these are from this reader, but most of them are. It’s an all-nude/deminude edition of Album Cover Art, so let’s get started!

Edit: information for the first album has been updated. – Pip

The first is split single for he Finnish black metal band Horna and the Swedish black metal band Woods of Infinity, with relevant images on both front and back covers. I recognize both of them from the photographic anthology The Family of Children, which I have. The front cover image is by Swedish photographer Nils-Johan Norenlind, and I’ve featured it on Pigtails once already. The back cover image is from Germany-based photographer Jean-Gil Bonne, who doesn’t seem to have much representation on the web.

Nils-Johan Norenlind – Horna – Woods of Infinity (front cover)

Jean-Gil Bonne – Horna – Woods of Infinity (back cover)

Here’s a better version of the original image which isn’t marred by the Klaxon Productions logo and address stamp:

Jean-Gil Bonne – (Title Unknown)

Our next example comes from a modern psychedelic pop band called Brief Weeds who appear to have only released two albums thus far, A Very Generous Portrait and the one on which this cover image appears, Songs of Innocence and Experience (observant readers will note this title is taken from the similarly-titled Songs of Innocence and of Experience, a collection of illustrated poetry by William Blake). Indeed, the “Experience” part of this album shows another nude male/female couple, but this time they’re adults firing rifles.

Photographer Unknown – Brief Weeds – Songs of Innocence & Experience (cover)

Grunt is another Finnish band but of an altogether different sort than Horna. They’re sort of an experimental industrial noise outfit (think Throbbing Gristle but with less music). Not my thing, but I do love this cover. In fact, I think it may be my favorite out of the collection. Just a really clever layout. If you don’t count Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, which features the same two children photographed multiple times, this cover might hold the record for the number of nude children appearing on an album cover, most of them girls.

Photographer Unknown – Grunt – Myth of Blood (cover)

The front and back covers of obscure ’70s Belgian pop duo Jess & James’s The Naked (which I think was a single rather than a full album) are pretty much just reverse images of each other, but I’ll post both of them anyway, as there are some slight variations in layout and coloration in addition to the image reversal. The back cover also contained the lyrics to the main song.

Photographer Unknown – Jess & James – The Naked (front cover) (1970)

Photographer Unknown – Jess & James – The Naked (back cover) (1970)

Finally, the only album cover in the batch with a full-color cover, Pelle Carlberg‘s The Lilac Time.

Photographer Unknown – Pelle Carlberg – The Lilac Time ‎(cover) (2008)

The rest of these images come from my own collection.

Christian Death was one of the original groundbreaking goth rock bands, having been founded in 1979, at the inception of the goth scene. This cover is from an early live album, 1985’s The Decomposition of Violets, when the band was still fronted by Rozz Williams.

Photographer Unknown – Christian Death – The Decomposition of Violets (cover)

Now here’s another image we’ve seen before: the cover art (minus the encircling serpent design) is by John Bauer, one of the very first artists I profiled on Pigtails waaaay back in February of 2011. All of the images in that post appeared in the book Swedish Folk Tales, including the one used for this album cover from Norwegian black metal band/musician Mortiis. Are you detecting a trend here? Ah, the Scandinavians. What would we do without them? There seems to be two different covers for this album, but this is the relevant one. Incidentally, the title of the album, Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør, translates into English as The Spirit Who Rebelled.

John Bauer – Mortiis – Ånden som Gjorde Opprør (cover)

And finally, I’m not at all sure on the gender of the child here, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a beautiful cover design. The image appears on the cover of Dream Child by the Finnish (yep) band Mattsson, which is fronted by Lars Eric Mattsson.

Photographer Unknown – Mattsson – Dream Child (cover)

The Magical Power of Bauer: John Bauer’s Fairy Tale Illustrations

Swedish artist John Bauer was really just catching his stride when he died tragically in a shipwreck in 1918, perishing alongside his wife and 2-year-old son.   Best known for illustrating the fairy tales of his home country, the easiest way to experience his work today presented as it was intended to be seen is perhaps via the  book Swedish Folk Tales, from which the following images were taken.

Bauer’s trolls and giants were clearly an influence on Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s characters in The Dark Crystal, most notably the Mystics; the characters were designed by fairy illustrator Brian Froud.  However, it is Bauer’s little girl characters we are interested in here.  These children–Bella, Linda-Gold, Princess Cottongrass, etc.–are both charmingly vulnerable and highly independent, as kids in fairy tales frequently are.  Few artists have captured them with the magic that Bauer did.  Their natural beauty, curiosity and sweetness comes through in every one of these pieces–they’re shining little beings who stand out against a murky, sometimes menacing backdrop.

John Bauer – Bella (1)

John Bauer – Bella (2)

John Bauer – Changelings

The girl in this next series of illustrations (which were used for Leap the Elk and the Little Princess Cottongrass in the book) is also known as Princess Tuvstarr, tuvstarr being a variety of sedge like cottongrass, although they are actually completely different plants.  Sorry, that is the scientist in me; he will occasionally rear his arrogant little head. 😉

John Bauer – Leap the Elk and the Little Princess Cottongrass (1913) (1)

John Bauer – Leap the Elk and the Little Princess Cottongrass (1913) (2)

John Bauer – Leap the Elk and the Little Princess Cottongrass (1913) (3)

This next image, the final one in the story from the book (there are other versions of the story which feature at least one additional image that I know of), is, in fact, Bauer’s most famous piece.  Again, note that, like Parrish’s “Daybreak,” this artist’s most popular piece features a nude young girl.  In fact, as you may have noticed, all three girls from the three stories so far represented wind up shedding their clothes.  This is highly symbolic; the children are shedding the final vestiges of their attachment to civilization and returning to the wild, which is a sort of rebirth of innocence.  This concept was really born in Romanticism, but the Victorians and Edwardians fervently embraced it.

John Bauer – Leap the Elk and the Little Princess Cottongrass (1913) (4)

John Bauer – Linda-Gold

John Bauer Museum (Text in Swedish)

Wikipedia: John Bauer (illustrator)