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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#11 Cover.

Last Sunday afternoon I was so bored of lockdown that me and my mate Lee created pretend album covers during our daily exercise.

This is what Covid 19 has reduced me to!

To be fair, it was a life-giving distraction.

A spark of creativity in an otherwise dull day.

We found the perfect spot - a graffiti-strewn, atmospheric tunnel near the railway station.

It’s pretty well known on the local music scene.

Every York indie band worth its salt has posed sullenly against the tunnel’s white tiles for a black and white picture.

Check out the photo of one of our album covers above. Very What’s The Story Morning Glory? we think.

Our little adventure got me thinking about my favourite record sleeves of all time.

So here’s my top five (in reverse order).

I’d love to know yours.

5. Shed Seven - Change Giver

Every new and exciting young indie band need to do a black and white, mean and moody - ‘we’re going to change the world with our music’ - photo shoot at some point.

It's the rules. I think Shed Seven's audacious Change Giver cover is a classic of the genre. These four lads are looking at the camera like they've made the next Sgt Peppers. Admittedly I’m a bit biased - the Sheds come from my home city of York. But for me, this sleeve illustrates something of the swagger and confidence at the heart of Britpop in its 90s heyday. I love lead singer Rick Witter's expression - a casual indifference yet absolute confidence in the album they've brought into the world. A world - his look seems to suggest - they’re about to conquer. Cracking album too - although it's not quite Sgt Peppers!

Big fan of the tracks Long Time Dead and Missing Out.

4. Eels - Beautiful Freak

I discovered Beautiful Freak during my university days.

The superb cover does its job perfectly in that it makes you wonder what the record will sound like. The crouching girl looks strange, sad, creepy and beautiful all at the same time. Not unlike the music, actually. The sleeve wonderfully encapsulates the spirit and originality of the Eels’ memorable debut. The melodies are to die for. If you’ve not heard it, play it immediately! Starting with the song, Flower.

3. Bob Dyan - Blonde On Blonde

I remember an obsessed Dylanologist constantly bending my ear about this album on our fag breaks during a temp job. He felt the slightly blurred cover was ‘significant’ - revealed hidden messages about the songs and the great man who wrote them. He claimed Bob was sucking in his cheeks slightly because of his amphetamine addiction. I just think he looks as cool as anything. It's a striking portrait of a genius at the height of his powers. He’s got the expression of a man finding it all so effortless. If you've got 16 minutes to spare, listen to Blonde On Blonde's best track - Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. You'll understand what I mean.

2. The Clash - London Calling

My Uncle Mike would kill me if he knew, but the music of The Clash has always passed me by a bit. I’ve never got into them. Am I allowed to say that I think they’re a bit overrated? Probably not. But I do get this cover. It perfectly captures the rage and fury of rebellious youth. The raw aggression and wild abandon at the heart of punk rock. This sleeve makes being in a band look like the most thrilling thing to do in the entire world. Second only to going to see one live. I suspect many were formed on the strength of it. The cover also sums up how rock music makes us feel sometimes - however old we are.

1. Oasis - Definitely Maybe

I saw the Defintely Maybe cover before I’d heard any of its music. My cousin Jo showed me it one day between a spell of GCSE revision. I was immediately drawn to Oasis. It was an epiphany. The cover’s handwritten font, the colours, the unforgettable band logo and the lads in the room themselves. It was the album I’d been waiting to find. I was fascinated by this nonchalant singer lying on the floor like he owned the place. I instantly wanted to be him. And then Jo played me the album. Astonishing. I didn’t get much revision done after that. I became obsessed with those songs. It’s still the record I play more than any other. And the cover? It’s adorned a wall of my house in one form or another ever since. Definitely Maybe - for me, a masterpiece on the eye and in the ear.

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