This sleeve stood out when it turned up in a Manchester shop the other week during a vinyl expedition with a friend (hello Chris!). There was a vaguely updated Vortiscist feel to the illustration, but it also looked very Eighties too (it turned out to be from 1983.) The rhubarb and custard colours, the nice grey shadow and the white background all make for a cover which is very much of the time. Bill Summers is an Afro Cuban Latin Jazz percussionist and group leader, which probably influenced the exaggerated Cuban dance wear as well.
I have always liked the typeface used here, which is Blanco, dating back to the early Fifties. I’ve used it myself on jobs (although if I recall rightly I had to scan an old type book and make up the words as it wasn’t digitised back then!), and it on sleeves by the Bobs Marley and Dylan (and more.)
The back cover is also nicely done, with a smartly designed panel of credits and fully justified text titles, suggesting early photo-typesetting skills. The cover lettering is repeated but with the colours switched around. The whole sleeve has a very subtle cream tint and a bit of a paint splatter going on in the background as well.
The design is by Norman Moore, not a name I was familiar with. Born in Scotland but working in the US, he has done at least 300 album and CD covers, starting back in the mid-Seventies. It’s a huge output and includes some great sleeves and big names too. Many are photo portraits, with Norman adding sharply designed logos, shapes and washes to compliment the images, but others are more illustration based. I shall have to do a bit more digging.
The Bill Summers cover was for MCA Records. Norman did a similar sort of cover the same year for a US synth pop outfit called Industry which I don’t have but is worth showing for comparison.