I can remember this sleeve design turning up on a Music For Pleasure catalogue given away in one of the local record shops, and taking one home to admire. And yet it wasn’t adorning a cover on one of the major rock labels, but instead appeared on EMI’s budget label Classics For Pleasure (itself a spin off from the Music For Pleasure series.) It’s impossible to imagine any label going to this much effort for a budget release these days.
It is from an album of Copland’s music, often associated with Western films, and that has provided the inspiration for the cover illustration, with figures from the Wild West era painted from surviving photographs of the time. The lettering is also hand-painted, again in the decorative style of the period. All this alone would have marked it out, but the whole piece is painted on a sheet of old wood, with the cracks and breaks forming part of the finished design. Once photographed, that’s the cover done except to stick the CFP logo in the corner.
The illustration and design from 1971 are the work of Geoff Hocking, who worked on designs for many budget albums both in the UK and Australia, where he notably handled the Australian World Record Club catalogue for several years (and published a book about the label a few years ago, reviewed on the site.) Although Geoff commissioned a lot of work, he was also hands on as well, and to me this is one of his finest covers. Geoff also did some of the montage covers for MFP which we covered in a gallery on the site a while ago, well worth a look (an example is shown below.)