Sometimes bands get far better sleeves than perhaps they deserve, and this hip hop crew – Blazin’ Squad – might be an example, though please don’t ask me to listen! It reached the top five of the UK charts in 2003, and this 12″ pressing (which turned up in a local charity shop) was put out to accompany the CD formats which had the usual trendy portraits on the cover. The 12″ may have been an attempt to get them some acceptance amongst an older age group or DJ market credibility, and the cover was handled by the Tom Hingston Studio. They went very much into the more rarified 12″ sleeve arena, with a grey rough surface card and a bespoke design using their excellent logo (Hingston had created this for their first record.)
The single was titled Flip Reverse, so they took this, filled the cover with it and… flip reversed it on the front and back. For added impact the type was foil blocked onto the card, with a line pattern added to the repeat. The result was a very eye catching cover which varies in visibility depending on the ambient light. It also picks up refractions, so you get lovely rainbow colours at certain angles. It must be the magpie in me.
As with any cover printed on card, the original price label has left an adhesive mark while the label boss (East West Records, owned by Warners) has also insisted on a barcode sticker on the back; the original design just printed the number itself amongst the credits on the back.
Hingston Studios have worked on some great sleeves for big (Stones, Robbie Williams, Massive Attack) and less big names, starting back in 1997, although this is only part of their work. Whether the band understood the genius of the design I’m not sure; a free-gift in the form of a rather non-descript felt pen graffiti-style band sticker fell out of the cover when I looked.