Magazine were not necessarily an easy band to find a way into with Howard Devoto’s vocals being something you could either get along with or not. But they clicked for me early on, and spurred on by their excellent “hit” single Shot By Both Sides I picked up all their albums. And they still play, perhaps because they were not particularly fashionable. Like the singing, the covers also took an uncompromising approach to the market but I recently found these adverts in my ephemera file which show Virgin attempting to sell the band! Real Life was their debut and Virgin just skipped the cover altogether, instead using what look to be three etchings. I suppose these might have been destined for an inner gatefold or record bag but as Virgin included neither luxury, they used them up here? The LP came out in 1978 and was a top twenty release.

For the second album Virgin brought in designer Malcolm Garrett (with inner photography by Richard Rayner-Canham). The image here is actually an A5 promotional flyer, given out from record store counters in 1979, and uses the title typography but then mixes this with a typewriter font for the rest of the information, printed on nice matt paper stock. Given the band’s initial success Virgin did allow a gatefold this time which included a single strange group photograph inside. I cannot work out how this was taken, it looks like one of those photographs taken at the winning post on a race course but might have been achieved by dragging a print across a scanner or photocopier. It is a different frame to the one used on the album too. A much bleaker record than the first, it contains some of my favourite tracks by the band.

About simon robinson

Having worked as a graphic designer in the music industry, mainly in the reissue sector, I now concentrate on the design and publication of books about popular culture - and even write some of them.
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