Here’s a sleeve which caused a double take when I spotted it in a shop recently. I’d no idea who Dennis Young was, but that sleeve looked very familiar indeed. Back home a quick web search revealed that Dennis is a percussionist, influential on the early New York hip hop scene, and this 12 inch came out in 2005. A quick search through my record shelves turned up the Talking Heads 12 inch (it wasn’t too difficult, I was huge fan of their music so have just about every sleeve they issued). It is fairly clear where the design for Dennis’ vinyl came from!
Quite what prompted this copycat effort is hard to say. It could be some sort of deliberately obscure tribute of course. On the other hand the designer might just have lifted the look, figuring that the original was sufficiently unknown not to be found out! And hard to find it certainly is, as this was a promotional release for the band’s Remain In Light album. As such it was not sold in shops, but given out to American radio (to garner airplay and thus help chart position) and club DJs. This format was an industry in itself during the late seventies and early eighties; I remember dozens of similar records racked up at record fairs, and they were very collectable, especially as many included versions not issued anywhere else.
And while most of the sleeves were fairly low key, they were nevertheless often well designed. This Talking Heads cover for example was done by the M&Co design agency. Relying largely on block colour and typography, the small found image of some piece of engineering kit is the only graphic.
The Dennis Young sleeve chooses similar typefaces but just misses out for me (look at the nice 12 on the original, and the scrappy version on the imposter). The designer was Robi Insinna, who has done other sleeves for what seems to be his own Relish label in Germany.
For more lookalike sleeves, check out the book Covered from Easy On The Eye!