Airwaves – Next Stop

Hipgnosis sleeve Airwaves Next Stop Mercury 1979Airwaves are not a band who ever crossed my radar in 1977 – 1979 (the years which span their two studio albums); musicians with pedigree but nothing major to bring them to a wider public. Their first album sported what looks like a fairly low quality airbrushed sci-fi sleeve (blogger Jim Allen suggests it could have had the band mistaken for a Christian rock group!), but Mercury / Phonogram passed the baton to Hipgnosis for the follow up, Next Stop.
Rightly sensing the the group’s music was upmarket pop / rock, the agency opted for a fashion shoot cover photo; a blonde doing a ‘breeze blows skirt up’ image, taken in a yachting marina. That might have been it for some cover designers, but Hipgnosis then played with the CMYK components using paint splash overlays to alternately mask out three of the four colours. The result is a very eye-catching image, set against a grey layout grid. The band’s original logo stayed but was reduced in size considerably (they specified grey but some countries changed this to red.)
Overall, certainly one of Hipgnosis’ best 70s covers and one which you could be forgiven for thinking dates from several years later. The only element which does puzzle is a two colour box the woman seems to be holding in one hand.  I also noticed a tin of paint and a brush in one corner of the photo, which might well have inspired the brush strokes.
All good fun!  The back repeats the trick, this time over a studio photograph of the trio.  A lyric bag, with the grey grid repeated, completes the packaging.
I should mention that Hipgnosis did Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door cover the same year, and that sleeve also featured a broad brushstroke image across the front; hard not to feel one inspired the other, and I think Airwaves came first…

Hipgnosis sleeve Airwaves Next Stop Mercury 1979

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