Strangers In The Night is a double album by the rock band UFO, released in 1979 on Chrysalis (and recorded on the band’s 1978 tour, the last with guitarist Michael Schenker). Packaging live albums has traditionally revolved around flooding the cover with live photographs but here Hipgnosis ditched that approach and went for a completely design led solution. The agency had worked on UFO’s sleeves as far back as 1974 (and continued to do so into the early 80s).
I think if I’d been a fan at the time I might have liked to see some photos. Live albums inevitably sold to the fan-base and remembering shows you’d been to was part of the appeal. Deep Purple got the point on Made In Japan, showing you could balance a strong design with colour photographs. On the other hand from a design viewpoint, the UFO package is for my money one of Hipgnosis’ best.
They’ve taken as their starting point the idea of the screaming fan in the audience but rather than use an actual concert shot, they hired models and photographed them shouting. This staging of photographs was one of the Hipgnosis trademarks.
The photographs were then given a coarse dot screen and enlarged to make very graphic images (probably using a reprographic camera), overlaid across the front and back (shown above). Basic colours have been applied at angles and the end result is visually very strong. I assume Hipgnosis also designed the band’s logo, which first appeared quite late (on their Obsession album in 1978) but has been used by the band ever since.
Inside is a similarly enlarged photo of the band, all screaming, run right across the gatefold with the text set in bright, coloured, angled blocks. The only live images are four small colour photos dropped into the grid. Overall there is a an eighties feel to the design but unlike much work from that period which has dated, this still has a contemporary feel to it. The images were also adapted for press advertising and other publicity material.