Forget streaming a new album and not bothering to look at the cover art – when Britpop heroes Pulp released their era-defining and career-making ‘Different Class’ in 1995, it contained a dozen different possible covers that fans could pick and choose from. And here they are in all their glory…
This was the official cover of the album, but fans could also make their own album cover using the alternative images that make up this gallery. You could fold these out on the vinyl edition to literally swap and change the front cover as you please. Cool, eh?
The girl on this cover was 16-year-old Clare Zerny, a fan of the band who was also signed to a modelling agency. She later recalled: “Everyone I knew would turn them around in record shops so that my picture was at the front… And one of the guys on the school bus asked me to sign his copy by my picture; I could have died!”
Photographer Rankin [go-to snapper for all your celebrity portraiture needs] later recalled: “Jarvis and [bassist] Steve had this photo I think [they’d] found in an old magazine of a couple in black and white in a scene that was in colour. Jarvis said, ‘There’s something about this I love’. I said, ‘What if we were to make cut-outs of you and take them on location?’ He sounded really keen.”
Rankin continued: “We did the studio shoot with the whole band and then [another photographer] Donald Milne got half of them and I got half of them and we spent about a week each going around taking pictures everywhere with them, we’ve got hundreds of unused pictures.”
The image represented the song ‘Bar Italia’ and was taken in the titular London café, beloved of the band because it stayed open 24 hours a day and was a big post-club hangout. As the lyrics of the song have it: “There’s only one place we can go/It’s around the corner in Soho.”
Like most Britpop classics, original vinyl copies of ‘Different Class’ fetch a lot of money online. Pick one up for around £250, but don’t you dare open it.
Jarvis has said of the album: “It’s about situations I’ve been in since coming to London. From living in a squat in Mile End to going to a party at Gianni Versace’s, which I did… I justify it to myself, that you’re not just telling stories about your life, you’re turning it into something else, into songs.”
This poorly, friendly-seeming mutt probably isn’t what Jarvis had in mind when he penned the ‘Common People’ lyric: “Like a dog lying in a corner / They will bite you and never warn you/Look out/They’ll tear your insides out.”
The marital couple here are Dom and Sharon O’Connor and this is their actual wedding, which took place Molesey, Surrey, in August 1995. They were doing the wedding on the cheap, calling in favours from friends, and their pal Donald Milne agreed to take the photographs if they’d pose with cutouts of a band he was working with. That band was… Menswear. No, just kidding, it was Pulp.
When ‘Common People’ reached Number Two in the singles chart and the band were asked to perform it on Top Of The Pops, Jarvis thought his pop star moment had arrived. Yet the singer later recalled: “I jumped off the monitor quite spectacularly, as you do, landed in a puddle, slipped and fell flat on me arse… Not quite what I’d been dreaming of for 20 years.”
‘Sorted For E’s and Wizz’, the song about going to a rave “somewhere in a field in Hampshire”, caused controversy because its single contained a jokey guide to folding a drug wrap. Cue the infamous Daily Mirror headline: “BAN THIS SICK STUNT”.
“I took [my cutouts] up to Scarborough and we were shooting them on the beach and in the amusement arcades and Russell came past with his family,” Rankin has said. “It was one of those weird moments.”
Let’s give the last word to photographer Rankin: “From that they came up with this idea to do a choose-your-own-cover. It’s one of my favourite covers, a real moment in time. One of the cut-outs was on TFI Friday forever, behind Chris Evans. It became a culturally iconic set of images so it was great to be a part of it.”