Brian Cannon, founder of design agency Microdot, was practically the sixth member of Oasis in their ’90s heyday, creating all their artwork, partying with the band and even playing keyboards on the track ‘Morning Glory’. “It was just a laugh,” recalls the man who initially got the gig because Noel Gallagher liked his trainers. Brian enjoyed a similarly tight relationship with fellow Wiganers The Verve, and combined with his eye-catching work for Suede, Ash and Super Furry Animals he created a bold visual identity for Britpop.
Cannon is collating all his design work from the past 25 years for an exhibition at The Old Courts in Wigan this week. As well as his memorable record sleeves, which often consisted of elaborate photo set-ups influenced by Flemish Renaissance painting, the exhibition will feature Brian’s personal photos of his time with The Verve, plus out-takes from some classic Oasis shoots.
One of Brian’s favourites is the ‘Roll With It’ sleeve (an outtake is the main picture, above), the shoot for which was hastily convened in Weston-Super-Mare because it was the nearest beach to Glastonbury, where Oasis were playing two days later. “It was a baking hot day and they were all sat there in duffelcoats! It looks like quite a serene scene but what you can’t see is their bodyguard fending off a crowd of about 200 people behind the camera. Liam was always animated, he’s screaming at me [in that shot] – but it was all light-hearted banter, never aggressive.”
The set-up for the single sleeve of Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
Brian’s series of increasingly extravagant Oasis cover shoots reached their apex on 1997’s ‘Be Here Now’ sleeve, featuring a real Rolls Royce lowered into a real swimming pool. “It cost a fortune – I can’t believe there’s a more expensive album sleeve that’s ever been done. When everything was considered it came to about £75,000. The bar bill alone was a couple of grand!”
Brian says that seeing all his finest work together in one room is “mindblowing, because it is era-defining, generation-defining stuff. But we never got caught up in all that at the time. We were just down-to-earth guys, having a good time.”
Microdot: The 25th Anniversary Exhibition runs at The Old Courts, Wigan until May 30
Words by Sam Richards
The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft up the Empire State Building, October 1992
An early version of lyrics to The Verve’s ‘Slide Away’
Richard Ashcroft’s sketch for the cover of ‘This Is Music’