Brian Cannon created some of the most iconic album covers of the modern indie age. He's holding a talk, Graphic Design with Brian Cannon, at the British Music Experience at the O2 on Thursday 3rd March. Here he talks us through his work.
Brian Cannon designed numerous Oasis sleeves, but the artwork for 'Some Might Say' was his favourite. He remembers, “this was shot on Cromford railway station in Derbyshire. Noel gave me a handwritten sheet of the lyrics and told me he wanted an image that depicted them all! It’s my dad with the wheelbarrow and my mum with the mop.”
Ash, 1977. "This was one of the rare occasions we used an image not created at Microdot. It’s a shot by Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken – I found the image in a book I bought in Amsterdam, showed it to the Ash lads and they loved it. It was a nightmare getting clearance to use it though, the photographer was dead and we had to track down his wife for permission!"
Inspiral Carpets, 'Revenge Of The Goldfish'. "Noel Gallagher was the Inspirals roadie and they had an office in the same building as my tiny studio in Manchester. The first time I met Noel was in the lift and we got chatting about Adidas trainers. When he found out I designed record sleeves he got me the job of doing this album, and the rest is history as they say!"
Oasis, ‘Definitely Maybe’. Brian Cannon says of the shot: “This is in Bonehead’s house. We took loads of test shots with me and Bonehead’s wife in situ, then I got a tracing sheet and gradually built up the composition. The shot looks very natural but in fact it was totally posed. The carafe and glasses contain Ribena not wine.”
Suede, 'Dog Man Star'. "Brett Anderson’s original concept for this album was a man on all fours with a studded dog collar round his neck letting out a scream. We did some test shots, but it looked incredibly similar to the sleeve for Spinal Tap’s ‘Smell The Glove’ and it was shelved. I still have the original mock up."
Verve, 'A Storm In Heaven'. "My favourite all time Microdot sleeve" Cannon says. "Once again no digitisation was used, I had the lettering made by a steel fabricator in Lancashire which we clad in a fire retardant material before dousing with paraffin and lighting. The cave filled with smoke and we had to wait for it to clear before repeating the process."
Verve, 'A Storm In Heaven'. Brian Cannon says of this inside shot: "The concept behind the overall sleeve was four separate images depicting the journey of life. This is the second image and represents youth; the idea was if there was a car on fire in your front garden you would immediately call the fire brigade and no doubt panic a little."
Oasis, 'Wonderwall'. "Shot on Primrose Hill in North West London, this features ex-Creation Records employee Anita Heryet. The image is directly influenced by the work of Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte. It’s my hand holding the picture frame, and we took so long getting it right I had to put a stool under my elbow to hold my arm up."
Oasis, 'Roll With It'. "This was shot on Weston Super Mare beach in Somerset. Oasis were playing Glastonbury the following day so we had to find a location within striking distance. It was absolutely red hot and the band were sat in duffle coats, much to the interest of hundreds of onlookers out of shot."
The Verve, 'She’s A Superstar'. "This was shot on the Snake Pass in Derbyshire. No digitisation was used; the neon sign really was in the river and was powered by a generator out of shot. The blue colour of the water was achieved by me pouring food colouring upstream into the river. The waterfall was no more than three feet in height."
Suede, 'We Are The Pigs'. "Working with bands differs dramatically from one to another" Brian Cannon says. "Some have no idea what they want visually, others have very strong ideas. Brett Anderson was very hands-on in the sleeve creating process. In this case he chose the image and I did the layout and design."
The Verve, 'Gravity Grave'. "This was shot on Formby Beach in Merseyside. Despite the isolated appearance of the image there were in fact about a hundred passersby looking on. As a result the model, who was a friend of the band, was a little embarrassed about getting naked. His fee for appearing was a bottle of vodka, which he promptly drank to bolster up courage before stripping off!"
Oasis, 'Be Here Now'. "Bonehead had mentioned the tale of Keith Moon driving his Rolls Royce into a swimming pool and that’s where the concept began for this piece. People think it’s a Photoshop job but we actually put the Roller in the pool. It was from a scrapyard and the back end was smashed in."
SFA, 'Fuzzy Logic'. "This is another one of my favourite Microdot sleeves. This was groundbreaking for us as it was the first totally digital piece we ever did. We were supplied with a selection of black and white passport photographs used by drug smuggler Howard Marks, and the result you see is a completely digital rendering of the originals."
Oasis, 'Don’t Look Back In Anger'. "This was based on the story of Ringo Starr leaving The Beatles and returning to recording sessions to see his drum kit smothered in flowers. We had 10,000 carnations imported from Holland for the shoot then dyed 3,000 of them blue by dipping them in ink."
Oasis, 'Morning Glory'. "This was shot in Berwick Street in Soho, London. Back then everything was shot on film, so unlike today with digital cameras we could not see the results instantly. We took hundreds of shots with the two models, which were me and DJ Sean Rowley."