- The Prism splits light into its individual wavelengths on the album cover of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (1973).
- The Burning Man on the album cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” (1975).
- The inflated pig floating over Battersea Power Sation on the album cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” (1977).
- The golden naked children climbing over the Giant’s Causeway on the album cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” (1973).
- The black obelisk-shaped object in the center of the table while a family dines on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Presence” from 1976.
- Paul McCartney and friends on the cover of “Band on the Run” in 1974.
All of these haunting, vaguely disturbing, and strangely comic images were the work of the design outfit known as Hipgnosis (the origin of the word is disputed but is obviously a riff on hypnosis) and its dynamic co-founders Aubrey “Po” Powell and Storm Thorgerson. They were the creative powerhouses who revolutionized album covers as a vital art form. They worked with iconic bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Paul McCartney and Wings during the 70s when the vinyl rock industry was in its prime.
The photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn – no stranger to iconic images himself; see U2’s “The Joshua Tree” – has directed a hugely enjoyable documentary about Powell and Thorgerson and their circle. From their origin in Cambridge, where they smoked a lot of pot and later indulged in LSD, Powell and Thorgerson formed a lifelong association with Pink Floyd, whose music greatly influenced their imaginative and transformative ideas.
Thorgerson passed away in 2013, but Powell is very much with us and a delightful storyteller. All of the members of Pink Floyd – including Rogers Waters and David Gilmore – and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin make an appearance, as does Sir Paul. And Noel Gallagher has some very cogent and witty things to say about vinyl album covers as art for the masses.