Hard-Fi’s Cover Art Is No Cover Art

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mojo-cover-hardfi.JPGBritish band Hard-Fi have garnered some negative publicity after the cover art for their upcoming sophomore release, Once Upon a Time in the West, was revealed: a yellow field with the words “NO COVER ART” in large type. The band gave a statement about “breaking the rules” or whatever to the NME, but in fact, cover art that’s anti-cover art has been around for a while.

mojo-cover-flipper.JPGFirst of all, the cover that seems to have directly inspired Hard-Fi’s art prank: San Francisco punk band Flipper’s 1982 release, Album – Generic Flipper. It’s the same Generic Yellow, and features a similar font; somehow, though, I imagine Hard-Fi’s new album won’t be quite as ground breaking.

mojo-cover-pil.JPGFlipper’s generic cover concept was said to have influenced Public Image Limited’s multiple covers for their 1986 release, alternately titled Album, Cassette, or Compact Disc, depending on the format. I even own 12″ Single, featuring an extended mix of “Rise.” Flipper returned the favor by later releasing a live album called Public Flipper Limited.
mojo-cover-beatles.JPGOf course, the blank concept art-cover basically began with The Beatles; the 1968 release was designed by Richard Hamilton, who had put together a Duchamp exhibit at the Tate the year before.

mojo-cover-damned.JPGWikipedia says The Damned was the first band to explicitly invert the concept with their Black Album in 1980, although there’s actually quite a bit going on here. More literally black covers can be found on later releases by Prince and Metallica; for a list of albums featuring basically blank cover art, check out this list here.

mojo-photo-malevich.JPGCan we trace this trend back to Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 Suprematist masterwork, “Black Square?” The painting was placed in the position on the wall traditionally reserved for a religious icon, usurping the image of Christ; are blank album covers similar denials of their creators? Not that rock stars consider themselves Christ-like or anything.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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