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"For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis" by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell

Reviewed by Kelly Krumsee.

by Kelly Krumsee

For anyone whose first reaction was, “Huh?” on first seeing an album cover, this book is the long-awaited explanation.

“For the Love of Vinyl” reads like a teenage boy’s confession-filled diary from the height of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Authors Thorgerson and Powell, who formed the graphic-design studio Hipgnosis, set out to write down, for the first time ever, the meaning behind their cover art.

Within the book, album covers are displayed seemingly at random, jumping through the years of Hipgnosis’ influential artwork. It’s guaranteed to get raised eyebrows and two thumbs up from everyone from dedicated classic-rock fans to graphic-design students. Thorgerson and Powell provide readers with a history lesson on the days of design before Photoshop, back to scissors, glue and nude photographs. Also included are never-before-seen images from the bottom of Hipgnosis’ cutting-room floor and concept sketches that barely left the drawing room, as well as full-color photographs of more than 60 cover designs.

This coffee-table book is a tribute to the artists who created the look that connects us to our favorite rock bands. It’s chock-full of “did you know?” facts and first-hand accounts of the antics of well-loved bands, including Led Zeppelin, Styx, Peter Gabriel and Yes. Add to that the short essays by musicians and artists, including Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and English pop artist Peter Blake, and this book is well worth the cover price. Fun note for collectors: The finish on the book’s cover is textured to resemble a record’s grooves — a perfect complement to the artistic package.