London’s iconic album cover images

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The most famous cover of the album filmed in London, is without a doubt The Beatles ‘ Abbey Road, which is a tourist attraction in its own right. Thousands of fab Four fans flock each year to the top of the range St John’s Wood, where the legendary pedestrian crossing, photo was taken – and where Sir Paul McCartney still has a home.

1969 recording is just one of the many albums to be presented in London on the cover. BBC News is back to the scene of some of the most famous recordings of the past 50 years to see what has changed, Click and drag the arrows on the images the interactive.

Pink Floyd Music/EMI. Album design: Hipgnosis (1977)

Our journey begins with a story of chaos in the sky above the south bank of the Thames, outside the largest brick building in Europe.

To create the artwork for the cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals, a giant inflatable pig has been raised on a chain above Battersea Power Station – it was the 1970s, after all.

“All of a sudden, there was a large crack, and the pig sailed high in the sky,” sleeve designer Aubrey Powell.

“A helicopter was tracking, but he could not catch it.

“We were really scared. I was afraid there would be a terrible plane crash.”

The members of the rock group prog scarpered, the air traffic at Heathrow has been cancelled, the RAF jets were sent out and the drivers have reported seeing a pig flying at about 20,000 ft (6 100 m).

Powell was taken to his studio by the police and, following a message put on the local radio stations, a farmer of Kent called to complain that a rogue pig had landed in his field and has been scared his cows.

The shooting was repeated with more success the next day, but the final cover is actually a collage of pork stuck on a photo of the power plant, taken two days before.

“I like the image, it is fabulous. It was so random and amateur, but it just happened to work,” Powell said.


If a pig were to be released above the building, these days, it could well get caught up in the many cranes towering above the structure.

A huge project to create houses, shops, parks and the Apple’s new London headquarters.

Powell said he was “full approval” of the plan.

“They do an incredible job… it’s a shame, it is to be in a cocoon by apartments on the side, but the north and the south, the building is equally magnificent.”

EMI. Cover Photo: Brian Ward. Original artwork: Terry Pastor of Main Artery (1972)

Then we take a step back in time five years, to visit the scene of the photo-shoot for an album considered to be one of the most influential of the decade.

Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, in London’s West End, where was Ziggy Stardust had landed on the Planet Earth.

For the album cover of David Bowie has been photographed standing on the step of number 23, to the outside of a building which was used as a makeshift photographic studio.

The man of the stars was said to be reluctant to take part at the photo session on what was a January evening of the rains and, later, pointed out, rather dryly: “It was cold and it was raining and I felt like an actor.”

On Heddon Street, we have another example of how modernization has transformed an album cover of the location.

These days, cars have gone and the street has been turned into a pedestrian street courtyard filled with restaurants and bars.

However, posing outside, in a combination on a damp January night is still unlikely to be recommended.

Creation/Big Brother. Photography: Michael Spencer Jones. Album design: Micropoint (1995)

A 10-minute walk away is Berwick Street in Soho, the location of one of the most famous album covers of the Britpop era.

The image, which was shot in the early hours of the morning, the duties of a London DJ Sean Rowley and sleeve designer Brian Cannon. If you look closely, the album’s producer Owen Morris can also be spotted in the background.

The street and the surrounding area, which was formerly known as the vinyl of “triangle” because of the many record stores, he boasted.

And even if their numbers have declined significantly since 1995, fans of vinyl can always browse through the folders of the handful of independent traders who remain in the business in Soho.


Food/Parlophone. Before photo: Brunskill/Bob Thomas. Other photography: Paul Postle. Album design: Stylorouge (1994)

Any mention of the Oasis requires a namecheck for their great rivals Blur.

While the famous cover for their seminal Britpop album Parklife is a stock shot of greyhounds on the track, the sleeve features the band spend a night watching the dogs at Walthamstow Stadium.

The north-east of London, the arena has hosted racing for 75 years and in the sport of the golden age was a goose that lays the golden eggs for the owners, the Chandler family.

As well as the stage of the connection to Britpop, another title to fame is that he was here, the football legend David Beckham had his first job, the collection of beer glasses.

And while Walthamstow Stadium has known a short revival of his fortune in the early 1990s, when it became the fashion of the City boys to splash the money on the dogs, at the time the young Beckham has been getting her first crust here its days of glory were past.

Hit by falling profits and attendance, the stadium was finally closed in 2008 and has been redeveloped into apartments and a leisure complex.

Elements of the old stadium, including the classification of council – seen in the background of photos in Parklife of the handle have been incorporated into the development.

Asylum Records/Warner Music. Art Direction and design: Andy Hayes. Cover Photo: Ollie Grove (2013)

For some artists, there’s nowhere like home – and for the eclectic drum and bass band Rudimental home is certainly very Hackney.

Three of the four members grew up here, the band have their own recording studio nearby, and they credit Hackney as indispensable to their sound.

Indeed, in the sleeve notes drummer Kesi Dryden singles out of this corner of east London as “a place where so many different cultures can live together and learn from one another”.You may also like:
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The group has reflected on his love for Hackney on the cover of their first album, Home, which is home to the Dalston Peace Carnival Mural on the front facade.

The huge painting, created by artist Ray Walker in 1983, represents the Drive from the Peace Carnival of the same year.

And although Hackney has changed beyond recognition since the 1980s – it is now hipster central and one in London, most of the places in the mode – this spot is reassuring similar.

Extensive work on the mural has been completed in 2014, with graffiti removed and the vibrant colors restored – the tape in the region to have given the money to help pay for the makeover.

Columbia/Sony. Front cover: Kate Simon (1977)

About three miles to the west of the huge Market of Camden.

Within this, the Stables Market, and near its entrance, on the left, it is a simple staircase.

This is where the three members of the punk band The Clash was during the photo-shoot for their first self-titled album.

The photo was taken at the end of 1976 on a staircase at the side of Repetition Repetition, which at the time was part of the an overview of railway goods yard.

Over the years, the region has been introduced in Camden Market, which now boasts close to 1,000 stores and food stalls.

And as is the case with Hackney, this area has undergone extensive gentrification in the decades that followed. In 1977 Camden affordable part of London, where creative types could pursue their dreams – now, a two-bed flat would you the best part of £2,000 per month.

Locked On/679 Recordings Limited. Cover Photo: Rut Blees Luxemburg (2002)

Original Pirate Material, the debut in 2002 through The Streets, features a night photograph of Kestrel House in Islington.

The tower block was photographed by Rut Blees Luxemburg in 1995, a few years after his arrival in the capital of his native country, Germany. The cover photo was taken from the top floor of a nearby high-rise, using eight minutes of exposure.

“I was part of an artist space called Drop, located on the 16th floor of a council block off of the Town Road,” she said.

“It is in this collaborative environment that my interest in the representation of cities is really came into focus and I made the photo of the tower block that became the cover.”

John Chase to the Museum of London

Luxembourg has been approached by the record company, and agreed for his photo to be used after listening to some of the tracks on Original Pirate Material – the work of another incomer from the capital city, the garage-inspired Brit-hop singer and producer Mike Skinner, who grew up in Birmingham.

“I think my work is done hear well with the album,” Luxembourg said.

“The music and photography to focus on a particular urban, creative and challenging dynamic that is very present, but often hidden, but always emerging.”

She still lives near the place where the photo was taken, where the Islington skyline has been added, with more spins.

Commenting on how the capital has changed in the time she lived here, the photographer has said: “Cities are always changing and transformation; changes in London, however, are a turbo.”

Universal Island records. Design: Studio Juice. Photography: Max Knight (2009)

For the final step of our coverage of the album tour of the capital, we exchange a gritty high-rise living for perhaps the most fashionable shopping street in the country, the King of the Road, which runs through Chelsea and Fulham.

The year 2009, and privileged folk rockers Mumford & Sons pose in the window of a furniture store, Pimpernel & Partners.

The image of the well-heeled quartet became the cover of her first album ” Sigh No more, which is going to sell millions of copies.

And, even if the album is not yet 10 years, the relentless pace of change in London has had its effect here also.

At the beginning of the month of April Fulham furniture store announced it would close the facilities and move the business online.