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DSOTM Cover Art


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People say that there is some hidden triangle theme in the Wizard of Oz. Apparently you see things like branches and stuff that are sort of in the shape of triangles. The rainbow had something to do with it. There was a DSoTM site you could get to via snopes, but it looks as though the link has been taken down. I'm sure if you do a google search you will find plenty of things though.

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Storm Thorgerson submitted a bunch of suggestions regarding the cover. There is nothing significant about the cover (to the 'concept' album itself) other than relating to Pink Floyd's light shows in their concerts.

I think it was Richard Wright who wanted a 'simple' cover. I'm pretty sure Roger Waters helped design the inner sleeve.


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My dad used to have it on vinyl until he threw away his entire music collection. He won't tell me why, he only warns me not to do it.

I still got the Vinyl, the Cassette and obtained the 25th anny CD in '98.

For Dark Side's two predecessors, Hipgnosis had presented a cow (Atom Heart Mother) and an over-sized human ear (Meddle). The new works' cover would be similarly prosaic: a diagram of light passing through a prism that could have been borrowed from any physics textbook. But the technically simple cover cleverly offered clues and signs to the spirit of the music within. Cast on a jet black background, the design also a triumph of understatement: enigmatic, minimalist and as cooly hip as the band themselves.

Technically, the cover is a 'mechanical tint lay'. There was no original painting; just a black-and-white diagram with instructions to the printer about colours. The packaging celebrates the band's cult of anonymity. You only reach the name Pink Floyd when you open the gatefold, where the band have a credit as producers. The title of the album appears only on the label. Small wonder that EMI slapped a sticker on the front to flag up to the unwary that this was the Floyd's latest.

Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis recalls: " I'd had various conversations with the band about what they wanted on the sleeve. Roger explained the intellectual thrust of the music, the theme of madness - the the madness of rock'n'roll and madness in general". But the main impetus for the eventual design was some blunt advice from Rick Wright. "He basically said, 'Let's have no [bleep] pictures this time, I'm bored with pictures'. I was quite taken aback because he was so definite about it. But he said, 'We want something smarter, neater, more classy'."

Thorgerson duly reworked a prism and light design that had been offered to Charisma for a new label, Clearlight, but never used. This was submitted to the band by him and his partner Aubrey 'Po' Powell with five other ideas.

Today Thorgerson cannot recollect these, save for one featuring a giant wave and a figure based on the Silver Surfer comin book superhero. But the decision-making process in a side room at Abbey Road was swift and unanimous. "They took all of about three minutes. They flicked through them, then when it came to the prism they just looked at each other, said, 'That's the one. Right we're going back to work now.' Then they went back to the studio."

"I was trying to say, Hang on a bit. I thought they were being hasty, because I was keen for them to appreciatte all the hard work that we, as freelancers, had done. I was wanging on but Po, who always had more business sense, realised they were delighted, that we had the gig and that was all that mattered."

Thorgerson's prism proved a resonant symbol. "It represented both the diversity and cleanliness of the sound of the music," he says. "In a more conscious way, it worked for a band with a reputation for their light show. The triangle is a symbol for ambition, one of the themes Roger was concerned with. So you had several ideas coming together. It was Roger's idea to turn the light into a heartbeat inside the sleeve, the sound that starts the music."

Thorgerson designed the front and back sleeves so that the entry and exit beams could be joined up to form a huge shop window display: "It wasn't really a promotional decision, just my egocentric idea - not that anybody ever did it."

The design work was straightforward, so Thorgerson delegated it to George Hardie, the new boy in the studio (now Britain's first professor of graphics). Hardie also created the two postcard stickers included with the album, plus the pink-hued poster of the band (great on the wall if you could get your mum to iron out the creases).

A second poster of the Great Pyramid, shot by Thorgerson on infra- red film, was also included. Today he regrets that a black-and- white time exposure taken at night was not used.

Thorgerson, girlfriend and baby son and Po flew to Egypt for the shoot. But all save Thorgerson got food-poisoning, so he worked solo. Thorgerson and Powell were paid L600 each for their efforts. But for all Hipgnosis' conceptual care, some printers were lackadaisical. In the Soviet Union the album came out with the sleeve printed upside down and back to front.

Thorgerson remains proud of his most famous creation. "It may not have been interesting or challenging as a piece of work but it is interesting as an appropriate piece of artwork for the record. It's either a brilliant piece of art direction or perhaps just a jammy idea - that's for others to judge - but it worked really well in its content."

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