While the shift towards digital sales has reduced their cultural impact in recent years, the artwork used on CD albums once formed the most iconic images in popular culture. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Roxy Music’s designs were among the hottest on the market. Over…
While the shift towards digital sales has reduced their cultural impact in recent years, the artwork used on CD albums once formed the most iconic images in popular culture. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Roxy Music’s designs were among the hottest on the market.
Over the course of eight Roxy Music album covers, Bryan Ferry and co. used elements of fashion and glamour to produce iconic album covers that stand alongside the likes of Sgt. Peppers, London Calling, and Unknown Pleasures.
Each piece of artwork has its own story to tell, mostly in relation to the cover girls and romantic links to Ferry. Let’s take a closer look at each album cover.
Kari-Ann Muller (Roxy Music Album Covers, 1972)
Former bond girl Kari-Ann Muller appeared on the band’s eponymous debut album, providing a shot that would define the art-rock look of the decade.
Wearing a white with pink trim glam outfit and blue eyeshadow while laid out on a bed to replicate the iconic Hollywood styles of the 1940s and 1950s, the album cover would play a significant role in helping the band grab the attention in those early days.
Despite being a former film star, Muller received a fee of just £20 for her appearance.
Amanda Lear (For Your Pleasure Album Cover, 1973)
The partnership between one of the UK’s biggest groups and an already famous Playboy model was always going to be a recipe for success. The fact that Amanda Lear and Bryan ferry were in the midst of a romantic relationship only added further intrigue from the public and media alike.
The album cover itself depicts Lear holding a panther on a leash. The ultra-stylish outfit look and London city backdrop, coupled with the panther’s face (and impact of the album) make it one of the most significant album covers of the 70s.
Regrettably, the panther’s face is a false post-production addition due to how sedated the animal was during the shoot. Thankfully, that type of shoot wouldn’t pass today.
Marilyn Cole (Stranded Album Cover, 1973)
Marilyn Cole was another Playboy model to catch the eye of Ferry, romantically and for an album cover, and appeared on the iconic Stranded album cover, taking the sex appeal factor to a whole new level.
Laying on the ground, Cole’s red dress contrasts the greens of the background plants while her hair flows into the ground. The positioning combined with the rips in the dress are representative of the name Stranded while still reflecting the band’s love of the artistic approach that had already served them well.
The album was their first to reach number one in the UK charts, ensuring that the image would las tin the minds of millions.
Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald (Country File Album Cover, 1974)
When an album cover is banned from the US market for being too raunchy, it’s almost certain to gain a cult status. The album cover for Country File, depicting a pair of very scantily clad German women, undoubtedly did.
The story behind the album revolves around a chance meeting in which the two fans met Ferry, who was away writing the album. They were more than happy to don the see-through undies and stand in front of the foliage for the album cover while they even helped translate some lyrics into German.
Country File’s final image was deemed too controversial for the American audience, resulting in an alternative cover of the foliage alone.
Jerry Hall (Siren Album Cover, 1975)
While Lear and Cole had been public faces, the ability to recruit Jerry Hall for 1975’s Siren underlined the band’s growing clout.
Hall plays the part of a mermaid in an artwork design that is heavily influenced by blue tones that are contrasted by the golds of her hair and crown, as well as the text of the band’s name.
Behind the scenes, Ferry’s chivalry on the set of the shoot impressed Hall to the point that they were engaged just one year later. However, the romance didn’t last as Hall ended up married to Mick Jagger.
Mannequins (Manifesto Album Cover, 1979)
Following the longest gap between studio albums in their original run, fans would have probably expected a seductive album cover to push the boundaries. Instead, Roxy Music hosted a fake party with mannequins. The tactic makes Manifesto one of their most talked about designs.
The image got people talking while the crazy, colourful, and energetic album cover instantly grabs the attention due to how many things are happening. The celebration can be associated with the return of the band, or digested on face value.
Two fans are hidden in the background of the album cover too, a mini easter egg that provided fans with further reason to talk.
Aimee Stephenson and Shelley Mann (Flesh & Blood Album Cover, 1980)
Roxy Music’s second number one album in the UK actually depicts three women, with Roslyn Bolton on the back. In a somewhat more modest album cover, they hold javelins that are pointed towards the band’s name.
The cover is perhaps best known because famous graphic designer Peter Saville of Factory Records was behind it. The honest and innocent aesthetic is highlighted by white outfits, plain background, and natural poses.
Its contrast against previous record cover designs certainly adds to its appeal, making it one of the most instantly recognisable images for people of a certain generation.
Lucy Helmore (Avalon Album Cover, 1982)
The final Roxy Music studio album shows London socialite Lucy Helmore, who would become Ferry’s wife. The couple had four children together before divorcing in 2003.
As another undersexualised image, the artwork for Avalon focuses on the mystic of the main imagery and the natural backdrops. Being shot from behind Helmore also shows that she is looking out to the horizon. The imagery of the helmet and the falcon represents King Arthur’s journey to the mysterious Avalon.
Another album cover produced by Peter Saville.
What Can We Learn About The Roxy Music Album Covers?
The Roxy Music album covers show how artwork can reflect a band’s music and get people talking. It also paints a clear picture of several moments in music history. Whether you’re a fan of the band on not, their album artwork is of huge significance.
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