Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A mean pinball

I’ve been listening to The Who these past few days (in between bouts of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters LP and the 1st African Head Charge album), and leafing thru a Who magazine I stumbled across the 1972 curio Tommy Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra & Chamber Choir. This particular Tommy doesn’t hold much interest for me (I’m listening to some samples now on youtube and it’s rather corny), but the Tom Wilkes’ album design is truly fantastic – the smooth metallic, reflective surface of the pinball feels incredibly sensual. I used to see the album in second-hand records stores throughout the 90’s, the LP box almost always falling asunder and missing the inserts. If I was a bigger Who fan, I would seek out a copy for Wilkes’ design work alone, but Discogs scratches that particular itch with some nice scans of the inner contents. The idea of the all-seeing pinball popping up in various locations has me racking my brains to where I’ve seen this motif before – perhaps I’m thinking of the strange phallic ornament that appears in the photographs on Zep’s Presence album, or the megaphone seen in various locations on Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses. I like Wilkes’ cover enough to think it superior to the Dark Side of the Moon’s prism, and casting commercial concerns aside, it would have made a terrific Phantasm poster…

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