10 classic album covers that feature London
27 August 2023, 14:00
Many classic album covers have used the streets of London as a backdrop... Radio X takes a look at some of the most famous examples.
David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
- Album released: 16th June 1972
- Photo taken: 13th January 1972
- Cover photo location: 23 Heddon Street, W1B 4BQ
Brian Ward shot a murky black and white photo of a flu-ridden David Bowie outside his studio in Heddon Street, between Regent Street and Saville Row. The image of the Starman was later colour-tinted for the album cover that made Bowie into a superstar.
Wings - London Town
- Album released: 31st March 1978
- Photo taken: circa January 1978
- Cover photo location: Tower Bridge, SE1 2UP
"Silver rain was falling down upon the dirty ground of London town" sang Macca in his ode to the capital. The album of the same name featured a shot of Wings - which at the time comprised of Paul and Linda McCartney plus Denny Laine - in front of the imposing suspension bridge that spans the Thames, completed in 1894. The photo of the group was in fact a composite of three different portraits, put together by Aubrey Powell and George Hardie, aka the design team Hipgnosis.
The Clash - The Clash
- Album released: 8th April 1977
- Photo taken: circa February 1977
- Cover photo location: Stables Market, Camden, NW1 8AF
The London punk band's debut album featured a cover photo by Kate Simon of Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon stood on a trolley ramp just outside their rehearsal rooms in Camden Market, by the lock. The ramp has since been replaced by steps.
Pink Floyd - Animals
- Album released: 21st January 1977
- Photo taken: 3rd December 1976
- Cover photo location: Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN
Roger Waters was inspired to include the iconic Battersea Power Station on the cover of Floyd's tenth studio album after living near the building during the recording period. The 40 foot inflatable pig slipped its moorings on the second day of shooting - it landed in Kent - and the final product was a combination of the sky from earlier photos, plus a superimposed piggy balloon, taken by Howard Batrop. In 2022, a long-delayed remixed version of the album was issued, with updated cover photo showing the differences in the landscape over the ensuing 45 years - the building is being converted into luxury apartments.
The Streets - Original Pirate Material
- Album released: 25th March 2002
- Photo taken: 1995
- Cover photo location: Kestrel House, E11 4QX
The cover photo for Mike Skinner's debut album was taken in 1995 by Rut Blees Luxemburg, a German photographer who studied in London. Kestrel House was opened in 1968 and lies on the main road between Angel and Old Street.
The Rolling Stones - Between The Buttons
- Album released: 20th January 1967
- Photo taken: November 1966
- Cover photo location: Primrose Hill, NW3 3NA
Photographer Gered Mankowitz shot a weary Stones on Primrose Hill at 5.30 in the morning after a long session at Olympic Studios in Barnes. A makeshift filter that used Vaseline gave the images that extra blurry, early morning effect.
Madness - Absolutely
- Album released: 26th September 1980
- Photo taken: circa July/August 1980
- Cover photo location: Chalk Farm Station, W3 2BP
The Nutty Boys were Camden locals, so it was convenient for the band to have the cover for their second album taken outside the entrance to Chalk Farm tube station on Adelaide Road. The station's Art Nouveau oxblood red coloured faïence frontage was designed by Leslie Green and dates back to 1907.
The Beatles - Abbey Road
- Album released: 26th September 1969
- Photo taken: 8th August 1969
- Cover photo location: Abbey Road, London NW8 9AY
Perhaps the most famous cover to feature a London location, the Fab Four's last recorded album created a landmark out of the EMI studios at 3, Abbey Road, St John's Wood. The shot shows George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon walking across the zebra crossing outside the studio where they'd made history.
Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
- Album released: 2nd October 1995
- Photo taken: circa July/August 1995
- Cover photo location: Berwick Street, W1F 8RP
Michael Spencer Jones took a photo of a deserted Berwick Street with sleeve designer Brian Cannon and DJ Sean Rowley passing each other. In the background, producer Owen Morris can be seen holding the master tape of the album over his head. To the left of the photo, the frontage of the record store Selectadisc can be seen.
The Jam - This Is The Modern World
- Album released: 18th November 1977
- Photo taken: circa September 1977
- Cover photo location: Westway roundabout, W10
The cover of The Jam's second album sees the trio of Paul Weller, Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton photographed by Gered Mankowitz under the imposing structure of the Westway road in West London. In the background, you can see two of the tower blocks on the Silchester estate, Markland and Frinstead House.