For Follows

Alison Fielding, head of creative at Beggars Group, recalls the sleeve that first sparked her interest in that magical relationship between music and design…

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Last weekend I visited my parents, ended up in the loft and came across a box of old vinyl – and there it was. Boy, oh Boy. While the rest of my family watched the Ten O’clock News I was travelling back in time, listening to John Peel through the stereo, wearing oversized headphones and hearing “I Will Follow” for the first time and being blown away.

There are hundreds of sleeves I love, from old jazz covers to underground dance. I have a favourite every week. What puts this sleeve right up there for me is how evocative of the time it was and how – without warning – it probably shaped what I now do for a living.

I remember the process of hearing the track, shouting out how amazing it was to my family, being told to “shut it” as they couldn’t hear Kate Adie from war-torn Iran, ordering it from the local TV shop that doubled up as a record shop  – until finally, there it was in my hands. The excitement, the thick plastic dust cover, the reverse board, the sleeve notes, those hairstyles, the beautiful Larry Mullen. There was ’Boy', his innocent little face gazing back at me. What did that face mean? Was it one of the band as a child? Was it really about the transition from childhood to adolescence? Did I even care?

Turns out it was the brother of a friend of the band who also appeared on the cover of War [U2’s third album, released 1983]. I believe he has now photographed the band himself. I’m not sure there was much of a back-story or concept to the sleeve but for my teenage self it was everything.

Of course I can now look at it more objectively and see  that the type on the back is clumsy  – atrocious, in fact. But that face, I stared at it for hours, played and played it, endlessly caressed that silver metallic border, read each detail. From that moment on, very penny I had was spent on vinyl, every sleeve copied (badly), every logotype traced. Like an addict, it was too late for me. The slippery slope had begun…

Alison Fielding will be speaking at tonight's Cover Club event at The Ace Hotel, Shoreditch, 7pm — 9.45pm. FREE entry.

Info here.