10 Hidden Images on Album Covers

Sometimes, there's more to an album cover than meets the eye. 

1. The Rolling Stones // Their Satanic Majesties Request

When The Rolling Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967, it immediately drew comparisons to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was released earlier in the same year. Both records feature psychedelic music and very colorful album art, but Their Satanic Majesties Request actually features images of all four of the Beatles hidden in the foreground. It is believed that this was a response to The Beatles' album, which featured a Shirley Temple doll wearing a sweater that reads, "Welcome The Rolling Stones Good Guys."

Fun fact: Photographer Michael Cooper shot both covers for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  

2. The Beastie Boys // Licensed To Ill

Def Jam

The Beastie Boys' debut album, Licensed to Ill, features a jet plane with the serial number "3MTA3" on its tail. If you look at the album cover in a mirror, the reverse image now reads, "EATME," or "Eat Me."

3. Kate Bush // Aerial

The cover of Aerial, Kate Bush's eighth studio album, appears to feature a mountain range with its reflection in the sea. However, if you look closely, it's actually a waveform of a blackbird's song on top of a photograph of a sunrise. The waveform is a reference to the final track on Aerial's second disc (about 37:28 into disc two or 3:18 into track nine), which features a blackbird's chirping.

4. Def Leppard // Retro Active

Def Leppard's Retro Active features a 19th century woman sitting at a dressing table staring at a mirror. If you look at the cover at a distance, you can see a skull made up of the woman and her reflection. Artist Charles Allan Gilbert's 1892 painting All is Vanity was Def Leppard's inspiration for the album cover.

5. Santana // Santana

At first glance, Santana's debut record looks like it only features a ferocious lion. However, if you take a closer look, you can see that it also features nine smaller faces that make up the lion's head. Additionally, the lion's chin can also be seen as a hula skirt, only to reveal a hula girl at the album cover's center.

According to the album cover designer, Lee Conklin, "I knew that I was making art for future generations and so even though Bill [Graham, band manager] usually liked posters in colour, I detailed this one in pen-and-ink…the challenge has always been to subvert the poster form to whatever my muse insists on and then to convert my psychedelic experiences to any medium I’m working in. I made it my mission to translate my psychedelic experience into paper." 

6. Supertramp // Breakfast in America

The album cover for Supertramp's Breakfast in America features a waitress named Libby posing as the Statue of Liberty with a menu and a glass of orange juice on a tray. In the background, what at first glance appears to be the Manhattan skyline is actually cereal boxes, salt and pepper shakes, cutlery, mugs, and various kitchen items made up to look like New York City. Supertramp won a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package for Breakfast in America in 1980.

7. Black Lips // 200 Million Thousand

Aside from the band's name and the title of the record, 200 Million Thousand from Black Lips seemingly only features black and white lines on its album cover. However, if you stare at the cover long enough, you'll start to make up the faint outlines of a man's face wearing a gold teeth grill. On the back of the album, you can see the same image, but without the optical illusion. 

8. Harry Nilsson & John Lennon // Pussy Cats

Recording artist Harry Nilsson teamed up with John Lennon to produce Pussy Cats in 1974. The album cover features a rug under a table with two block letters—"D" and "S"—flanking it.  If you sound out the puzzle, it reads, "D-rug-S" or specifically, "Drugs under the table." This was an inside joke during Lennon's "Lost Weekend" era, a drunken and drug-fueled 18 month period between 1973 and 1975.   

9. The Velvet Underground // White Light/White Heat

In 1968, The Velvet Underground released White Light/White Heat with a seemingly all-black album cover. If you take a closer look, though, you can see a faint image of a skull tattoo on Andy Warhol collaborator Joe Spencer's arm.

"After the first album came out, Lou (Reed) said he would like me to be responsible for the album art for the second album,” explained Billy Name, photographer and former manager of Andy Warhol's Factory. “I said 'why don’t you look through my negatives, see if you find something you like,' and he found this one and pointed to it. It turned out it was a tattoo on Joe Spencer’s arm, his bicep. So I had to blow it up from a 35 millimeter negative, so it came out pretty grainy. So we decided to do a black on black.”

The darkened image is really hard to spot unless you know what you're looking for or you place the album cover under a black light. Re-issues featured a more pronounced tattoo image.

10. The Beatles // Revolver

German artist Klaus Voormann created the artwork for The Beatles' Revolver. While the album cover features many different versions of The Beatles drawn in pencil and in various photographs, Voormann placed an image of himself and his name inside of George Harrison's hair, which is located on the right-side of the album cover.  

Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images
This Just In
Police Recover Nearly 100 Artifacts Stolen From John Lennon’s Estate
Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images
Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images

A collection of artifacts stolen from John Lennon’s estate, including diaries, glasses, and handwritten music, has been recovered by German police, the Associated Press reports. After arresting the first suspect, law enforcement is now working to apprehend a second person of interest in the case.

The nearly 100 items went missing from the New York home of the late Beatles star’s widow Yoko Ono in 2006. Years later, German police were tipped off to their whereabouts when a bankruptcy administrator came across the haul in the storage facility of a Berlin auction house. The three leather-bound diaries that were recovered are dated 1975, 1979, and 1980. One entry refers to Lennon’s famous nude photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, and another was written the morning of December 8, 1980, hours before he was shot and killed. In addition to the journals, police retrieved two pairs of his iconic glasses, a 1965 recording of a Beatles concert, a 1952 school book, contract documents for the copyright of the song “I’m the Greatest”, handwritten scores for "Woman" and "Just Like Starting Over”, and a cigarette case.

German authorities flew to New York to have Ono verify the items' authenticity. "She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her,” prosecutor Susann Wettley told AP. When the objects will be returned to Ono is still unclear.

The first suspect, a 58-year-old German businessman from Turkey, was arrested Monday, November 21, following a raid of his house and vehicles. The second suspect is one of Ono's former chauffeurs who has a past conviction related to the theft. Police officers are hoping to extradite him from his current home in Turkey before moving forward with the case.

[h/t AP]

Scientists Analyze the Moods of 90,000 Songs Based on Music and Lyrics

Based on the first few seconds of a song, the part before the vocalist starts singing, you can judge whether the lyrics are more likely to detail a night of partying or a devastating breakup. The fact that musical structures can evoke certain emotions just as strongly as words can isn't a secret. But scientists now have a better idea of which language gets paired with which chords, according to their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

For their study, researchers from Indiana University downloaded 90,000 songs from Ultimate Guitar, a site that allows users to upload the lyrics and chords from popular songs for musicians to reference. Next, they pulled data from labMT, which crowd-sources the emotional valence (positive and negative connotations) of words. They referred to the music recognition site Gracenote to determine where and when each song was produced.

Their new method for analyzing the relationship between music and lyrics confirmed long-held knowledge: that minor chords are associated with sad feelings and major chords with happy ones. Words with a negative valence, like "pain," "die," and "lost," are all more likely to fall on the minor side of the spectrum.

But outside of major chords, the researchers found that high-valence words tend to show up in a surprising place: seventh chords. These chords contain four notes at a time and can be played in both the major and minor keys. The lyrics associated with these chords are positive all around, but their mood varies slightly depending on the type of seventh. Dominant seventh chords, for example, are often paired with terms of endearment, like "baby", or "sweet." With minor seventh chords, the words "life" and "god" are overrepresented.

Using their data, the researchers also looked at how lyric and chord valence differs between genres, regions, and eras. Sixties rock ranks highest in terms of positivity while punk and metal occupy the bottom slots. As for geography, Scandinavia (think Norwegian death metal) produces the dreariest music while songs from Asia (like K-Pop) are the happiest. So if you're looking for a song to boost your mood, we suggest digging up some Asian rock music from the 1960s, and make sure it's heavy on the seventh chords.


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