Saturday, December 8, 2012

THE ROLLING STONES - Their Satanic Majesties Request

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: London
Catalog: NPS-2
Year: 1967
Designer: Michael Cooper
Photographer: Michael Cooper
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ***** stars (classic)

I'm a big Stones fan, but will readily admit that the packaging for "Their Satanic Majesties Request" beats most of the songs.  

There's apparently an entire cottage industry built around this album - with a little bit of effort you can find more about it that you ever wanted to know.  

Initially entitled "Cosmic Christmas", The Stones played around with a cover concept that would have shown a naked Mick Jagger splayed on a cross.   I'm thinking that might not have been the way to go.  

Michael Cooper was responsible for the concept and took the famous photograph which was produced with a cool, holographic effect.  The Stones apparently envisioned releasing the album with a holographic cover for the entire front panel, but the costs proved prohibitive and they settled for a smaller 8" x 8" panel that was glued on to the front panel.  Even the reduced size 3D panel proved expensive (Decca and London reportedly lost money pressing the gimmick cover) and later releases dropped the 3-D cover in favor of a conventional photograph.  

The resulting 'concept' seems to have just sort of evolved out of an existing vacuum with nobody really in charge.  Keith Richards talked a bit about the cover in 2003:  "I can remember virtually nothing of those sessions. It's a total blank. We were pretty much the way we look on the cover!  The thing I remember most about making [the album] is that cover. We went to New York with Michael Cooper and met a Japanese guy who had a camera that could produce a 3-D effect. We built the set on acid, went all round New York getting the flowers and the rest of the props; we were painting it, spraying it. We were just loony, and after the Beatles had done Sgt. Pepper, it was like, Let's get even more ridiculous."   And on that note, they succeeded.  Whereas the Sgt. Pepper looked groundbreaking, "Satanic Majesties" looked imitative, or perhaps just plain silly.   .

Dressed up in goody costumes and looking quite stoned, when the image was tilted Watts, Richards, Wyman and Jones appeared to swivel their heads as if they were looking at one another, while Jagger's hands appeared to cross.  Elsewhere, supposedly a response to The Beatles having included a nod to The Stones on "Sgt Pepper" (look for the doll that says "welcome the Rolling Stones", the cover included embedded pictures of the Fab Four.  It takes a little effort, but if you tilt the panel in the right direction you can find them:

- McCartney is found on the left side, about two inches under the sunflowers.
- Harrison can be found on Charlie Watts sleeve.
- Lennon's the hardest to see - he's slightly below and to the right of the yellow star trails on Brian Jones' clothing
- Ringo's about an inch to the right of the yellow star on Jones' clothing.

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