The 80s have always polarised opinion. Synonymous with Margaret Thatcher, Reaganomics yuppies and Live Aid, the era’s aspirational values extended to the music it produced, with the glossy production techniques of the day holding sway as the CD format was introduced and subsequently threatened to usurp vinyl. Despite all that, the record sleeve remained a highly respected medium for art – as the best 80s album covers prove.
Best 80s Album Covers: 10 Iconic Artworks From An Outlandish Era
10: Talking Heads: ‘Remain In Light’ (1980)
The dense, polyrhythmic funk Talking Heads and producer Brian Eno created for the band’s fourth album was highly original, but the innovation didn’t end there: Remain In Light also came housed in one of the first computer-generated record sleeves, providing an example of how the best 80s album covers could – like the best 80s albums – harness emerging technologies to create something of its time, yet also timeless.
Conceived by rhythm section Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, with help from Massachusetts Institute Of Technology researcher Walter Bender, Remain In Light’s front cover featured individual portraits of the four band members blotted out with blocks of red colour, while the back cover depicted a similarly CGI-enhanced collage of red warplanes flying in formation over the Himalayas. Weymouth attended MIT regularly during the summer of 1980, and worked on the sleeve with Bender’s colleague Scott Fisher, but the process proved slow as computer technology was still limited. Indeed, in those days, the MIT’s mainframe computer was so big it took up several rooms.
Computer images: Scott Fisher, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz | Graphic designers: Tibor Kalman/M & Co New York