The Beatles Album Covers
The Beatles' UK album covers
by Patrick Roefflaer
For the writing of this article I have used information found in the following books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder.
Furthermore I found interesting information on countless websites.
Robert Freeman wanted a picture from a different angle and with a new colour tonality. He searched for a combination of brown, black and green, to get a monochrome effect. To that end, the four guys, wearing suede jackets, were placed in front of a rhododendron bush. Freeman remembers that the photograph was taken in the garden of John’s ‘Kenwood’ house in Weybridge. Mark Lewisohn and Piet Schreuder state that, it happened in deep in the woods beyond Bolder Mere Lakle, near the disused Wisley Airfield, in Old Lane, Hatchford End near Cobham. In that case, John’s house might have been the meeting point that autumn afternoon, because it was, as Freeman remembers, "a central point for three of them. Paul drove from London".
A few days later, the Beatles came together in the apartment of a friend, to chose the right picture. Robert Freeman projected a couple of slides on a album-sized piece of white cardboard. Suddenly the carton started to slide away and the distorted projection showed elongated faces. They liked the result and asked Robert if it was possible to print the photo in that way. Which he could.
Freeman himself is not really satisfied with the result. He thinks that the budget EMI gave him, was insufficient. In one of his picture books he later printed the same picture in sepia-tones. (See also p. 196 of The Beatles Anthology book). That’s more like the result he was looking after. It mirrored the changing shapes in their lives.
The title is a wordplay on "Plastic Soul". It was the expression that black musicians were using to describe The Rolling Stones. On Anthology 2, you can hear Paul shout: "Plastic soul, man, plastic soul." after the recording of take 1 of ‘I'm Down’.
The four faces on the cover are recognizable enough not to need a groups name on the album. Another first.
For the back sleeve, eight more rectangular black-and-white pictures by Robert Freeman are used. Two of every Beatle.
Click on an album cover to read about it:
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