The second item in the ongoing series of curios that I have collected as inspiration is the Earth, Wind & Fire LP, Raise. I’m a bit partial to the odd disco, funk and soul track, but this LP is on hand for its visual rather than its musical appeal. In fact I don’t think I’ve actually taken the vinyl out of the sleeve. I was given this vinyl by a former colleague who was getting rid of his old record collection and thought it might be up my street, he was right.
The cover was Illustrated by Shusei Nagaoka a Japanese artist who created an array of album sleeves in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s a small gallery of his work here. And if you look hard enough, there’s also a book. This illustration is in Nagaoka’s signature style, he was renowned for creating futuristic science fiction scenes using an airbrush. During the 70’s and 80’s he illustrated countless film posters, advertisements, magazine covers and record sleeves.
I really like the brash colours used within the design. The use of planets and triangular shapes (visible in the second image when the sleeve is open) seem to have come full circle – as today there are several prominent designers and illustrators using these images in their work. The one thing that lets the design down slightly for me is that the typography looks like an after thought. I think it would heave been interesting to see the album title incorporated into the cover illustration a little more. So, it isn’t perfect, but I think it’s a good example of airbrush work from the era. It’s an interesting artefact, and something I like to look at regularly.