Album Cover of the Week: “Lou Reed”

Album Cover of the Week is back!

This week we celebrate the most misunderstood release by a chronically misunderstood artist, Mr. Lewis Allan Reed. The record is “Lou Reed” by Lou Reed, his very first solo album after the gloriously sickening implosion of the Velvet Underground. The music itself on this album was panned, albeit somewhat misguidedly. But the cryptic and bizarre artwork probably didn’t help…

The artwork for this record is actually my favourite of any of Reed’s releases, and it comes from a unique source: a graphic artist, illustrator, and painter named Tom Adams. Adams was born in 1926 into a family of architects and city planners. He first found success as a book cover illustrator, and it was in this medium that he honed his unique style. Adams’ work, as exemplified by the Lou Reed cover, combines the technical aspects of traditional illustration with the imagination of surrealism. It is in this mode that Adams became a known entity in the art world, and he continues to work to this day from his home in England. He even did a cover for Iron Maiden, apparently on very short notice. Check out some other examples of his work here.

As for the Reed cover, it’s one of my favourites simply because it is so bizarre. An object that resembles Febarge Egg lays split open on a cracked city street, revealing another glittering jeweled object within. A flightless bird looks down in the foreground, and hummingbirds spell Lou’s name in crimson flowers. Meanwhile, a tidal wave approaches from the background, about to destroy the delicate beauty created by the birds and the jewels. I have a feeling that this image is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for Reed’s post-Velvets career (something beautiful opening to reveal something more beautiful, i.e. Reed’s solo career), but I’m really not sure what this image is trying to say specifically. That being said, it is a gorgeously weird image, and I love it. Thus, it has earned it’s place as an Album Cover of the Week.

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