You can’t judge a book by its cover. Nor should you try to judge an album by its cover art. But occasionally there’s a great album within a great cover.
When discussing vinyl records with friends and family the conversation always turns to the tactile; the act of removing the record from the sleeve, properly cleaning and setting it on the turntable, queuing up the music and sitting down to actively listen. And that is the time to turn your attention to the album cover.
When I discuss great album art with people the one album I always have in mind is Santana’s second album, 1970’s Abraxas:
Not only is this album a fantastic listen, with some of Santana’s most notable songs, but the album cover is beautifully mesmerizing and so full of detail that I seem to find something new in it every time I pick it up.
The artwork is from a 1961 painting by the artist Mati Klarwein and is entitled Annunciation:
Klarwein’s art was used by several other musicians after Santana including Miles Davis (Bitches Brew) Buddy Miles and Gregg Allman.
Here is the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to a very laid back and fertile Mary while the artist himself feasts on the back cover.
As for Santana, this album includes the Tito Puente Latin slow burner Oye Como Va and Peter Green’s (yup, from Fleetwood Mac) Black Magic Woman as well as some fantastic instrumental Latin jazz blues rock numbers. It’s a beautifully recorded album and sounds of fantastic on a vintage Hi-Fi.