Gitte Morten Photography
Category Archives: Design
Come My Way
Decca, UK, 1965
Design: Chris O’Dell
Cover photography: Gered Mankowitz
Can a recording artist release their first two, very different, albums on the same day and get away with it? Well, in the ’60s you could, au naturel.
In a bid to escape her shallow, NME Instamatic image as Andrew Loog Oldham’s “angel with big…” attributes, Marianne Faithfull insisted on releasing Come My Way, her serious and rather earnest folk album, alongside Marianne Faithfull, the album that her managers and pop-puppet masters at Decca demanded.
Released on April 15th 1965 and, as was also the case for Marianne Faithfull, produced by ALO cohort Tony Calder, Come My Way, somewhat against the odds, reached #12 in the UK charts, higher than its poppier counterpart. It consisted of wall-to-wall folk tunes, most of them trad arr favourites; pleasant enough but not that mind-blowing.
The album was designed by Chris O’Dell, a photographer who’d snapped the teen Marianne as far back as ’60 when she was still a convent schoolgirl. Although his memories of this time are a bit sketchy, he was far from enamoured by the way Marianne was packaged and stilted and he soon left the Oldham fold. “I went on to take some photographs of The Rolling Stones and some one hit wonders for Oldham, but he wasn’t very good at paying, so I packed it up in the end,” O’Dell recalls. “Working in the pop music business in the ’60s was no picnic, and I was happy to be able to follow a career in another area.”
Whereas Marianne Faithfull features a pretty and cutesy, if slightly pouty, portrait by David Bailey on its cover, the overall look of Come My Way is more serious. Gered Mankowitz photographed Marianne extensively during ’65 and had an easy working relationship with her. Being the mid-60s, Mankowitz was able to simply head out with his camera and his subject without any particular record company brief. “I think it was the third or fourth session I did with Marianne,” he explains. “We had complete freedom, no concept or art direction, just the two of us in a well-known pub that I had been aware of for a while. She was very natural in front of the camera and exuded a powerful yet innocent sexuality.”
The photo session (in The Salisbury Arms, Covent Garden, still worth a visit, intrepid travellers!) yielded a number of shots (no pun intended). Mankowitz’s preferred cover image – an absolute beauty of Marianne surrounded by Victorian splendour – was rejected by Decca due to the reflection of some curious male onlookers being visible. They chose a less exuberant image of Marianne in a pensive mood, a slightly gloomy black & white image taken by a window in the pub. Marianne looks imploringly straight at the viewer while absentmindedly playing with the etched windowpane.
A less downbeat portrait was used for the back – another Mankowitz shot, this time from IBC Studios in Portland Place while Marianne was recording the album. A natural picture with a slightly cheesy grin, it demonstrates the youth of the subject and lifts the overall sober mood.
It would be interesting to see how the album would have looked if Marianne had had any kind of artistic control over it; would she have attempted to match the somewhat limited power she had over her musical direction with the same control over her image as an artist? In later years her album covers certainly became less winsome.
A period piece in both look and sound, Come My Way perfectly encapsulates where she was at in ’65, mixing innocence with a purposeful pursuit of self-expression.
Gitte Morten © 2017.
This article was published in Shindig! Magazine, May 2017.
…Marmite. It’s something to do with the news – I dunno, I try not to follow these things too closely.
But here’s what the world used to look like
Philips, Brazil, 1971
Cover Design: Linda Glover (Design Machine)
Photography: Johnny Clamp
Recorded in 1971, when Caetano Veloso’s mood was at its lowest ebb, his self-
titled album (tellingly sometimes referred to as A Little More Blue) is, as he says,
“a document of depression.” Set against a backdrop of uncertainty about his
future, as well as a profound melancholy, the songs are distinctly downbeat.
In order to understand the ’71 Veloso, we have to skip backwards a couple of
years to his and fellow Tropicalista Gilberto Gil’s Technicolor rise to fame, and
consequent arrest and expulsion by the Brazilian military regime. Veloso and Gil
chose to decamp to London, as it seemed the most happening place in Europe,
and took their places on the scene as exotic figures, renting a house in Chelsea
and hanging out in the hippie community.
The album’s artwork, designed by Philips staffer Linda Glover, perfectly illustrates
Veloso’s melancholic state of mind and sense of detachment from his unfamiliar
surroundings. Linda Glover also designed a whole host of other Philips albums,
including Scott 3, Ambrose Slade’s Beginnings and Magna Carta’s debut, as well
as the original “swirl” Vertigo logo (more on this story to follow).
At this point in his career, Veloso could not really be said to have a set visual
style. His first two albums, both of which are confusingly also self-entitled, feature
vastly different styles – the crazed super-psych of his ’68 debut and the following
year’s White Album-esque follow-up.
The cover of album number three is filled by a magnificent close-up portrait of
Veloso taken by Johnny Clamp, who also shot the cover image for Gilberto Gil’s
album from the same year, as well as fellow Philips/Fontana should-have- been-
massives Kaleidoscope and Jimmy Campbell. This visual introduction sees
Caetano Veloso wrapped up against the London cold, his sad eyes the very
antithesis of every Brazilian cultural stereotype you can think of; this is about as
far from bikini-clad dancers, palm trees and sunny beaches as you can get.
Veloso’s sense of homesickness and displacement (he says, “London felt dark,
and I felt far away from myself”) permeated his life as well as his music during his
three-year stay. The house he shared with Gilberto Gil – nicknamed The Sixteen
Chapel – became a place of pilgrimage for visiting Brazilians and members of the
London counterculture alike. However, whereas Gil embraced the change of
scenery with gusto, discovering the delights of reggae and advising on the setting
up of The Glastonbury Festival, Veloso tended to stay at home, although to be
fair, he did go to gigs and discover a love of Monty Python’s Flying Circus as well
as the Stones in their live incarnation.
The back cover of the album features another of Johnny Clamp’s photos, of
Veloso sitting on the steps of London’s Albert Memorial. The grainy black and
white image is taken through the railings surrounding the monument, giving an
unsettling impression of both imprisonment and voyeurism, and further
accentuates the bleak mood of the whole package.
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that all of the song titles bar one are in
English; an experiment Veloso began while still in Brazil. Although not really
speaking any English at all, he understood the importance of trying to
communicate with the world outside the constrictions of the military regime,
which, as dictatorships are wont, did not appreciate the flourishing of radical
artistic expression. For his London album though, Veloso was specifically asked
by producers Ralph Mace and Lou Reizner to write in English, as well as be the
main guitarist; something he was very reticent about, considering himself less
proficient than his contemporaries – Gil included.
A perfect match of mood and style, Caetano Veloso’s third album offers, as the
liner notes state, “a two-way mirror, focusing thoughts and memories of home
and absent friends and reflecting his reaction to a new but friendly environment”
– an artist coming to terms with a profound and distressing change of life.
Gitte Morten © 2016.
This article was published in Shindig! Magazine, July 2016.
The Barbican complex, comprising the Barbican residential estate and the Barbican Centre, was built in the ’60s/’70s/’80s in an area of London which was extensively bombed during the war, and is gorgeously Brutalist.