Our weekly segment, Juxtapoz Sound and Vision, explores a piece of substantial album artwork every Sunday to look at one of the primary ways musicians and visual artists collaborate. Many popular album covers become iconic pieces of pop art, and they’re a great excuse for us to share some favorites along with the visual components that make an album memorable.
June 23, 2019: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (1977)
Cover photography by Herbert W Worthington, design by Desmond Strobel and calligraphy by Larry Vigon
I’ll be honest: it took a second for me to get Fleetwood Mac. I knew they were one of the most successful rock bands ever, had monumental record sales, hits, a breakup, a comeback… but I saw the cover of their landmark 1977 album, Rumours, and thought I was looking at a Shakespeare festival photo shoot. I was a kid! The moment I did get it? Santa Cruz, college, a joint, car with great speakers, “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way” played very loud, back to back. I was converted. Rarely does a band with multiple songwriters, multiple/simultaneous breaking relationships mixed with heavy drug excess and fresh off a major #1 album two years prior reach the peak of their powers and exceed all expectations like Fleetwood Mac did with Rumours. In the midst of all of this, they wrote a pop opus to their, indeed, shattered personal relationships. Mick Fleetwood would call the time a “classic intergalactic mess.”
Literally the rumors surrounding the bands personal lives had become such tabloid fodder, and the divorces and breakups within the band fueling a rare creative pinnacle within the madness, Rumours NEEDED a cover that looked like a theater or performance dance poster. Because this WAS theatrical: and that is why its so good. Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks in a sort of posed dance, with photography by longtime collaborator Herbert W Worthingtonm, overall design by Desmond Strobel and calligraphy by Larry Vigon. The bands lives had been put to so much speculation in the press, this was their retort. You couldnt make this story up. Mick has toilet balls hanging off himself on a record sleeve that sold 40m copies! Nicks is dressed as Rhiannon, her mythical Welsh witch for which she wrote a hit a few yeras earlier. This band knew the drama they stirred, played into it. And the cover is perfect for that.
Holed up in Sausalito, California, at the tailend of the hippie culture era of the Bay Area, 3 Brits and 2 Californians made one of the defining and accessibly gigantic statements of the decade. Its funny to think of just how popular this album is because pop rock almost doesn’t exist now. You dont hear about lovers in the same band breaking up, then doing a bunch drugs together and THEN sitting down to write “The Chain.” It marks an era of excess and turmoil for one band, and one of the rare examples where the music can even outshine the incredible tale of its making. Even a good playwright couldnt make it up…