A visual survey of early Punk Rock Album Covers
Essay by artist, Mark Vallen
...click the thumbnails for the full picture

The punk rock movement of the late 1970's and early 1980's was an extremely volatile mix of youth rebellion and political dissent. Punk values and aesthetics demanded a total rejection of apathy and society's straightjacket rules, with the core ethic of punk being to do it yourself and be more than a witness.

Punk had a unique and complex aesthetic. It was steeped in shock value and revered what was considered ugly. The whole look of punk was designed to disturb and disrupt the happy complacency of the wider society. Outside of punk's torn and safety pinned anti-fashion statements, this impulse to outrage was never more apparent than on punk album covers.

In the late 70's and early 80's, there were no compact disks. punk bands pressed and distributed their own record albums and 45 Singles, and the large cardboard or paper sleeves the disks were packaged in gave punk artists a new medium to experiment with. Punk's angry aesthetics found a perfect canvas on the front and back covers of record releases.

Sometimes album covers could be folded open like a book... affording even more space with which to inform or outrage. Albums also had liner notes that became platforms for punk visual rants... and of course, many a punk artist could not resist creating a pull out poster to include in the ample space provided by an album cover.

With the demise of records came the strangulation of album cover art and design, but punk left us with an amazing legacy of uncompromising rebellion both visual and lyrical. The artworks that comprise this exhibit are record covers taken from my own personal collection. Together these works form a perfect historical picture of a little known or understood cultural resistance that thrived during the chaos of the late 20th Century.
www.art-for-a-change.com is owned and operated by Mark Vallen All text by Mark Vallen
The Clash helped set the pace for socially conscious rockers. This double CD contains many of their best songs, from their first album straight on through to their last. These recordings can still blast all the wanna be's off the stage!
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