Album Cover Art Wednesday: Dark Horse

In 1974 George Harrison was at a turning point in his career. He had begun a lucrative and enjoyable side hustle as a movie producer. He started his own record label, which was named for his first release on it. He was the first Beatle to tour extensively as a solo artist. The tour was something of an artistic disaster and I witnessed it first hand. George had a bad case of laryngitis, which was devastating to his voice and disappointing to his audience.

There’s an interesting story behind the album art of Dark Horse. Here’s an extended excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

The Tom Wilkes-designed front cover of Dark Horse features a 1956 Liverpool Institute high-school photograph presented inside a lotus flower, behind which a dream-like Himalayan landscape extends to the horizon, where the “deathless Yogi of the Ancient of Days”, Shiv-Goraksha Babaji, sits.While some observers have seen pointed similarities with the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover image, Harrison’s choice of artwork reflected his enduring admiration for Terry Gilliam‘s animation on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the photo, a thirteen-year-old Harrison is pictured in the centre of the top row, his face tinted blue; school teachers appear dressed in long-sleeve tops bearing a superimposed record-company logo or Om symbol. Wilkes and Harrison disagreed over the size of the Babaji image, which the designer apparently disliked and wanted to reduce in size. 

Inside the gatefold cover, around the edges of a tinted photo of Harrison and comedian Peter Sellerswalking beside a Friar Park lake, text asks the “Wanderer through this Garden’s ways” to “Be kindly” and refrain from casting “Revengeful stones” if “perchance an Imperfection thou hast found”, the reason being: “The Gardener toiled to make his Garden fair, Most for thy Pleasure.” A speech balloon over the photograph contains the words “Well, Leo! What say we promenade through the park?” This line was taken from the Mel Brooks movie The Producers, a favourite of Sellers and Harrison. 

It’s cover art time.

Here’s the back cover whereon George resembles an urban nomad.

It’s gatefold time.

Finally,  here’s the whole damn LP via the YouTube.

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