Album cover art: The Clash, Tom Waits & Elvis Presley
What do The Clash and Tom Waits have to do with Elvis Presley? It may seem that they have nothing at all and even more if we think about their music. Everything changes when we talk about the following album artworks: London Calling, Rain Dogs and Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley’s debut album was launched in 1956. The picture was taken in Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa (Florida, USA) on 31st July 1955. elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, took the picture. It was the way he would work: he would go to RCA with a concert picture and after negotiating an amount, he was considered the creative director of the album cover. In 1979, The Clash made his own homage to Elvis and his album on their own, London Calling. In the same way, it was a black and white image with the album title in pink and green. The name of the band appears in white. Pennie Smith took the photo but she wasn’t prepared to have the bass player so close and the image is a little bit blurred. On it we can see Paul Simonon, the bass player, smashing his Fender bass guitar. The band didn’t want to change the image as it suited their messy music perfectly.
Ray Lowry used the same colours than in Elvis’ artwork since he saw a great potency on this colour combination. They increase the sheer vibrancy on the black and white image.
The Clash wasn’t the only band who made an homenage to Elvis’ album. On this Tom Waits’ album, we can see his own tribute. Although there is a resemblance, the man on the picture is not Tom Waits. The photo Rose and Lily was taken by Anders Petersen in Café Lehmitz. The name of Tom Waits and the album are located in the same way but in different colours than Elvis’ album. Although it was said that it was the same font, I don’t think so. Plus, in some editions of this album, the title appears in red instead of blue.
Searching for information about these albums’ cover, I’ve found that there were some other bands who imitated or made their own tribute on their albums. We can see some examples below.