EarthBand - The Picture Sleeves
Original article by Graeme Yates (appeared in Platform End Issue 7 - Summer 1995) - Sleeve images from Jorg Fedders
Single releases in Britain continued to lack picture sleeves long after they routinely appeared in Europe. Earth Band 7" singles remained in white or company
sleeves until 'Lies (Through the 80's)' in 1980, although 'Don't Kill It Carol' was issued on picture disc the previous year. The second single from 'Chance', 'For You', reverted to a white sleeve, but all
subsequent releases had picture sleeves. It is therefore of interest to consider picture sleeves around the world for both the differences in sleeve design between countries and also the release of tracks
not featured on single in Britain. Some are more collectable than others, but many of the Dutch and German releases are relatively easy to find. The more interesting sleeves feature group pictures and art
sleeves, though some like the German 'Living Without You', are unexciting, merely being coloured lettering on a dark background. Like many Philips releases around Europe, it features pictures of other label
releases on the back. The French version however has an early group photo taken with a typical grey wall backdrop. Chris Slade has hair, Manfred a Chapter III type beard and Mick and Colin Pattenden both
look very young.
'Mrs Henry', was still credited to Manfred Mann (sans earth Band), with the German issue having a strange one eyed art sleeve. By contrast, the Dutch issue has a close-up picture of
Manfred from a period when few photos exist.
'Get Your Rocks Off', has a relaxed feel to it on the Dutch sleeve with the band grouped around dustbins which seem to have been used by someone with little idea
that rubbish is meant to go in the bin. The German sleeve shows a denim-clad band walking against a street backdrop by which time Colin has developed noticeable sideburns.
The French 'Joybringer', is
colourful with the band clearly expecting a heatwave apart from Colin who thinks the next gig is in Siberia. The German release has a rare live shot which also adorns both sides of the Italian sleeve, albeit
with different artwork.
'Father Of Day, Father Of Night', has the same group picture on both German and Dutch sleeves, but with different artwork and the Earth Band logo makes its first appearance on the
Dutch copy. 'Be Not Too Hard', also features a group shot.
One of my favourite sleeves for its mass of colour and period costumes is the German 'Spirits In The Night', which has a live shot taken from 'The
Music Shop'. Italian and Dutch copies are different again featuring four intrepid aviators bedecked in headgear.
Ears & Scarf
'Blinded By The Light', was housed in the same 'ear' sleeve in Germany and Holland, though the Portuguese and Italian
copies both feature Manfred and Chris Thompson with one large ear each but different headings. The American promo has a plain sleeve with lyrics on it and the Japanese release shows the band in relaxed mood
with Thompson sporting an oversized scarf. The German 'Questions', has a shot taken from the same session as the Portuguese and Italian 'Blinded' sleeve, but the back begins the trend of promoting various
albums. The reissued 'Spirits In The Night' with Thompson on vocals was housed in a space type sleeve. The Dutch 'California' depicts a badlands type hillside and was followed by 'Mighty Quinn' which has the
heads from the inner cover of 'Watch' on its frontcover. There are very dark pictures of all previous albums on the back as indeed there are on the German version, the front of which shows band members with
a 'Watch' cloud scene projected onto them. This was the first picture sleeve I ever stumbled across at a Record Fair. 'Davy's On The Road Again', has an attractive blue 'Watch' cover whereas the German
version features the ubiquitous wall as a backdrop. The Dutch 'You Angel You', has a sad black angel on an unexciting sea of blue, with Germany choosing a colourful 'Angel Station' front cover complete with
Earth Band logo (and it really is a good logo isn't it?).
A 'B' Side
But things hot up for 'Don't Kill It Carol'. A sepia shot shows cuddly band members on Holland's sleeve whereas Germany was treated to two releases. The sleeves are
the same except one tells you it features 'Blinded By The Light' and the other 'You Are, I Am' as the 'B' side. The catalogue number is the same. Why there were two releases I don't know, although Germany
also enjoyed a 12" which had the album version of 'Carol' and 'You Are, I Am' on the flipside. Answers on a postcard... 'Lies (Through The 80's)' in Germany was basically the same as Britain's first
picture sleeve 7" except it has the lyrics on the reverse cover. This is of note as many of us bought 'Chance' when it was first issued not realising we'd been diddled out of a lyric inner. I do like
'For You' though, which lists the 36 European tour dates on the back, has Manfred in a deck chair and colour shots of all album covers.
Somewhere on 7"
It is at this point that we move into the last phase of
Earth band picture sleeves. Bronze now issued picture sleeves in Britain and differences between countries are less marked generally. For some such as 'I (WhoHave Nothing)', and 'Redemption Song', there are
no differences. 'Eyes Of Nostradamus' was not issued in Germany (or elsewhere?), but 'Tribal Statistics' saw the light of day in Germany with 'Demolition Man' as its flip and a different back cover featuring
the parent album. Furthermore, 'Tribal Statistics' reappeared when the non-British 7" 'Third World Service' was released to coincide with the 'Somewhere In Europe' tour. This is an interesting single,
with tour dates on the reverse and both tracks differing from otherwise available versions. At this time, a bootleg 33rpm 7" emerged in France allegedly recorded in Brussels. It went under the hideous
title 'Somewhere In The Land Of Wet Lips And Big Tits.' It was a limited edition (no more than 9,999, but maybe fewer). The sound quality is not all it could be, but tracks are listed as 'Pretty Flamingo',
'Mighty Quinn', 'Eastbound Train', 'Step By Step', 'Davy's On The Road Again' and 'Grande Finale'. This is an exaggeration, but is intriguing and rare.
'Runner' varies in that Germany had a larger picture
of the athletes than Britain and France. I always remember the NME slating Bronze for the lack of imagination given to the sleeve design, but as they say, any publicity is good publicity. The releases from
'Criminal Tango' were basically the same apart from their catalogue numbers, although 'Who Are The Mystery Kids' was issued as a limited edition tour single in Sweden (Crossfire was on the flip side).
'Geronimo's Cadillac' from 'Masque', benefited from a special radio mix of under 3 minutes length in Germany which merited an 'ACHTUNG' sticker. Also, unlike Britain it appeared on 12". There are some
other releases from Asia which are unusual, though their status as official releases is unclear. A colourful EP lists 'Father Of day, Father Of Night Part 1', on one side with 'Part II' and 'Solar Fire' on
the flip. The lead guitarist is some unknown called 'Mike Rogers!' A similar EP has 'In The Beginning' c/w 'Solar Fire' and 'Pluto The Dog'. Another pairs 'Give Me The Good Earth' with 'Earth Hymn' sports
the parent album cover on the front. These releases are hard to find, and although all three are on different labels, they all feature the same type-set on the reverse.
This article is not meant to be
exhaustive (though you may be exhausted having read it). Other variations exist out there somewhere for you to find. I do however think that they show how decision making and marketing have changed, becoming
more centralised and how casual group shots have been replaced by art sleeves and shots based around album covers. Nevertheless, it all makes for added interest and I've not mentioned the weird Dutch sleeve
for Chapter III's 'Happy Being Me' or 'Plains Music' releases. Of course, anybody wishing to add, subtract or chat about sleeves generally should submit these to the message board or the webmaster.[Top]