Classic album covers : Modern Life Is Rubbish - Blur

Modern Life Is Rubbish is the second album by Blur and was released in May 1993

This cover was tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken seriously. It was meant to be an ironic slant on 90s life, celebrating Englishness and postwar optimism while asking what this had amounted to. Blur were into the quirkiness of English life -pints of beer, dog racing, flock wallpaper. Their fascination with Englishness was the main brief given to designed Rob O’Connor. He made up a ‘style book’ of ideas: pictures and images on the theme of the British postwar period - a Mini, 50s advertising, pictures of Royal Guardsmen, the Flying Scotsman and a Spitfire

Ironically it was a pre-war icon that finally made it on to the cover. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley in homage to the cars of Bugatti, the Class A4 steam locomotive’s streamlined design gave them high-speed capability as well as making them instantly recognizable, and an aura of class. The most famous A4, the Mallard, became the fastest steam locomotive in the world on July 3, 1938 - its speed of 126 mph has yet to be bettered. It is a painting of Mallard by Paul Gribble that appears on the cover. According to Design Week magazine, the painting “evoked the feel of a Just William schoolboy’s pre-war Britain”

The working title of the album was the not very inspiring  British Image No.1. Fortunately, it became Modern Life Is Rubbish after Damon Albarn saw the phrase written in huge letters amongst graffiti painted along Bayswater Road in London.For Albarn, the phrase reflected the “rubbish” of the past that accumulated over time, stifling creativity. Albarn told journalist John Harris that he thought the phrase was “the most significant comment on popular culture since ‘Anarchy In The UK’

Inside the packaging, there’s an oil-on-canvas of the band dressed as skinheads on a tube train.

The Blur logo is reminiscent of Bodum or Bounce style corporate logos and is deliberately ‘modern’ in contrast to the painting. The album title flows in sync with the locomotive, and the whole is a thing of beauty

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March 08, 2012

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