Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Ray Charles Pose

As I was doing research for this post, I began contemplating the way in which we associate certain individuals with certain poses. Marilyn Monroe standing over a vent, for example, is truly an iconic representation of this movie star. Even Superman has a recognizable stance.

I then started wondering if there were any musicians that have a go-to stance or facial expression to which we associate them. Elvis Presley and his curled lip, Steven Tyler and his larger-than-life mouth, Johnny Cash and his soul-piercing gaze.

Without a doubt, Ray Charles lands himself in this category and the large majority of his album covers can attest to that. In regards to design, I would say that they are fairly run-of-the-mill but this works in Charles's favour. They mostly feature a picture of the artist with his name in big letters along with the album title. Rest assured however that you can pretty much guarantee the imagery to be featured on the cover.

First, the contemplative downward stare. You get a sense that Ray Charles is thinking about what he is singing and where his fingers will go next on the piano.

See what I mean?

The second pose captures Charles mid-note and open-mouthed, often with his head thrown backwards. When I see this pose and facial expression, I can almost hear him belting out his iconic sound, truly feeling the lyrics of his music. I especially like the treatment on the Ain't It So and Crying Times albums as they incorporate a hand-drawn aspect and are easily identifiable by their colour scheme.

See what I mean?

I'm a fan of Ray Charles and this post was in no way meant to insult this artist in any way. He was and still remains a genius of his time. Having to overcome many obstacles throughout his life, --drug addiction, blindness, racism-- the fact that he was able to garner as much success and recognition as he did is absolutely astounding.

As I mentioned earlier, the large majority of Ray Charles's alums were done this way and this led to a certain consistency which came to be expected. The covers don't necessarily reflect the content but rather rely on the artist as their main selling feature. So what's better for an album cover to portray then, the artist as a constant or the content found within? Are there any other musicians that have a recognizable pose which has been featured regularly on their album covers?

1 comment:

  1. This was an interesting and funny post to read, I also like how you mentioned that the designs were plain but it worked for him. I like how the type was secondary to the images as well, but plays into the same style