Talk Talk - The Party's Over


It may seem a bit odd to have in the same review a classic Hardcore Techno-house record from 1991 with a famous New Wave band of the early eighties like we did  in our post about "Dominator", but they did resonates together beautifully. 
Now, the original sleeve by Talk Talk deserves a bit more talks. Let's see why.


On a design point of view, this artwork is either simple and strong. The typework is a bit straightforward, but the whole thing here is in the visual : it cleverly expresses the Band's name instead of the album's title, which makes sense as it was a debut LP.

 It has a definite New Wave touch, reminding of the Visage cover for example, and all those New Wave elaborated make-ups, but does provides a striking bizarre feel. There is some Cocteau in this one, and a bit of psychedelic rock, maybe... And the tear makes it perfectly neo-romantic.
So it fits the bill of a New Wave artwork, but with an original twist.
The back cover provides a nice counterpoint, using the faces of the artists.

The Party's over LP  (Back cover)
This striking sleeve was designed by Bill Smith, a British designer who was art director for Octopus Book, then for Polydor in the late 70' and finally created his own studio : BSS.
He was responsible for a wide array of work, and to name just one classic for you New Wave Teds, He did the cover for The Cure's "Killing An Arab" (with Chris Parry of Fourmyoula, then A&R manager at Polydor). 

Quite a strong one, isn't it?
Then, for Talk Talk's first album sleeve, he used the work of painter James Marsh. Marsh is a very famous painter, and he did work since for a huge amount of famous artists like Jamiroquai, Erasure, not to mention many books cover. He did all the emblematic paintings for Talk Talk...

If You don't know this one, you must have missed most of the 80'...
...like this ultra famous one for their worldwide hit "Such A Shame". And interestingly, this later sleeve was designed by the famous British design firm Assorted Images, who worked for loads of New Wave artists like simple Minds, but also Peter Gabriel, Yes, Genesis, etc. Small world isn't it ?

Today (7 inch single - 1982)
In fact, the design continuity of Talk Talk was mainly the work of James Marsh:  the band had it sleeves done by various designers, including Artful Dodgers.

"It's My Life", Talk Talk's 2nd LP (Feb. 1984), designed by Assorted Images

"The Colour Of Spring", Talk Talk's 3rd LP (1986), by Artful Dodgers.

One interesting point is the fact that the band did have a logo since its very first single, "Mirror Man".



This logo was used as main visual for their second single "Talk Talk", and for the "Such a Shame" artwork (as seen above).



It was replaced by Assorted image with the use of Futura Condensed as main type for many years, a design guideline that Artful Dodgers kept for the next album and singles.

"Life's What You Make It (7 inch single - 1986)

Then, this second logo disappeared with Russel Uttley of Peacock Design taking the flame for the design of the 1991 LP "Laughing Stock".

And this was, amusingly, the very same moment in time when R&S published "Dominator", with this  sleeve that resonates so well with Talk Talk's very first LP!
Front cover
The back cover with the "Lips face"...

..and the Remixes cover, further elaborating on it.


At this moment, Talk Talk ceased to use its previous design elements (logo, typography). Only the painting of James Marsh remained, up to the last proper album release by Talk Talk in 1999 - a live recording from 1986-  designed by Calli at Antar.


 Finally, Assorted Image did had a strong influence on the band's visual impact and dominates the band imagery with carefully crafted graphic designs : the details of the "It's My Life Lp are splendid, with a mix of elegance (use of white space), craftsmanship (the indentation of the visual, the typesetting, etc.)  
But in the end, it was the paintings of James March that did most of the work, giving the band a truly  original personality among their fellow New Wave artists. 
They never where trapped in the NeoRo clichés, and the use of naturalistic yet surreal images always kept them away from averageness. In that sense, it was a great achievement :  it gave their musical style a visual equivalent, in such an extend that their visual personality faded away as the exact same time their musical influence did. 



















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