Creative covers: Hard-Fi's stark image wins place in album art top 10

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The Independent Culture

A black CCTV camera silhouetted against a bright yellow background has been named one of the best album covers of 2005.

Hard-Fi's debut Stars of CCTV is joined by Franz Ferdinand's You Could Have It So Much Better and the Gorillaz' Demon Days in the top ten of album artwork from the past year.

Madonna, Robbie Williams, Coldplay and the Kaiser Chiefs have also been celebrated for their album designs.

With CDs dominating the marketplace and music downloads on the rise, record sleeve artwork may seem to be in decline.

But Art Vinyl, a company specialising in creating display cases for album covers which compiled the list, believes the different media can sit side by side, with fans downloading music to MP3 players at the same time as buying an LP to hang on their walls or play at parties.

One noticeable trend in 2005 was a shift away from using photographs of bands to sell music.

Andrew Heeps, the managing director of Art Vinyl, said: "A lot of what we've chosen are really striking images, which aren't of bands. Pictures of bands date records to a certain time. Also, because CDs are the most popular format currently, when you reduce an image down the band members look really small."

He added: "The Hard-Fi album is an image that you see every day. It's a piece of marketing genius."

Kanye West, Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand have also eschewed putting their own pictures on the front of their records.

Franz Ferdinand's first album cover simply displayed the band's name against a black background, but for their follow-up, the Glaswegian rockers have used a nostalgic picture of a woman in a 1920s head-dress.

Coldplay's third album X&Y is inspired by the artwork of earlier records. "It has had considerable influence from New Order's 'Blue Monday' and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon," said Mr Heeps.

Madonna and Robbie Williams have both stuck to tradition, using their own images to showcase their latest releases. "They are both famous for reinventing themselves each time round," Mr Heeps explained.

One band that has chosen to use its own image on its latest album is Gorillaz - the animated band created by Blur's Damon Albarn.

"It reminds us of one of the Beatles' album covers, Let It Be," said Mr Heeps. "It's going back to old imagery, but to have cartoon characters instead is great."

Seven-inch singles could be the next boom area for record sleeve artwork, with recent figures showing an increase in sales of more than 80 per cent in the second quarter of 2005.

"They are a great way for bands to use imagery and very affordable art to buy," said Mr Heeps.

The best covers of 2005

1. Hard-Fi Stars of CCTV

2. Franz Ferdinand You Could Have it So Much Better

3. Gorillaz Demon Days

4. Robbie Williams Intensive Care

5. Madonna Confessions on a Dancefloor

6. Coldplay X&Y

7. Mylo Destroy Rock & Roll

8. Goldfrapp Supernature

9. Kaiser Chiefs Employment

10. Kanye West Late Registration

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