Pop: Great covers 9. Marillion: Brave

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The Independent Culture
In the beginning, Marillion went in for classic progressive sleeve design - clever-clever titles, visual puns, ersatz surrealism and a logo begging to be traced by 14-year-old boys. But when singer Fish left, they had to confront one of rock's trickier marketing problems: how to keep your loyal audience on-side while signalling to everyone else that your days of re-writing the early Genesis songbook are truly over?

Brave (1994) is the end product of a masterfully engineered shift of graphic identity. Gone are the court jesters, cod mythology and the Brian Aldiss book of future shock. They're still making concept albums, they still speak portentously to the same rump of male middle England, but Bill Smith has delivered a stunning montage of text, computer imaging and muted classicism, conveying the kind of designer profundity that will appeal to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush fans while reducing the cringe factor that is the band's millstone: the black-eyed glamour of early cinema plus the X Files with a bit of Barthes by Barthes thrown in. "Listen without prejudice," it says. "We're different and your grown-up friends can't possibly laugh at you for buying something this tasteful."