Johnny Sharp

Johnny Sharp  |  Sep 13, 2022  |  0 comments
With its stripped-back arrangements, confessional lyrics and unflashy sleeve art, the singer's debut album was an antidote to the sounds and style of the Summer of Love. It also laid the foundation for the poet-turned-musician's celebrated 50-year career

Necessity, a wise person once wrote, is the mother of invention. And for Leonard Cohen, she also performed that role for his reinvention from garlanded poet and novelist to singer-songwriter. He once said the idea of becoming a professional songwriter came out of a desire to make a decent living, after realising he was never going to rise far out of the struggling artist garret on the back of written verse and prose.

Johnny Sharp  |  Jun 24, 2022  |  0 comments
After the end of her relationship with Graham Nash, the Canadian singer-songwriter travelled to Crete in search of inspiration, relaxation... and a guitar. Her experiences there would lead her to write and record her starkly personal – and much loved – fourth album

It's not uncommon for people in their 20s to go travelling around the world, but very few are burgeoning celebrities widely regarded among the finest singer-songwriters of their generation. Yet in 1970, Joni Mitchell did just that after recording her third album, Ladies Of The Canyon.

Johnny Sharp  |  Jun 07, 2022  |  0 comments
Johnny Sharp on the creation of the artwork for Wings' album Band On The Run

The naming and framing of an album is an underrated marketing tool. Whichever Paul McCartney/Wings LP of the 1970s is your particular favourite, ask someone to name one of the ex-Beatle's albums from that era and the chances are high they will pick Band On The Run.

Johnny Sharp  |  May 06, 2022  |  0 comments
Johnny Sharp on the creation of the artwork for Elvis Costello's 1979 album Armed Forces

For a man not blessed with the kind of appearance naturally lending itself to the limelight, Elvis Costello always did a damn good job of promoting himself. It helped that those around him were past masters of pop marketing. After all, music lovers of a certain age will recall the infamous t-shirt of his first label Stiff, bearing the deathless slogan: 'If it ain't Stiff, it ain't worth a f**k'.

Johnny Sharp  |  Apr 22, 2022  |  0 comments
In 1989, a trio of young New York rappers turned the hip-hop world on its head with a playful, skit-filled debut that coined the term 'sampladelic'. Yet over 30 years later, legal wrangles and label fallouts mean we are still waiting for a definitive high-quality release

Given the LP's almost childlike sense of fun, inadvertent originality and youthful irreverence for genre rules, it makes sense that 3 Feet High And Rising first took shape in a suburban high school. It was 1986, and 17-year-old Kelvin Mercer (aka Posdnuous), Dave Jolicoeur (aka Trugoy The Dove) and 16-year-old Vincent Mason (aka Maseo) had been working on their own hip-hop jams, the latter already an aspiring DJ providing onstage beats for local MC Gangster B.

Johnny Sharp  |  Apr 05, 2022  |  0 comments
Johnny Sharp on the creation of the artwork for Isaac Hayes' 1971 album Black Moses

The resurgence in vinyl sales over recent years is not just about the sound emitted from those shiny black grooves. Many buyers, particularly younger ones, are just as attracted to album sleeves. And of those, a good proportion will tell you they like to have the full-fat LP package experience sat on their shelves unspoilt by actual plays, or even framed on their walls as artworks.

Johnny Sharp  |  Mar 07, 2022  |  0 comments
Johnny Sharp on the creation of the artwork for Elton John's 1975 album Captain Fantastic

Pride, it is said, comes before a fall. But when Elton John made a concept album at the height of his success, celebrating the journey he and lyricist Bernie Taupin had made since their first meeting in 1967, the old maxim didn't hold true. Not only did it become the first album to top the Billboard charts in its week of release, it would also prove to be a creative high-water mark for the songwriting partnership.

Johnny Sharp  |  Feb 17, 2022  |  0 comments
The debut album from the Manchester-based soul band put Mick Hucknall's voice centre stage, while his lyrics reflected the new-found social conscience of mid-1980s UK. Yet it took an American producer and recording sessions in the Netherlands to make it all work

I'd like to leave behind seven or eight really good albums that can stand the test of time', Mick Hucknall told The Irish Times in 1996. 'That's what I was going for from my very first album.' At the last count he's managed 12, several of which can stake a claim to being 'really good'. However, while some have outstripped his debut in terms of sales, Simply Red's 1985 album Picture Book set a standard that he has arguably yet to surpass.

Johnny Sharp  |  Feb 07, 2022  |  0 comments
Johnny Sharp on the creation of the artwork for Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home

The artist formerly known as Robert Zimmerman broke new ground in all kinds of ways. But one field where his pioneering role isn't often acknowledged is sleeve art. By the early 1970s, it was standard practice for fans to pore over LP covers pondering the significance of the imagery presented to them. But in 1965 the profundity of most popular music album artwork didn't extend much further than a shot of the band looking mean and moody, or happy and playful depending on the image they'd chosen to portray.

Johnny Sharp  |  Jan 04, 2022  |  0 comments
Johnny Sharp on the creation of the artwork for The Who's late '60s album The Who Sell Out

If you want an illustration of just how quickly pop evolved in the 1960s, you only have to look at the first two years of The Who's recording career. That was the stretch of time between their flinty, mod-informed R 'n' B rock debut LP – 1965's My Generation – and a cheekily post-modern third album that seemed to mock the very idea of pop music as anything more than a vehicle for commerce.

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