Monday, 7 November 2011

A Cover Speaks A Thousand Words.

Well, we're big rock singers
We've got golden fingers
And we're loved everywhere we go.
We sing about beauty and we sing about truth
For ten-thousand dollars a show.
We take all kinds of pills that give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we've never known,
Is the thrill that'll get ya when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

From the humble beginnings of Rolling Stone magazine back in November 1967, right until the present day, making the cover has been considered one of the biggest honours one could be bestowed with in the music industry. Widely respected as ‘the most influential magazine in pop culture’, having your face emblazoned across its prestigious shell is a sign of widespread success, and often occurs at a time when a band or artist is riding the crest of an extremely powerful tidal wave which is about to impact mainstream culture like a tsunami upon the shore.

For several years now, it has been a bit of a habit of mine to check out the latest cover, or indeed spend much time absorbing all the wonderful photographs and articles that can be found on the Rolling Stone website, discussing a range of areas from music to politics, films and reviews. However, I was somewhat disheartened and disgusted when in March this year, from the very same platform that we have seen the likes of John Lennon, Bob Dylan and David Bowie redefining the music industry itself with their unfathomable cool and all-encompassing charisma which refuses to be restrained even by a two-dimensional image, there was to be found an undeserved, young and sickly sweet image of Justin Bieber.

A leather jacket slung around his shoulders, the tag line being “Justin Bieber talks sex, politics, abortion and of course, music”, it must be said that this whole affair did make me feel rather nauseous. How could the wonderful people at Rolling Stone possibly undermine the prestigious honour that has, for so long, been the benchmark of success and the epitome of ‘cool’? The sad fact being that Rolling Stone pride themselves on being there to acknowledge and present what is happening at a particular moment in time, and therefore, in March 2011, they adorned their glossy skin with the concept that is ‘Justin Bieber’ and subsequently disrespected everyone with an ounce of talent who has ever appeared before him.

At times like this, all one can do is take quiet satisfaction from the fact that previous Rolling Stone employee and crusader for a no-bullshit music press; Lester Bangs, was never alive to see this happen. Oh, and that Hunter S. Thompson put that gun to his head at just the right time.

Here are some of my favourite covers from the past forty (or so) years :

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