Under Cover Man.

The all important Album cover. For those of us born before the digital age, the artwork on a band’s releases gave us an important glimpse as to what we could expect. The cover of a record represented what the band or record label wanted to present to the listener. If you browsed a record store, and picked up say, an Iron Maiden album, you could easily surmise that what lay within was not going to sound like Frank Sinatra.One man is responsible for the visual identity of many bands. That man is Canadian graphic artist Hugh Syme. Hugh was a keyboardist/ singer for a band on the same label as prog legends Rush, and as an artist was asked to design a cover for that band’s 1975 album “Caress of Steel” by their manager (Ray Daniels). Mr. Syme had no way of knowing this would lead to a decades long relationship designing all of Rush’s iconic album covers and the “Starman” logo, as well as many, many other group’s records.

Think of many of the rock albums that had an impact on your life, now close your eyes and you can see the cover. It is part of the experience. Hugh Syme’s talents are as ingrained in many of our memories as the tunes themselves, you just may not have known it was all the same man.Moving Pictures? Hugh Syme.Whitesnake (1987)? Check. Hugh Syme.Aerosmith’s Pump? Good guess, Hugh Syme.The list is long indeed. Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, and many others are among his clients. For a more complete list of his credits, go here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_SymeIf this wasn’t enough to cement his impact, he also contributed keys and piano to a few Rush tracks, including keyboards on “Witch Hunt” from Moving Pictures!Think about how much the cover of a record affects its identity. If Metallica’s “Black Album”, (as it came to be known) was released today in the age of digital downloads would it be called that? Probably not, because people do not purchase the artwork, nor have a physical copy to observe. The Beatles “White Album”? Same thing.So take a minute to look at Mr. Syme’s work, and marvel at how much he has helped shape our perception of music we love…

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