The cover of Johnny Thunders’ So Alone is so vivid you can practically imagine yourself in the room. Hell, you can practically smell the crusty old smackhead. The former New York Dolls and Heartbreakers guitarist had finally gone solo. The years of substance abuse were taking their toll and he was recording So Alone with a rotating (and rotting?) line up of various punks in London. This shot, taken during the album sessions, tell us that things were pretty intense. The eyes have it; red, bleary pits. His suit (seemingly his only suit) looks set to crawl away by itself. He’s backed into a corner, defensively, like a wounded cat. If that wasn’t enough, the vile yellow paint job makes us queasy, enforcing the whole unpleasant image. That So Alone managed to be Johnny’s most robust record tells us that maybe, just maybe, light can emerge from under the darkest of clouds.
Meanwhile, on the cover of Marquee Moon, Television’s seminal album from 77 that re-invented the electric guitar, Tom Verlaine peers through your soul. Xerox’d and seemingly zombified, he stares out with the hollow eyes of a wandering Romantic Poet, the figure he spent a career role-playing. Moreover, for this least masculine of bands, it’s a subtle display of power; edging in front of his bandmates and with the perk of getting to fidget with his vein-y hands. Behind him Smith, Lloyd and Ficca are practicing their ID line ups. Guitarist Richard Lloyd has the look of a parent tired of tantrums. You can see why he left the band after the middling follow-up, Adventure, leading to the split of the band. But right here, on Marquee Moon, the future was in their sights and these punks were making it.