In February 1986, British rock band Public Image Ltd (PIL) released their fifth studio album. The album cover concept was inspired by the labels of generic or “no name” products that began being sold in grocery stores in the late 1970s.
The concept had been used four years earlier by San Francisco punk band Flipper. The Flipper album (right) used the “yellow label” generic product label and featured a barcode. The Flipper album cover doesn’t really work because it did not hold true to the standards of the generic product label. Rather than simply placing the word “album” on the yellow cover, the word “generic” and the band’s name was also included. The inclusion of the band’s name and pointing out the obvious by actually putting “generic” on the cover results in an epic fail.
Later in 1986, Flipper released a live album called Public Flipper Limited: Live 1980-1985 (right) in retaliation for PIL’s use of the generic brand concept. Unfortunately, the cover for that album also fails as a parody. No attempt was made to imitate the distictive PIL logo or a previous PIL album cover (many of which have notable designs). If Flipper had parodied PIL’s Metal Box album in some way, the effort would have been worthy of applause.
The PIL cover used the more familiar white label with a blue band. The three release formats were labeled accordingly — album, compact disc, and cassette. The music video for Rise opens with a generic screen that reads “video” to coninue the concept through to that medium as well.