Wish You Were Here was released September 12th, 1975 through Harvest Records and Columbia Records. It was their first release on Columbia. The album is based on material the band composed while performing in Europe. Pink Floyd recorded Wish You Were Here over throughout 1975 at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Themes you can find throughout the album are criticism of the music business, alienation and tributes to Syd Barret. Barret left Pink Floyd with deteriorating mental health. Like they did on Dark Side, Pink Floyd used studio effects and synthesizers. Roy Harper, is featured on “Have a Cigar” and Venetta Fields, who adds backing vocals to “Shine On You Crazy Diamond“. To promote the album, the band released the double A-side single “Have a Cigar” / “Welcome to the Machine“.
Album Cover Packaging
Wish You Were Here was sold in one of the more interesting packages for a Pink Floyd album. Storm Thorgerson, who is a graphic designer worked with the band through the 1974 tour. His ideas for the packaging came from hours of brainstorming with the band. The theme of absence which, was a heavily played theme in the album itself, would need to also be a part of the cover and packaging.
Storm decided they would conceal the artwork for Wish You Were Here in a black shrink wrap therefore making the album art “absent”. This was an idea he stole from Roxy Music’s Country Life which was sold in opaque green cellophane sleeve.
The concept behind “Welcome to the Machine” and “Have a Cigar” suggested the use of a handshake (an often empty gesture). George Hardie was brought in and he designed a sticker containing the album’s logo of two mechanical hands engaged in a handshake. It was to be placed on the opaque sleeve. The mechanical handshake logo would also appear on the labels of the vinyl album this time in a black and blue background.
Storm’s partner, Aubrey “Po” Powell The took the photos for the cover images. They were inspired by the idea that people tend to conceal their true feelings, for fear of “getting burned”. Two businessmen are pictured shaking hands, one man on fire. “Getting burned”. Getting burned was also a common phrase in the music industry, used often by artists denied royalty payments. Ronnie Rondell and Danny Rogers, two stuntmen were used with one dressed in a fireproof suit covered by a business suit. His head was protected by a hood, underneath a wig. Warner Bros. Studios were used as the backdrop for the photograph.
The album’s back cover depicts a faceless “Floyd salesman”, “selling his soul” in the desert. It was shot in the Yuma Desert in California again by Aubrey “Po” Powell. The absence of wrists and ankles signifies his presence as an “empty suit”. The inner sleeve of the album shows a veil concealing a nude woman in a windswept Norfolk grove. There is also a splash-less diver at Mono Lake on the liner notes – again emphasizing the theme of absence.
The decision cover the album in black plastic was not popular with Columbia Records. They insisted that it be changed though it never was. The band on the other hand were reportedly extremely happy with the end product.
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