memories of the ’70s – Upstairs Downstairs

The public and private lives of the Bellamy Family and their servants became appointment television and cemented the schedule of fledgling PBS show Masterpiece Theatre with the series Upstairs Downstairs.

Created by actors Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, their original idea was a series about two housemaids set in the Victorian era. As the idea evolved and the producers got involved, it became the story of two families – the one upstairs and the one downstairs.

Residing at 165 Eaton Place, the upstairs was all about the Bellamy Family, Richard, a Member of Parliament and his well-to-do wife Lady Marjorie and their two children James and Elizabeth. Richard is the son of a country parson who has married well, while Lady Marjorie’s parents are an Earl and a Countess and not happy their daughter didn’t marry someone of the nobility.

Downstairs, the servants are overseen by butler Mr. Hudson and cook Mrs Bridges as well as maids and footmen: Daisy, Rose, Emily, Alfred, Sarah, Pearce Ruby and Edward.

Starting in the Edwardian era, the series debuted on ITV in October 1971, and slowly gained its audience despite its late Sunday night timeslot. The series was later picked up by the BBC and then sent overseas, gaining audiences in North America and Australia.

Each episode took 10 days to create with the actors going through rigorous rehearsals before the two days of taping.

Over the five seasons, the family got older, got married, servants came and servants left, and they all went through World War 1 and the 1920s. Ending in 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression, the series showed a slice of English history that hadn’t been shown on television in such detail and through the eyes of so many characters.

The series was honoured with numerous awards including BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Emmys for the series as well as the individual actors. Creator Jean Marsh won an Emmy for her role in the series in 1975.

And its effect was a long-time fascination with a time period and way of life that doesn’t exist for most of us.

memories of the ’80s – album design by Jeff Ayeroff

Now a well-respected music excecutive, in the 1980s Jeff Ayeroff started off as an album art director, working with Styx on their 1981 album Paradise Theatre:

The album’s bold typeface highlighted like a movie marquee keeps the eye on the band’s name and then drifts lower to Art Deco movie theatre and the throwback style. Interesting to see the album name almost ignored in the design.

In 1982, Ayeroff designed the cover for the new Split Enz album Time and Tide relied on a bold and colourful image and simple typography:

The sunset shot over the ocean is a classic and interesting that the album’s single success was with the song “Six Months in a Leaky Boat”.

Ayeroff’s style certainly changed with the last studio album by The Police – Synchronicity:

The use of black and white images of each band member and swatches of colour made this an album that showed off the band members as individuals. The band broke up after this album. (and note that on previous albums the band members were photographed together).

Ayeroff’s second album design cover for Styx is more a predictable rock style, inspired by the lead single Mr. Roboto:

Kilroy was here was a phrase that came out of World War II, a graffiti that got repeated all over the world – but the album cover is rooted in a wildness of the future and changes.

The 80s style as seen through the eyes of Ayeroff was at the beginnings of computer design – but still relied heavily on photography.


memories of the ’70s – album design by Mike Doud

The 1970s style is distinct, and thanks to creative minds like Mike Doud, there’s many examples in his album cover creations, like Physical Graffiti, the 1975 album from Led Zeppelin:

The front of a brownstone

A photograph of two buildings at St. Mark’s Place were changed to suit the square format necessary for this double album, but using the architecture as a design element with the typography made this an eye-catching sight in the record store.

The boldness of design also comes through in Chick Corea’s 1976 album My Spanish Heart:

Using red and black as key elements to the design, the collar and lapels of the jacket say the album’s title in their traditional style.

Boldness continues with the 1977 album for Heart Little Queen:

Although the typeface is feminine and girly, the image of the two sisters is one that shows strength and control among the odd gypsy background.

Linear style comes through in the 1977 album cover for George Benson’s In Flight:

The eye is focused on him and him alone, with the black and white adding a modern and clean look – even if you don’t notice the orange parakeets right away.

Another use of orange (and blue) makes for an eye-catching cover with Ladies Night from Kool and the Gang:

All eyes are on the ladies with the black and white curved staircase adding a feminine accent to bring the eye to the band name and logo.

The end of the decade saw Doud’s creativity soar with the iconic Breakfast in America cover for Supertramp:

The smiling face of a diner waitress in an orange uniform with a glass of orange juice in front of NYC skyline made up of tabletop items is a perfect commentary on the American lifestyle.

Doud’s style reflects the changes of the decade and certainly his use of bold colours and clean lines made his album covers a key part of marketing these well-known artists to their fans.