Fads #4: When Everything Was Sepia

I guess in response to the bright day-glow colors of the 60's psychedelic movement, albums at the beginning of the new decade were the exact opposite - sepia with a splash of dull brown. Gone were the vivid album covers like Cream's neon Disraeli Gears and The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. Now, the toned down covers matched the toned down music - psychedelic colors just didn't fit a James Taylor album. Here's some examples.

Tumbleweed Connection- Elton John (1970)

Deja Vu- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970)

Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1970)

Stampede - The Doobie Brothers (1975)
Five years into The Great Sepia Movement and they're still at it.

Then Man Mop or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again - Steeleye Span (1971)

The Amazing Charlatans - The Charlatans (1966)
These guys probably started it all. Damn them.

Other contributions to The Great Sepia Movement include Keep on Smilin' by Wet Willie (1974), Workingman's Dead by The Grateful Dead (1970), Jethro Tull's Aqualung is pretty "sepia-fied", Jackson Browne's debut album in 1972, Morrison Hotel by The Doors (1970), and Silk Purse by Linda Ronstadt (1970).

The single for the magnificent "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" by the Carpenters. Read my post on it here.


  1. I hadn't really thought of that before. They definitely look toned down. I prefer the more vibrant colors. I guess that doesn't really fit much of this music.

  2. Keith - the psychedelic era was noted for their vibrant colors, and I guess this sepia out was sort of a counter reaction to that LSD influenced vibrancy. Everyone knows in the 70's, clothes, interior decoration, everything was brown. Things got colorful again with disco and 80's new wave for sure.

    As for now? Albums are dead, so who cares what's on the cover. (sigh)

  3. This, by the way, is the real reason they sell those amber sunglasses at drugstores. It is not a "blue blocker," it is so that those of us who lived through the "Sepia crisis" of the early 70s can relate to today's multicolored world.

  4. It's true! Diana Ross had at least 3 brown albums that decade: "Diana Ross", "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Greatest Hits". A few other albums lean towards the also trendy mustard tones.