The album cover for The Fall’s 1985 classic This Nation’s Saving Grace was designed by Danish painter Claus Castenskiold with British photographer Michael Pollard, brilliantly synthesising photography and drawing for one of the band’s strongest-ever releases.
The band’s artistic confidence is reflected on the album artwork – a striking concoction of the urban and mundane, the mystical and abstract; the cover features detailed rendering of floating lettering and a cloud-borne chariot dashing over the gritty Manchester skyline at night. The album title appears on the LP in green lettering spread over both sides of the gatefold sleeve. Neither Castenskiold nor Pollard knew what each other were doing. They were operating individually and the Beggars Banquet art department pulled the concept together.
The below photograph was taken by Michael Pollard on the steps of the Stanley Street bend off Cheetham Hill Road, overlooking the Manchester City Centre, in 1985.
Pollard had photographed The Fall in Prestwich in 1984 after they had signed to Beggars Banquet and needed a photo to send out to the music press to announce the move.
The following year Mark E Smith rings me at home one night and asks if I could produce a drawn image of a Manchester cityscape for the cover of the forthcoming album ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’. I still can’t get over the fact that, not only does he know of me but that he also wants me to work on this cover. For a fan like me this has all been the ultimate dream in that no matter how small a part, I somehow became a part of my group’s history. Michael Pollard.
The first Fall album to have a gatefold sleeve, This Nation’s Saving Grace stands as the best from their Beggars Banquet era and is widely accepted as one of the great 80’s records.