Under the covers... Isaac Hayes Black Moses No Ordinary Joel

No Ordinary Joel

By the time Stax had hired Joel Brodsky as its regular sleeve photographer, he had already produced images that would adorn a million walls. While shooting The Doors' debut album sleeve, for instance, he took shots of a Messianic-looking, 23-year-old Jim Morrison that would crystallise his image as a godlike figure, even if Brodsky saw more earthly flaws in the future Mr Mojo Risin: 'So drunk he was stumbling into the lights', he said of his subject.


Brodsky also photographed Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and Tim Buckley's 1967 album Best Of…, and long before the Black Moses shoot, his session of Hayes for the inside gatefold of The Isaac Hayes Movement would capture a timeless image of the artist wearing only a gold chain on his top half, the epitome of black masculinity and a shot so good it also adorned the inside sleeve of Black Moses.

He could do busier, more fun set-ups too, such as Booker T & The MGs' McLemore Avenue, parodying that of the album it covered – the Beatles' Abbey Road. He also established a more outré image for The Ohio Players when he photographed the covers of the albums Pleasure, Pain and Ecstasy, beginning a run of highly suggestive sleeves that became synonymous with the lascivious funk outfit.

Joel Brodsky had no great love for music himself, though, and by 1975 he had shifted his creative focus, concentrating mainly on commercial work. This lasted until his untimely death, aged just 67, in 2007.