the power of the image


By Shane McElligott

I was 14 in 1982 and would while away my Saturdays thumbing through the vinyl at Goodness Records on Streatham High Road. As I did so on this particular Saturday I saw something that would change my life forever. I stood and stared. I was mesmerised. I picked up the record. It was ‘Ghosts’ by Japan. I knew nothing of the band, but the photograph on the picture sleeve spoke to me. I don’t mean it actually spoke to me; I was a pretty strange teenager but not that strange.

The power of an image should not be underestimated. It spoke to my soul. It spoke of isolation. It cried rejection. It sighed regret. It whispered despair. These were all things that I knew a lot about. I was 14, remember? I’d never been affected like this before and I’ve never reacted so strongly to an image since. I bought the record and went straight home to play it. The music was as much a revelation as the photograph. Has there ever been a more perfect marriage of image and music? I don’t think so. That photograph started me on a musical and visual journey that continues to this day.

My life changed that day and I have to thank Steve Jansen for that. Or blame him. Take your pick.

Details of how to purchase one of Steve’s prints can be found here: Steve’s tumblr –

7 thoughts on “the power of the image

  1. What a perfect match of visual and auditory synchronization and the fact that you took the chance by purchasing it on visual alone says a lot for a 14 year old
    , since you probably didn’t have a large budget to dip into!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Definitely not a large budget; I got this from the ex-jukebox rack. That was as far as my funds would stretch. 69p I think. Bargain!


  3. A life change with 69 pence… Indeed bargain… Our generation was lucky, for new generations im not that much optimistic… They have to learn how to listen and look. and understand…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks Shane.
    It’s great , all these years later , to realise that what we once thought as unique reactions to music and art, were in fact being replicated up and down the country by many of us.
    I definitely blame Steve Jansen for sore wrists as a 14 year old ………. trying to copy his drum pattern from Sons Of Pioneers, just to clarify 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yeah, well first embrace with Japan is not quite as romantically thought provoking…it was a large video screen in the main bar at Minehead Butlins when I was 17..I bought a pair of white braces as a result

    Liked by 2 people

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