The cover for Leon Thomas’ 1973 album, Full Circle, does not look like what it sounds like, to me at least. The album cover looks like some “diamond in the back, sunroof top...” vibe jams. But Leon Thomas is both a jazz and blue vocalist and this album is rich with both. Thomas was also a percussionist, but more importantly, he was the man. He toured with and worked on projects with everybody from Pharaoh Sanders to Santana, along with his own amazing catalog.
Essentially, Leon Thomas was a bad, bad mother...(watch yo’ mouth) and that is what this album cover reflects. His vocal stylings and the risks he takes put him in a league of his own. He’s one of those artists that more folks should be aware of because one listen to any of his albums and you’re sure to find something that moves you enough to stay on repeat.
For instance, this album has the absolute gem called, “It’s My Life I’m Fighting For,” which if you were to tell me inspired Mos Def’s entire post-Black on Both Sides career I wouldn’t even bat an eye. It sounds like it would be a centerpiece of a Yasiin Bey show at this point. It’s beautiful, it’s funky, it jams, it’s...moving.
But back to the album cover, designed by Linda Cox and shot by Charles Stewart, when I think Black man in the 1970s, this is exactly what comes to mind. He has on at least 7 rings (maybe 9; I cannot see his thumbs). Look at that big ass collar with the big ass cat-daddy hat. I can’t even fully see the hat but I know it’s a cat-daddy hat because any dude with this many rings on only wears hats made for dudes who get constantly referred to as “cat daddy” in an un-ironic sense. And he has on a tan to lightskinned suit that seemed to have been all the range back in the 70s. And don’t even get me started on that smoke he’s smokin’. Jams gon’ jam and that’s what this man does with this album. But he does it more with this album cover.
Like I said, Leon Thomas is a bad...man.