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Iconic albums by hit-makers such as Queen, the Beatles and David Bowie are reimagined with birds

Queen, Beatles and David Bowie album covers, among others, have been reimagined with birds by the RSPB as the charity claims 40million have disappeared from the UK’s skies in half a century.

They show bird-headed people posing in similar positions to the iconic celebrities with four snapped crossing a road, one standing with a lightning stripe across its face and four others posing in formation.

The mock-up’s publication coincides with the release of song ‘Let nature sing’ composed using birdsong from endangered and common UK species.

It was put together with sounds from more than 100 birds by the Globe theatre’s musical director, a folk singer and an RSPB project manager. 

As many as 56 per cent of the country’s birds are in decline, according to the charity, with one in ten animals already critically endangered.

The front cover of David Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’, released in 1973, and the bird version of the iconic album image with the words Let Nature Sing representing the charity’s first song

The Beatles Abbey Road album cover from 1969 and a mock-up bird version from the RSPB

Album cover for Queen II with Freddie Mercury (bottom), Brian May (top), Roger Taylor (right) and John Deacon (left) compared with its redesigned bird version showing four feathered friends posing against a darkened background

A version of Ariana Grande’s ‘Yours Truly’, released in 2013, against the bird version which pictures a bird-headed person covering themselves under a neon pink ‘RSPB’ sign

Unusual feather-based album covers show David Bowie replaced by a man with a birds head in bestselling album ‘Aladdin Sane’ which hit number one in the UK, and Beatles album ‘Abbey Road’ replaced with four bird-headed people crossing a street.

Queen’s 1973 album ‘Queen ii’ which sold more than six million copies was also given a makeover with four feathered-fowl posing in the same position as Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.

Ariana Grande’s ‘Yours Truly’ front cover was also replaced with a bird mimicing her position with a neon pink ‘RSPB’ sign above it.

David Bowie has sold an estimated 140million albums worldwide since releasing his first single, ‘Liza Jane’, in 1964.

Similarly, The Beatles are thought to have sold 1.6 billion singles in the US alone and 177million albums, and Queen has landed the best selling album in the UK with their greatest hits, which has sold more than six million copies.

ABBA also managed to become a disco-staple with classics such as ‘Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie!’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ reaching millions worldwide.

Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ album cover from 1977 next to its feathery version where a woman with a birds head nearly trips over a record player

ABBA’s classic the album from 1975 and its bird version which replaces the kangaroo with a stag and the human on puppet strings with a frog

George Ezra’s Staying at Tamara’s, 2018, shows the artists stepping through a door while the bird version shows a bird-headed man striking a pose on a balcony

The RSPB’s song has already hit number one on Amazon on the second day of its release, beating Taylor Swift’s new song ‘ME!’ and is in second place on iTunes.

It contains sounds from endangered nightingales and bitterns as well as more common blackbirds and robins. 

RSPB project manager Adrian Thomas said the charity decided to create a pop single as ‘a way to bring home the message that birdsong is music in itself, but that we are losing it from our landscape’.

‘We tried to compose something that just conveys some of the fascination, beauty and the rhythms of bird sound, and hopefully inspires people through that.’

Bill Barclay, The Globe’s musical director, said his future work could be inspired by the sounds which included the most likely bird to go extinct in the UK, the turtle dove. 

‘There is a long legacy of classical composers who have used birdsong in their music,’ he said. 

‘This is a much more special situation when you’re dealing with real birdsong, some pure beautiful recordings of them, some endangered species singing in this beautiful radiant chorus.

‘This is a special way to do it not to use birds as sound effects but to appreciate them for being the origins of music that they are.’

A red list of the UK’s birds includes 57 species, which are being pushed to the edge by a changing environment and loss of habitat.

Among them is the iconic puffin, which has been pushed to the edge by rats and declining fish stocks, the marsh warbler which has lost large expanses of habitat and the house sparrow. 

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation said: ‘The signs are all around us that something is not right, that nature is falling silent and you only need to stop and listen to find the beautiful bird song that should be the background music to our life is absent. 

‘But no one is talking about the crisis facing wildlife and nature in the UK. 

‘We all need to start talking about this, and the Let Nature Sing track is a good starting point as it perfectly highlights the music we risk losing.

‘Wildlife and our natural world can recover, it can be saved for future generations, but we need more people to talk about the issue and how much something as simple and wonderful as bird song means to each of us. 

‘Because if we do not start talking about the threats facing nature the inspiration behind so much of our music, poetry and literature may go silent.’

The track can be bought for 99p on Amazon and iTunes and the RSPB wants it to still be on the charts in time for International Dawn Chorus day on May 5.


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