Featured Album Cover Fan Collection – Hypergallery Director Rob Smeaton

This Featured Fan Collection comes to the ACHOF from Rob Smeaton, partner in the U.K.’s Hypergallery (www.hypergallery.com) . Hypergallery is based in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England and, according to their web site, aims to “celebrate seven decades of fantastic sleeve design and promote the growing renown for album cover art.” As both a gallery and a print publisher, Rob and his team look to give record sleeve artists the opportunity and freedom to re-explore their original artwork, producing beautiful new prints that give art lovers the chance to build a collection of artworks and collectables from a unique genre.

I met Rob during a visit of his to Portland a couple of years back and found that he and I also both shared a background in multi-media production and technology. In fact, Rob is also Managing Director of a company called Signals, Ltd., which, since 1991 has helped its clients with excellent work on a wide variety of web and digital media project assignments. After meeting him (and, happily, selling him a print for his own collection!), I knew that he’d be able to impress album cover art fans with a tour through his collection and, based on what I received from him, he has come through with a splendid selection. And so, without further delay, let’s turn things over to Rob – enjoy the journey!

Submitted by Rob Smeaton, Hypergallery (January, 2014) –

Mike has asked me to share my personal collection of album cover artwork which is a challenge, because a lot of the art I have on my walls is not album cover related, although much is music related, so I may go a bit off topic and I hope he will forgive me for that.

My enthusiasm for this genre began when I met the enigmatic genius that was Storm Thorgerson. He had a vision that his work should be seen as art and not just as packaging for a vinyl record. So myself and a colleague worked with him to publish, as limited edition prints, twelve of the covers he had created for Pink Floyd. This made me realize what a treasure trove of work there was and how strong were my emotional and aesthetic connections to the covers of the music I had in my record collection.

These connections went right back to my art college days when my musical and artistic tastes really developed. I was a Beatles nut and when Sergeant Pepper hit the shops I remember the first hearing of it vividly. Someone had got an early copy and was playing it in the college’s fine art studio. A jostling crowd were vying for a look at the cover and all the goodies that came with it. Peter Blake, the designer of the cover was of particular interest to me as the subject of my final thesis was Pop Art and he was one of the main players in that movement in England.

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Album Cover Peter Blake Rob Smeaton Album Cover

The Beatles Sgt Peppers album cover by Sir Peter Blake

Many years later I had the privilege of working with Peter on the publication of some of his album cover artwork and when the ‘Sergeant Pepper’ cover was finally made as a fine art print I put my name down for edition #64 (for Beatles fans that is a significant number!). This print graces the hallway of our little house in France.

Rob Smeaton Gilbert Shelton R Crumb Grateful Dead Shakedown Street Big Brother and the Holding Company Cheap Thrills Album Cover

The Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street, cover by Gilbert Shelton, is on the left, with R. Crumb’s cover for Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & The Holding Company is on the right.

Another passion from my youth was the work of the San Francisco comic book artists, particularly Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. Above my desk at Hypergallery I have an example from both of them, Gilbert’s wonderful ‘Shakedown Street’ and Robert’s ‘Cheap Thrills’. Both are masterpieces in my opinion.

Rob Smeaton R Crumb Harmonica Blues Album Cover

R Crumb’s Harmonica Blues

Rob Smeaton R Crumb Accordion Players art print

And, again in our house in France, Robert’s gorgeous ‘Harmonica Blues’ and a collection of his Accordion player portraits.

Of course, in the Hypergallery office we have an ever-changing display from the 200+ covers that we sell on the site, so I guess that doesn’t count as my personal collection, but I love looking at them all the same. You can get a snapshot of this on the Google Street View http://tinyurl.com/p2o7r2l.

Rob Smeaton Storm Thorgerson Umphreys Magee Bottom Half Onion Ladies album cover

Umphrey’s McGee The Bottom Half, art by Storm Thorgeron

At home my picture collection is more eclectic, but I do have my favourite Storm Thorgerson piece, which he called “Onion Ladies” (Editor’s Note – The image was used on the cover for the band’s 2007 release titled The Bottom Half). The band was Umphrey’s McGee, who I don’t know much about, but the picture is so clever, so surreal, so Storm. Appropriately, it’s in our kitchen..

Rob Smeaton R Crumb Detroit art print limited edition

R Crumb – Unknown Detroit Bluesman print

At home I also have Robert Crumb’s ‘Unknown Detroit Bluesman’ which is not an album cover but should be!

Rob Smeaton Peter Blake Self Portrait art print

Peter Blake – “Self Portrait with Badges” art print

And Peter Blake’s ‘Self Portrait with Badges’ which is a limited edition print of the painting that hangs in the Tate Gallery in London. This of course has nothing to do with albums but I’m a great admirer of Peter and badges feature a lot in his work, e.g. Paul Weller’s ‘Stanley Road’.

Voodoo Catbox Gary Houston Rob Smeaton collection

Collection of prints by Gary Houston/Voodoo Catbox

In my study I’ve got a selection of posters by the incredibly talented Gary Houston of Voodoo Catbox in Portland, OR. I’ve been collecting his work for years and when I visited Portland in 2010 I visited him in his studio. He does such fantastic designs and I asked him if he’d ever done an album cover. At the time he hadn’t, but I see now he’s done a CD cover for Little Feat. I’ve just ordered a copy, so maybe we’ll start selling it on Hypergallery.

Rob Smeaton Steve Miller Book of Dreams Album Cover Stanley Mouse

Steve Miller’s Book of Dreams album cover, with art by Stanley Mouse

And finally, one of my proudest possessions, Stanley Mouse’s cover for Steve Miller’s ‘Book of Dreams’ I bought this from Mike Goldstein back in 2010 and on my next trip to the US was fortunate to meet up with Steve Miller, so it’s countersigned by him – a rarity, I hope.

Except as noted, all text and photo images featured in this story are Copyright 2014 – Rob Smeaton, Hypergallery.com (www.hypergallery.com) – All rights reserved. All other text Copyright 2014 – Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com (www.albumcoverhalloffame.com) & RockPoP Productions – All rights reserved.

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