Album Cover News Recap – March 2014 – Album Cover Hall of Fame
Highlights of this past month’s album cover-related news include information and interviews with Grammy and Juno Award-winning designs, new books on rock and cover photography, some interesting new licensing deals involving album cover art and artists and details on the latest gallery shows, Featured Fan Collections and Featured Artist Portfolios. To top it all off, I was able to let you know about my friend Terry Currier’s successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money to enhance the customer experience at his world-class record store, Music Millennium.
As always, we’ll be sure to let you know what’s up in the world of album cover art, and we hope that you’ll let us know if there are areas of interest that you want us to cover in more detail and we’ll do our best to give you all the info you need.
March 31 – ACHOF congratulations go out to this past weekend’s winners of the Juno Award (Canada’s top music industry award) for Best Recording Package, given to Robyn Kotyk, Justin Peroff and Petra Cushieri for their work on the packaging for the Arts & Crafts:2003- 2013 compilation. The record, which provides the label’s fans with a selection of “deep cuts” from a number of well-known acts (including Stars, Feist and Broken Social Scene), was also available in a deluxe version with a 24-page booklet featuring even more impressive art and design. Peroff and Kotyk have been honored with a previous Juno Award for Recording Package of the Year for their work together on 2011’s Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scenes impressive vinyl box set. The ACHOF will try and provide you with an interview with the winner(s) soon but, in the meantime, if you’d like to see the full list of winners, please follow this link to the offical Juno Awards web site – http://junoawards.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-JUNO-Award-Winners.pdf
March 28 – 1) Clothing manufacturer Lucky Brand has just added some new Johnny Cash-related items to their lineup, based on photographer Norman Seeff’s album cover photo for Mr. Cash’s just-released “lost album” titled Out Among The Stars. Included in the line are T-shirts, jackets and a limited-edition shirt featuring photos from the new album. More info is available on the License Magazine site – http://www.licensemag.com/license-global/lucky-salutes-lost-johnny-cash-album
2) More licensing news – KISS has a new licensing agent – Epic Rights – and are announcing plans to further the brand into many new areas (have you seen the new LA KISS arena football team?). As a side note – the iconic KISS logo was originally created by the band’s guitarist Ace Frehley, and I’d be curious as to whether he’s still earning royalties for the design, even though he’s not involved with the act any longer. Does anyone know?
3) Finally, Liverpool, one of the cradles of modern rock, is host to another rock art gallery show, this one featuring the art of designer Paul Terence Madden. For the past 10 years, Madden has painted over 40 portraits of his favorite rock stars, including The Beatles, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and The Clash, and a selection of these are now on display at the View Two Gallery from now until the end of June. More on this on The Liverpool Echo‘s site at http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/rock-star-paintings-paul-terence-6873573
But wait – there’s more! Album cover art fans will enjoy a look at selections from the personal collection of film-maker Eric Christensen. Eric has given us fans a prodigious amount of classic music content – including last year’s widely-praised album cover documentary titled The Cover Story – Album Art – and I wanted to see what a guy with nearly 50 years in the music/film business had on the walls, so it is a privilege for us to be given this behind-the-scenes look into the personal collection of someone who so appreciates the connection between art and music. Please enjoy this article, and share it with your friends, too – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/featured-album-cover-fan-collection-film-maker-eric-christensen/
March 27 – Album Cover News tidbits – two new books and a great new movie musical art print:
1) Writer Robert Landau has released a nice new book that looks back at the long line of great billboards on display over the years on LA’s famed Sunset Boulevard. Titled (appropriately) Rock and Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, this 208 page book reflects the author’s own unique history as well, living with his art gallery owner father in an apartment right above the Tower Records store on Sunset, the epicenter of the areas music and art scene. More on this book in this recent article on the Beverly Hills Courier web site –http://bhcourier.com/book-traces-history-sunset-strips-rock-n-roll-billboards/2014/03/19
2) Last Gasp Publishing has just released a new book featuring the work of the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Artist”, Mitch O’Connell. Mitch O’Connell, World’s Best Artist is a nearly 300-page comprehensive look at the prodigious output of this fine artist, well known for his work in many genres, including album cover art, where he’s produced covers for bands including Less Than Jake, Supersuckers, School House Rock! and many, many compilations. Signed copies of the book are now available directly from the artist on his site at http://www.mitchoconnell.com/merchandise/merchandise.htm
3) Rocky Horror Picture Show fans, rejoice. The nice people at Dekkel Fine Art in the UK have published a limited-edition print of the famous Red Lips logo for the film, with each of the 195 prints available hand-signed by Patricia Quinn, best-known for her role as Magenta and owner of those luscious lips. You can see the print on the St. Paul’s Gallery (Birmingham) site via this link – http://www.stpaulsgallery.com/film-prints/the-rocky-horror-picture-show-lips-limited-edition-print-hand-signed-by-patricia-quinn.asp?strParents&CAT_ID=453&P_ID=1126
March 26 – 1) Mick Rock, famous for his album cover images of Queen, David Bowie, Blondie and many others, has been busy lately. He’s re-created some of his best-known cover images, with modern rock stars as stand-ins, in a project he calls “The Revisit”, and has also put forth his opinions on the somewhat-sad re-balancing of musical talent vs. manufactured public personnas, with the weighting towards the image side of the scale. Read an interview with Mr. Rock in The Observer section of the U.K.’s The Guardian web site –http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/photographer-mick-rock-blondie-bowie-queen-miley-cyrus
2) Writer Martin Jordan has posted an article (on the ephotozine.com site) about his recent viewing of a gallery-sized version of the well-travelled “Who Shot Rock and Roll” exhibition now on display at a pop-up gallery in London sponsored by the Rockarchive.com web gallery. Titled “Rockarchive’s Greatest Pix“, the exhibition was kicked off with a discussion between photographers Jill Furmanovsky (head of Rockarchive and shooter of many well-known covers herself) and David Corio, along with curator Gail Buckland, who organized the original exhibition and has published a fine book titled Who Shot Rock & Roll. Read more at http://www.ephotozine.com/article/rockarchive-s-greatest-pix-exhibition-24305
March 25 – Very pleased to announce the posting of my latest “Featured Artist Portfolio” article on the ACHOF site. Featured today is an impressive portfolio by a really talented designer – you’ve seen his work for Supertramp (Breakfast In America, a Grammy winner), The Police (Ghost In The Machine), The Go-Go’s (Vacation, a Grammy nominee), David Bowie (Tonight, Let’s Dance and Never Let Me Down) and many others. Now, you can read more about what went in to the making of these and many other wonderful covers so, without further delay, please take a look at the work of the talented Mick Haggerty – enjoy! https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/achof-featured-artist-portfolio-grammy-winner-mick-haggerty/
March 24 – Just read an interesting interview article by Consequence of Sound‘s writer Dan Caffrey with CEO (AKA Eric Berglund) about the inspiration (and impressive body painting) behind the cover of his new album titled Wonderland. Dan will be keeping a ratings list of the album cover art on all of the records he’ll review over the year, which will culminate in a “Best of” list at year’s end. I look forward to including his input in our year-end reviews as well but, in the meantime, take a read –http://consequenceofsound.net/2014/03/album-art-of-the-month-ceo-wonderland/
March 21 – Very pleased to let you know about my latest posting – an interview with Shauna and Sarah Dodds of the Backstage Design Studio, winners of this year’s Grammy Award for “Best Recording Package” for their work on Reckless Kelly’s Long Night Moon. I’m particularly happy with their work on this packaging, as it shows both a lot of creativity AND an astute knowledge of what a complete design “package” for a client must consist of these days – album cover, web site, stage props and merchandise. While the competition was stiff this year, I think that you’ll agree that this design stood tall (as do the sisters that made it – they’re former high school basketball stars!). Hope that you’ll read this and pass the link on to your friends – enjoy! https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/interview-with-shauna-sarah-dodds-on-their-grammy-winning-album-cover-for-reckless-kelly/
March 20 – Some Beatles-centric art-related news for your review:
1) In the recent NY Times Book Review, author David Browne provides us with an intro to a new children’s picture book written by Mick Manning (text) and Brita Granstrom (art) titled The Beatles. Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, the 52-page picture book introduces young readers to the story of The Beatles, from their early days as chums in a local band up through their last days as rock’s biggest recording act. Lots of interesting facts are included (for example, did you know that the crime rate in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level EVER when the band was on the “Ed Sullivan Show”?) and Granstrom’s kid-friendly graphics will make it a must-read by Boomer grandparents looking to give youngsters a notion of just how influential these four lads were – even without Twitter accounts – read more at –http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/books/review/the-beatles-by-mick-manning-and-brita-granstrom.html?_r=0
2) “Free As A Bird” fans will be given the opportunity to bid on John Lennon‘s original drawings that were used to illustrate a book Lennon wrote in the mid-60s and used later on as the record cover for the single released after his death. This is just one item in a huge collection of Lennon artwork that Sotheby’s will be auctioning off in early June –http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/so-lennon-manuscripts-sale-n09156.html
March 19 – 1) I’m not sure exactly why I love these Lego-based images so much, but I’m always happy to see them! Here’s a group of new “band portraits” – featuring The Beatles, Foo Fighters, Beasties, Cypress Hill and many others – as they’d appear in Legoland – Dan Reilly provides an overview on Spin.com –http://www.spin.com/articles/lego-bands-photos-beastie-boys-beatles-smiths/
2) Writer Ian Holubiak introduces us to the work of a Japanese Doodle Master (are there degrees of Doodle Masterdom?) who has recreated the album covers for some of Jazz and Rap’s better-known recordings. Head on over to the Classicalite site to read more and then to click on over to the artist’s Tumblr –http://www.classicalite.com/articles/6818/20140318/photos-classic-rap-and-jazz-albums-get-a-new-medium-for-their-artwork-via-japanese-doodle-master-and-his-tumblr.htm
March 18 – 1) While not exactly the album cover art collection that I know some folks have been working for years on getting the USPS to adopt for a series of stamps, I’m happy to report that a record cover-styled image will be used as the basis of a soon-to-be-released Jimi Hendrix “Forever” stamp – here’s a brief spot about it on the WEAR/ABC -3 site –http://www.weartv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/jimi-hendrix-forever-stamp-42474.shtml?wap=0
2) Artist Tom Richmond has a story about a new CD-cover design produced by famed MAD Magazine artist Jack Davis. One of the early MAD cartoonists, Davis has put together a fine-looking cover for a special CD of music (titled Sex Clark Five – Monster Strum & Drum Hits) that will be given to folks who donate at a particular level ($75 or more) to the fund-raising efforts for radio station WFMU – always happy to see folks like Mr. Davis adding their talents to the styles of art represented on album covers over the past 50 years. Read more on Mr. Richmond’s site – http://www.tomrichmond.com/blog/2014/03/14/new-jack-davis-album-cover-art/
March 17 – Came across two interesting new books featuring fine music industry photography, so I thought that I’d pass this info on in case you can find them in your area –
1) Brad Elterman has published a book called Dog Dance that chronicles his career as a passionate music fan and photographer growing up in the 1970s and chronicling the exploits of the famous and soon-to-be-famous subjects in the music/entertainment world. Read more about Elterman’s career in Marco Annunziata’s recent interview with Brad on The Wild magazine site –http://thewildmagazine.com/blog/dog-dance-a-conversation-with-rock-roll-photographer-brad-elterman/
2) As the staff photographer for Columbia Records for many years, photographer Don Hunstein has had access to an amazingly diverse group of musical greats in the folk, rock, country and jazz genres, shooting memorable images of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and many others. In the new book titled Keeping Time (published late in 2013, edited by Grammy-nominated producer Leo Sacks and featuring text by writer Jon Pareles), you’ll find over 50 years of history in hundreds of intimate photos that caught the subjects just “doing their thing”. You’ll also find some great alt shots of a cover photo session – with a young Bob Dylan and his girlfriend Suze Rotolo freezing on the streets of NYC – that ultimately became the cover image for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. There’s also a forward by Art Garfunkel, a popular subject in Hunstein’s portfolio. http://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Time-The-Photographs-Hunstein/dp/1608872246
March 14 – Finally had a chance to look at some of the info about the major photography exhibition that is on display now thru September 7th at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. It’s called “American Cool” and it features portraits of a large number of individuals – those who help best-represent how “cool” and influential people in the arts, entertainment and sports have been in moving aspects of American Pop Culture forward via their efforts in those fields. You can read essays on “The Roots of Cool” and “Cool and the Counterculture” on the NPG site and see samples of the photos on display, including works by album cover photographers including Annie Liebovitz, Marcia Resnick, Marc Seliger and many others –http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/Cool/legacies.html
On a related note, the nice people at the RockPaperPhoto galleries have put together additional portfolios of some of the photographers featured in the “American Cool” exhibit for you to see on their site –http://www.rockpaperphoto.com/blog/american-cool-arrives-in-style-at-smithsonian/
March 12 – Attendees at the recent SXSW multimedia love fest in Austin, TX had the opportunity – on Thursday, March 13 – to watch a panel of well-respected photographers – many with a long list of album cover credits – who talked about “The Band Portrait: Marketing Perception” which included a discussion of how successful shooters approach and manage photo sessions with musical acts as clients. Featured on the panel were photographers Anna Webber (who’ll also moderate), Lynn Goldsmith, Piper Ferguson and Bob Gruen, along with singer/songwriter and photographer BP Fallon and Ken Weinstein of Big Hassle Media. The session began at 2:00pm in Room 15 at the Austin Convention Center – for more information, please click on this link –http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP990976
March 11 – Album cover art fans on the other side of the world, I’d like to bring your attention to an exciting new exhibit that opened on March 15th at the Queensland (Australia) Art Gallery’s Gallery of Modern Art titled “Seen + Heard: Works and Multiples from the Collection” that features a large display of iconic album cover imagery. Curated by David Burnett, the Gallery’s Curator of International Art, the exhibit (according to the Gallery’s site) draws “on major artworks, installations and multiples (numbered editions) from the Gallery’s Collection, which address crossovers between popular culture, music, sound and visual art.” In addition to the album art on display, there is a section featuring the multi-media works of he late, great Nam Jun Paik and Candice Breitz’s “King” – a portrait of Michael Jackson done in 2005. To read more about this show, which runs thru August 3rd, please visit their site at http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/upcoming/seenheard
March 10 – Carlos Santana has long been a supporter of the arts, employing a wide range of talent to create album covers for him and his band throughout the years. Examples of these artists include Mati Klarwein and Michael Rios and today, for his upcoming (May 6) release titled Corazon, he’s employed the entire Boa Mistura Spanish art collective! This group – consisting of talent from the fields of architecture, engineering, advertising and the fine arts – has been responsible for a large number of impressive works of street and public art around the world, so its exciting to see them apply their talents to imagery for a world-class musician. Read more about this effort in this article on the UlimateClassicRock.com site – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/santana-corazon-release-date-cover-art/ and, to learn more about the Boa Mistura collective, please visit their site (in Spanish and English) –http://www.boamistura.com/index.php?pagina=inicio
March 7 – Since the 1960s, there have been 27 record albums in the U.S. that have sold 15 million copies or more. Considering the number of times that the album cover images have been printed, I’m assuming that the artists that produced these images must be among the most-popular in modern history, if “popularity” is measuring in terms of the number of copies of an image that have been purchased as part of a package or alone on related merchandise.
With that being said, wouldn’t it make sense that the designers, illustrators, photographers and art directors that worked on the images that have been purchased and seen hundreds of millions of times by music fans all over the world would themselves be world-famous? It turns out that, despite the popularity of their works, many remain unrecognized outside the core music business, so it is my hope that this new article – in which I’ll introduce you to the people – the Designers, Illustrators, Photographers and Art Directors who are credited for each cover – helps raise their visibility and allows readers to get to know some of them a bit better and begin an appreciation of what they’ve added to the worlds of Pop Culture and Modern Art.
March 6 – In a nod to the early designers of album covers, designer Rodrigo Maia has created a site where he shows off his re-interpreted versions of modern album covers. Called “New Records, Old Covers“, Maia works with the recordings of more modern acts including The Black Keys, Jeff Buckley and Explosions In The Sky and re-creates them as if they were 50’s era cool jazz covers done by Steinweiss, Miles and Fujita! It’s a fascinating attempt by an artist to show how the design cues created by these “Early Influencers” could still make for compelling covers today. Read Paste Magazine writer Elizabeth Lilly’s article on the subject here –http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/02/current-album-covers-get-a-vinyl-jazz-album-makeov.html
Or visit Maia’s blog at http://newrecordsoldcovers.tumblr.com/
March 5 – Detroit-based photographer Leni Sinclair has been a part of the fabric of the city since arriving there as a child escaping the War from East Germany. She’d brought a camera with her in order to take shots of her life in the New World and it became a lifelong pursuit as she covered both the arts scene in the Motor City as well as the political upheaval that took place there in the 1960s. While co-founding the Detroit Artists Workshop and the White Panther party, she took many a notable image of local artists – MC5, Iggy Pop, etc. – as well as many visiting acts and teamed with illustrator Gary Grimshaw to produce many memorable posters for local venues (and album covers for MC5, Larry Nozero and a number of compilations). Watch her interview on WXYZ with reporter Malcolm Maddox in support of her Detroit Rocks! book –http://www.wxyz.com/entertainment/around-town/famous-local-rock-and-roll-photographer-leni-sinclair-sits-down-to-discuss-her-new-book
March 3 – 1) For those of you who haven’t seen any of The Gothamist‘s series on NYC-based album covers, they just re-ran the one on Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti (art by Peter Corriston and Mike Doud) to celebrate the anniversary of the album’s 1975 release date – visitors to the East Village can stop by the Physical Graffitea shop in the building, if so motivated – http://gothamist.com/2014/02/24/nyc_album_art_the_east_village_buil.php
2) Coloradoan columnist Michelle Venus laments the fact that downloading has reduced the importance of album cover art and hopes that musicians and record companies don’t forget how important the visuals have been/might be in the promotion of music products – personally, I think that there’s some great work being done these days, so while the method of delivery might be different, there is still a strong desire to offer fans another way to identify with their favorite musicians. What do you think?http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20140228/LIFESTYLE/302280075/Venus-Let-s-hope-art-album-keeps-spinning?nclick_check=1
3) To all fans of independent record shops – I feel that it is my sworn duty to let you know about a Kickstarter program now running in support of my town’s best-known and loved record emporium, Music Millennium. They’re celebrating 45 years in business here in Portland and are looking to add a refreshment area to the store. Terry hosts a always-impressive slate of in-store performances and supports the arts and artists in so many ways – he’s certainly the most-beloved guy in record retailing and someone that deserves the support of music-lovers everywhere (he’s also the guy credited with developing the “Keep Portland Weird” campaign).
In any case, hope that you’ll visit his campaign site and find a few dollars in your pocket to pledge in his direction – thanks for your consideration –https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1068673393/a-new-millennium-shopping-experience
4/1/14 – Update – Music Millennium’s Kickstarter campaign was a success, with pledges received for over $66,000! It’s great to see a community come together in support of a local institution, and I can’t wait to be there for the party later this year to celebrate the grand opening of the new beverage bar!