Album Cover News Recap for March, 2016

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Album Cover News Recap for the month of March, 2016

It’s April Fool’s Day 2016 and, while you’d think that this day would be celebrated as a national holiday, what with most of us here in the U.S. being bombarded with news of the mystery theater performances being given by those actors in our electoral process. However, back in the music/art world (the real world?), news about the people that produce the art and product packaging for our favorite musical acts continues to be published on a regular basis,  with the ACHOF news feed showcasing the many exhibitions, lectures, book/art releases and other such activities we reported on during the past month. Regular readers of our news feed have enjoyed stories on the many interviews, features, artist profiles, new gallery/museum shows and other similar items that took place in March, but for those who weren’t able to check in every day, I’ll spend a few moments now to give you a summary of these highlights and updates. After that,  it’ll be your responsibility to visit our site to complete your viewing   of these items of interest by reading and (re)viewing these items at your leisure…

Lots of interesting interview articles this past month – both in print and on video – with album artists, rock photographers and others involved in the record packaging world, including designers Cedric Hervet (Daft Punk), and Stefan Sagmeister, who maintains an ever-expanding Instagram account featuring examples of fine album design; sculptor David Altmejd, photographers Dennis Morris, Gered Mankowitz, Phil Nicholls and a group who attempt to explain how best to hire a rock photographer; collage creator Clay Rossner and music producer Ben Vaughan, who custom-crafted a Spotify playlist to accompany a museum show on Pop Art.

There continued to be a series of launches of rock art-related exhibitions and shows in museums and galleries that premiered throughout the month of March (with some only up for the month, while others are still up for viewing), with collections on display that show a broad range of talent in design, illustration and photography. Throughout this month’s summary, you’ll find articles about current and just-completed exhibits including photo shows by Phil Nicholls, Rob Shanahan, Jill Furmanovsky, Gered Mankowitz, Brian Griffin and Robert Mapplethorpe (as well as a Morrison Hotel show with images of Bruce Springsteen from a number of contributors). There were art shows focused  on Overton Loyd’s impressive portfolio of funk-based images, Jon Blosdale’s artwork for The Beatles, Arturo Vega’s iconic punk designs, George Underwood’s fantastic paintings (inc. several for pal David Bowie) and a number of museum-curated design/art shows, including displays at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, a Pop Art design show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, two shows in Philadelphia (“International Pop” and the race relations-inspired “Dust + Dignity”) and a huge (500 examples) record cover show called “Total Records” in Zurich, Switzerland.

Spring has brought forth a brand new crop of album art-related books from photographers including Gered Mankowitz (early Rolling Stones), David Bailey (many rock celebs), Ken Regan (Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder tour/crew) and David Arnoff (early punk scene imagery), along with designer Stuart Tolley’s collection of album art done in a Minimalist style.

Other interesting articles appeared on a wide range of subjects including more on the resurgence of products made for vinyl collectors (turntables, collectible colored vinyl, etc.),  a look at a rock photo collection up on display in a NYC eatery, how an artist from the Ukraine won a contest to produce Chris Brown’s latest album cover art and a video of the pre-Yeezus (sp?) Kanye donning a bear costume for an early-career album photo session. There were several stories about album art mash-ups, including one on a Filipino artist who skillfully combined album art with classic paintings, one on a designer that has re-created album covers as vintage book covers and another who has put the face of Adele (either 21 or 25 version) into the album art of many of her peers. Other stories brought news of a new way to dig through the long-unavailable archives of designer Martin Sharp & Friends’ influential underground lifestyle magazine OZ, a profile on rocker Bryan Adams’ second career as a photographer, an overview of new USB-based retail music packages (inc. music, art, video, etc.) and a puzzling story about the scion of two punk-era gurus who plans, in November of this year, to burn over $7 million of punk art and memorabilia in protest of HRH Queen Elizabeth’s declaration of this year as the “Year of Punk” (perhaps the ashes will have value to collectors).

As it typically the case, I don’t have the time/space to include everything in this summary, so please take a moment to dig through the rest of what’s included – I’m sure you’ll find something that gets you to think and makes you smile. You all know that it’s my goal to help you to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in our favorite category of art and design with this summary of recent news you may have missed but, as I repeat regularly every month, regardless of how hectic your lives may be seem to be, there’s no reason that you should have to go without your regular fix of up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics when you’ll find it all right here. I’ll continue to work every day (except weekends and the occasional personal days) to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site (keep your eye on our News Feed for the latest updates).

March 31st – 1) While artist George Underwood may be best-known to rock music historians as the childhood friend of David Bowie’s that caused the late singer’s strange eye condition (which resulted from a punch thrown in a fight over a girl), those of us focused on rock music-related fine art must always point out that Underwood has created a much-lauded portfolio of paintings, including many for friends and clients in the music business, including T.Rex, Mott The Hoople, The Fixx, Gentle Giant and, of course, for Mr. Bowie (George provided the covers for Space Oddity and The Man Who Fell To Earth). Beginning in just a few days, Underwood’s work will be the subject of a new exhibition (on display from April 3rd to May 7th) at the Imagine Gallery (UK) and, if you’d like to learn more both about the artist and his work, you might want to click on over to The Guardian’s site to read the article writer Tim Lewis posted on the topic –
There, you’ll also find an image of a never-used album cover image for Bowie’s unreleased album from 1972 titled Ziggy Live. If you’d like a preview of the upcoming gallery show, here’s a link –

2) There have been a number of album covers over the years that have featured assemblages and collages – think Sir Peter Blake’s stage full of figures found on Sgt. Pepper’s for The Beatles – but I believe, after you read through Isaac Kaplan’s recent article on the site about the collage of figures (live, sculpted, drawn, etc.) put together by artist David Altmejd and the members of experimental rock band Yeasayer, you’ll be happy that the latest examples of this form of album art production continue to impress. In addition to an interview with all of the involved parties, you’ll also find a 4-minute video tour of the elements found on the record (titled Amen & Goodbye), giving you close-up views of some of the characters (Mark Twain, Henrietta Lacks, Donald Trump and others) that inhabit the somewhat-creepy composition.
Atmejd’s sculptures are currently featured in two exhibitions – one at the Xavier Hufkins Gallery (thru April 9th) and another at the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (thru August 21st) – both in Brussels, Belgium.

3) Album art collectors looking for one-of-a-kind items should zip on over to the Gotta Have Rock & Roll auction pages sometime between now and the auction’s close on April 8th to take a look at (and, if so inspired, bid on) one of several album art related items, including one of two original photos taken by Herb Worthington for the Heroes Are Hard To Find (1974) and/or the self-titled 1975 (AKA “the White Album”) LP covers (click here to go to the search results page – ). Both have $900 opening bid asks. If you’re more of a Springsteen fan, you might want to take a look at this original Neal Preston photo that was used on the cover of Bruce’s Live 75-85 record.  This one also has a $900 opening bid and, as of this writing, all three of the aforementioned items have no bids on them. Happy hunting to you…

March 30th – 1) While I’ve posted several times about artists “re-imagining” album cover art in various ways (e.g., Eisen Bernardo’s recent “mash-ups” incorporating album cover imagery into painted masterworks), the subject of today’s posting – artist Marcus Raynal Hislop – has added his own unique twist by creating new album covers for well-known albums, all done in the classic styles often found on book covers. In this article by David Barnett for The Independent (UK) site, you’ll learn more about Hislop’s passion for creating works in this manner and see examples of his recreations of covers for musical acts including Oasis, The Vaccines, Wolf Alice, The Charlatans, The Verve and others. Enjoy the collection (and hope for more) –

2) Few musical acts of late have enjoyed more world-wide success than the helmeted French electronic duo Daft Punk who, in addition to their finely-crafted musical stylings, have carefully put together an intriguing strategy regarding the visual aspects of their public personas. The creative director responsible for cultivating and then executing the plans for those visuals is Cedric Hervet who, as you’ll read in this nice interview article posted by Manos Nomikos on the “” site, brings a pretty-impressive background in design, production, animation and more to his projects both for his musical compatriots and his own home furnishings company. In the article (also featuring Cedric’s partner in this business – his cousin Nicolas), you’ll learn more about new store opened in Paris for the Hervet Manufacturier company and the products they make from wood and leather, including “retrofuturistic” desks, cabinets, seating and more-unique items including a Daft Punk-inspired skateboard and yo-yos.
You can also visit the company’s new store/gallery site at  to see more of their collection.

March 29th – 1) Nice article posted on the DIY site (written by Jamie Milton) about the multi-talented musician and, as it turns out, designer Andrew Savage, the front man of NY’s Parquet Courts rock band. In addition to his song-writing responsibilities, Savage has been responsible for the group’s unique album graphics, with the art he painted for their latest release Human Performance first shown to the public in the form of a mural he painted over the course of several days on a building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Savage’s talents as an artist were featured in a show last year at The Shop, a gallery run by Brooklyn print makers Drive By Press, with his serigraphs showing the influences such artists as Edward Hopper and Raymond Pettibon. You can dig more into a summary of the artist’s talents and inspirations in this article –  and look at the works he’s selling via TheShopDBP via this link –  It’s always fun to see examples of the confluence of musical and design/artistic talents, no?

2) After taking down the recent show of Picasso sculptures, the curators at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) – 17 of them, from six different departments – were given the opportunity to collaborate on a show to fill that space, and the group responded by putting together (and recently launching) a new exhibition with a rather narrow focus – examples of art and design from the 1960s. Those of us in the album art appreciation society view this period as a seminal one in album cover design/packaging and, based on the collection of album covers, posters and related items (such as a Braun turntable – so sleek) included in the exhibition, the curators there seem to be on the same wavelength. Titled “From The Collection: 1960-1969”, the show will be up for a year (thru March 12th of 2017) and includes over 600 objects from the museum’s collection of over 7,000 items from the period, including album covers by artists/designers including John Kosh, Bob Cato, R. Crumb, Rick Griffin, Peter Blake, Robert Brownjohn and many others. Reporter Jennifer Smith gives us an intro to the show in this article on the Wall Street Journal’s site –

3) Another week, another accusation of blatant plagiarism leveled by an artist against a popular musical act. This week’s example pits Sydney, Australia-based artist James Jirat Patradoon against the award-winning Aussie band Violent Soho, with Patradoon accusing the band and their label that, after a failed licensing negotiation for use of a work on their just-released record titled WACOthey hired another artist to do a somewhat-different version of his work which ultimately appeared on WACO‘s cover. The band/label deny that it was their intent to copy Patradoon’s work (they simply provided the new artist with the details of what they wanted) and that they “believe in supporting artists and paying them properly” (according to a quote found in this recent article by a staff writer on site) but, I don’t know, folks – what do YOU think?
The parties are in negotiations to try and work this through – let’s hope that the right thing is done here…

March 28th – 1) On display at London’s Snap Galleries beginning April 1st is a new show built around the contents of a soon-to-be-released book of photos from the archives of Gered Mankowitz that’s sure to be popular with fans of both the Rolling Stones and Mankowitz’s intimate portraits of the band (after all, he is the guy that produced the cover shots for such records as Out Of Our Heads/December’s Children and Between The Buttons for the Stones, as well asArs Longa for The Nice, Ultravox! for Ultravox, ABC’s Lexicon of Love and The Ultimate Experience for Jimi Hendrix). The show, which runs through May 28th, is titled Off The Hook: The Rolling Stones by Gered Mankowitz and includes a large selection of prints that will be featured in Gered’s limited-edition book (which will be shipping late July) called Backstage: The Rolling Stones  that’s available now for pre-order at a nicely-discounted price. The folks that run the BBC Arts site have just posted an interview with the photographer that includes a lot of photos that you might want to take a look at –
More details on the upcoming show at Snap Galleries will be found here –
Be sure to check out the new cross-shaped photo collage that will be an installation piece included in the show – very cool!

2) Perhaps best-known to album art fans for his cover/illustrations for Parliament’s hit 1978 album Motor Booty Affairartist/illustrator/animator Overton Loyd has amassed quite the portfolio of work in the various media (which extends into stage design, comic books, commercial illustration and more) during his 40+ year career, so it is wonderful to see that a new exhibition of his work has been curated and put on display at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Titled “Rhythm of Vision: The Artistry of Overton Loyd”, the show is, according to the museum’s press, “the first exhibition to reveal the full trajectory of Loyd’s complex and varied practice in painting, drawing, illustration and album cover design. The exhibition features more than fifty works and celebrates a career that now spans four decades.” You can learn more about the show, which runs through September 18th, on the museum’s site at
Bonus link – Photographer Michael Blaze recently toured the show with a video crew and has posted a YouTube video that you can see if you can’t make it to the show –

March 25th – 1) Artist Jon Blosdale – the only guy I know talented enough to convince the folks in charge of merchandising for The Beatles that he would create band-related artwork that fans would love – was on hand the weekend  of March 25th-27th to do a show-and-tell of his work at the Beatles Shop in the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas. In addition to all of his meticulously-done prints and re-creations of classic Beatle imagery (Cartoon Beatles, Yellow Submarine and more), Jon showed off his full line of officially-licensed lithos of the covers of all the great Beatles singles, from “Love Me Do” to “Let It Be”. If you find yourself with tickets to the wonderful “LOVE” show running there – or just happen to be a fan of Beatles-related fine art – you should definitely take the time to see this collection –

2) Designer Stuart Tolley, founder of the Brightgon, UK-based design firm Transmission, has just completed a new book that showcases the work of over 150 design firms who’ve created some stunning minimalist designs for projects including product packages (including album covers), corporate branding, print media, etc. Titled MIN: The New Simplicity in Graphic Design, the book includes record packages from leading edge labels including Ghostly International, Warp Records, Erased Tapes and many others – over 400 project photos are included. You can learn a bit more about the book in Patrick Hinton‘s article on the MixMag site –   and also on the publisher’s (Thames & Hudson) site at
Coming soon!

3) When artist Jimmy C (James Cochran) painted a mural of David Bowie in “Starman” make-up on the side of the Morley’s Department Store in the London suburb of Brixton in 2013, little did he know that, just a couple of years later, after fans flocked to the wall to turn it into a memorial for the singer after his death this past January, the local city council would vote to make it a “listed” (i.e., protected) work of public art. Well, this past week, the Lambeth City Council did just that, and there’s discussion of building out a full-blown memorial there to commemorate the neighborhood of Bowie’s birth. Read more (and see some photos of the makeshift memorial crowds soon after the announcement of Bowie’s death) in this recent posting on the BBC News web site –

March 24th – 1) A cafe owner in NYC has used the re-opening of his restaurant as an opportunity to share some of his art/photo collection with his patrons, and fans of album art will be happy to see a selection of photos by talented photographer Jonathan Mannion (a friend of the cafe’s owner) included in the collection. Fans of the record covers for musical acts such as DMX, Jay-Z, Sum 41, Eminem and others will find a number of unique prints and portraits on display, including one that Mannion took of Mos Def which has been embellished by Mr. Def (in colored Sharpie pens) with his take on the importance of your own name. Another of the owner’s friends/regular customers is the woman in charge of photography for Sports Illustrated, who was kind enough to loan prints of some classic SI photos (of Muhammad Ali, Dr. J and others) to adorn the cafe’s walls, too. Writer Sierra Tishgart takes us on a tour of Gabe Stulman’s Perla in this recent article on the Grub Street site –

2) Rock photographer Dennis Morris has given us many memorable album cover and magazine shots – featuring everyone from Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols to Radiohead and the Beastie Boys – that London’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has chosen to stage a recently-launched photo exhibition that puts on display a number of rarely-or-never-seen images, with a focus on John Lydon’s post-Pistols group PiL. Titled “PiL – First Issue to Metal Box” (running now through May 15 at London’s ICA at the Mall). In this interview article written by David Woode for the Mirror site, you’ll get a behind the scenes tour of this new show led by the photographer himself (although I’d suggest seeing it in person, if you’re in the area, to really appreciate what Morris has given us over the past four decades of his work –

March 23rd – 1) When typically assembled, lists the “good” and “bad” of album cover art tend to focus on the low-budget and obscure, whereas in Brain Wilson‘s recent article for the What Culture web site, you’ll see that, over the years, there have been covers produced for major acts (Queen, Black Sabbath, Lady Gaga, etc.) that have been head-scratchers, too. While I don’t agree with all of the author’s choices (I was somewhat fond of Muse’s Drones cover), in an age where a “Puppy-Monkey-Baby” ad is the most-memorable one played on SuperBowl Sunday, I have to admit that I wished more musical acts paid closer attention to how their music is packaged.
BTW – Although the article says there’s 10, I only counted 8, or 9 if you include the portrait of Black Sabbath on the article’s cover page (which I find quite charming)…

2) Just discovered a new rock photo publisher and that they just reached the end (thru March 31st) of an exhibition at the Steam Cafe Bar in Bristol, UK that marked the launch of their new collection so, as they say, “better late than never”. The company, called “Paper Gods”, offers prints by a selection of noted rock photographers, with this “Legends of Rock” show featuring the work of Phil Nicholls and putting on display his shots of a wide range of music industry heavyweights, including Pixies, RUN-DMC, Joe Strummer, Courtney Love, Amy Winehouse, Motorhead and many others. There’s a nice article about the show, along with an interview with Mr. Nicholls (written by Lee Trewhela) that’s been posted on the West Briton web site –
For more on Paper Gods and this intro show, click on over to  I’ll be adding them to our site’s list of international dealers soon.

3) Back here in the U.S., photographer Rob Shanahan, whose list of music industry clients includes such notables as Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Natalie Cole and both remaining Beatles (among many others), was recently the subject of an exhibition that was up at the Blackboard Gallery at Studio Channel Islands in Old Town Camarillo, CA until March 31st. The works in this “Rock Photo Tour” help illustrate the close relationship that Rob has with his subjects, possibly attributable to the fact that he’s also a working musician…In addition to his prints, copies of his 2012 compendium of his rock shots titled “Volume 1: Through the Lens of Music Photographer Rob Shanahan.” will be available. More on the man and this show is available via Amy Bentley’s recent article for the Ventura County Star –

March 22nd – 1) Photographer Jill Furmanovsky‘s photos have been the centerpieces of many of rock’s best-known album covers, so it’s nice to see that there’s a recently-launched show of her work that fans can go and admire at the Barbican Music Library in London. Running now through April 28th, “Chunk of Punk” includes a nice collection of her punk-era imagery, featuring candid portraits of most of the principal players from the era, including Debbie Harry, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Undertones, The Clash and many others. In reporter Tracy Kawalik‘s recent posting on the Broadly/Vice site, you’ll hear more straight from the artist herself as she shares some of the stories behind her introduction to rock photography and the many interesting characters she’s met over the past 40 years –

2) Several years back, two major Southern California museums – the L.A. Country Museum of Art (LACMA) and the J. Paul Getty Museum – combined their resources to purchase the archives of controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, well-known to fans of album cover imagery for the photos he provided for Patti Smith’s Horses and Dream Of Life LPs, as well as those for musical acts including Television, Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel (among others). This past Sunday, the museums collaborated on a new show that is spread over both venues called “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium” that includes a career-spanning collection of photos that work to show fans of the medium that his work, however “deviant” many often found his subject material, included shots of great beauty and sensitivity for his subject material. The show runs through July 31st and you can learn more about the artist, his life and what’s in the exhibition via this Artsy editorial article written by Jared Quinton, via the link –

3) While past browser invasions have made me somewhat hesitant to click on sites hosted in that part of the planet, I received an alert about an article on the KyivPost (Ukraine) site about the artwork created by a Ukrainian artist by the name of Olena Shkliaruk for Grammy-winning musician Chris Brown‘s recent album titled Royalty which depicts Mr. Brown as if he might have appeared on a Soviet-era propaganda poster (very Lenin-looking, I think). Olena had submitted her work in response to a contest that was held to create the record’s album artwork and, after learning she was the winner in early February, she admitted that, although she wasn’t a big fan of Brown’s music, she was pleased that this award would expose her talents to a world-wide audience which, as you’ll see in the article, now also includes owners of Dell computers, who will find examples of her artwork pre-loaded as screen-savers on their computers!

March 21st – 1) Photographer David Bailey, the talent behind an impressive trove of album cover images, including covers for the Rolling Stones (Goat’s Head Soup, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, more), Pink Floyd (Shine On), Barbra Steisand (The Way We Were) and many others, has just released a new book titled Tears And Tears which, according to this recently-posted article by Jack Watkins on the Luxury London site, “is comprised of pictures of darkroom test tears for Bailey’s characteristically informal portrait photos of celebrities, friends and family…” In the book, you’ll find portraits of folks including Ringo Starr, David Bowie, John Lydon, his wife Catherine (and many others), along with other photo collections on several of his favorite subjects, such as London in the 1960s and now-gone examples of local architecture. Currently, he’s working on a book of photos of the people of Naga Hills in India, one of the world’s last head-hunting tribes. More via the link at

2) Be sure to add a reminder to your calendars for November 26th to check in to see whether (or not) famed punk designers/fashionistas/marketing mavens Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s son Joseph Corre goes through with his promise to burn his entire punk memorabilia collection (worth an estimated £5 million, or approx.$7.1 million) in order to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of “Anarchy in The UK”, the single from the seminal punk album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Corre, who now runs lingerie manufacturer/retailer Agent Provocateur, is doing this to highlight the irony (or, spit in the face, depending on your take on things) of HRH Queen Elizabeth’s declaration that 2016 is “the Year of Punk”. Some of you will recall that, the next year, the Sex Pistols attempted to disrupt the Queen’s 25th anniversary celebrations by cruising down the River Thames blasting “God Save The Queen”, so you can see that her current praise of the movement might serve as an insult to a scion of some of the people who, at the time, were attempting to showcase all that they thought was wrong with British society. I am just hoping to be able to convince him to donate some of the memorabilia TO ME (is that wrong?) Read more in Hili Perlson‘s article on theArtNet site –

3) One quick note – was online looking for a replacement stylus this weekend and found a page on the Best Buy site that I’d never seen before – the home page for their “Vinyl Records & LPs” section! Is vinyl THAT big (i.e., big enough for a big box retailer to devote space to it again)? Of course, album art is used to help navigate the sections –

March 18th – 1) Just a note to rock art fans in the NYC area – there’s a show that just closed after being hosted at HOWL ARTS featuring the work of the late Arturo Vega, best-known to fans of music-related artwork as the creator of the iconic circle logo for the Ramones. On display until March 31st, the series of prints is titled Insults and, according to the gallery’s site, is “a series of paintings created by the late Arturo Vega imprinted with irrelevant and honest text fragments in a cocktail of insults and mystic thoughts.” If you link on over to the exhibitions main page – you’ll also find links to several articles about Vega and this series of images. They’ve also created an interactive catalog of the images you can page through – perfect for us geographically-challenged fans –

2) As I’d mentioned in yesterday’s post on the topic, mash-ups seem to be one way those of us with graphic design leanings (and excellent Photoshop skills) can both honor and build upon our love of great album art and, as you’ll see in today’s update, there’s an artist named Eisen Bernardo who is building quite a fan base for his own talents by regularly adding really impressive album cover/fine art mash-ups to his Instagram account. NME‘s Thomas Smith gives us an updated account of the designer’s latest efforts, adding Florence & The Machine, fka twigs and a work that uses two classic covers from the Rolling Stones and the Black Crowes to update (and “add a bit of modesty”) to two classic nudes. Keep ’em coming, Eisen –

3) Here’s one from the “nice to see they were a bit more humble before they were crazed by success” file – in this article on the site by reporter Max Weinstein, you’ll get an introduction to a newly-discovered video showing Kanye West in and out of his bear suit during the photo session that resulted in the cover for his 2004 debut record College Dropout (art direction by Eric Duvauchelle, photo by Danny Clinch) –  The 40-second video was posted by a site called The New Kanye –
Enjoy this – you’ll never see anything like it from this artist again, I think…

March 17th – 1) There have been several recent articles about “mash-ups” using fine art and album cover imagery, but the one I’m sharing today is a bit more focused in that it takes two well-known cover photos of one specific musical act (i.e.,Adele) and fits them quite nicely into a number of other well-known album covers. In the article by Amy Davidson on the Digital Spy site, you’ll find the singer’s face from either 21 or 25 inserted into the album art for acts including KISS, David Bowie, Daft Punk and others, with the most-disturbing combination (IMHO) being the re-working of Prince’s self-titled, platinum-selling 1979 release (the one with the chest hair and the hit single “I Feel For You”). I’m sure we’ll see more like this going forward….

2) In support of photographer David Arnoff’s release of his new book of punk-era photography (you’ll recall his shots used on the covers of records from The Cramps, Dream Syndicate, The Flesh Eaters, The Gun Club and others), the nice folks that cover the world of photography for The Guardian recently posted a number of shots taken from Arnoff’s book and asked him to provide brief accounts of why/where/how the shots were taken. You’ll see some great shots of Poison Ivy, Patti Smith, Misfits, X and “tough little chick” Joan Jett, among others. Quite the time capsule –
If you’d like to see more of David’s archives and find out where to buy his book, click on over to his web site at!collected-works-1/nm5e1

3) Attention all collectors – the team at St. Paul’s Gallery (Birmingham, UK) sent me a notice about the availability of a very limited number of rare prints of the band Oasis that I want to share with you. Fans of the band will know all of the images well, with photos and artwork by the likes of Michael Spencer Jones, Brian Cannon and Sir Peter Blake. Limited to one or two of each design, the prints are hand-signed by one or more of the band members and/or, in the case of prints including Sir Peter’s collage for Stop The Clock and Spencer Jones’ covers for Maybe, the artists, too. For those looking for something truly rare, there are several test cover prints, as well, so I’d run-don’t-walk (or click, it’s a bit easier) to the gallery’s site to see what’s there and make your selection –

March 16th – 1) Adding to a recent series of articles for AdWeek, reporter Kristina Monllos spoke to a group of music industry creatives – including designer Stefan Sagmeister, producer Ma dela Cerna (Erika Records), label execs Gary Kelly (Interscope) and Matt Fiedler (Vinyl Me, Please), Jason Menard from Crosley (the record player company) and Cascade Record Pressing’s Mark Rainey and Steve Lanning – about their favorite record covers and packages and what made each a unique and effective music marketing tool. The lists they provided present readers with 22 covers from all genres and time periods and include classics such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Iron Maiden’s Killers and Michael Jackson’s Thriller along with more-recent designs for musical acts including The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and Lana Del Rey. What I enjoyed learning was how many of these covers helped their owners chronicle times and events in their lives – something some of us of Boomer age will certainly understand and appreciate –

2) Album covers came to life as a marketing tool for record labels over 50 years ago, helping differentiate both the musical acts featured and the product line each label created for fans. While I know that colored vinyl has always been available, until I read this recent posting by Charlie Essmeier on the Visual News site, I didn’t realize a) how long these products have been made (nearly 100 years!) and how, like record covers, they’ve been used to both entice consumers with their visual appeal and (again) differentiate “regular” discs from those perceived as more limited-edition (and, therefore, valuable). Fascinating…
PS – just need to warn you – this site makes you sit through a 30-second commercial before you can read the article, but I found it worthwhile – hope you do as well.

March 15th – 1) Fans of 60s psychedelic music are all familiar with the trippy cover art featured on Cream’s 1967 release Disraeli Gears, and some of you might know that the artwork was created by the late Australian designer Martin Sharp. However, unless you were a fan of Psychedelic Era underground publications in the UK at the time, you might not be aware of Sharp’s contributions to what was one of the most-influential magazines of the time – OZ. Launched in Australia in 1963 by a handful of creative university students (including Sharp), the mag showcased contributions from many of the time’s leading writers and artists and, well before moving to London, England in 1967, had stoked a number of controversies for its unchecked coverage of “don’t touch those” issues, such as homosexuality, the Vietnam War and police brutality, landing the founders in jail on obscenity charges. The artwork (by Sharp, Robert Crumb, photographer Robert Whitaker and others) greatly influenced album cover design then and now, so it’s with great happiness that I’d like to report that the London version of the magazine, which ceased production in 1973, is now available to be seen and read via free downloads made available by the library at the University of Wollongong (Australia). You can read an intro on the topic on The Guardian site via Chitra Ramaswamy‘s article –  or go directly to the searchable archive on the college’s site at

2) The resurgence of vinyl records has spurned the formation and expansion of many related industries – turntables, record storage accessories and furniture, cleaning devices and, of course, advanced record packaging. In a recent article published in AdWeek by Kristina Monllos, you’ll learn about trends in this arena and meet some of the players who are focused on bringing vinyl fans the latest and best. Of particular note are some of the people involved in the limited-edition record business – this age’s record clubs, done with a significant upgrade in quality and artistry.

3) Album cover/gig poster artist Bob Masse worked several times with the late David Bowie and, as you’ll see by the quality of the work shown in his latest Bowie-related release (specially-commissioned by the nice folks at Visual Gallery/Bob Masse Vintage for the “Starman” Facebook group). I’ve just been informed that the edition has been opened up to the public so, if you hurry, you might be able to snatch one of these prints (available in several sizes) before they’re gone.

March 11th – 1) While most every fan of Bob Marley has, at one time or another, owned a poster of the photo taken by Dennis Morris of the reggae musician enjoying a puff of his favorite smoke, you might not know that the same photographer has given us well-known images of the Sex Pistols and PiL (or, better yet, photos of a post-Pistols Johnny Rotten having a grand old time visiting the top reggae acts at their homes in Jamaica). Well, in a new exhibit that opened on March 22nd at the Institute Of Contemporary Arts in London (titled “Dennis Morris: PiL – First Issue to Metal Box” and running thru May 15th), you’ll see the results of a collaboration between Morris and museum staffers that puts on display a collection of photos and other items that trace the band’s formation and early history. In advance of this show, writer Gavin Haynes has posted a nicely-illustrated interview with Morris on the Vice site –  and, if you’d like to see the show in London, click on over to the museum’s intro page for more details on how –

2) Designer Stefan Sagmeister is a proud member of the fraternity of album cover designers, feeling that there are many examples of the genre that hold their own versus the contemporary art sold through posh galleries to collectors world-wide. To help illustrate this fact, Sagmeister maintains an Instagram account where he puts examples of the best in album cover design on display ( and, in this recent interview article on the AdWeek site written by Kristina Monllos, you’ll get to read more about why he’s pleased with the resurgence of vinyl as a format and that most of what he listens to today is due to the fact that it was packaged in a great album jacket (why, I remember doing that as well – don’t you?).

3) As if we don’t have enough examples of baseless conspiracies in the news these days (many delivered by folks vying to be U.S. President), here’s one that I hadn’t seen before that relates a Grammy-winning album cover image (for Supertramp’s Breakfast In America, with design by Mick Haggerty) with a proposition by a 9/11 conspiracist that says – “without a doubt” – that the famous design actually foretold the destruction that took place that day. Here’s the story as it appears on the Dangerous Minds site –     It’s got everything – the FreeMasons, secret financiers, backwards lettering, etc.
Oh, and BTW – Paul is dead.

March 10th – 1) Bob Dylan fans, rejoice. There’s a new book of photos now out built around selections from the archives of the late, great shooter Ken Regan that show Dylan with friends and fellow musicians while out on his 1975 Rolling Thunder Review tour. Published by Ormond Yard Press (part of Snap Galleries) and titled Rolling Thunder: Photographs By Ken Regan, this is a limited-edition collectible book (only 750 numbered copies will be offered) and is truly monumental in scale – 24″ H x 18″ wide when closed, meaning that each of the 96 photos included are printed as full 24″ X 36″ gatefold images! You’ll find shots of Dylan along with Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, violinist Scarlett Rivera and many others who Bob visited with along the way, such as Gordon Lightfoot, Patti Smith and Muhammad Ali. You can see a number of the photos featured in the book in this recent posting on the Guardian Music site –  and learn more about (and order) the book on the publisher’s site at  While I’m not 100% sure about this, I believe that you can still order the book at its pre-production price of GBP 295, a savings of GBP 100 off the regular price (please visit/contact the site to be sure).

2) In this recent posting by Katy Cowan on her Creative Boom site, you’ll learn more about the works of designer Nicholas Barclay and his poster series featuring “minimalist” interpretations of a number of well-known album cover images. Each of the 12 posters currently in the series features Barclay’s re-worked cover art as well as a list of tracks included on the album and other related info
You’ll find covers for bands including The Beatles, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Ramones and several others. If you go to the artist’s online shop –  – you’ll also find similarly-simple-yet-intriguing posters of famous movies (I really like his take on 2001: A Space Odyssey), international cities and more. Album art continues to inspire young artists, and I like it!

3) While I’ve said many times that I believe that album art both reflects and influences current trends in popular culture, there are many examples of classic art that continue to be reinterpreted by modern artists and designers, even showing up in many examples of album cover art. In art critic Alastair Sooke’s recent article in the Culture/Art section of The Telegraph‘s site, you’ll find several examples of this fact on display in a new show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London of over 150 works of art that were directly influenced by the work of the great Italian painter Sandro Botticelli, including Jeff Koons’ cover for Lady Gaga’s Art Pop which includes parts of Botticelli’s famed Venus in the background.
While the writer went on to describe the show as a “sometimes brilliant, but often baffling, exhibition”, you can’t deny the fact that the works of this 15th Century Florentine painter continue to pop up in examples of art, fashion, film and album art. I do want to remind folks that Christina Aguilera did beat out Ms. Gaga in her use of Venus as an inspiration – remember the image of her on the controversial cover for her 2012 record Lotus? I certainly remember it 😉

March 9th – 1) In the latest edition of Rachael Steven‘s monthly review for the Creative Review site of the latest and greatest in album cover design, you’ll find some truly-inspired design created by a wide range of talent from all over the world. While you’ll find works for musical acts ranging from Nevermen, Animal Collective, The Jezebels and others, I was particularly-taken by the slightly Sgt. Pepper-ish collage created by designer/sculptor David Altmejd for the cover of Yeasayer’s upcoming release titled Amen & Goodbye – really well-done. I do hope that you’ll take the time to scroll the entire article (you’ll be glad you did) –

2) Rocker Bryan Adams’ second career as a photographer has produced a number of often-seen images of his peers in the music business (for example, Adams was responsible for the cover photo used on the late Amy Winehouse’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures record) but, in this article by Jay Cridlin of the New York Times (recently re-posted to the benefit of non-subscribers on the National Post site), you’ll read more about his career highlights, his photo sessions with Queen Elizabeth and how he and his real six string still find time to entertain his fans on tour.

3) Just a note for fans of Bruce Springsteen living in the LA area – March 10th marked the opening of the comprehensive photo show at the Morrison Hotel Gallery there called “The River Collection” that features vintage photos of The Boss & Co. taken by a list of photographers that includes Joel Bernstein, David Gahr, Lynn Goldsmith,Patrick Harbron, Jim Marchese, Neal Preston and Frank Stefanko. Whether or not you were lucky enough to score some primo seats for the band’s Los Angeles tour stop March 15th, 17th and 19th at the soon-to-be-demolished LA Sport Arena, you had the chance to enjoy the display of 40 years of Springsteen-centered photography at the gallery in West Hollywood (at the Sunset Marquis Hotel) through March 20th, with more details provided by LA Times reporter Randy Lewis in this recent posting on the paper’s site at
You can see some of the works that will be on display on the gallery’s exhibition page –

March 8th – 1) There’s a young photographer in New Jersey by the name of Clay Rossner that has been working on a series of artistically-staged images that do a splendid job showing fans of music-related artwork another of the many ways creative folks are inspired to connect the two via their own creations. In each of the examples in the series (titled, simply, Records), Rossner has built a collage of items based on a particular record’s music, lyrics, album art and the like. For example, in the work built around The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths, you’ll find a tableau that looks as though it might have been a small table Her Royal Highness might have been sitting at before keeling over dead – coffee still hot in her cup, candle still lit, a string of pearls left unworn. In Emma Garland‘s interview article on Rossner and his work done for the Noisey/Vicesite, you’ll learn more about his background, how he approaches each work (finding icons that might represent elements in a record’s theme, a particular song, etc.) and just what it is about vinyl records that keeps him motivated to do more.
To see the entire series, head on over to the artist’s site at

2) Over the years, the packaging and delivery of recorded music has taken many shapes (vinyl & tape formats, sleeves, cases and box sets, to name a few), but since music’s gone digital, the importance of packaging has (overall) taken a back seat to the simple delivery of music over wired/wireless connections. However, Man’s need to collect remains strong in some sectors, so it is nice to see the ingenuity in the approaches taken to deliver digital music in some highly-collectible packaging. Recently, a number of well-known musical acts, including Queen, The Beatles, Lady Gaga and others, have fed a number of custom-crafted, limited-edition USB drive-based packages to some of their well-heeled fans and, as you’ll see in this article on the Everything USB site, there’s more than one way to deliver a multi-media experience in a collectible casing –

3) British singer Craig David‘s 2000 debut record Born To Do It was the fastest-selling debut record for a male solo act, with the record’s cover featuring a photo of David listening intently to something via a set of studio headphones. As part of a new series of singles being promoted by headphone manufacturer Beats, David chose to package his contribution – a cover of Jack Garratt’s “Breathe Life” – with a cover showing a recent re-creation of the Born To Do It album art. The goatee is a little thicker and, of course, the headphones have been updated, but the singer’s looks haven’t changed all that much, I think you’ll agree (compare this to the re-created cover shots Phil Collins has chosen to us on the covers of his re-releases of his early albums – time marches on)… Read more in this NME article by Luke Morgan Britton –

March 7th – 1) As I’ve been gathering materials for my book project, one of the things I keep hearing from visual artists working within the music industry is that they are working harder to establish direct relationships with the musical acts, feeling that a strong artist/client bond is needed in order to make sure that a) there’s a mutual understanding of what it takes to best-represent (visually) an act and his/her/their music and b) there’s a good chance that they’ll work together on projects going forward. In the linked article by Holly Stuart Hughes on the Photo District News site, you’ll hear more about how these collaborations work to produce memorable covers, publicity photos and the other visual items musicians need in order to best-present themselves to their current and new fan bases. You’ll hear from folks including photographers Colin Lane, Shawn Brackbill and James Orlando, along with designers Tracy Boychuk (of the Runner Collective) and Rob Carmichael, principal of the SEEN design firm –

2) A recently-launched exhibition at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, PA called “Dust + Dignity” was curated with the hope that it will show how art and music serve to expose the racial tensions that are so prevalent in the world today. Described by the organizers as “an educational experience promoting dialogue + advancing social justice through the exploration of the relationship between music and visual art”, the display features “an audio tour with over 100 vinyl albums covers — hand-selected by five of Philadelphia’s most prominent DJ-Vinyl Collectors: Cosmo Baker, King Britt, Rich Medina, Skeme Richards, and DJ Junior.” You can learn more about the show (which runs through the end of March) and its related events on the art center’s site at  and, for more background on how the show’s organizers worked together to select and present these records in such a way that they’ll spur on discussions about social justice (and injustice), you should read Morgan Slutzky’s recent article in The Temple News at

3) There’s a new album/fine art mash-up project that’s done so well that I knew I’d have to share it with you…An artist based in the Philippines started a Tumblr blog called Mag+Art a year ago to showcase his fanciful blends of magazine covers and corporate logos and, in doing so, impressed enough people that they prompted him to try something new – incorporating elements from famous album covers into classical paintings from throughout history. The illustrations included in Social News Daily contributor Jonette‘s recent article on the subject show the artist’s (Eisen Bernard Bernardo) nicely-done blending of covers by Madonna, Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson and many others into paintings by Van Gogh, Grant Wood, Bronzino and more. I was particularly taken by his take on how Taylor Swift’s Polaroid portrait from her 1989 record could be incorporated into Egon Scheile’s “Portrait Of Edith (the Artist’s Wife)”. Very cool, no?

March 4th – 1) In this recent posting by Lewis Corner on the Digital Spy site, you’ll learn that (according to the author) most album covers are direct descendants of one of six basic designs and, after reading through the examples he’s provided, he presents a rather-compelling argument for the music industry’s seeming lack of creativity in this area. As readers of this site know, there are plenty of examples of album art producers who’ve delivered some amazing cover images over the years, but you’ll also have to agree that, at certain times and in a variety of genres, there’s been a lot of me-too work as well, motivated (I’m sure) by a lack of vision by the label/musical act and giving the designers enough time/resources to do anything more. With regard to the last example – the one he says is built around triangles – I’d like to suggest that they’re actually pyramids and that, as believers in “pyramid-power” will purport, these designs serve to give the featured musical acts an extra sales boost. I’d add the package that Ambrosia used for their Somewhere I’ve Never Traveled record to that category – it actually unfolded into a 3-D pyramid!

2) To follow-up my recent articles about Brian Griffin’s “Capitalist Realism” photo show currently on display in NYC, I want to point you to a review of the exhibition recently posted on the L’Oeil de la Photographie site (written byAnais Fayeux) that provides a nice career retrospective on Brian’s work, beginning in 1972 on an assignment for Management Today magazine through his stunning assortment of portraits done throughout the 70s and 80s. The article is nicely illustrated, although I really wish I could see the show in person – perhaps one of my readers in the NYC area could go and share the experience with us (hint, hint)?

3) With so much Kanye-inspired news in the headlines these days (a Twitter fight with Deadmau5 – really?), who am I to avoid diving in 😉 and sharing these two articles about the design/designer of the much-talked-about cover for Mr. West’s latest record The Life of Pablo? In his article for The Daily Beast, writer/Saatchi Gallery site editor Anthony Haden-Guest wonders whether the record’s cover designer – Peter De Potter – has delivered a design for the ages. He looks back at many examples of album cover artists who’ve contributed much to the fine art world (and vice versa), using the examples of designers Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Martin Sharp and Storm Thorgerson along with photographers Jean-Paul Goude and Anton Corbijn to illustrate careers that expanded well beyond producing images for music industry clientele –
One thing that might indicate that this will be a memorable cover image is that it’s already being spoofed – on the Global Grind site, music editor Brittany Lewis reports on the team behind the site, where you can go to create your own unique version of the album’s type-based graphics. Fun for the whole family!

March 3rd – 1) The Philadelphia Museum of Art recently kicked off its hosting of a major travelling exhibition called “International Pop”, a show that, according to the museum’s press, “explores Pop Art as a global phenomenon that was shaped by artists working in many different countries throughout the world. The exhibition features paintings, sculpture, assemblage, installation, printmaking, and film by eighty artists, drawn from public and private collections around the world, and offers an intriguing new look at a subject that is familiar.” Originally curated and launched by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), this will be the exhibition’s final stop (and its only East Coast venue). There will be a number of related programs taking place during the show’s run, and the museum enlisted the help of musician/producer Ben Vaughan to put together a Spotify playlist to accompany the show which, as part of the impressive collection of art on display, features a number of album covers, posters and the like by artists including Andy Warhol, Sir Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton. You can read an interview with Vaughan about how he selected the playlist and his feelings about the intersection of art and music on the museum’s site – with more exhibition details made available at
The show runs through May 15th.

2) Having just concluded on March 27th in Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was the much-lauded show called “Pop Art Design”, an exhibition that “reinforces the pervasiveness of pop as a cultural phenomenon” during the 1960s – 70s. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany (with oversight at the MCA provided by James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling), this show has been praised for its focus on displaying artisitic items that became part of our everyday lives, such as furniture, household accessories and, as you might figure, album art and posters. In her review of the show for the Hyperallergic site, writer Debra Brehmer notes that “Pop Art Design slides intuitively toward the vernacular tentacles of this movement and makes us realize that every exhibition of Pop art should include facts and artifacts along with the tattered remains of Andy Warhol’s cover design for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album (1970–71) and the Milton Glaser poster from Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (1966).” You can read her entire review via the link at  and find more info on the MCA exhibition at

3) While I wasn’t able this year to find enough material to craft a meaningful “year in review” of 2015’s “Best of” and “Worst of” album cover lists(maybe folks are finally realizing that that’s an exercise in futility left to only the bravest of critics), I did see a summary posted recently on the Metal Underground site by contributor “X-Firuath” (AKA Ty Arthur, who says that he was inspired by Obscuro’s regular articles on the topic found there) that provided fans of metal music artwork with a nice overview of what the author calls “the best and most memorable” covers of the period. What I do appreciate is that, rather than just providing readers with a list and a one-or-two-word comment, the author does provide some background info on the covers shown (including works on records by metal acts such as Contrarian, Abiotic, Anthropia, Barren Earth and others) that helps non-regulars better-understand the genre and the artists that make their living there.

March 1st – 1) Just launched at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Zurich, Switzerland isa new show titled “Total Records – Vinyl & Photography” that puts on display over 500 album covers from the 1960s to present. This exhibition is a continuation/expansion of one that was presented last year at the Les Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles 2015 (which was curated by Sam Stourdzé, Antoine de Beaupré, and Serge Vincendet) and now includes examples of work done by notable Swiss album art producers and musical acts. Running through May 16th, the show also features a number of related events, including lectures by representatives of local record labels and a showing of the film Downtown 81, starring artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The nice folks at e-flux magazine have posted a nice article about the show on their site –  and you can see more of what’s on display at the museum’s web site –

2) You might recall my previous announcement about the Spin Art show now on display at the Columbus (OH) Museum of Art, but I wanted to share another bit of info on the show that was provided by writer Jim Fisher on the Columbus Alive site that gives you more of an overview of what’s on display, along with interviews with several of the organizers and collectors whose personal record collections provided much of what’s there to see.

That’s all for now – look for updates every week day on our news feed – – we’ll be back early next month with another summary for you.

All text Copyright 2016 Mike Goldstein and – All Rights Reserved.

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