ALBUM COVER HALL OF FAME’S ALBUM COVER NEWS RECAP FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, 2017, WITH PREVIEWS FOR JANUARY, 2018.
BY MIKE GOLDSTEIN, ALBUMCOVERHALLOFFAME.COM
Wow – what a year. Who’d have thought that a guy my age could be so distracted by so many things on a day-to-day basis (world events, U.S. politics, the care and feeding of an elderly relative, etc.) and that those distractions would have postponed my ACHOF book project to the degree they have. I’m not trying to make excuses – I’ve also been guilty of a bit of laziness on nice days here in Chicagoland, where taking a nice long walk, stopping for a coffee or sitting in the gardens at the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette (just beautiful) proved to have a much stronger pull on me than staring at a computer screen all day – but I am resolving to get my Kickstarter project launching in the next month or so, and so I appreciate all of the patience that both my readers and those who’ve contributed to the book have shown while I work to put this together. In the meantime, I eagerly hope that we can all return someday to a time and place where compassion, kindness and respect for both the truth and our fellow human beings means more that counting “wins” and “losses” and seeing who has amassed more stuff, and so here’s wishing you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2018.
As we now enter the final weekend of 2017, I’d like to present to you (“and I thought that it wasn’t supposed to be about the presents…”) this month’s album cover artist news summary, one I think you’ll want to spend a few minutes perusing during your long Holiday weekend. The month of December was another busy one for news on this topic, delivering stockings full of articles I know you’ll want to read, unboxing new details about those actively producing impressive album cover art and packaging. In the summaries I’ve written and via the links provided, you’ll learn more about the latest efforts – as found in exhibitions, via new books and products and featured in interviews in profiles and other related reporting – of some of the most-talented album cover art creators and promoters that I’ve found in my reviews of stories from sources (including me!) around the globe.
As always, I ask that you please share this info with everyone you know who are fans of great album cover-related talent and, of course, your comments and feedback are quite welcome.
1) Upcoming, recently-launched/currently running and just-closed show/exhibitions –
a) Just a reminder – There’s still time to see the show and vote for your favorite covers of the past year at the BEST ART VINYL: 12 YEARS ON 12 INCHES show currently on display (until January 20th) at the gallery at the Barnsley Civic (Barnsley, UK). The centerpiece of this display are the 50 nominated album covers for this annual award, with this year’s fifty nominated albums including releases from Gorillaz, Queens of the Stone Age, Katy Perry, Lorde, Father John Misty,Squeeze and many others, along with examples from two local artists that were included in the list of 50 finalists: Kate Rusby, with her first-ever release on vinyl (design by Mat Lazenby, with a painting by David Baumforth) and Hannah Peel, whose album Mary Casio was recorded with a brass orchestra and whose record cover was designed by Jonathan Barnbrook, famous for his work on Blackstar, David Bowie’s final album.
The Gallery’s open from Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-5pm, and admission is free. For more information, please visit http://www.barnsleycivic.co.uk
b) And, as if by magic, designer/publisher/blogger Simon Robinson just published an article about his recent visit to the album cover art exhibition currently on display at The Civic Gallery in Barnsley, U.K. that I’d reported on in my most-recent news summary, so it is with Simon’s help that those of us not in the neighborhood can take a “virtual tour” through this display, done as part of the promotional effort for the Best Art Vinyl Awards competition now in full swing. I’d been in contact with the show’s curator, Jason White, with the hopes of bringing you a “walk-thru” of the display area, but now that Simon’s beat me to the punch, it’s only fair to point you to his site – https://st33.wordpress.com/ – where you can read his educated opinions about the entirety of the collection on display, which includes not only this year’s nominated covers but “best of” selections from the previous 11 years’ entries as well.
c) Curator/Author and die-hard record collector Antoine de Beaupre is bringing a selection from his epic Total Records album art show to San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery in a new show called Art & Vinyl: Artists & the Record Album from Picasso to the Present which opens on the 4th of January (2018) and runs through the third of March. On Thursday, January 4th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm PST, the gallery will be hosting an opening reception for this new show. Featuring examples of album art produced since the 1940s, the exhibit will treat visitors to (according to the gallery’s PR) “a staggering array of conceptual strategies, and sketch an idiosyncratic history of art from the mid-20th century to the present.”
Included in the show are works by artists including Josef Albers, Tauba Auerbach, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Beuys, Sophie Calle, Jean Dubuffet, Marlene Dumas, Richard Hamilton, Yves Klein, Barbara Kruger, Sol LeWitt, Christian Marclay, Chris Ofili, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, among others (quite the cast, no?). Fans will be able to relive their visit with the help of a 464-page hardcover catalogue, available at the gallery or on its website (http://www.fraenkelgallery.com), and distributed internationally by D.A.P.
I’m hoping to get more information about this show and what’s on display to you soon but, in the meantime, I’d invite you to visit the gallery’s site at https://fraenkelgallery.com/exhibitions/art-vinyl for further details.
d) The show I just described in the previous item is a curated subset of the Total Records show, one that I’ve shared some details on with you in previous summaries. That show illustrates that, when a vinyl collector, a record store owner and a photo festival director get together to promote what they’re passionate about, only good things can happen, so I’d invite you to read Gemma Padley’s article about that original show in the British Journal of Photography, one that launched several years ago in Arles, France and is now running in Europe through March, 2018 in a new home – the Fundación Foto Colectania in Barcelona, Spain – where it continues to impress fans with its sheer scope – over 600 album images dating back from the earliest days of record sleeves and continuing through today. As I reported after the show’s initial launch in 2015 at Les Recontres d’Arles international photo exhibition, the team behind this show worked to put on display the broad range of photographic imagery that’s been used to create some truly-memorable record packages over the years. Works by Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdain, Linda McCartney, Ryan McGinley and many others are included, as is a display of fan-created “Sleevefaces” that combine album images with real people and places.
e) If you hurry, you can catch the last few days of another fine photo show in San Francisco that is running now through January 6th at the Harvey Milk Photo Center in downtown San Francisco. It’s a new solo show by photographer Jay Blakesberg called “Dark + Light: Jay Blakesberg’s Rock & Roll Photography, 1978 -2017” which puts on display highlights (over 120 images) from Jay’s impressive career, beginning with his shots taken as a teenager in New Jersey (and a huge Grateful Dead fan) through his more-recent pix of the band taken at their “Fare Thee Well” show in Chicago which marked their 50th anniversary as a band.
The show is co-curated with Photo Center’s director, Dave Christensen, with a nice intro and overview provided to us by The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic, Aidin Vaziri, which you can read via the link – http://www.sfchronicle.com/entertainment/article/Rock-photographer-Jay-Blakesberg-gets-first-12333628.php
There are also additional photos on display at the McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan St., S.F., with more viewing info available at http://harveymilkphotocenter.org/exhibits/dark-light-rock-roll-photography-jay-blakesberg/
f) The Lucy Bell Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of rare and unseen images of the “Fab Four” from The Getty Images Archives. The exhibition, includes images of The Beatles that span from 1963 to 1970 featuring shots from famous photographers including David Redfern (the late photographer that started the Redfern Photo Agency that repped 400 music industry shooters before being sold to Getty Images in 2008), Chris Ware, Jim Grey and Stan Maegher, as well as from Popperfoto, one of the UK’s oldest and image libraries founded in 1934, specialising in creative UK-based retro imagery. On display now through the 20th of January at the gallery in East Sussex, U.K. –
g) Another show that I’d mentioned to you before is still up and running in Copenhagen, Denmark, so If you find yourself in need of a day trip away from the city’s tourist attractions (I mean, do you really need another photo of you standing next to that mermaid?) sometime between now and March 25th, 2018, the My Music show at the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj, Denmark (SW of Copenhagen) looks as though it will provide you with a lot to see and experience. This is where (according to the Museum’s press info) “Pop music and art meet in a sensory explosion of music videos, video art, sculptures, paintings and installations. Rhythm and image merge in 22 works, inviting you to take part in a veritable bombardment of the mind and body… Experience compelling artworks and music videos in a major exhibition that speaks to the eyes and ears, vocal cords and sense of rhythm. Contemporary art meets pop music in a sensual explosion of music video, video art, sculpture, painting and installation.”
Artists from around the world have contributed to this display which features music by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Elton John, Madonna, Beck, Sia and a long list of artists who, I’m certain, are well-known in Scandinavia.
Just the videos I saw on the museum’s site lead me to think that there’s a lot going on in this part of the world that we’ve never had the chance to learn about – that’s what’s so wonderful about the Web.
h) ATTENTION ARTISTS and other creative-types looking to show off their album cover art skills – there’s still time to send in your submissions to The Oak Park Art League (Oak Park, IL) for their upcoming Artifact 33.3 show, organized to highlight the 70th anniversary of the release of the first modern LP cover in 1948, and yours truly (“Hey, that’s me”, as Bozo used to say) is honored to be included on the judging panel for this exciting new art show. As the show’s organizers put it, “The evolution of album cover art is as revolutionary as the music vinyl popularized, with iconic artists such as Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and others, merging the world of music with the visual arts, while catapulting musician identity and elevating jacket cover design to museum-worthy status. This 70th anniversary milestone and the renaissance of vinyl lends to this call for record cover art that express societal interests and global concerns – past, present and future. “
Artists who’d like to participate are being asked to submit original artwork for a fictional album by a fictional musical act and, after initial judging by the esteemed panel, a selection of these works will be professionally printed and displayed in 12”x12” frames for the exhibition at OPAL’s historic Carriage House Gallery. An additional selection of works will be included in an online exhibit on OPAL’s website.
There will also be panel discussions about album art (I’ll be showing examples of some classic album cover fine art prints at one), so if you’d like to learn more about either participating as an artist or simply attending the show or panel talks, click on over to – https://www.oakparkartleague.org/artifact-33-3
To read more about the rules and to see who else is on the judging panel (some very impressive names from all areas of the music and art worlds, if you ask me), please visit –https://oakparkartleague.submittable.com/submit/96839/artifact-33-1-3
i) To kick off the new year in style – and to make up for the fact that I totally forgot to share these images earlier in 2017 after I’d toured the Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism show during its stop here in Chicago – I’d like to include some of the photos I took of the many album cover art-related images that were on display, including original artworks by Andy Warhol (for Sticky Fingers and Jagger’s solo records), John Van Hamersveld (Exile On Main Street), Guy Pellaert (It’s Only Rock & Roll), John Pasche (Lips & Tongue, UK version) and Shepard Fairey (updated Lips & Tongue for 50th Anniversary use). It was great that they devoted so much space to album cover, poster and stage designs that were used during the band’s career, with quotes from Mick about the importance of these images and designs to their ongoing success…
(top to bottom – Lips & Tongue, 50th Anniversary editions, by Shepard Fairey; Lips & Tongue – original UK versions – by John Pasche; Exile On Main Street, designs by John Van Hamersveld and a selection of photos shot by Andy Warhol for the Sticky Fingers project)
2) Artist interviews/profile articles –
a) Ending the year with a bang, the folks at Cover Our Tracks notified me of their most-recent posting that I think you all should read – Lara Kristen Herndon’s interview/profile of the very-talented album cover illustrator and designer Lou Beach, the man responsible for a wide range of album covers for artists including Blink 182, The Carpenters, Madonna, Ray Manzarek, the Neville Brothers, David Sanborn, Weather Report, X and Weird Al Yankovic, to name just a few.
From his rather right person/right place beginnings as an album cover maker for A&M Records (after careers as a custodian, forklift driver and punch press operator) through his more-recent turn as an author of the critically-acclaimed story book 420 Characters, Beach continues to impress design and art fans with his inventiveness, wit and “do what’s right for the moment” approach to art-making, so it’s nice to be able to read more about this interesting individual – in his own words – in this nicely-done interview article –
b) ACHOF Sad News Alert – in case you missed my posting earlier in December, I had the sad duty to share the news with you about the passing of photographer/designer Bob Seidemann, who died at home in the Bay Area at the age of 75. Probably best-known for his controversial cover photo for the Blind Faith album in 1969, Bob also produced memorable cover images for Supertramp, Jackson Browne and others and gave us scores of other beautiful photos throughout his career.
Bob was married for nearly 35 years to accomplished make-up artist Belinda Bryant and had spent the last several years since retirement battling Parkinson’s Disease.
The world has just lost a great talent, but one that will live on via the great portfolio he left us. RIP Bob.
If you’d like to read his obit in the LA Times, you can follow the link – http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-me-bob-seidemann-20171209-htmlstory.html
c) Last July, I shared an introduction to an episode of the Art Dealer Show podcast (hosted by art dealer/publisher and owner of the Limelight Agency, Danny Stern) which featured Theron Kabrich, one of the owners of the San Francisco Art Exchange, a gallery that has long promoted the works of a number of well-known album cover image makers (the podcast launched in early 2016 and has introduced subscribers to a number of interesting and inspirational gallery owners in the two dozen episodes that have been released since that launch). Episodes 23 and 24 were released late in 2017, both built around an extended interview Danny did with Kabrich’s partner at the SFAE gallery, Jim Hartley. According to Stern, the gallery’s 30+ years of existence, beginning as “an active brokerage for blue chip art”, then promoting the works of noted illustrator Alberto Vargas before “a chance encounter with a music agent led them to representing the art of one of The Rolling Stones” (that being Ronnie Wood, who was represented by Stern’s agency after he’d spent time working as part of the SFAE team).
Since then, they’ve staged a number of massive and impressive shows and sales, achieving record sales numbers for the works of artists Roger Dean and Gerald Scarfe along with photographers Joel Brodsky, Neal Preston, Ethan Russell and many others. Part 1 of the interview (originally posted in October) is titled “How The Iranian Revolution Started A Storied Career In Art” –http://artdealer.show/jim-hartley-pt1/ – while the second half, posted right before the Holidays, is titled “Big Art Sales…Because Of and Despite Our Best Efforts” and can be reached via this link – http://artdealer.show/jim-hartley-pt-2/
Mix a hot rum punch, put on your headphones, and listen to two veterans of the music/art world share the gallery’s success story – you’ll all learn a lot if you listen….
d) By now, I’m sure you’ve all read my recent interview with the design power couple of Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz (click here – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/interview-with-designers-spencer-drate-and-judith-salavetz-talking-heads-fear-of-music-album-cover/ on the off chance that you haven’t read it yet…). While the interview focused on their work on the album cover for Talking Heads’ Fear Of Music record, their years of work has established them as icons in the design world, so when the folks from the professional design organization AIGA decided to profile several music industry art veterans in videos for their site, it only made sense that Spencer and Judith were included, along with Milton Glaser, Aaron Draplin and Lawrence Azerrad, who’s spear-heading the AIGA’s “Design + Music” educational initiative.
Drate & Salavetz share some interesting tidbits on a number of their album cover designs, including work for Joan Jett, Lou Reed, Ramones, Bon Jovi and others (for example, in addition to her art duties, Judith styled the boys’ hair and costumes for the cover shot for Bon Jovi’s 1984 self-titled debut record). The 5-minute interview segment is titled “It’s A Long Way To The Top” and puts on display the strong chemistry between these two designers, which certainly comes to bear in the work they do together.
e) Earlier this year, I’d written a bit about photographer Mark Weiss and his collaboration with a painter to produce some amazing artwork for the walls of a new rock music-themed restaurant in Orlando, FL. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Mark was also launching a new business built around selling art prints from both his own archive and that of several other well-regarded rock shooters as well. It’s called Rock Scene Auctions and what makes this effort a little bit unique is that a portion of the proceeds from the sales of these prints are donated to the Why Hunger organization, one that provides those in need with connections to local food suppliers. Goldmine Magazine editor Pat Prince interviewed Mark a few months back about the launch of his new gallery and the motivations behind it’s charitable component as part of Pat’s podcast (which also featured singer/photographer Graham Nash) – http://www.goldminemag.com/podcast/graham-nash-mark-weiss-guests-goldmine-magazine-podcast-episode-5 (the Weiss interview kicks in at about 13:10 into the stream) – and I think that it’s clear that rock photography fans have an exciting new place to look for beautiful additions to their collections.
f) Here’s an overview of a new album cover work that was created by a Rome-based designer named Chiara Tomati (of the cleverly-named Tomati Soup design house) for a musical act called Indian Wells – https://www.creativeboom.com/inspiration/where-the-world-ends-vinyl-cover-design-summarises-geographical-social-and-political-isolation/
While the article written by Laura Collinson for the Creative Boom site doesn’t really dig much into the artist, her processes or this particular collaboration (it does, however, have some very nice illustrations), clicking on the design firm’s Behance link (https://www.behance.net/tomati-soup) brings you to a page with more examples of Chiara’s digital graphics work.
g) Always looking around the globe for examples of impressive cover design talent brought me to an article on the It’s Nice That site (by Lucy Bourton, published this past summer) highlighting the talents of Amsterdam-based illustrator Stefan Glerum, someone who has drawn inspiration from the whole scope of science fiction-y designs for film, TV and print media – from Star Wars to Futurama (“It is important to me that the work has a bit of a cult feeling and not just be plain sci-fi geeky,” the artist is quoted as saying).
His designs have recently been featured on records from acts including Awanto 3 (Gargamel) and Bruxas (with both acts on the Dekmantel label), with other commercial illustration jobs he’s taken on include work for clients such as Netflix, Le Monde, Fast Company, Dwell, Pirelli, Adidas and Converse, just to name a few. He says that his drawing style “is like a melting pot of illustration heritage”, but I think that this is just another way of saying that he’s not tied down to one approach to creating great artwork for his clients…
Read more at http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/stefan-glerum-illustration-050717 and then visit his own site to see more examples – http://www.stefanglerum.com/
h) It’s Nice That was also kind enough to share some examples of album cover design and art from a young graphic designer and art director based in Paris named Francois Boulo (https://francoisboulo.com/). And while he might be, as the article’s title states, a bit “music obsessed” (he is, as it turns out, the art director for the French techno/house label Solide Records), it’s that obsession that helps drive his efforts to make the most-interesting and beautiful products for his music industry clients – http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/francois-boulo-graphic-design-190917? Like me, I’m hoping that you will also get to learn a bit more about the emerging music and design scenes around the world, so off you go…
i) Would you like to learn about how Limerick, Ireland-based artist Ken Coleman got the gig doing the cover for Florida-based Morbid Angel’s recently-released record Kingdom’s Disdained? Well, you’ve come to the right place, for if you follow this link to Eric Fitzgerald’s article on the Limerick Post site – http://www.limerickpost.ie/2017/11/08/limerick-artist-ken-coleman-designs-album-sleeve-death-metal-legends-morbid-angel/ – you’ll find his interview with Mr. Coleman in which he explains why it’s important to never burn a bridge – even for a death metal fan – because you never know when people you’ve done good work for in the past will return to ask you to do so once again…
3) Sales/Auctions –
a) Happy to announce that noted designer Vaughan Oliver hit and exceeded his fundraising goal on Kickstarter to produce a book on his work – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1993782747/vaughan-oliver-archive/description
With a partner, photographer Nigel Grierson, Oliver founded his own design firm called 23 Envelope and found a client in the popular independent UK record label 4AD, a spin-off label run by two Beggar’s Banquet employees named Peter Kent and Ivo Watts-Russell and home of acts including Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and Modern English from the UK and American indie bands including The Breeders, Pixies and Throwing Muses. After Grierson left in 1988, Oliver re-named the company v23 and continued to produce memorable 4AD sleeve designs through the late 1990s, working with a small slate of talented designers, illustrators and photographers including Marc Atkins, Chris Bigg, Terry Dowling, Simon Larbalestier, Timothy O’Donnel, Ian Pollock and others. Notable album cover credits include: Pixies – Come on Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa, Doolittle and Monkey Gone To Heaven; David Sylvian – Secrets of the Beehive; The Breeders – Pod and Safari; Psychedelic Furs – Until She Comes and World Outside; Lush – Spooky, For Love and Hypocrite; Throwing Muses – House Tornado and Counting Backwards and many others.
Vaughan Oliver’s work (according to his project text, “he’s the designer who never threw anything away”) is now archived at the University of Creative Arts’ Epsom campus (in the south of England, and where Oliver works as a visiting professor). Now, with the successful funding of his project – with 948 backers having pledged £91,642 (approx. $123,000) to help bring this project to life – there’s going to be a new book celebrating it. Working with a publisher called Unit Editions, Oliver will release this magnum opus in two volumes – Vaughan Oliver Archive – Materials and fragments- Book No. 1.0
(432 pages, in full color) and Vaughan Oliver Archive – Remnants and desires – Book No. 2.0, which will be a 160-page B&W bonus.
While it might be too late to take advantage of all of the bonus goodies that were made available to potential supporters during the campaign, the book will hopefully be available to the general public via the publisher’s web site soon after its initial release, with estimated delivery announced for May, 2018. Congratulations, Mr. Oliver, and to all those who supported this important project.
b) At the Entertainment Memorabilia auction hosted in London by the Bonham’s auction house this past December 13th, several album art-related items were put up for sale that would have made fans quite happy to add to their personal collections, including the following:
Lot 77 was a large-scale (34.25”w x 21.75”h, framed) print of Anton Corbijn’s photo for U2’s Joshua Tree album cover. One from a limited edition of 200 produced/signed/numbered by Corbijn, the item sold for approx. $1000.00, which was in the upper part of the range of the $800 – $1100 pre-auction estimate. Someone celebrated the 30th anniversary of the release of this breakout album by one of Ireland’s greatest exports with more than a pint of Guinness, that’s for sure…
Lot 132 – An out-take from the photo session staged by Michael Joseph to create the cover for Beggar’s Banquet from the Rolling Stones. This color print features the band members” in a bright Victorian-inspired styling at a session which took place at Sarum Chase, the former home of Victorian society painter Frank Owen Salisbury” and measures 19.5” x 23.5” mounted in its frame. With a pre-auction estimate in the range of $670.00 – $940.00, the photo sold to some lucky bidder for the bargain price of $420.00;
Lot 165 – A Klaus Voorman penned ink drawing (on an 8” square card) done in 2003 in the style of the artwork he created 50 years ago for The Beatles’ Revolver LP (pre-auction estimates from $1100 – $1600, selling for a mere $1277.00);
I’d originally reported on the item featured as Lot 199, which was a Martin Richardson-produced, limited-edition (200) lenticular print of David Bowie’s Hours cover (with original design done by the late Rex Ray based on a photo shot by Tim Bret Day of David Bowie #1 cradling the head of an obviously in distress David Bowie #2). The framed print was also autographed by David Bowie and had a pre-auction estimate of $2700 – $3300 but, at auction’s end, remained unsold.
See the results for the other 150+ items that were featured in this auction – including a knit cap owned by Bob Marley and worn in the “Is This Love” music video (sold for over $20K), several drawings by John Lennon ($10K+ up to $30K) and a 1970s drum kit with “shark-motif” bass drum skins from Motorhead drummer “Philthy Animal” Taylor (going to a new home for a mere $25,000.00) via the link – http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24241/#/aa0=1&w0=results&aj0=lot_number_asc&m0=0
4) New Print/Book/Product RELEASES –
a) Two noted academics and authors who’ve shared a 20 year creative partnership – the University of London’s Janet Borgerson and Rochester Institute of Technology communications professor Jonathan Schroeder – have recently release a new book titled Designed for Hi-Fi Living: The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America that explores how album cover art from the 1950s served to reflect the design trends of that era and using examples of this artwork to chronicle the aspirations and realities of America’s consumer culture after World War II’s austerity.
The 440-page illustrated book ($34.95 from the MIT Press) includes a discussion of over 150 record covers from the era and offers, according to the publisher’s site, “a fascinating glimpse into the postwar imagination, the first part, ‘Home,’ explores how the American home entered the frontlines of cold war debates and became an entertainment zone—a place to play music, mix drinks, and impress guests with displays of good taste. The second part, ‘Away,’ considers albums featuring music, pictures, and tourist information that prepared Americans for the jet age as well as the space race.”
In two posts on the MIT Press blog, the authors introduce themselves, their project and a small selection of the covers that are included in their book. Start with – https://mitpress.mit.edu/blog/designed-hi-fi-living-how-it-all-started and then complete the overview with https://mitpress.mit.edu/blog/recovering-and-discovering-album-cover-artists-and-photographers , which talks more about the people who dreamed these images up and brought them to a fascinated buying public. You can look at the book, which made several “Best of 2017” book lists, on the publisher’s site at https://www.designedforhifiliving.com/
5) Other articles of interest –
a) With only those living underground in preparation for a nuclear holocaust unaware of the recent premiere of the latest installment of the Star Wars saga, I’d be silly not to also ride the crest of Lukemania and share an article with you that involves the combination of famous album covers with famous characters from the movie. As you’ll read in Morgan Shanahan’s recent posting on the BuzzFeed site – https://www.buzzfeed.com/morganshanahan/this-artist-mashed-up-classic-album-covers-with-star-wars-ch? – a London-based graphic artist by the name of Stephen Lear (http://www.whythelongplayface.com/index.html) has taken some time away from his busy work schedule to produce and share a series of expertly-crafted remakes of records from musical acts such as Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Taylor Swift (even the cast album from the hit show Hamilton!) that now feature the likenesses of Star Wars stars including Han Solo, Emporer Palpatine, Princess Leia and many others (I’m particularly fond of the artist’s simple-yet-elegant take on Dark Side of the Moon which he calls “Dark Side of That’s No Moon”).
Stephen has also taken one extra step and is making several of his designs available for purchase on t-shirts – https://www.redbubble.com/people/whythelpface/shop?SSAID=314743 – priced rather strangely at $27.22 (am I missing a Star Wars reference here, or is it simply the conversion from pounds to dollars?). In any case, it’s another fine example of how icons from different media can cross-pollinate to create something fun and desirable for us fans always looking for something that only we fully understand…
b) Ralph Steadman doing Hip Hop album covers? An 81-year-old Welsh cartoonist/illustrator might seem like a strange pick to do the cover art for a new album coming out from two mid-20’s hip-hop stars (rapper Travis Scott and Migos member Quavo) – that being the often-teased joint production titled Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. While the pair has a long list of music industry successes – having collaborated on projects with top names such as Nicki Minaj, Miguel, Pharrell and 21 Savage, to name several – it seems that a mysterious shared experience at an unnamed studio ultimately led to this collaboration.
GONZO artist, designer and writer Steadman’s portfolio of work includes art done for printed classics including Alice In Wonderland, Animal Farm and Treasure Island, other print pubs including the Daily Telegraph, the New York Times, Punch and Rolling Stone magazine (as well as album covers for Ambrosia, The Who and Frank Zappa), but he’s perhaps best-known worldwide for his collaboration with famed journalist/bon-vivant Hunter S. Thompson on the 1972 book titled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, with Steadman’s stark illustrations the perfect accompaniments to Thompson’s graphic, no-holds-barred story about two men’s drug-fueled tour through America’s Sin City. The recipient of many honors for his work, 2017 found him inducted into the prestigious Society Of Illustrators Hall of Fame – https://www.societyillustrators.org/ralph-steadman
Fans of Steadman’s art are in luck soon as a retrospective exhibition (originally curated by the Cartoon Museum in London) will be heading out to showings in the U.S., the first in Washington DC at American University College of Arts & Sciences beginning mid-June, 2018 and then in Spring of 2019 at Cal State Fullerton’s Nicholas & Lee Bergovich Art Gallery.
Read more about this new album art collaboration in Hot New Hip Hop’s recent article on the subject – https://www.hotnewhiphop.com/travis-scott-and-quavo-tap-legendary-artist-ralph-steadman-for-album-cover-art-news.41168.html and to see more of Steadman’s amazing archives, click on over to his site at http://www.ralphsteadman.com/
c) What would the internet be without “unboxing” videos, clips of people harming themselves while attempting really stupid stunts and, of course, kittens? Since it’s year’s end and I’m allowed some artistic license in the selection of articles to include in a year-end summary, it’s my duty to introduce you to artist Alfra Martini, whose Tumblr – The Kitten Covers – http://thekittencovers.tumblr.com/ – has for the past several years (off my radar and Google search alerts list, it seems) shared scores of kitteny album cover art parodies (“legendary albums from a world dominated by kittens”, as I read in this article on the My Modern Met site – https://mymodernmet.com/kitten-covers/ ) featuring images based on the covers of such renowned musical acts as David Bowie, Madonna, Billy Joel, Ramones and many others. etc.
Martini – who is a musician, runs a record label, sells vintage posters and freelances as a designer – was interviewed back in 2012 about her site’s beginnings – https://humorinamerica.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/the-sound-and-the-furry-an-interview-with-alfra-martini-creator-of-the-kitten-covers/#more-1581
Black Sabbath Purranoid! Isn’t that precious?
d) If you’re looking for something unique for post-Holiday gift-giving, I received several promo emails prior to the Holidays from people who suggested that they had “just the right thing” for the album cover/rock art lover on your shopping list and, after reviewing their offers, I had to agree.
Still available to collectors from now until January 18th is a special sale offered by famed photographer/photojournalist Elliott Landy, the man responsible for some of the most-memorable photos of the original Woodstock Art & Music Festival and album covers for Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and The Band, among others. While the sale’s still on, you can purchase a print from his collection at a 25% discount from the regular price AND, when you do, Elliott will throw in a copy of his book Woodstock Vision at no extra charge (use promo code 25off at checkout). All this plus free shipping make it a really nice way to add some beauty to anyone’s fine art collection – http://elliottlandy.com/product-category/eshop/
e) To follow-up a special posting I did during the month of December for a chance to bid on and win a special VIP package for the upcoming 60th Annual Grammy Awards show in New York City. If you’ve ever wanted to go and attend this show in the grandest of style, this was your chance as the package includes (as described on the auction site):
* Two (2) Platinum level tickets to the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Platinum level tickets are reserved for celebrities, sponsors and VIP guests and are not available to the general public. The show will take place on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
* Two (2) GRAMMY Celebration party passes following the Telecast. You and your guest can enjoy one of the best parties in town. Hosted by The Recording Academy®, the GRAMMY Celebration Party is known to have the city’s finest cuisine and exciting musical entertainment!
* Hotel accommodations for three nights (Fri. Jan. 26, Sat. Jan. 27 & Sun. Jan. 28, 2018) at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel.
* Official, limited-edition GRAMMY merchandise for two (2)
When the bidding dust had settled, someone took home this package with a winning bid of $15,100, with the proceeds being used to fund Music Cares initiatives and programs at the Grammy Museum. Congratulations to the winner, and be sure to take a look at the other Grammy-related auctions that will be taking place before and after the late January festivities – http://stores.ebay.com/grammycharities/
f) To recap the nominations for the upcoming 60th annual Grammy Awards that were announced this past Nov. 28th prior to the telecast later in January, and noting that the nominees in the Packaging Categories include several ACHOF nominees/inductees (including Gail Marowitz, who was just inducted this year in the Art Director category – congratulations, Gail!), you’ll find that there are a number of new names on this year’s list, so I’ll do my best to work to bring you an update about just who these talented people are and where you might have seen their work in the past.
The Nominees for “Best Recording Package” are:
El Orisha De La Rosa by Magin Diaz – Claudio Roncoli & Cactus Taller, art directors (Noname Records)
Mura Masa by Mura Masa – Alex Crossan & Matt De Jong, art directors (Downtown/Interscope Records)
Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) by Father John Misty – Sasha Barr, Ed Steed & Josh Tillman, art directors (Sub Pop Records)
Sleep Well Beast by The National – Elyanna Blaser-Gould, Luke Hayman & Andrea Trabucco-Campos, art directors (4AD Records)
Solid State by Jonathan Coulton – Gail Marowitz, art director (Super Ego Records)
The Nominees for “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” are:
Bobo Yeye: Belle Epoque In Upper Volta (Various Artists) – Tim Breen, art director (Numero Group)
Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (1984 – 2014) by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Tom Hingston, art director (Mute/BMG Records)
May 1977: Get Shown The Light by the Grateful Dead – Masaki Koike, art director (Rhino Records)
The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition (Various Artists) – Lawrence Azerrad, Timothy Daly & David Pescovitz, art directors (Ozma Records)
Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares (Various Artists) – Tim Breen, Benjamin Marra & Ken Shipley, art directors (Numero Group)
And while we don’t really cover this aspect of album packaging on the ACHOF site, we do want to extend our congratulations to the following nominees in the “Best Album Notes” category:
Arthur Q. Smith: The Trouble With The Truth (Various Artists) – Wayne Bledsoe & Bradley Reeves, album notes writers
Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition (Various Artists) – Ted Olson, album notes writer
The Complete Piano Works Of Scott Joplin by Richard Dowling – Bryan S. Wright, album notes writer
Edouard-Léon Scott De Martinville, Inventor Of Sound Recording: A Bicentennial Tribute (Various Artists) – David Giovannoni, album notes writer
Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings by Otis Redding – Lynell George, album notes writer
Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams by Washington Phillips – Michael Corcoran, album notes writer
Congratulations once again to all of this year’s nominees. The winners in these categories will be announced at the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony that will take place at 3PM EST in The Theater At Madison Square Garden on January 28th, 2018, before that evening’s Grammy Awards Live Telecast. I’ll have a lot more information for you about the people nominated this year soon, so watch your “In” box for further notices.
g) I also received a note from “Rockdoc” Richard Forrest about my recent interview article featuring Spencer Drate (he liked it, he liked it!) and, as I’m always curious about who it is that visits the ACHOF site, I clicked through his link to find that, for some odd reason, I’ve been missing out on the blog he maintains in which he talks about his own collection of album cover art and what’s included (as well as what’s not yet included that he’s hoping to obtain at some point – a sickness all collectors suffer from in some form, no?). He recently has published two articles about the fantastic array of record covers that were produced by Pop Art icon Andy Warhol throughout his career – a subject he is so passionate about that he’s been involved in museum shows of these works over the years.
In this most-recent article, Richard shares the fact that he’s collected nearly 92% of the record covers that Warhol was somehow involved with – from the early Jazz covers from the 1950s through to the covers done for musical acts including the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Prince and others, where we see the “Warhol-style” photographs turned into some truly memorable album art images. Can anyone help him in his efforts to complete his collection? That’s where you come in, friends – https://recordart.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/my-collection-of-andy-warhols-record-cover-art-is-this-as-far-as-i-can-go/
h) Back up in Section 4, I told you about two university professors who recently released a book on mid-Century American LP art so, in keeping with this month’s “learn more here” leanings, I’d like to point you to another article in which a professor at the prestigious Syracuse University talks about the things he sees while walking through the school’s huge (65,000 record) vinyl collection. In this recent posting on the University’s blog, College of Arts and Sciences music history professor Theo Cateforis, author of Are We Not New Wave? Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s, explains that “You can tell a lot about a recording’s sounds by the art portraying it—and yet, sometimes the cover doesn’t take on meaning until you’ve dropped the needle into the groove, forever melding the visual and aural elements in your mind.” ACHOF fans can all attest to the fact that we have, at one point or another, purchased a record because the cover pulled us in, or at least gave us the impression that if we liked one particular style of music – let’s say, heavy metal – and we saw a record with Satan and robots and fire and crumpled buildings, even if it was filed in the jazz section, we’d figure that this was a record by a metal band, so I think the professor’s got something here… https://www.syracuse.edu/stories/album-cover-art-belfer-archive/
i) When local photographer/gallery owner Lyle Waisman sent me this link to an article he’d seen on the Medium.com written by author and brand marketing guru David Deal about the packaging for a record that’s sold over 50 million copies world wide – that being Pink Floyd’s 1973 classic Dark Side of the Moon – I knew that I’d enjoy the insights of someone who understands just how important the visuals are in selling any product. What I found (and what you’ll find) is a well-thought-out story of how all of the parts of this amazing package – the music, the artwork, etc. – came into being, resulting from the close collaboration between the band and designer Storm Thorgerson (and his team at Hipgnosis) and still to this day drives discussions amongst fans about “what does it all mean?” – https://medium.com/@davidjdeal/pink-floyds-the-dark-side-of-the-moon-how-an-album-cover-became-an-icon-e95bae0bdc32
Included in the article is a link to an interview with the late Thorgerson about “the making of” this cover, and it’s a treat to hear more of the story straight from the source.
If you’d like to see a bit of what Lyle is up to these days, click on over to either/both his commercial photography portfolio site – http://www.concertscenes.com/index.php or to his new gallery site at https://icongallery.com/
j) This is the time of year that many like to – or tend to – reminisce about times in their lives when things were done better/a bit differently than they are today, with one of the most-obvious topics for us old geezers (like me!) being about when your record collection told folks a little (or a lot) about who you were. In this article on the Hamptons.com site by contributor T.J. Clemente, the author thinks back to when turntables had three speeds, when you stood in line to purchase the new record by The Doors ($3.99 vs. what kids stand in line to buy these days…a $999 iPhone X) and how many of us still use album cover art to mark the signposts of a Boomer’s life to this point – http://www.hamptons.com/Community/Sixty-Something/24106/Sixty-Something-When-Your-Vinyl-Record.html
k) Best & Worst Album Covers of 2017 update – Each December for the past 5 years, I’ve presented you all with a summary and analysis of the articles touting the “Best” and “Worst” in album cover design. This year, however, it seems as though most of the regular presenters of these lists are withholding their opinions, with only two major media sources – Loudwire (hard rock magazine) and Paste Magazine providing their readers with their take on the state of the market in album cover design, so I leave it to you to review what’s been posted to see if you agree or disagree with their findings – http://loudwire.com/25-metal-album-covers-2017/
One thing’s for certain – there were many artists this past year (Snoop Dogg comes to mind) that chose to express their views about the current state of the world both in their music and the images that package and promote their products, keeping the question whether album covers reflect or promote societal/cultural trends at the forefront of our ongoing discussions…
l) To end the year on a charitable note, you might recall that, several months back, I gave you some details on a special series of Rolls Royce Motorcars that featured unique design motifs, including several based on album artwork. One of those automobiles – a Wraith featuring design cues and imagery taken from The Who’s Tommy – was auctioned off to raise money for Roger Daltry’s favorite charity (the Teenage Cancer Trust ) and was taken home for a song (was it “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” – hopefully not “Smash The Mirror”), with a winning bid/donation of £208,000, or about $270,000.
And while some questioned whether the fact that this one-of-a-kind car was sold too cheaply – with stock Wraiths selling for slightly more than $300K – when you consider the fact that all of the proceeds were donated to a charity that makes great things happen for kids with cancer, a lot of people ended up feeling good about this special fund-raising effort.
That’s all for now – stay tuned and be on the lookout for timely news alerts on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back early next month with another monthly summary for you.
All text and images included in this article are Copyright 2017 Mike Goldstein and AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All Rights Reserved. All of trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.