Album Cover Hall of Fame’s News Update and Link Summary for January, 2023
Posted New Year’s Day, January 1, 2023 by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
Greetings to you all, and a Happy New Year 2023 to you and yours!
Hope that you all enjoyed your Holidays and have much to look forward to this upcoming year. While we were all involved with our celebratory efforts, efforts continued on several fronts to help determine everyone’s favorite album cover/packaging work of the past 12 months, with voting taking place in several name-brand competitions. The results of those contests will be released in ceremonies taking place in January and February and you can be sure that they’ll be highlighted here on the ACHOF site.
2023 will also be one of change here on the ACHOF site. As you know, for the past 10+ years, we’ve involved both our readers and our anonymous panel of experts in our own nominating/voting efforts in order to select people – i.e., the designers, photographers, art directors, etc. working in the music business and creating retail album packaging – for special honors, and while those efforts have produced lists of artists who’ve all built impressive portfolios of work in their respective areas, it has been an effort that – at least to me, this site’s principal – has distracted me from the main focus of the site, that being to give my readers in-depth interviews, information and ongoing coverage of the output of these talented individuals and design teams. With that said, I am announcing that, going forward, I’ll be working on creating a new site where the general, artist-specific info (bios, interviews and news) will go, with the “hall of fame”-related materials remaining on the albumcoverhalloffame.com site. More details on that effort will be announced soon, but I thought it important to share my intentions with you now with the hope that you’ll provide me with some feedback and suggestions as to how best to move forward.
Anyway, this month’s newsletter is a simple summary of the news in all of the main topic areas, with updates and info about several museum/gallery exhibitions, new auctions and sales results from previous ones and a large number of art and artist-related articles, so I’d like to once again say “thanks” for your help, your support and your patience while I work to get this site set on its new track in the long and short-term. Let’s get started with some updates on the award shows currently in progress:
Special Award Show updates
1) While the voting for this year’s Best Art Vinyl Awards ended on the 12th of December (hope you all had the chance to see the nominated covers and vote on your favorites), I’m sure that you’ll agree that this year’s 50 nominated works of art were excellent examples of the wide range of musical and graphics/photo talent that contributed to the past year’s retail/self-published record releases. As always, a group of noted judges from the worlds of art and music spent many hours sifting through the hundreds of packages submitted, with their favorites then voted on by album art fans from all over the world. With voting having finished, it’s now time to sit and wait impatiently for the announcement of who were the top vote-getters, with the winners announced at a ceremony to be held on the 5th of January 2023 at the Hari London Belgravia.
This year’s award efforts are being augmented by the fact that, in addition to a public display of the 50 nominated covers, the team at Best Art Vinyl (in conjunction with The Civic Barnsley) has curated an exhibition now on display (running through the 22nd of January, 2023) at The Collection and Usher Gallery in Lincoln (Lincolnshire), U.K., a museum of art and archaeology located about 150 miles north of London and about 110 miles east of Manchester.
As I mentioned previously, this display will travel later in the Spring to other venues to be announced. According to the Best Art Vinyl press crew, “Last year, Best Art Vinyl 2021 saw over 12,000 public votes for the best in art, photography and graphic design in modern music culture. The public vote awarded first place to Brighton artist, Paul Phillips for his work on Villagers’ fifth studio album cover for Fever Dreams. Phillips received the coveted designers’ prize at a presentation event held at the Hari in Belgravia London in January 2022.
This year’s judging panel included luminaries from the field of album package design, including: Matthew Cooper, Designer mrcooper – cover art credits include Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Noel Gallagher. Best Art Vinyl 2016 winner for Last Shadow Puppets – ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’; Alison Fielding, Head of Creative at Beggars Group; Andrew Heeps, Founder of Art Vinyl; Rob O’Connor, Stylorouge Creative Consultants – cover art credits include Blur, Squeeze, Morrissey; Paul Phillips, True Spilt Milk Designs – Winner of Best Art Vinyl 2021 for Villagers ‘Fever Dreams’ and Bill Smith, Author of Cover Stories: Five decades of Album Art – with cover art credits that include work for The Jam, Genesis and Kate Bush”.
While we wait for the announcement in early January (which, of course, I’ll share with you as soon as I get the info), I’d like to point you to a video on YouTube in which Art Vinyl’s head honcho Andrew Heeps talks about the methodology behind the nominating and voting processes and gives us a look at some of this year’s nominated covers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItA45Bfe4uY&t=447s
2) Grammy Awards – While it seems that it has only been a few months since the last Grammy Awards were handed out (it was, in fact, in early April, 2022), it’s that time again – time for the announcement of the nominees for the next Grammy Awards presentation, slated for early February, 2023 (see details, below) and this year including a host of nominees from all over the world that are new (to me, at least) and, by the looks of them, carrying on the legacy of fine packaging design and imagery that’s been on display since the first Grammy was handed out 65 years ago.
Once again, here are the nominees in each of the three “Packaging” categories:
In the “Best Recording Package:” category, the nominees are –
Beginningless Beginning – Chun-Tien Hsia & Qing-Yang Xiao, art directors (Tamsui-Kavalan Chinese Orchestra)
Divers – William Stichter, art director (Soporus)
Everything Was Beautiful – Mark Farrow, art director (Spiritualized)
Telos – Ming Liu, art director (Fann)
Voyeurist – Tnsn Dvsn, art director (Underoath)
In the “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” category, the nominees are –
Artists Inspired By Music: Interscope Reimagined – Josh Abraham, Steve Berman, Jimmy Iovine, John Janick & Jason Sangerman, art directors (Various Artists)
Big Mess – Berit Gwendolyn Gilma, art director (Danny Elfman)
Black Pumas (Collector’s Edition Box Set) – Jenna Krackenberger, Anna McCaleb & Preacher, art directors (Black Pumas)
Book – Paul Sahre, art director (They Might Be Giants)
In And Out Of The Garden: Madison Square Garden ’81 ’82 ’83 – Lisa Glines, Doran Tyson & Dave Van Patten, art directors (The Grateful Dead)
In the “Best Album Notes” category, the nominees are –
The American Clavé Recordings – Fernando González, album notes writer (Astor Piazzolla)
Andy Irvine & Paul Brady – Gareth Murphy, album notes writer (Andy Irvine & Paul Brady)
Harry Partch, 1942 – John Schneider, album notes writer (Harry Partch)
Life’s Work: A Retrospective – Ted Olson, album notes writer (Doc Watson)
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) – Bob Mehr, album notes writer (Wilco)
You can read through the list of ALL of the nominees in each of the 91 categories as it’s posted on the Grammy site at https://www.grammy.com/news/2023-grammy-nominations-complete-winners-nominees-list
The 2023 Grammy show – the 65th annual and taking into account music/packages that were released between the first of October, 2021 and the last day September, 2022 – will take place at the Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center, where several of the local pro basketball and hockey teams play) in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, February 3rd, 2023. The show will be broadcast/webcast again on the CBS TV network and their sister organization – Paramount + – beginning at 5:00PM Pacific Time, 8:00PM Eastern, with the show slated to run 3.5 hours. The three awards in the packaging category are typically handed out at a special “Premiere” show that takes place before the big shindig and I’ll be sure to share information regarding those activities as soon as they’re made available.
Exhibitions and Gallery Show Info (new and upcoming soon)
NOW THROUGH JANUARY 14th, 2023) A new show of designer/artist Larry Vigon’s work is now on display at the Silo 118 art gallery in Santa Barbara, CA. Titled MADONNA AND BUNNY AND FRIENDS – this show includes some of Larry’s latest works, done in three distinct styles. You’ll recall that Mr. Vigon has a number of rock music’s best-known album covers in his portfolio (as illustrated in my interview/profile of him done in early 2020 – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/featured-album-cover-artist-portfolio-larry-vigon/ ), with one of the objects featured in perhaps his most-famous work – Rumours from Fleetwood Mac – recently part of a highly-publicized auction that you’ll read more about later on…
In any case, Larry’s work is always a pleasure to behold, so please do either visit the gallery while the new show is on display or take a look at what’s available (if you’re a fan of bunnies, you’ll find yourself in 7th Heaven) on their site at https://www.silo118.com/larryvigon-1
NOW THROUGH JANUARY 28th, 2023) No respectable review of the impact that hip-hop design has had on music industry-related imagery would be complete without including examples of the work done for one of the genre’s biggest break-out acts – that being The Beastie Boys – and now several organizations have pooled their resources to put on a show honoring this influential group. In a show that launched December 10th (and running through the 28th of January, 2023), the Control Gallery on LaBrea in LA is hosting an exhibition of art/ephemera relating to the Beastie Boys that, according to the show’s advance PR, illustrates that “Born from the sonic irreverence of hardcore and punk, blended with the bawdy and rebellious sounds of emergent hip-hop, New York City spawned a different kind of monster when it created Beastie Boys. Featuring heavy metal musicians and skaters in their videos, while blending theater and comedy into their performances, and enlisting the hands of artists Cey Adams and Eric Haze in creating their logos, the alchemy of Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch and Michael Diamond transformed their music from grooves on wax to a sweeping cultural force—influencing expressions of art, style and activism for generations to come.”
Cey Adams – first as part of Russell Simmons’ Rush Management team and then as Creative Director for Def Jam Records’ Drawing Board studio, is credited with Beastie Boys covers such as Intergalactic, Hello Nasty, The Negotiation Limerick File and Body Movin’, along with covers and visuals for musical acts including Mary J Bilge, Notorious B.I.G, Faith Evans, Ice Cube, R Kelly, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, De La Soul, LL Cool J and Run DMC, so I’d strongly recommend that anyone in the area while this show is up and running stop in and tour through some of the most trend-setting visuals you’re likely to see – https://control.gallery/blogs/news/exhibition-003
On a related note – Mr. Adams is also involved in a project I’ve participated in – building content for the Universal Hip Hop Museum – and is the subject of a video about hip-hop album cover design which will be available for your viewing soon. As I mentioned in my intro last month, I had the pleasure of touring the current “pop-up” exhibition and the construction site for the UHHM NYC at the Bronx Terminal Marketplace with the museum’s executive director Rocky Bucano and will be reporting on that visit soon. In the meantime, I’d like to share a link to a video in which the mayor of NYC shares the good news regarding the city’s partnership with Rocky and his team as part of a city-wide initiative to promote its history as the hotbed for hip-hop music and culture – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js6QGtlV5Dw
At a recent press conference at NYC’s City Hall Park where they mayor and the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs announced a $5.5 million capital funding program for the 52,000 sq. ft. space currently under construction, Rocky said, “The creation of the $50 million endowment ensures our dedication to the celebration and preservation of the Hip Hop culture, and to our daily operations for generations to come. We will continue to pay homage to hip hop icons and pioneers as we celebrate the yearlong 50th anniversary of Hip Hop culture in 2023 and beyond.” The current show on display at the museum’s pop-up location is called Revolution of Hip Hop: 1986 – 1990, The Golden Era and timed tickets can be purchased on the UHHM’s site at www.uhhm.org
ON NOW THROUGH FEBRUARY 27th, 2023) Up now for your viewing pleasure at the Centre Pompidou in Paris is a new display of the work of an artist whose shared his passion for pop culture – as well as album cover imagery as one way it’s represented – in those works. Christian Marclay was one of the first artists to incorporate album images into his fine art collages, sculptures and video installations, and it was learning about an early 2015 exhibition at the White Cube Bermondsey gallery in London that first introduced me to the breadth of his work. Early in his career, he put out a series of works titled “Recycled Records” in which he cut and then reassembled vinyl discs that, when played, took listeners on a wild sonic ride, but it was his early 1990s “Body Mix” series of album art collages that borrowed on the efforts of early 20th century surrealists to collaborate by having one artist begin a composition and others add their own embellishments to finally create a finished object (called “Exquisite Corpse” artwork. This would later be reprised on a web site called “Sleevage” in which contributing artists would incorporate one or more album covers into photo-collages that were often funny, but always fascinating). Marclay’s visuals have been used on 20+ album packages since 1985, including covers for a continuing series of …Live At The White Cube recordings from The Vinyl Factory featuring music made for various artists’ installations at the gallery.
In the new show, the curators have included a wide range of examples of Marclay’s multi-media work, including some newer examples of his collage work that, in my opinion, would make great album covers, so if you find yourselves in Paris sometime over the next couple of months, you owe it to yourself to take a look, with more info available on the museum’s web site (in English and French) – https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/program/calendar/event/PKjHEfl
Ongoing and Upcoming Exhibitions:
CONTINUING THROUGH JANUARY, 2023) There’s a David LaChapelle exhibition at Fotografiska in NYC that opened in September – https://www.fotografiska.com/nyc/david-lachapelle-coming-soon/ – that runs through the 9th of January of 2023. A photographer who has made quite a name for himself in both the fine art photography and album cover art/commercial photography worlds (having taken stunning photo portraits of mega-celebs such as Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Elton John, etc.) and built a strong following for his music video work as well, David bowed out of the commercial photography business in 2006 to focus on his gallery/museum work, so this should be a treat for fans of his entire portfolio of work.
The show’s promoters shared this info – “Enter the surreal world of David LaChapelle at our first museum-wide exhibition, opening September 9 2022. LaChapelle’s iconic images have established him as one of the most influential artists of our time, and the exhibition is his first major solo show in North America. With over 150 works, the collection reflects an oeuvre that blurs reality and fantasy while highlighting the artists’ most iconic works and presenting new creations for the very first time.”
With his first assignment being to shoot an up-and-coming new musical act called The Beastie Boys (capturing them in black and white on the streets near Times Square) and quickly becoming part of the NYC arts scene, he befriended artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. As a result, he was commissioned to help illustrate a number of other publications at the time, including Details, The Face, GQ, i-D, the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and the Italian and French editions of Vogue, where his subjects included musicians (Eminem, Lil’ Kim, Madonna, Britney Spears, Tupac Shakur and others), actors (Pamela Anderson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.), and other celebrities including Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, David Beckham, Hillary Clinton, Paris Hilton, architect Philip Johnson, artist Jeff Koons, transgender model Amanda Lepore and actress Uma Thurman.
Tickets are $20-$30 and can be reserved at – https://tickets-ny.fotografiska.com/secret/WjLPYRGfheYYQXjBlX7Q5w28P6345jVP/products/ADM_DLC
Here’s a bit of additional coverage, provided by Paper Mag – https://www.papermag.com/david-lachapelle-make-believe-2657849259.html? and Anothermag.com – https://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/14298/david-lachapelle-make-believe-exhibition-fotografiska-new-york-opening-date . This past September, writer William Van Meter published a nice (and nicely-illustrated) overview/interview on the topic on the ArtNet.com site that I found quite helpful as well – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/i-want-to-make-pictures-that-mean-something-david-lachapelle-on-turning-away-from-celebrity-portraits-to-create-more-enigmatic-images-2172820?
CONTINUING THROUGH JANUARY, 2023) A new U.K.-based gallery that promotes art that leans to the Dark Side opened in late June (on the 21st, the day of the Midsummer Solstice) with an exhibition built around the paintings of Berlin-based (but Israeli-born) artist Eliran Kantor, and artist well-known in the heavy metal music world for the covers he’s produced for bands such as Helloween, Kreator, Sodom, Testament and others. This is the first time Kantor’s work has been shown in a solo show in the U.K., and in this article I found on the Braveworlds.com site – https://bravewords.com/news/acclaimed-helloween-and-kreator-artist-eliran-kantor-debut-uk-solo-exhibition-at-dark-earth-to-run-until-january-2023 – you’ll learn more about his background (which included stints as a commercial designer, with clients including Renault and Visa), who his most-admired artists are and his long-term focus on creating some of the most fascinating-yet-disturbing album art ever to grace a record cover over the past 20 years.
The show runs through January, 2023, with more up-to-date information available at https://mobile.twitter.com/darkearthmetal
CONTINUING THRU JANUARY, 2023) The late designer Virgil Abloh’s career is given the star treatment this summer with a show at the Brooklyn Museum. Organized by guest writer and curator Antwaun Sargent, the show is on view through January 29, 2023. Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech is a sweeping exhibition tracing two decades (through his untimely death in 2021) of the artist and designer’s visionary work.
“Figures of Speech” is the first museum exhibition devoted to Abloh and was originally developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2019 before travelling to ICA Boston, the High Museum in Atlanta, and Qatar Museums. The Brooklyn Museum presentation features important objects from his multifaceted career, including collaborations with artist Takashi Murakami, the musician earlier known as Kanye West, and architect Rem Koolhaas; material from his fashion label Off-White; and designs from Louis Vuitton, where he served as the first Black menswear artistic director until his death from cancer in November 2021. The exhibition highlights how Abloh’s emphasis on collaboration reshaped popular notions of, and contemporary taste in, fashion, art, commerce, design, and youth culture. Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is organized by Michael Darling, former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
A new article gives on the ArtDaily site gives us an update of what’s on display – https://artdaily.cc/news/148019/Exhibition-surveys-the-prolific-career-of-late-artist-and-designer-Virgil-Abloh#.YsxQQHbMI7M
Abloh met and befriended rapper Kanye West in the early 2000s after having worked at the Fendi fashion house and then launched his own space – the RSVP Gallery in his hometown of Chicago – while also taking on the role of Creative Director for Kanye’s DONDA design agency. His thorough understanding of his audience and his unique fashion sense found him applying his talents to a number of memorable album covers, too, a retrospective of that work being found on the XXL Magazine site at https://www.xxlmag.com/virgil-abloh-album-covers/?
See more on this show at https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/virgil_abloh
CONTINUING THROUGH FEBRUARY, 2023) Pink Floyd’s travelling immersive exhibition – Their Mortal Remains – moved to a new venue in Montreal, Canada for an extended run (through February 5th, 2023) at the Arsenal Art Centre there. Coverage of the show – which included an appearance by the band’s drummer Nick Mason on opening night – can be found at https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/pink-floyd-founding-member-inaugurates-montreal-exhibit-featuring-band-s-history-1.6138603 and further information about what remains are on display can be found on the Museum’s website at https://pinkfloydexhibition.com/
On a related note, a podcast hosted by Andrew Carter recently included a short interview with Hipgnosis/Pink Floyd designer Aubrey Powell regarding the show, which he was involved in organizing and whose works are included in the displays – https://www.iheart.com/podcast/962-the-andrew-carter-podcast-62506089/episode/pink-floyd-like-youve-never-experienced-104122733/
CONTINUING THROUGH FEB. 2023) The wonderful show I had the pleasure of visiting this past October is still up and running at New York City’s Universal Hip Hop Museum. The show’s titled “[R]Evolution of Hip Hop: Golden Era 1986-1990” and makes note of the fact that “the artistic and technological advancements made during the years of 1986 and 1990 were remarkable. The lyrical skills of Rakim, Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane and others would transform the definition of an MC. The production mastery of chopping up beats and sampling sounds by the likes of Marley Marl, Prince Paul and the Bomb Squad would redefine the sound of Hip Hop forever.”
Fans of the genre will be able to revisit many of the highlights of the era, one which “established rap as a commodity and its acts as marketable stars that could sell products like the Adidas they wore on their feet…From the city streets and the clubs of New York to the suburban neighborhoods of Compton, California, Hip Hop expanded by leaps and bounds as regional sounds and styles established themselves. The phenomenon of Yo! MTV Raps would further intensify this expansion on a worldwide basis between 1988 and 1990…experience the street fashions of Dapper Dan, the beats of DJ Scott LaRock, the rhymes of Biz Markie and the culture of Hip Hop that was chronicled by Video Music Box, Word Up Magazine, The Source, The Arsenio Hall Show and scores of other outlets. The show has been enjoyed by thousands (including me!) since it opened to the public this past June and is running thru 2/28/23, with info/tix available at https://uhhm.vbotickets.com/events?mc_cid=2e35322f80&mc_eid=1aeceeec6c
CONTINUING THROUGH MARCH, 2023) The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Music & Recorded Sound Division acquired the late musician Lou Reed’s archive in 2017 and, in early June, to correspond with what would have been Reed’s 80th birthday, they launched a new show – Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars – that’s set to run through March 4th, 2023 in the library’s Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery.
According to the show’s advance PR, “the exhibition will showcase rare and never-before-displayed material from the Lou Reed Archive at the Library for the Performing Arts, spanning Reed’s creative life from his 1958 Freeport High School band, The Shades, to the Velvet Underground, to his solo albums and tours, to his final performances in 2013. Highlighting his life and work, the exhibition will feature audio and video of performances and interviews, photographers’ original prints and contact sheets, handwritten lyrics, personal correspondence, studio notes, album proofs, press, tour posters, and Reed’s personal record collections”.
The show is curated by Lou Reed Archive archivist Don Fleming and Jason Stern, who worked as Reed’s technical director. More info about this exhibition can be found on the venue’s website at https://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/lou-reed
Ben Sisario covers the music industry for the NY Times and published an article about his visit to the show – https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/06/arts/music/lou-reed-caught-between-the-twisted-stars.html – that includes a photo of a sweater Reed received as a gift that is decorated with the cover art from his Transformer album, featuring a photo by the late Mick Rock. The show also includes examples of the covers produced by the Drate/Salavetz design firm, who sent along several photos of their own recent visit to the show. Two of the works they produced that were used to package a couple of Mr. Reed’s memorable albums on Sire Records were included in this show’s display, including the covers for the 1989 release New York (Art Direction & Design by Spencer Drate, Judith Salavetz and Sylvia Reed, with photo by Waring Abbott) and 1992’s Magic & Loss, again by the team of Drate/Salavetz/Reed, with this image including a shot by French photographer Louis Jammes.
CONTINUING THROUGH JUNE, 2023) Now at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles – the organization is currently staging a show built around the late photographer Jim Marshall’s portfolio of shots he took of the Rolling Stones back in 1972 and described in a posting on the Billboard.com site – https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/grammy-museum-rolling-stones-1972-photo-exhibit-1235165692/
According to the museum’s promo text – “In early 1972, the Rolling Stones were putting finishing touches on Exile on Main Street, one of their greatest albums that lead to one of the most raucous, star-studded, and drug-fueled tours in history. The Stones’ trips to Los Angeles – to both record and later perform the album – had one thing in common: photographer Jim Marshall was there to document them. Now you can see never-before-released photos from that period of the band’s history, going behind the camera lens as Marshall’s masterful eye and unlimited access allowed him to capture The Stones’ wild rock and roll energy at their best.
The Rolling Stones 1972: Photographs By Jim Marshall is on display on the museum’s Fourth Floor Mike Curb Gallery until June 4th, 2023, with more info and tickets available via the link – https://grammymuseum.org/event/the-rolling-stones-1972-photographs-by-jim-marshall/
Notable examples of Marshall’s album cover work – Allman Brothers Band – Live At Fillmore East; Moby Grape – Moby Grape and Commander Cody’s Country Cassanova, among others. Born in 1936 in Chicago, Illinois and spending his early years in the pro photo business shooting memorable images for record labels such as ABC, Columbia and Atlantic Records and also The Saturday Evening Post newspaper, ehe 1970s found Jim continuing his streak of award-winning images, many of which graced the covers of Rolling Stone and LIFE magazines, including photos of the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, T-Rex, Joni Mitchell, jazz greats Carmen Mcrae and Dizzy Gillespie and Karl Malden and Michael Douglas on the set of the TV series Streets of San Francisco. Jim died in 2010, but you can still page through his portfolio and purchase prints on his “official” web site – https://www.jimmarshallphotographyllc.com/
CONTINUING THROUGH JULY, 2023) The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH is hosting a new version of the Bruce Talamon photo exhibit titled Hotter Than July that, according to the museum, is “an ethnographic study of a visual representation of blackness and personal analysis of a culture during the golden age of Soul, R&B and Funk (1972 – 1982).” I’d written about the previous iteration of this show that was presented at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles (which closed August 1st), so I won’t rehash that info, but the show – which will be up until July of 2023 – has generated a lot of local press attention, which I’m happy to share with you below:
Local news coverage video – https://www.cleveland19.com/2022/07/28/new-exhibit-rock-roll-hall-fame-features-photos-iconic-r-b-soul-artists/
Mr. Talamon has also shared some additional info on the show on his own site – https://www.brucetalamon.com/hotter-than-july-the-bwt-rb-photographs-exhibit/
Artist News and Interviews
a) Prolific and influential album cover designer Ernie Cefalu – someone whose work both as an artist and art director/studio head has been found on a long list of famous album packages, including those for Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Aerosmith, the BeeGees and the soundtrack for Jesus Christ Superstar, to name just a few – is being given the star treatment in the upcoming February/March issue of GOLDMINE Magazine – https://www.goldminemag.com/news/goldmine-feb-march-2023-issue-serves-hot-rock-art-the-ramones-bowies-pin-ups-and-more Contributor Ivor Levene penned a fascinating, nearly 20-page overview of Ernie’s career as a designer working first in the madcap agency world (with Craig Braun) before starting his own firm – Pacific Eye & Ear, where he teamed with several notable artists including Drew Struzan, Ingrid Haenke, Carl Ramsey, Joe Garnett and others to create a whole host of famous album cover images – and then later on his own to continue his string of “hits” (over 245 covers and counting!).
Included in the article are many stories – sourced from clients and collaborators including Alice Cooper, Cheech Marin, super-manager Shep Gordon, producer Bob Ezrin – that give readers the details of how the creative energies and resources Cefalu and friends brought to projects on their behalf, and some time is spent addressing the ongoing dilemma of just who exactly did design the Lips & Tongue logo for the Rolling Stones, so any fan of album art would certainly benefit from picking up a copy of this latest GOLDMINE to read about Ernie and his history as an influential album art maker. If you’d like to dig a bit deeper (after resting your eyes), I would like to invite you to read one of the several interview articles I’d done with Ernie over the years, beginning with this 2013 portfolio review – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/featured-album-cover-artist-portfolio-ernie-cefalu-and-pacific-eye-and-ear/
b) Photographer Karl Ferris recently posted a short (12 minute) video he produced that highlights the work he did back in 1967 on what many consider to be the first box set released in the modern rock era – Donovan’s A Gift From A Flower to a Garden. The film’s titled “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” and is set to music from the seminal album – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLhaBu3BpJM&t=5s Karl’s more-experimental side is seen in both the B&W and color footage included in the film, including the transition from monochrome to color that takes place just after the 3:00 mark, quite reminiscent of the moment where Dorothy opened the door to her cabin after crash-landing (and squishing a witch) in The Wizard of Oz.
c) Graffiti artist Eric Orr garnered quite the reputation for himself in the early 1980s, with his signature robot logo gracing the NYC landscape almost everywhere (much to the chagrin of the NYC Transit police) and earning him a spot – alongside JM Basquiat, Keith Haring and others – amongst the burgeoning underground art scene at the time. He also became quite popular with emerging hip-hop/rap music-makers, with his art found on albums from musical acts including Don Baron, The Original Jazzy Jay, Afrika Bambaataa and Lord Finesse, among others. Eric’s art is also part of the collection of the Universal Hip-Hop Museum in New York and, in this recent profile article on the Artnet.com site, you’ll find that Eric is particularly happy to be part of this new collection and is hoping that collectors of hip-hop memorabilia can help him find some original examples of his solo and collaborative works to add to what’s going to be on display at the UHHM when it opens in 2024 – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/profile-eric-orr-universal-hip-hop-museum-2229839
d) To allow us to get a behind the scenes look at the contents of his latest photo book (titled RetroBlakesberg Volume One: The Film Archives), Bay Area-based photographer Jay Blakesberg agreed to an interview with a local CBS TV reporter – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjWhL0_uD_M
e) Grammy-winning artist and musician Klaus Voorman provides us with some interesting new details on his making of the marvelous pen-and-ink drawing/collage found on The Beatles’ Revolver cover – read all about it in this article by Hannah Wigant on the Showbiz Cheatsheet site – https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/klaus-voormann-designing-beatles-revolver-hairs-very-important.html/
f) SomethingElseReviews.com’s Mick Raubenheimer updates a 2013 interview he’d done with the (now) late, great album cover designer Storm Thorgerson – https://somethingelsereviews.com/2022/12/02/storm-thorgerson-album-covers-interview/ The article also includes a link to a short film about Thorgerson’s influence on record design originally posted on the Happy Mag YouTube channel.
g) The late rock photo great Mick Rock is set to be honored at two events in NYC one year after his death – https://pagesix.com/2022/11/16/photographer-mick-rock-honored-in-nyc-a-year-after-death/. The first event, which took place on November 21st (on what would have been his 74th birthday) at Fotografiska in NYC was a book release and life celebration event where guests at the event were able to preview Rock’s final book, Shot by Rock: A Celebration of the Life of Mick Rock and view an original short film of outtakes from Mick Rock’s acclaimed film SHOT! The Psycho Spiritual Mantra Of Rock”. You can see a summary of the event, along with shots from the book, on the gallery’s site – https://www.fotografiska.com/nyc/events/book-release-shot-by-rock/
We’re also told the famed Morrison Hotel Gallery will next honor him with a photo installation at the Georgia Room for a private, invite-only event at a later date.
h) The latest string of album art-related features on the Muse By Clio site finds the editorial team behind the “Art of the Album” series asking several artists/production execs/album art fans to share some of their favorite covers and why it is that they stand out amongst all others.
One thing that the writer – musician/singer Reign LaFreniere for Bluphoria, an alt/blues/psych rock band from Oregon who were signed to EDGEOUT Records/Ume/UMG in early 2021 – did point out one thing that I’d never noticed but seems to have started an entire discussion (conspiracy theory) about how/whether David Bowie (and/or the designer and photographer of this particular album cover from 1968) predicted the emergence of today’s most-confounding rap star – https://musebycl.io/art-album/9-great-album-covers-chosen-reign-lafreniere-bluphoria
10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Amy Chen of Siegel+Gale – an interesting take on album art from a digital artist who is much more used to seeing 200 x 200 album cover thumbnail images than the imagery found on the 12” square cardboard sleeves many of us grew up with – https://musebycl.io/art-album/10-great-album-covers-chosen-amy-chen-siegelgale
Just for the Holidays…a read of “10 Classic Holiday Album Covers, Chosen by Al Risi of Groove Guild” treats us first to a re-imagining of the song “Walking In A Winter Wonderland” before Risi – a partner and music supervisor at the Groove Guild agency – presents a rather-interesting, genre-and-taste-spanning list of covers found on holiday-themed records from musical acts including Ella Fitzgerald, comic doodie Mr. Hankey and, sadly, William Hung, who yours truly must accept partial blame for as I helped promote his music career nearly 20 years ago (charity is part of the holiday spirit, right?) – https://musebycl.io/art-album/10-classic-holiday-album-covers-chosen-al-risi-groove-guild
Items for Sale and/or at Auction
a) There’s a new authorized bio of the influential album cover design group Hipgnosis written by Mark Blake that’s coming out early in 2023 and is already getting a lot of press attention – https://www.brain-damage.co.uk/latest/us-and-them-the-authorised-story-of-hipgnosis-new-book-c.html and https://www.loudersound.com/news/authorised-story-of-album-cover-legends-hipgnosis-to-be-published-in-february
Us and Them: The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis (according to the publisher, Nine Eight Books, a Bonnier UK imprint) is an authorized account “with access to previously unpublished material and exclusive contributions from David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Robert Plant and even Aubrey Powell himself…Mark Blake goes behind the scenes of the Hipgnosis partnership to reveal the pioneering ambition and grand vision that led to their success, as well as the clashing egos and artistic differences that undermined it. The Hipgnosis story also offers hitherto-untold insight into some of music’s most legendary bands, as viewed through the prism of the people who shaped their imagery and cultural legacy.”
Blake is a former Assistant Editor of Q magazine, a long-time contributor to the UK’s Mojo music monthly and has also written for Classic Rock, The Times, Rolling Stone and Billboard. The subjects of his previous books include musical acts and personalities such as Queen, Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, Pink Floyd and The Who – https://markrblake.com/books.html
b) One might say that Hipgnosis’ best-known album cover is the one they produced for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Believe it or not, that record will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023 (!!) and, to commemorate that fact, two accomplished album art/image makers – photographer Jill Furmanovsky and designer Peter Curzon – have crafted a soon-to-be-published (March, 2023) book that gives readers the stories behind the band’s activities that year (including a famed tour) enhanced with many behind-the-scenes photos, plus a section that “explores in 60 colour images how the original prism motif by Hipgnosis and StormStudios evolved into an array of graphics and homages to the world’s great artists, some of which went on to grace further projects of the band”.
Pre-orders for this Pentagram-designed commemorative book can now be placed on the Flood Gallery site – https://www.thefloodgallery.com/products/pink-floyd-the-dark-side-of-the-moon-50th-anniversary-edition?
Auction Results Updates:
UPDATE ON THE FLEETWOOD MAC AUCTION HOSTED BY JULIEN’S –Julien’s auction house completed an auction in early December of items from the collections of several of the members of rock supergroup Fleetwood Mac that includes as a highlight Lot #585, which are drummer Mick Fleetwood’s infamous “hanging balls”, as seen on the cover of their hit album Rumours. As described on the company’s auction site, “Rumours Stage-and Album Cover-Worn Hanging Balls – with Signed Art Print” – The two wooden balls worn by Mick Fleetwood as part of his attire for the seminal 1977 album cover. Attached to leather cords and housed in a soft maroon cloth drawstring case with the words ‘Open Sesame’ embroidered in gold-tone thread. Lost and found many times over, the balls were originally lavatory chains snatched from a club Fleetwood Mac played during their early years and incorporated into his stage attire in a ribald nod to the blues tradition, something of a good luck charm.”
There was a pre-auction estimate of $100,000 – $200,000, and a lucky bidder ultimately paid $128,000 for the package – https://www.julienslive.com/lot-details/index/catalog/443/lot/196381?
With singer/songwriter Christine McVie dying just three days before the commencement of the sale, bidding on a number of McVie-owned/used/worn items also was fast and furious, with details available in several places – The crew at the TMZ.com site provides us with a bit of a summary – https://www.tmz.com/2022/12/05/christine-mcvie-fleetwood-mac-items-fetch-large-bids-auction-death/ as do the reporters on the Music Universe site – https://themusicuniverse.com/juliens-auctions-fleetwood-mac-auction-wraps-los-angeles/ and the GOLDMINE Magazine site – https://www.goldminemag.com/collecting-news/mick-fleetwood-iconic-rumours-wooden-balls-top-auction-sell-for-128000
Miscellaneous Items and other Brief Bits
As always, I’m going to have to keep these short-and-sweet (well, most of them, anyway):
OBITS) Aline Kominsky Crumb – https://www.artforum.com/news/aline-kominsky-crumb-1948-2022-89785? Wife and long-time partner of fellow artist Robert Crumb, and
Vivienne Westwood – punk art and fashion pioneer, partner with Malcolm McLaren in several fashion and music-related endeavors, including the Sex Pistols, dead at the age of 81 – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-64126537 and https://www.cnn.com/style/article/vivienne-westwood-obituary/index.html God Save The Queen of Punk.
a) Rather than summarize and comment on the ongoing efforts to determine what’s good and bad, best or worst, etc. in what are totally subjective discussions about art and artistry, here’s a simple list of the various “year end summaries” of album art released during the past year:
Ourculture.com – “50 Best Album Covers of 2022” – https://ourculturemag.com/2022/12/01/the-50-best-album-covers-of-2022/
Nylon magazine – FROM RENAISSANCE TO GEMINI RIGHTS: THE STORIES BEHIND 2022’S BEST ALBUM COVERS by Steffanee Wang and Lauren McCarthy – https://www.nylon.com/entertainment/artists-behind-best-album-art-of-2022
Over on the Dig! Site – BEST ALBUM COVERS OF 2022: THE 40 GREATEST ARTWORKS OF THE YEAR – https://www.thisisdig.com/feature/best-album-covers-of-2022/
RateYourMusic.com fans voted and here’s what they thought – https://rateyourmusic.com/list/RamonRDuarte/best-album-covers-of-2022/
Creative Review – Writing for the UK design magazine Creative Review, contributor Megan Williams provides us with her review of the ten “Record Sleeves of the Year”, with positive reviews going to record releases from musical acts including Bjork, Kendrick Lamar and one I’m very glad I didn’t see until just recently, that being Oliver Sim’s Hideous Bastard which, you’ll see, is appropriately named. Get the whole shebang at https://www.creativereview.co.uk/record-sleeves-2022/
The Native piped in as follows – https://thenativemag.com/best-cover-arts-music-2022/
Exclaim! – 25 Worst – https://exclaim.ca/music/article/worst_album_covers_of_2022 While I hadn’t seen many of these, the editorial team at Exclaim! always seems to find the best of the worst!
While back over on the RateYourMusic.com site, another contributor shared his favorites for the Best of the Worst – https://rateyourmusic.com/list/brianhassler/2022-album-covers-ranked-worst-to-best/
b) Yahoo! Entertainment/uDiscoverMusicReporter Charles Waring recently posted a nice article about some of the best examples of album cover imagery found over the last 60+ years on releases from many of your favorite blues musicians. Of course, many of the artists/designers/photographers who’ve given us these images are also well-known for their work in the rock/pop genres as well – from some of the originators of the modern album cover artform (Alex Steinweiss, Loring Eutemay, David Stone Martin, Saul Bass and all of the people we first labeled as “Early Influencers” when we launched the ACHOF site – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-early-influencers/) along with many of today’s leading art directors, photographers, illustrators, and the rest of the accomplished contributors to today’s album packages. Read more about these genre-spanning talents in Mr. Waring’s article – https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/sitting-top-world-best-blues-055345437.html?
Another uDiscoverMusic.com story – this one from Phillip Mlynar – shares the story of photographer Ricardo Betancourt’s work on the cover of a 1989 album for LL Cool J that certainly pumps up the “dangerous” – if this was done before Photoshop, just how did they get that chain onto the neck of that cat? – https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/ll-cool-j-walking-with-a-panther-album-cover/
c) While those of us who follow the activities in the world of art/memorabilia collecting have long known that some of the best collections are the passion projects of the music industry WWWOs (the World Wide Well-Offs), I am introduced on occasion to the impressive portfolios assembled by superfans not working in the music business, such as the one shown in this article recently published on the Art Daily site by Ken Belson – https://artdaily.cc/news/152528/NFL-owner-by-day–rock–n–roller-by-night Of course, the featured collector is absolutely in the entertainment business via his ownership of the Indianapolis Colts football team and his appearances in front of the press have often proven to be quite entertaining as well.
More Legal Case Updates – Still waiting for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in the copyright/fair use case of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. vs. photographer Lynn Goldsmith…the parties are anticipating to hear from the Court before their June, 2023 recess. It’s an important case on a number of levels, so we’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date on whatever we hear.
d) The lawsuit that never seems to die has come back for another try…. Nirvana baby model Spencer Elden files an appeal of the previous dismissal of his lawsuit against the folks who were involved in the making of cover image for the band’s Nevermind album (including photographer Kirk Weddle).. Spin magazine editors give us an overview – https://www.spin.com/2022/12/nirvana-nevermind-cover-lawsuit/
e) Every once in a while, I find myself intrigued by subjects that straddle several of my own areas of interest and, as I’m sure all of you have heard by now, one of the most-discussed topics in the news is the growing use of Artificial Intelligence-based products to create art, writing and other creative output. I recently posted an article with the details of a series of experiments I’ve done in which I had tested the capabilities of some of the best of these systems to see what they could do to help me learn more about album cover art and the people that make it, so I hope you’ll take a moment to read it and then share your own thoughts and/or experiences with me and our community of album art fans – “Why Bother With Bots” can be found at the end of this link – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2022/12/23/why-bother-with-bots-album-cover-journalism-in-the-age-of-artificial-intelligence/
Since my initial posting , I’ve seen some other articles on the topic that you might also want to read to learn even more about the latest advancements in the field and how people are reacting to them –
a) Artists fighting back against AI-generated images, using various methods – Support Human Art – “AI is Theft” campaign – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/independent-artists-are-fighting-back-against-a-i-image-generators-with-innovative-online-protests-2231334
b) A young engineer tried out several different AI platforms for text and graphics and submitted this report on the Medium.com site – https://firstname.lastname@example.org/exploring-the-world-of-ai-generated-art-my-first-hand-experience-13a8052170d4
f) New Biggie Smalls (AKA Notorious B.I.G.) sculpture – complete with an onboard sound system/curated music playlist – now on display in Brooklyn – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/biggie-smalls-sonic-sculture-brooklyn-sherwin-banfield-2225255?
g) Ranking of Metallica album cover images “from first to worst” – https://www.revolvermag.com/music/metallica-album-covers-ranked-worst-best
h) Our final bits for the month serve to illustrate that album cover image-making can be a dangerous enterprise, as detailed by these two recent articles – on the Music-News.com site, read about Queen singer Adam Lambert’s travails while making the cover shot for his new solo album – https://www.music-news.com/news/UK/154392/Adam-Lambert-sliced-his-nose-shooting-album-cover Then, Shozbiz Cheatsheet site, writer Jason Rossi shows just how close we came to losing drummer Mick Fleetwood back in 1968 while he participated in the album cover shoot for the band’s Mr. Wonderful LP – https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/nearly-naked-mick-fleetwood-almost-died-fleetwood-mac-album-cover.html/ The article also includes a video interview with Mick about the day and the circumstances surrounding his near-death experience.
Lastly but not Leastly:
Continuing on in our exploration of the dangers associated with album cover image-making, our final example looks at things from a slightly different angle than the two previous examples in that this one illustrates just how stupid folks can be when deciding to include a particular image on the cover of a music package. Via this link – https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/national/capitol-riots/rapper-who-used-capitol-riot-as-album-cover-sentenced-to-five-months-antionne-brodnax-bugzie-the-don/65-917c48c0-0807-4ff0-aded-1a9eb0abbe0c – you’ll find the story of a rapper who was so proud of his participation in the January 6th invasion of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC that he posed in front of the building – sitting on a vehicle parked in front after just exiting the Capitol (having entered illegally) – and used that photo on the cover of his latest release, which he also titled “The Capital” (not sure if it was an intentional spelling error). Turns out that the local constabulary wasn’t amused and the subject of the photo – a rapper who performs using the name “Bugzie The Don” (real name, Antionne Brodnax) – was subsequently arrested, tried and was just sentenced to serve five months in prison.
That’s all for now – stay tuned and be on the lookout for the timely news alerts you’ll find on our news feed (sign up below to get an automatic email every time there’s something new on the ACHOF site). I’ll be returning at the end of January with another update and so, until then, celebrate the New Year with whatever else brings you and yours endless happiness and fulfillment.
Peace and Love to you all,
Unless otherwise noted, all text and images included in this article are Copyright 2022-2023 Mike Goldstein and AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All Rights Reserved. All of the trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.