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Album Cover News Recap – September, 2015

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Album Cover News Recap – September, 2015

It’s October 2015 and we’ve been rewarded for our having withstood a wild Summer with an amazing “SuperMoon” display recently. Some of the larger local fires are now under control, but the album art world continues to burn up the news wires, with September stories featuring a steady stream of interviews, features, book releases and gallery/museum show items finding their way into our news feeds. In the following paragraphs, I’ll try and provide you with some highlights and updates, but it’ll be up to you at that point to complete your review of this impressive list sure to please album art fans everywhere.

There were interviews galore  – in print and on video – with the talented men and women who’ve enriched our lives by creating memorable  album cover art, including principals from the FUEL Design Group, photographers Mick Rock, Henry Diltz, Pattie Boyd and Bob Gruen, Sir Peter Blake discussing his new Dazzle art mash-up app and a group of designers who share their favorite Rolling Stones covers and how they’ve influenced their own works.

In the fine art book category, artists and their publishers enticed us with new releases, with monographs featuring the works of Mick Rock (photos of early-stage David Bowie & Friends), Ringo Starr (with a new book of Beatles photos), Jazz Record greats, Brian Griffin (taking on a very thought-provoking subject) and punk/grunge-era designer Art Chantry, who warns prospective design students about the dangers of working in the music business.

There were a large number of exhibitions and shows built around rock-related imagery that premiered during September, with museum curators and gallery owners around the world displaying collections that show a broad range of album art and related imagery. You’ll find the details about current and just-completed exhibits such as Mick Rock’s photos of David Bowie at the Taschen Gallery in LA, Baron Wolman’s photos on display in a Louisville, KY distillery, David McClister’s photos at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, an upcoming display in Hoboken, NJ to commemorate the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra, Michael Miller’s display of West Coast Hip-Hop/Rap icons in Orange County, CA, Robert Knight & Maryanne Bilham’s photos in Las Vegas, Henry Diltz & Pattie Boyd’s multi-city photo show, Michael McCartney’s photos in Liverpool (where else?), a collection of photos of Bruce Springsteen up at Monmouth College and a show of Albert Watson’s fascinating collection of shots taken with a Polaroid camera.

Other stories included Rachael Stevens’ monthly record sleeve overview in the Creative Review, several “making of” articles by James Stafford and others (Pantera, The Offspring and Machine Gun Kelley), the release of a turntable/vinyl/book package for young record collectors, a look at an audiophile turntable featuring Queen graphics, Eric Arthurs video presentations of the “Worst Album Covers Ever”, a display of NFL football logos re-imagined as album covers, auctions with art by Andy Warhol, Lee Conklin, Klaus Voorman and the London Features photo syndicate and a teacher who styles his classroom and course materials around the art and music of Kanye West. Of course, I don’t have room to include everything in this summary, so please take a moment to dig through the rest of what’s below – I’m sure you’ll find something that stimulates your interest!

As always, I’m hoping that you were able to take a look at the several new biographies posted on the ACHOF site during the month. I’m prepping to provide as much new info as I can to the expert panel that make up the voters of the ACHOF, with our next class set to be inducted in late November, 2015. And while I know that with all of the distractions caused by global politics, celebrity clothing mishaps and clients that never seem to pay their invoices on time might keep you from checking in with us every day, I’m going to do what I can to help you in your efforts to catch up on news you may have missed while you were forced to do what’s needed to live/work/enjoy yourselves. As I continue to say (every month!), regardless of how hectic your lives may be, there’s no reason that you should go without getting yourselves up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics, so you can be sure that we’ll continue to work every day (except weekends) to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site (keep your eye on our News Feed for the latest updates).

September 30th – End-of-the-month mish-mash of items for you:

1) In a new “And Justice For Art” posting by Ramon Martos Garcia on the MetalUnderground.com site, you’ll learn more about what must be the ultimate commitment to album cover art – having full-color covers tattooed across your back! In the nicely-illustrated article, you’ll find fans of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, KISS and others proudly displaying their cover art recreations. Whether they insisted on pixel-perfect duplications or allowed themselves some creative freedom and added/modified the originals to be more to their own tastes, you must admit that these fans have paid tribute to their favorite groups in a way that few other fans would dare – http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=116741

Have any of you gone down this same path?

2) The promo team at the Girls Rock Camp organization has come up with a unique way to raise funds for their efforts – selling prints of re-creations of classic album covers starring some of their own campers. The “Record Remake Project” page shows nicely-rendered images of their takes on record covers originally produced for musical acts including David Bowie, U2, Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar and several others. My hands-down favorite is their take on Blondie’s Parallel Lines record – little “Debbie Harry” is just so cute! Photo credits are given to Carli Davidson, Melanie Aron, Holly Andres, and Shelby Duncan and print prices begin at $50, with the proceeds go towards the group’s ongoing mentoring efforts –

http://www.girlsrockcampfoundation.org/store/

3) Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery in Louisville, KY has put together a wonderful rock photo show now running as part of the Louisville Photo Biennial. Launched last Friday (and running through November 27th),  “The Art of Rock: Transcending Sound” features a nice selection of photos by the talented Baron Wolman, along with prints produced by several local photographers. The exhibit was curated by Mary Yates, who collaborated with local photo gallery owner Paul Paletti and several others to procure all of the images now on display in the distillery’s 2nd floor gallery. More info on this show is available in this article by Sara Havens on the Insider Louisville site – http://insiderlouisville.com/lifestyle_culture/copper-kings-joins-louisville-photo-biennial-art-rock-transcending-sound/

BONUS CONTENT – Fans of graphic imagery from the 1990s will get a kick out of this new music video produced by top branding agency Pentagram’s London office for Jesse Hackett’s first single titled “The Dump Run”. Hackett had found a discarded electronic keyboard near a dumpster which inspired him with both its retro sound stylings and the graphics used on its case and keyboard. The Pentagram team took a decidedly early Flash-animation approach to the video, fitting the overall attitude of the cut quite nicely. It caught the attention of the folks over at Fast Company, who introduce it to us via this recent article – http://www.fastcodesign.com/3051400/pentagrams-new-music-video-is-an-ode-to-90s-graphic-design

Oh how I miss those days of Macromedia Director/Shockwave on an Amiga…

September 29th –  1) This past weekend, at the DiMattio Gallery in Rechnitz Hall at New Jersey’s Monmouth University, a new photo show debuted featuring an intriguing collection of photographs of NJ music legend Bruce Springsteen shot by photographers Danny Clinch, Ed Gallucci, Eric Meola, Barry Schneier, Pamela Springsteen and Frank Stefanko. Curated by the Grammy Museum, the 45 photos on display work to show The Boss at all stages of his 40+ year career in music-making, from shots of his famed May, 1974 show in Harvard Square thru photos taken for his most-recent release titled High Hopes. To provide a more-intimate experiece for visitors, there are video interviews (produced by the Grammy Museum) of each of the photographers talking about their experiences working with Springsteen. The show, titled Bruce Springsteen: A Photographic Journey, runs through December 22nd, with more info available on the gallery’s site at http://www.monmouth.edu/templates/EventDetail.aspx?id=40802203509

2) Multiple award-winning photographer Albert Watson, the man responsible for a long list of great album cover images over the past 40+ years (you’ll recall his covers for Carly Simon, Sade, P.M. Dawn, L.L. Cool J and many others), is the subject of a new show that focuses on a select grouping derived from over 100,000 Polaroid photos he’s taken of a huge range of subjects. On display now through October 24th at the Christophe Guye Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland, ‘Roids! shows Watson’s process as he first used the inexpensive instant camera to help him set up shots he’d envisioned to later using scanning technology to take the medium’s unique image qualities to an even-higher level via a series of large-format prints he’s created. You can read more about the man and this show via this recent article in L’Oeil de la Photographie magazine – http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/2015/09/21/exhibition/29726/zurich-roids-by-albert-watson-at-christophe-guye-gallery
Of course, I’m hoping that the show’s title is a clever play on words and not one of those situations where the English gets lost in translation…

3) “Why did the Dalek cross the road”, you ask? You’ll have to talk to the Doctor who, in this case, is Doctor Who. It seems that the good Doctor and his BBC compadres have stimulated a lot of conversation with their re-creation of the often-imitated Abbey Road album cover, with this one featuring the Doctor, Clara Oswald and two of the show’s mechanical stars. With Clara in Paul M’s position in the image (barefoot, of course), does this mean bad things for her character? Conspiracy theorists have piped in with scores of explanations, so feel free to add one of your own after you’ve seen the image on Jonathan Holmes‘ article on the Radio Times site – http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-09-19/doctor-who-does-the-beatles–but-does-this-picture-prove-clara-oswald-will-die
Actress Jenna Coleman (Clara) announced that she’ll be leaving the show, so things are looking grim, wouldn’t you agree?

September 28th – Two interesting auctions and a thought-provoking interview:

1) Fans of psychedelic album art have always cherished illustrator Lee Conklin’s pen and ink “lion” cover for Santana’s debut record, so it’s fun to see a large collection of his poster work up for bidding on the Psychedelic Art Exchange as part of their larger anniversary auction, running now through 9PM EST on October 8th. You’ll see examples of Conklin’s work for Filmore Auditorium gigs by bands including Cream, Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly and many others – each one a mind-blowing psychedelic masterpiece. Happy bidding!

http://auctions.concertpostergallery.com/catalog.aspx?auctionid=52&searchvalue=conklin&searchby=3

2) As part of their September 29th Rock & Pop auction, the folks at Sotheby’s in London offered a Lot (#105) that included the 58 albums designed by Pop artist Andy Warhol between 1949 – 1987. Two of the examples included in this rare collection – 1967’s Velvet Underground & Nico and The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers from 1971 – are signed by the artist. The lot also included a hand-pulled silkscreen print, nine books, some 7″ single covers and an example of the last cover Warhol was working on (one for MTV’s High Priority album) when he died in 1987 (the design was completed by his studio staff). The pre-auction estimate ranged from $46,700 to $78,000, and fans of Warhol art can still get a closer look via the electronic catalog (“turn” to page 82) – http://www.sothebys.com/pdf/2015/L15414/index.html

Update – the lot detailed above did not sell at this auction, but another lot that featured the contract that The Beatles signed with their manager Brian Epstein did sell for approx. $554,000, a bit above its pre-auction estimate.

3) Designers Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell teamed to launch the FUEL design group in 1991 and, since then, have established a sterling reputation for their work for clients in the book publishing, TV/print advertising, music and film worlds but, as you’ll read in Andy Butler’s recent illustrated interview with the pair on the Designboom site, you can trace the earliest inspirations back to – guess where – album cover design. They met at design school (Central St. Martin’s college in the U.K.) in the late 1980s and first worked together to produce a magazine titled FUEL as “a vehicle to express ourselves in content and form, a means of reaching a broad audience, not just within graphic design”. I think that you’ll agree that they’ve done a good job of maintaining that approach to doing great work, with their motto being “bad taste is designing with good taste in mind”. Perfect.

http://www.designboom.com/design/fuel-design-group-interview-09-20-2015/ 

September 25th – 1) Major branding alert! The very British rock band Queen has teamed up with very British turntable (what’s that? they ask) manufacturer Rega to create a very unique hardware/content package that is available to collectors and audiophiles as of today (in the U.K.; early October for U.S. customers). The “Queen By Rega” turntable ($650 list), according to the manufacturer, is “a brand new limited edition official turntable to coincide with the release of the re-mastered coloured vinyl multi disc box set.” The design of this unique custom deck includes reproductions of classic Queen logos, including the Freddie Mercury-designed “Queen’s Crest” logos on the platter and the lid bridge. It’s available only thru authorized Rega dealers (not online – more details at http://www.queenonlinestore.com/Queen/Queen-Studio-Collection/Queen-by-Rega-Turntable/4REF056O071), while the “Studio Collection Vinyl Box Set”, which contains remastered versions of all 15 studio albums on 180 gram vinyl and a beautifully-illustrated 108-page book, is selling for $445. http://www.queenonlinestore.com/Queen/Music/Queen-The-Studio-Collection-Coloured-Vinyl-Box-Set/4O1C032M071    Oh, won’t you take me home tonight?

2) One of the highlights of the 4th annual Beatles Festival – held for the first time this year on September 26th in the Strawberry Fields near the junction of the 605 and 60 Freeways near Southern California’s San Gabriel River – was a 3pm (PST) interview featuring the designer of the band’s Magical Mystery Tour album, artist John Van Hamersveld. JVH was there to talk about his designs and also had autographed MMT covers for sale (along with his books on design). The fest also had other art and memorabilia installations, including several 10-foot tall recreations of classic Beatles album art. More on this at the event’s web site – http://www.beatlestributefest.com/schedule.html

3) The works of celebrated photographer David McClister are the subject of a display launched recently in conjunction with the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, TN and hosted by one of the music industry’s best-known intimate music venues, The Bluebird Cafe, a place quite familiar to fans of the hit ABC TV series Nashville. The 32 photo prints on display will include shots of many of the best-known artists who’ve recorded and played in this music capitol such as Willie Nelson, Patty Griffin, Robert Plant, Ryan Adams (whose debut solo LP featured a cover shot by McClister) and many others. The show will be up for several months, and in Dylan Aycock‘s article on The Tennessean web site, you’ll get to meet the man whose 15+ years of photo imagery has made him a respected local asset – http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2015/09/19/americana-photography-exhibit-opening-bluebird-cafe/72471354/ More details also available at the venue’s site –
http://bluebirdcafe.com/viewArticle.cfm?id=158

BONUS  CONTENT – You all know photographer Bob Gruen‘s work – his photos of John Lennon, KISS, The Raspberries and many others are icons in the album cover world – but were you aware that he traveled with The Sex Pistols while they were on their “farewell” tour here in the U.S.? There to witness the break-up of the influential band, Bob’s photos (and the stories behind them) are the subject of a short video titled “Bob Gruen: On The Road With The Sex Pistols” just posted on the Artdaily.org site – http://artdaily.com/?date=09/24/2015#video Hear how Bob lucked in to getting the last seat on the tour bus and what he witnessed while the band worked hard to antagonize audiences all through the South – classic!

September 24th – 1) The folks at Backstage Auctions staged a new auction the weekend of September 24th that enticed collectors of rock/album art imagery. London-based photo agency London Features amassed a huge collection of rock ‘n’ roll photos starting in the 1960s and over 20,000 of these images will be put up for sale – many with full rights of ownership – in an auction of 425 assorted lots. I found 2 lots that album art fans might want to pay special attention to: Lot 1044 contains a selection of photos, slides and negatives of the members of the band Blind Faith taken by Bob Seidemann in 1969 and includes one photo that was used both as the back cover photo on the package with the controversial cover (i.e., the one with the naked young girl holding the shiny airship) and as the “alternative” front cover for markets too upset by the official cover – http://www.backstageauctions.com/catalog/1044-blind-faith-1969-lot-of-29-bw-candid-posed-negatives-/ai/0/22656/

while Lot 1135 is a collection of 108 photo negatives of Beggar’s Banquet-era Rolling Stones taken by 10 different shooters and included is an alt version of the cover image taken during that record’s photo shoot – http://www.backstageauctions.com/catalog/1135-the-rolling-stones-1964—1968-lot-of-108-bw-candid-outtake-negatives-with-full-rights/ai/0/22747/

The auction ends on October 4th – All it takes is money (and a winning bid) – best of luck!

2) A recent article by Kim Goggins on the Muskoka Region (Canada) site highlights the career of long-time rock photographer John Rowlands, who staged a fund-raising show/lecture about his work and career on the evening of September 25th at the Gravenhurst Opera House. The two-part fundraiser (another similar event was held on the 26th as well) is for a four-year-old local boy named Mason Anderson who has cerebral palsy. Anderson needs to travel to the U.S. for an operation called a “Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy” that the Ontario government won’t fund. Fundraising efforts since February 2015 have raised about $90,000 towards the $100,000-plus surgery. Event attendees will get to see many examples of Rowlands’ images of popular musicians, from mid-1960s Rolling Stones to Lady Gaga and Iggy Azalea. The show and silent auction began at 6:30pm local time, with more details via the link at http://m.muskokaregion.com/news-story/5914534-rock-n-roll-photographer-will-share-his-stories

3) Classic design is ALWAYS classic design, as is evidenced by Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon’s realization that the recent issue of Billboard Magazine he was featured on “looks like a Clash album cover”, referring to the cover created by the late designer Ray Lowry (featuring Pennie Smith’s iconic photograph) in 1979 for the band’s 1980 release London Calling. Music geek Fallon should also know that Lowry’s 35-year-old design actually paid homage to the original design featured on Elvis Presley’s debut record, and again in 1995 for Mick Jones’/Big Audio Dynamite’s release P-Funk. Joe Lynch gives us the details on the Billboard.com site – http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6700453/jimmy-fallon-billboard-cover-clash-album-tonight-show

Sept. 23rd – Three “making ofs” and an opportunity for YOU to become a rich and famous album cover designer…

1) While I spend most of my time researching and writing about “classic” album cover artists and their art, I do, on occasion, run across a new work of art that inspires me to learn more about the folks behind it and share that with you. This is the case today as I ask you to click on over to Troy Smith’s article on the Cleveland.com site about Tyler Nikkel’s fascinating cover image for Machine Gun Kelley’s upcoming new album titled General Admission (due out October 16th). Nikkel, who is a graphic designer based in Kansas, had been sending the rapper samples of his “fan art” via social media that ultimately convinced MGK to commission him for this new work. The two collaborated on a design that has a bit of a classic Roger Dean-style feel to it and including a lot of specific and hidden references to the architecture and culture of the city of Cleveland as well as to each of the songs on the new record. Nice job, I think – http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/09/the_story_behind_machine_gun_k.html

2) Writer James Stafford provides us with two new “Cover Stories” – over on the Loudwire.com site, you’ll learn more about Dean Kerr’s work (and re-work) on the cover shot for Pantera’s 1994 record Far Beyond Driven featuring an image that would prove popular both to the band’s fans and those who might spend a lot of time in the Hand Tools aisle at the local Home Depot. Interestingly enough, the original art Kerr produced made him a pain in the ass at the record label, while his fix simply gave them a headache – http://loudwire.com/cover-stories-pantera-far-beyond-driven/ Over on the Diffuser.fm site, Stafford gives us the details behind album cover and poster designer Frank Kozik’s illustration for the mega-selling 1998 record Americana by The Offspring. You want to know why there’s a little kid with a leg brace swinging while holding a huge bug? Click on over for a most-enlightening answer – http://diffuser.fm/cover-stories-the-offspring-americana/ Just don’t hate me when you’re done.

3) The headline reads “Young Thug Wants YOU To Design His Slime Season Mixtape Cover“, and while there’s no official release date announced yet, nor is there much incentive provided in the accompanying article’s details (posted by Trevor Smith on the Hot New Hip Hop site), once can only assume that all of your hard work will be rewarded with a lifetime work contract and a huge percentage of the profits made via your design (isn’t that always the case, designers?) – http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/young-thug-wants-you-to-design-his-slime-season-mixtape-cover-news.17619.html

Sept. 21st –  1) Here’s a nice profile article on a Denver-based design agency called The Made Shop that grew from a way for a husband and wife creative team to share their love for design and music (and make some extra money on the side) to a full-time gig that lets them explore many different production and delivery methods while making memorable imagery for their clients. Now in business for over 12 years, Marke & Kimberly Johnson have created some wonderful album art for musical acts including The Fray and Son Lux (their cover for the band’s We Are Rising record features 28 exploding colored smoke bombs) while taking on projects for clients in the film, TV and print publishing worlds, with more behind the scenes details revealed in Rachael Steven‘s recent article on the Creative Review site – http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2015/september/handcrafted-designs-from-denver-studio-the-made-shop-2/

2) More album art inspiration is on display in this rather-cool new exhibition at the Wolveschildren Art Space in Ballarat, VIC, Australia titled “Cover Versions” that features re-interpretations of a number of well-known album covers by more than a dozen local illustrators. While most designers and artists rely on digital tools to create album cover imagery these days, the works on display in this show have been created via “a range of mediums from pen, brush, ink, paint, sculpture and digital”. The exhibit is up until October 10th, with more details available in Dellaram Vreeland’s article on The Courier site – http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3353553/interpreting-record-covers/

You can see more pix of the show on the Art Space’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wolveschildren

3) Some of you may have seen these videos in the past, but I just recently discovered 3 short videos made by Eric Arthur that bring viewers dozens and dozens of horrible album covers, synchronized to classical music scores. Eric is a musician who plays piano in New Orleans-style blues band Bucucrasu & The Slimline Shufflers and has also established himself as an expert in Bad Album Art (you know it when you see it), so if you’re looking to test your tolerance (you can always close your eyes and just enjoy the score), start with Part One of his Worst Album Covers Ever video series and build calluses on your brain from there – http://ericarthur.co.uk/bad-lp-covers/

Sept. 18th –  1) Would like to see you all visit Bruce Jenkins‘ Vinyl Connection site to read a couple of his recent postings having to do with album covers featuring hands. It seems that a number of art-obsessed genres – Prog, Metal, New Age, Jazz, etc. – use images of hands as a central design theme. Many seem to show hands palms up in an effort to invite you in to the recording (or, in some cases, as a way to show us what’s growing in their palms), and most are done close-up, perhaps to allow the palm readers in the audience to determine the length of the models’ Life and Love lines… In any case, Bruce found enough examples (22) to bring us two detailed articles – http://vinylconnection.com.au/2015/09/01/10-handy-album-covers/ and http://vinylconnection.com.au/2015/09/15/12-more-handy-album-covers/ with the second collection containing what is my favorite example, that being the cover of Jerry Garcia’s Studio Sessions record (classic Garcia humor)…

2) The Entertainment & Musical Memorabilia Signature Auction hosted by Heritage Auction house recently showcased examples of classic graphic design – including a set of Richard Avedon psychedelic Beatles posters done for Stern magazine in 1968 (you’ll know them when you see them) – and something really unique done by artist/musician/part-time Beatle Klaus Voorman, that being a 1990’s reworking of his iconic cover art for the band’s Revolver LP. Voorman takes an original Revolver LP cover, lays a 12″ x 12″ piece of acetate on top of it, and then paints on new graphics that depict the band in their colorful Sgt. Pepper regalia. It’s an impressive work, and one that, in my estimation, will sell well-above the $2500 opening bid (no reserve, though!).
http://entertainment.ha.com/itm/entertainment-and-music/klaus-voormann-original-beatles-artwork-sgt-revolver-germany-1990s-/a/7149-89117.s?ic4=GalleryView-Thumbnail-071515

Update – the Voorman artwork sold for $3250, while the Avedon prints sold for $4000 for the set…

3) Rock photography fans in the NYC area  were given the chance to hoof it on over to the “Photoville” pop-up photo show through Sunday the 20th to see some amazing shots on display from a number of the music industry’s best-known photographers, on display in a gallery made up of dozens of re-purposed shipping containers! The show – set up in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 Uplands area – was not limited solely to rock photography, but those with a keen eye will find works on display by Danny Clinch, Roberta Bayley, Janette Beckman (who also curated this part of the exhibit), Jill Furmanovsky, Barrie Wentzel and others. Writing for the Noisey Music By Vice site, Kim Taylor Bennett shares some examples of items you’ll see at the show and offers up some nice quotes from Ms. Beckman about several of her personal favorites. http://noisey.vice.com/blog/photoville-2015
Sept. 17th – 1) Well, Ringo’s not the only one with a new book and photo exhibition (see Sept. 16th entry)! Photographer Mick Rock spent a lot of time in the early 1970s with David Bowie who, at that time so early in his career, was enjoying an impressive creative and productive run, releasing several albums, going out on successful tours and even producing a record for Lou Reed (Transformer, which featured a great cover photo also by Mr. Rock). Mick amassed an amazing portfolio of Bowie photos during that period which now serve as the basis for a new book titled The Rise of David Bowie: 1972-1973, just published by Taschen Books. While Rock went on to produce memorable photos and video of many of the rising stars of the era – Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Queen and others – it was his work featuring Bowie that established his bona fides in the music industry. In this article by Drew Millard for the Vice.com site, you’ll learn more about the book and the stories that make it all the more impressive as a chronicle of a very exciting time in pop music – http://www.vice.com/read/mick-rock-documented-ziggy-stardusts-takeover-of-the-universe-taschen-909

In support of this new book, Taschen has put together a very impressive exhibit of photos from the book which is now on display at their gallery on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles (until October 11th). TItled “Mick Rock: Shooting for Stardust -The Rise of David Bowie & Co.”, the display will most-certainly tease collectors into thumbing through the 310-page, $700 limited-edition book (signed by both Rock and Bowie) of which only 1972 copies will be printed. Of those 1972 copies, 200 will be offered as “Art Editions” that will include one of two signed pigment prints. More details on the book are available at
http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/film_music/all/03136/facts.mick_rock_the_rise_of_david_bowie_19721973.htm
While more info on the show – including a very nice photo gallery – can be found via the following link –
http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/company/blog/661.mick_rock_shooting_for_stardust.htm

Bonus content – 5 years ago – Rock collaborated with director Barney Clay to create a short film based on footage (and other tidbits) Rock had in his archives from the video shoot of Bowie’s wonderful music video for the song “Life On Mars”. Done on behalf of the Creator’s Project creative collective, the resulting film is only shown in galleries and museums (per Bowie’s request), but you’ll enjoy learning more about “the making of” this film and seeing the joy on Mr. Rock’s face when he sees a sample of the work in progress (you’ll also like seeing an interview shot in the now-defunct Mars Bar…
http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/barney-clay-gives-mick-rocks-david-bowie-footage-a-new-life

2) Even rabid sports fans can’t help but enjoy this one – a designer in Holland named Maans D. has used his graphic design talents to offer us his take on logos from professional football teams here in the U.S., recreated as album cover art. To makr the start of the season (Go Bears?), five of them are highlighted by writer Jason Alsher in this article on The Cheat Sheet site – http://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/nfl-5-team-logos-redesigned-as-vinyl-album-covers.html/?a=viewall
and, if you’re so intrigued, you can see the balance of the designer’s efforts on his Behance site – https://www.behance.net/gallery/22799719/NFL-Vinyl-Collection
I think that you’ll agree that the logo for the Washington Redskins is a bit more palatable than the team’s current offering (I would love to resurrect the Senators name, but they might never agree to play another game).

Sept. 16th – New book, exhibition and auction items from one of the best-known rockers of all time – Ringo Starr

By now, many of you will have heard about the once-in-a-lifetime auction that will be taking place at Julien’s Auctions at the end of November featuring items from the personal collection of drummer Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara. When most of us “down-size”, it means selling off our old sofas, framed art we don’t like any longer, etc., but when Ringo & Co. work to reduce their possessions, you can only imagine what’s going to be on offer! You can start to fantasize by reading the press release about the auction – which will include some amazing items for album art fans, including Ringo’s personal copy of “the butcher cover”, White Album serial number 1, a Peter Blake “Love Me Do” painting and several of Ringo’s own works – http://www.juliensauctions.com/press/2015/ringo-starr-barbara-bach.html

At the same time, there is an extraordinary photo collection on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London that features photos Ringo had collected over the years and which had been stored away until he found them while digging through his storage not too long ago. A selection of his favorite shots has been assembled into a new book titled Photograph By Ringo Starr, with the first limited-edition copies (produced by Genesis Publishing) selling off in record time (see a gallery of images from the book via this link – http://www.genesis-publications.com/photograph-by-ringo-starr-the-signed-limited-edition/default.htm). On September 21st, a new open-edition of the book – which includes Ringo’s original 15,000+ word manuscript – was released at a price of £35.00, with orders being taken now on the NPG web site – http://www.npg.org.uk/shop/shop-list.php?showProductDetails=8665

Writing for The Guardian, art correspondent Mark Brown gives us a look at “the making of” this new book, which features a cover photo Starr took of himself in a mirror (an early “selfie”, it seems) – http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/sep/09/ringo-photos-beatles-national-portrait-gallery-launch-book-exhibition
One tantalizing thought – Ringo is asking the surviving Beatle family members to dig through their own homes for photo books as he’s pretty certain that his other 3 band-mates would have similar troves of photos waiting to see the light of day….

Sept. 15th – 1) Joaquim Paolo and Julius Wiedemann have just published a new, multi-lingual edition of their well-regarded Jazz Covers book, originally released (in super-deluxe editions) in 2012 but now made more-accessible and affordable! As you all know, many great designers, photographers and illustrators have displayed their talents for lovers of music in many genres, but I think that the closest ties are between innovations and trends shared between designs for jazz and rock/pop music, which is why you’ll find so many practitioners of album cover design doing great work for clients in both genres. The new hardcover – all 672 pages of it – is available now for less than $20 from booksellers everywhere, or direct from the publisher at http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/film_music/all/45452/facts.jazz_covers.htm where you will find a nicely-illustrated intro to the book as well.

2) You can never get them started too young….Seattle-based record retailer/publisher Light In The Attic has teamed up with Jack White’s Third Man Records to release a “starter package” for young vinyl collectors – titled This Record Belongs To______ – that includes both a ready-to-run record player package and a specially-produced LP featuring music for kids by a host of top musicians – Carole King, Shel Silverstein, Harry Nilsson, Nina Simone and Kermit The Frog, to name several – as well as a custom cover and a story book by acclaimed artist Jess Rotter. The package retails for $95 complete, so with the Holidays not too far off in the future, click on over to http://lightintheattic.net/releases/1822-this-record-belongs-to__________ to take a look and pre-order this item (shipping in early November).

3) In another enviable example of an artist following his heart to settle in a place that gives him the best of everything he’s looking for, here’s an article about top rock photographer Steve Emberton‘s gradual (30+ year) transition from a U.S.-based shooter busy with hundreds of music industry assignments – having photographed many of the top 70s-80s acts both in the States and the U.K. – to a new life photographing his surroundings in the tranquil coastal town of Amble in England. You’ve seen his work – memorable photos of Bob Marley, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and album cover shots for acts including The Tubes, Lurkers and Gilbert O’Sullivan, among others – so it is intriguing to learn more about what motivated a guy used to the swingin’ scene in London to venture out to find a new life in Northumberland. Read the details in Barbara Hodgson‘s recent article on the Chronicle Live site – http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/america-amble-how-rock-roll-10014482

Sept. 15th #2 –  1) I wrote recently about Henry Diltz and Pattie Boyd‘s photo show (curated by Mr. Diltz’s gallery, Morrison Hotel) and was intrigued to see a new show, which launched September 18th at the Hilton|Asmus Foto Gallery in Chicago that combines their work with that of another high-quality shooter – Carintha West – with the results called “Visions of a Magic Time”. Rock photo fans in Chicago had the opportunity to meet all three players at a reception that Friday from 5:30pm – 9pm local time and chat with them as they took visitors through their respective collections. The show will be up until the end of October, with more details provided by writer Thomas Connors in Michigan Avenue magazine – http://www.hiltonasmusfoto.com/visions-of-a-magic-time—michigan-avenue-magazine.html

2) Always the trend-setter, famed Pop artist (and Sgt. Pepper’s cover art creator) Sir Peter Blake has fully-embraced the tools of the digital age in creating and promoting his latest works, as is evidenced by the art “mash-up” app featuring his imagery that’s detailed in this BBC News article by entertainment/arts writer Kev Geoghegan. Using what’s called the Dazzle It application, users can remix and re-imagine some of Sir Peter’s works to create something unique and personal. The article includes an interview with the always-creative designer about how technology has been both an influence and a tool throughout his career – read and learn from a true master of the media – http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-34151804

3) We work hard to promote as many of the music industry award shows that honor album cover design, so here’s a new posting about the winner – musical act Enter-Tribal for their Hitting The Trail record – in the “Best Album Cover Design” of this year’s Indigenous Music Awards held last week in Winnipeg, Canada. Other nominees included:
BEATRICE DEER – Fox
BLACKSTONE – Kaskite Asiniy
FLORENT VOLLANT – Puamuna
HELLNBACK – #FOE=Family Over Everything

To read about all of the winners in the rest of the categories, click on the link to this article on the CBC News site – http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/indigenous-music-awards-1.3224505

Congratulations to the winners!

Sept. 11th – 1) Yes, we all agree that the album cover images for the rock band Iron Maiden are typically quite spooky, but can we agree on which version is the most terrifying display of Eddie we’ve seen? In this recent article on the topic by John Hugar on the Uproxx.com site – done to commemorate the recent release of the group’s 16th studio album, this one titled The Book of Souls, with artwork by British illustrator Mark Wilkinson, who has also created covers for Judas Priest, Marillion and Fish (along with two earlier IM records) – you’ll find the author’s take on each record’s cover, from least-scary (1998’s Virtual XI) to number-one-most scary (not gonna tell you).
http://uproxx.com/music/2015/09/iron-maiden-book-of-souls-album-covers-ranked/
While I strongly disagree with the #1 choice (shoulda been swapped with #3, IMHO), I am (as always) duly impressed with the 35-year run that this character has enjoyed – now THAT’s “iconic”.

2) Famed rock photographer Brian Griffin’s new book of photos he’s taken of the pathways (i.e., train tracks) that lead to the various Nazi death camps in WW2-era Poland has been released and, rightly so, for the haunting quality of each image, been met with much critical acclaim. Titled Himmelstrasse (“Heaven Street” – a term the Nazis used with sick irony), Griffin’s book was released last week with a gallery show at The Photographer’s Gallery in London, which was followed with an appearance and signing during NYC’s Art Book Fair the next week. The book was inspired by Brian’s train trips in Poland, journeys that lead him to learn more about the rail system’s disturbing history…More on this in Jonathan Bell‘s recent article on the Wallpaper.com site – http://www.wallpaper.com/lifestyle/road-to-hell-a-new-book-by-brian-griffin-reveals-polands-dark-rail-networks

3) Folks in the Hoboken, NJ area now have the opportunity to immerse themselves into all things Frank Sinatra by visiting the Hoboken Historical Museum’s special exhibition – curated by the Grammy Museum and Sinatra’s family – that marks the 100th anniversary of late crooner’s birthday (this coming December 12th). “Frank Sinatra: The Man, the Voice, and the Fans,” is a must-visit for serious fans of Old Blue Eyes, as it features (according to the museum’s site) ” interactive displays and videos, period-appropriate listening stations, and cherished fan photographs and artifacts to illustrate the singer/actor’s formative years in Hoboken, highlights from his remarkable 60-year career, and memories from legions of fans. The exhibit will be accompanied by packed schedule of singers, films and authors, and a big birthday bash on Dec. 12, 2015.” Be sure to use the last vestiges of the “Summer Wind” and rub shoulders with other “Strangers In The Night” – “I’m Going Out of My Head” that it’s 3000 miles away.. https://www.hobokenmuseum.org/exhibitions/main-gallery/current-exhibition 

Sept. 10th – 1) Now this I like – Phil Collins is re-releasing re-mastered versions of his solo catalog and, in the process, replacing the original Trevor Key close-up photos with those taken more-recently (i.e., 30+ years later). The new records are part of his “Take A Look At Me Now” campaign, with the first two releases (Face Value and Both Sides) due out in November. Michael Roffman gives us the details on the Consequence of Sound site – http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/09/phil-collins-is-reissuing-his-solo-catalogue-and-remaking-each-album-cover/

The extreme close-up approach to album cover imagery is one that has been used many times throughout rock record history. In fact, there’s even an entire AMIRIGHT site page titled “Face Close-Up Themed Album Covers“, where you’ll find examples from pop (Adele, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears, etc.), hard rock (Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth, KISS, etc.) and most other genres. Bob Marley, Frank Zappa, Joe Cocker and several others showed their faces in great detail in multiple albums while, in some cases (you’ll see what I mean), it might have been wise to use a little make-up – http://www.amiright.com/album-cover-themes/face-close-ups/

My favorite – Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life

Yours?

2) Rock photographer Michael Miller has given us memorable cover photos for a wide range of musical acts, from Stan Getz to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Soul Asylum and over 50 rap/hip-hop acts, so it is not surprising to find his work featured in a new gallery show that focuses on the portfolio he produced of scenes and people related to the West Coast hip-hop scene of the 1990s. Writing for the OC Weekly, reporter Aimee Murillo gives us a look at this exhibition – titled “Love West Coast” – now on display (thru October 10th) at the DAX Gallery in Costa Mesa, CA that includes candid portraits of major music players including Tupac, Easy-E, N.W.A., Coolio and many others. Miller shares the stories behind several of his photo shoots, with pictures taken in areas and under circumstances that had the photographer more than a bit worried about his health, never knowing whether the residents of the neighborhoods they decided to stop in would appreciate the attention or exposure… for more info on the show, please visit – http://blogs.ocweekly.com/heardmentality/2015/09/mike_millers_and_west_coast_hip_hop_at_dax_gallery.php

3) It’s always nice when your alma mater’s college paper runs a story about one of your achievements, so photographer Eric Poppleton should be extra-proud of the coverage he received in Daniel Grady and Dara Metcalfe‘s recent article in The Ball State Daily about the now-famous photo he took that was featured on the cover of the now-even-more-famous N.W.A. record Straight Outta Compton. In the story, you’ll learn more about Eric, his mentor at Ball State (Muncie, Indiana) who encouraged him to consider a career in photography and how a kid from a very white part of the country ended up on his back in LA, looking up at a group of armed and fairly-menacing black men…read the details via the link at http://www.ballstatedaily.com/article/2015/09/straight-outta-muncie

Sept. 9th – 1) Rock art comes in all shapes, sizes and via many different forms of inspiration…Recently, artist Scott McPherson – who works using the moniker “Sink Shower” – was asked to apply his talents to help decorate a record store in Los Angeles called Vacation Vinyl. While on the surface that might not sound very interesting, Sink Shower’s best-known for a logo he designed for his own death-metal band, which he paints over and over again (with slight variations) to create a final image. What started as an art project back in Kansas has now taken on much larger proportions, with reporter J. Bennett working to help us understand the artist’s motivation and plans for the future in this article on the Noisy/Vice site – http://noisey.vice.com/blog/sink-shower

2) Way over on the other side of the country (Palm Beach, FL), the curators at the Holden Luntz Gallery have put together a show called “Let The Good Times Roll” that features 40 photos – dating from 1905 to 2010 – chosen to give show viewers an extended summer vacation, illustrating “the good life” in its many forms. Included in the show is a grouping of photos taken by famed rock photographer Norman Seeff (who has done well-known covers for Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones and many others) and featuring an image of young lovers Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe taken in NYC in 1969. Jan Sjostrum shares the details (and a photo gallery) with us in her coverage for The Palm Beach Daily News – http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/news/local/lifes-joyous-moments-on-view-at-holden-luntz-galle/nnSnX/

3) J.D. Cronise, front man for Austin, TX-based hard rockers The Sword, was so impressed with a gallery show by artist Jetter Green that he decided right then that he’d want to commission Green to do the art for the band’s next album. Knowing that “a good album cover always compliments a good record”, the pair worked together to produce the image that is now featured on High Country, just released on Razor & Tie Records. Read more about this successful collaboration in Scott Munro‘s article for Classic Rock (you’ll also find a podcast there with an interview with Cronise about “the making of” this new album) – http://classicrock.teamrock.com/news/2015-08-25/the-sword-praise-high-country-artwork

Sept. 8th – 1) Showing how art can both reflect and help better a lifestyle, this recent story by Andrew Edwards in the Long Beach Press-Telegram brings us news about artist Joe Cool (AKA Darryl Daniel, cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg and the guy that created the cover art for Dogg’s huge-selling Doggystyle album) and the unveiling of a new work of his (titled “Safe Refuge”) that he hopes will move those with substance abuse issues to consider – as he has – avoiding a life that’s been harmed by addiction. Today, after 12 years of sobriety, Joe Cool has teamed with local drug rehab organizations to bring both his art and his story to audiences that will hopefully appreciate both – http://www.presstelegram.com/arts-and-entertainment/20150827/doggystyle-artist-joe-cool-of-long-beach-has-new-art-and-new-lifestyle

2) Detroit, MI-based musician and album cover artist Niagara – having enjoyed some recent success for her stylish cover for Kid Rock’s latest record – has just released the artwork that will be used on a poster to promote the upcoming “Dally in the Alley” music/art event taking place this weekend in the city’s “Cass Corridor” neighborhood (former home of Creem Magazine and where The White Stripes played their first gig). Done in the instantly-recognizable “Niagara Style”, the poster’s subject asks you whether you’d like “to Dally in the Alley” and, as is usually the case when you see Niagara’s artwork, you find yourself wondering whether this would be safe to do (not because it is in Detroit – rather, because her femme fatales always look as though they might want to kill you rather than bother with you much longer!)…Read more in Lee DeVito’s feature on the Detroit Metro Times site – http://www.metrotimes.com/Blogs/archives/2015/08/28/niagara-designed-this-years-dally-in-the-alley-poster

3) Lastly, a slightly-belated R.I.P. message to fans of Sympathy For The Record illustrator “The Pizz”, who died recently at the young age of 57. Stephen Pizzuro has long been a well-loved and respected “lowbrow” artist, producing posters, fine art prints, Rat Fink comics and album covers for recording acts including Bad Religion, The Creamers, Ron Asheton’s Empty Set and others and his work has been featured in many rock poster books. I once had the pleasure of paging through his own book Atavistic Avatar and seeing his work on display at the La Luz De Jesus gallery in LA a number of years ago, so I will most certainly miss seeing any new output from someone who always brought a bit of outlandishness – and a ton of talent – to his work. Read David Peskovitz’s tribute on the Boing Boing site – https://boingboing.net/2015/09/01/lowbrow-artist-the-pizz-rip.html

Sept. 7th – 1) You might recall a recent posting about next year’s Rolling Stones-themed extravaganza at the Saatchi Gallery in London – 50 years of memorable iconography, including lips, tongues, steel wheels, goats heads, etc.. In anticipation of that show, which will be touring the world after its premiere in the U.K., The Drum‘s Thomas O’Neill recently posted his interviews with several leaders in the design world – including record cover designers Stefan Sagmeister, Carin Goldberg, Caroline Robert and Tom Genower – and asked them to note which examples of the Stones’ album art have had the most influence on their own careers. You’ll read stories about Exile, Sticky Fingers, Beggar’s Banquet and even a life-size poster of Brian Jones – http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/08/28/stone-cold-classics-unconventional-iconography-rolling-stones

2) Here’s an interesting example of album art inspiring an even more creative approach to teaching today’s media-obsessed youth – 4th grade teacher Adrian Perez has decorated his Mendota, CA classroom with artwork from Kanye West album covers (including the amazingly-popular Murakami teddy bear found on the rapper’s hit 2007 record Graduation) and used these images and the titles of West tracks as the bases for a number of his classes – “Math Monsters”, “Touch The Sky With ELA”, etc. – and to highlight the progress of his kids throughout the year (“I’m Amazing”, “Power Readers” and others). On the whole, parents seemed to be encouraged, but I’d like to see whether his students’ overall performance (in areas besides rhyming) improves via this unique teaching method…More on this in Eliza Murphy’s article on the ABC News web site – http://abcnews.go.com/beta/Entertainment/teachers-kanye-west-themed-classroom-welcomes-students-good/story?id=33391494

3) It’s been 10 years since the release of Wolfmother’s self-titled debut album, which initially caused a bit of a stir in the loins of certain record retailers who objected to the record’s use of a beautiful-but-bare-bosomed Frank Frazetta painting (titled “The Sea Witch”) on the cover (in addition to several other examples of the fantasy artist’s work for covers of some of the popular record’s singles). Well, the band is re-releasing the record later this month (Sept. 25th) in a special collector’s edition that will include more music (demos, live performances. etc.) and will be available – original artwork in tact – on 180-gram vinyl. If you’re a fan of this band and/or style of artwork, I’d strongly suggest clicking on over to this recent article by Mike “DJ” Pizzo on the Medium/Cuepoint site – quite the eyeful, I must say! https://medium.com/cuepoint/wolfmother-10-years-deep-5f7235d9b1c6

Sept. 4th – Three new shows for you to visit…
1) If you’re headed to Las Vegas any time soon, be sure to stop by the Delano Hotel to see Robert Knight and Maryanne Bilham‘s excellent new photo show there. In the new show, titled “Defiantly Inspired”, you’ll find portraits of many of your favorite rock artists – both classic and “up-and-coming” – including Santana, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, LORDE and many others. They’ve also recorded “making of” descriptions for the images on display that you can listen to live via a downloadable app (how totally modern!). The show runs through the end of the month, and you can read more about it in this feature on the Vegas News site – http://www.vegasnews.com/140574/delano-las-vegas-unveils-rock-n-roll-photography-exhibit-defiantly-inspired-featuring-local-artists.html

2) When you’re done with your trip to Vegas, head a few hours West to see the premiere of a travelling exhibit curated by the Morrison Hotel Gallery featuring selections from the extensive portfolios of rock photographers Henry Diltz and Pattie Boyd. The show’s called “Behind The Lens”, and both photographers were on hand to kick off the tour September 10th at Largo on La Cienega in Los Angeles. Both of these photographers were integral parts of the scenes they shot – Diltz as a member of the Modern Folk Quartet (and a Laurel Canyon resident) and Boyd as a top fashion model and muse/wife to both Georege Harrison and Eric Clapton – so their portraits have always benefited from this intimacy with their subjects. Writing for Goldmine MagazineChris M. Junior had the chance to interview both of them just before they left for their tour (which also had stops in Nashville, Chicago, NYC and the final one in Falls River, MA on Sept. 23rd), so click on over to learn more – http://www.goldminemag.com/article/diltz-boyd-behind-lens-tour?

3) The works of Paul McCartney’s younger brother Michael – a talented song-writer, musician and photographer himself – are at the center of a new photography exhibition that opened in early September in (where else?) Liverpool, England in a new gallery in the never-before-opened catacombs under St, George’s Hall. Titled “McCartney Luvs St. George’s Hall”, the show is built around a collection of 60 photos McCartney has taken of this beloved local landmark. McCartney’s photos of rock and entertainment royalty have been shown in exhibitions all over the world (including several in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery) and published in magazines, newspapers, etc. – even meeting the Queen herself during her Majesty’s historic visit to the Liverpool Museum when the city celebrated being a Cultural Capital a few years back. The show runs through October 18th, with details and more available via this article on the Broadway World site – http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwart/article/New-Photography-Exhibition-by-Mike-McCartney-to-Open-at-St-Georges-Hall-20150619

Sept. 3rdArt Chantry at Powell’s Books, Portland, OR – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 7:30pm 

By Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

Don’t call Art Chantry an “artist” – he’s a “graphic designer” and, although he’s quite adamant about the fact that most of the practitioners working in graphic design today are uninspired and simply willing to do anything for their corporate clients just so that they can put the billable hours on their timesheets, the thing that seems to bother him the most is that they are his unworthy competition. And you know, after watching the presentation he made before a good-sized crowd at Powell’s Books here in downtown Portland, OR last Monday night, I find myself agreeing with him, on the most part.

Art was in town to promote the release of his latest book on the field of graphic design titled Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History Of 20th Century Graphic Design (published by Feral House books, with a cover design by Crap Hound’s Sean Tejaratchi and John Hubbard) and, as someone with an album cover credit list that includes images for Soundgarden, The Rev. Horton Heat, Presidents of the U.S.A, Pigeonhed, Pussy Galore, Love Battery, The Beatles (yup, look it up) and many, many others, I knew that I had to be there to meet the man who, as 4X Art Director for the influential Seattle/Portland-area newspaper The Rocket (now deceased) and the foremost proponent of the “when you have no budget, you can do about anything, by hand and with salvaged materials” approach to memorable design, is most-credited for the U.S. punk and grunge-era aesthetic of the past 40 years.

Using his trusty Kodak Carousel 750H slide projector (via a 12-foot wired “clicker”), Chantry took the audience through a career retrospective that began with his first punk rock poster for a Bellingham, WA appearance of Penelope Houston’s The Avengers, which also turned out to be the first poster Art did that was torn off of most of the telephone poles in the area by folks who were less-than-happy with the print’s appearance. It was then that, according to the artist, “I learned that ugly can be a tool in controlling the viewer’s responses and emotions”. He used his early seat-of-the-pants experience to its next logical application as the art director for start-up Seattle-area entertainment rag called The Rocket, with that publication earning national attention for bringing a great sense of design and market-perfect editorial to readers looking for the news delivered to them in a language (visual and verbal) that was theirs alone.

A music review column called “Sub Pop” (written by Bruce Pavitt) was added to The Rocket in 1983 and, a few years later when Pavitt launched a new record label by the same name, he asked Chantry to provide the necessary graphics to package their new music products. Chantry recalled that one of the things that annoyed him the most about providing sleeve designs for his music industry clients was that the inside of the CD – the booklet, the insert graphics and the images printed on the CD itself – were usually very boring (and often obscured by the damage suffered by cracks and smudges in the jewel case), so he spent as much time as he could making sure that the insides would be as compelling as the cover images. Examples of this for clients including the Mono Men, Love Battery, Pigeonhed, The Thrown Ups and others helped those of us in attendance get a good idea of how important this effort really was.

Chantry did spend a lot of time presenting his case as to why working for music industry and other corporate clients has gone from a reliable source of pride and income to something that he’s telling up-and-coming graphic designers to strongly consider before choosing to work in this field. As he put it, “These days, everyone in America speaks and understands graphic design. We agree to the basic rules – the color green means “go”, red means “stop”, etc. – so the only way I can change someone’s mind about what those standard symbols mean is to f*ck with their mind. I work this way so that I can compete with and beat out a kid who just bought a computer and some software 2 weeks ago – they can’t do what I do on their computer”, meaning that great ideas don’t happen simply when someone takes a photograph and hits the “optimize” button.

Acknowledging that he realizes that he’s started something that, to the uneducated, can (on the surface, without the humor or the insight) be replicated by almost anyone with the tools, he admitted that “what I was doing worked too damn well and just about put me out of business”. These days, he realizes that he’s often being hired to “create an Art Chantry” – i.e., one that looks like what he’s done before, with his name on it – and while he might need to resort to accepting commissions like those to pay the bills, this is not where a famous designer should be at this point in his career. He also wants people to know that 20th Century design has been influenced by many talented and experimental designers, many who have gone uncredited and unacknowledged for years, so it is with this sense of purpose (and a desire to sell some books) that he’s published this new book.

I hope that you’ll find a copy (I’m going through mine right now) and take the time to learn what Chantry’s wanting us to know. As someone who is also working now on a new book that, when published, looks to bring music/art fans closer to the sources of their favorite album cover images, it was really quite the treat to be able to meet and learn from one of the greats.

You’ll find his book via the link – http://feralhouse.com/art-chantry-speaks/

Thanks again to Powell’s Books for hosting this (and so many other) author appearances! http://www.powells.com/calendar/

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

Interview with Susan Archie, 2015 Grammy Award Winning Designer

Interview with Susan Archie, principal of World of anArchie, winner of the 2015 Grammy Award for “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” for her work on The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27), released by Third Man Records/Revenant Records.

Paramount, Third Man Records, Revenant Records, Susan Archie, Grammy Award, Box Set, Interview, Album Cover Hall of Fame, 2015, article, interview

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White, art directors

With a thorough understanding of digital technologies being such a key driver to success in today’s music business, music fans often forget that the earliest recorded music came about as the result of an application of a new technology – i.e., those introduced by the early French and American inventors of the phonograph and the gramophone. While we take for granted the various advances in recording technology that have taken place since the late-1800s, without the energies applied – and risks taken by – music industry pioneers, there would be no archives of the performances given by the musical acts that have gone on to influence modern music and music engineering.

Like many an American industrial enterprise, the early U.S. recording business was also an attractive one to those individuals and companies looking to entice the public to buy their products, with some companies (Edison and Victor, for example) impressing consumers with the quality (sound and manufacturing) of their hardware (AKA record playing devices) and software (recorded content, in its many forms – first cylinders, then 78RPM discs, etc.) and others looking to simply “spend-a-little, make a lot” as production of devices and content quickly scaled up as the century turned.

In that second camp were the owners of the Wisconsin Chair Company who, around the start of World War 1,  launched a brand called Paramount to manufacture phonographs and, to provide a broad range of recorded content to play on those phonographs, operated Paramount Records as a way to produce what would turn out to be hundreds of ground-breaking recordings “on the cheap”. By the time Paramount ceased operations in 1932, it had compiled recordings of an impressive of performers spanning early jazz, blues, gospel, the Vaudeville and operatic stages and other popular musical styles. Continue reading

Album Cover News Recap – February, 2015

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Album Cover News Recap – February, 2015

By Mike Goldstein – Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

Although the month was a short one, you really can’t say that it was at all lacking in interesting album cover-related news. There were three new and very-talented recipients in the “Packaging” categories for this year’s Grammy Awards, announced here on February 8th and, via a show launched two days prior, LA-area music and art fans were treated to the opening of a very-comprehensive display of album/rock art at the Forest Lawn Museum called “Revolutions 2”.

Early February also was the time when two more major exhibitions were launched – one in California and one in Rhode Island – that contained carefully-curated selections of rock and album cover art, with several others following both in the U.S. and U.K. (plus one in Dubai!). Of particular note is the show at the Barbican in London, where fans can see selections from the personal collections of artists associated with album art, including Andy Warhol, Martin Parr and Sir Peter Blake.

Continuing to be popular are articles focusing on album art themes, including psychedelic music and heavy metal imagery, as well as one that presented an list of almost-unbearable album covers for records where the music was just as bad. There were video interviews with designers and photographers that helped you learn more about their inspirations, work (and play) habits and the stories behind many of your favorite album covers (yes, some drugs were involved in several famous examples!). Album art made “the big time” (i.e., a feature on network TV) when CBS Sunday Morning profiled photographer Henry Diltz and he shared his stories about his life shooting covers for The Doors, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (how cool was that?).

A number of notable gallery shows opened for your viewing pleasure during the month, with the works of artists including Robert Williams, photographer Guy Webster and the many famous and soon-to-be famous friends of agent provocateur/gallerist Robert Fraser, while new books featuring the works of Aubrey Powell/Hipgnosis, Graham Nash, Kishin Shinoyama and Art Kane were released for purchase by fans of great album art and imagery.

Of course, I’m hoping that you were able to take a look at the new interviews/Featured Fan Collection articles, along with the many new biographies posted on the ACHOF site during the month. I’m still working hard to update those already there with new information and to add another 50-75 new ones before taking a break to work on a book-related project (more to come on this later). I’ve got several interviews slated to be published this month, including one with one of this year’s Grammy winners and a U.K. based photographer who has published a series of very unusual and compelling prints featuring portraits of many of your favorite album cover photographers. In the meantime, here’s your chance to catch up on news you may have missed while you were out shoveling snow (or gathering supplies for extended home stays – will Winter ever end?) or doing whatever it is that makes you happy and satisfied. As I’ve said many times, regardless of how hectic your lives may be, there’s no reason that you should go without up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics (don’t you agree?), so you can be sure that we’ll continue to work (nearly) every day to continue our efforts to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site (keep your eye on our News Feed for the latest updates).

February 27th – 1) Happy to announce the posting of my latest “Featured Fan Collection” article, this one featuring items from the collection of avid record collector and curator of the “Jackets Required: 40 Years of Album Cover Design” exhibition (on display at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Fleet Library through Mar. 27th, 2015) Robert Garzillo. Robert shares his opinions on the “Top 10” covers from his own collection, showing us his unique sense of both style and history in his selections. I also asked him to give us his take on the importance of album cover imagery in today’s music business and whether he thinks it helps reflect – or influence – trends in Pop Culture even now, and I think that you’ll appreciate what he shares with us – please feel free to share with anyone you know who might enjoy strolling through 40 years of great cover design – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/…/featured-fan-…/

2) The team at NPR Music have just published a video interview with album art producer extraordinaire Gary Burden in which he takes us all on a tour of his Laurel Canyon (CA) stomping grounds, home in the 60s & 70s to an amazing collection of music talent – Mamas & Papas, Joni Mitchell, CS&N and many others – who became both his friends and his clients. There’s nearly 15 minutes of details, and a chance to relive an important era in music/music art history – http://www.npr.org/…/02/25/388693…/gary-burden-on-world-cafe

3) Rapper Eminem’s boyhood home was featured on the cover of his 2013 Grammy-winning album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 but, since the record’s release, the home was demolished and, as fans feared, lost to history. However, since that time, there have been claims made by fans that pieces of this home – most-notably, the front door with the number 19946 (the home’s address was 19946 Dresden, in Detroit, MI) spray-painted on it – are now in the hands of a couple of fans who allegedly scavenged them from the site. Originally, the culprits were going to be charged with theft after they were discovered with the door but, in a surprising turn-around of events, the authorities are not going to press charges against a fan who’d purchased the relic from two other fans in Tampa, FL. The young fan hopes to either re-unite the door with its original owner, or donate it to a museum. More on this impressive piece of music memorabilia in Eric Lacy’s article on the MLive web site –http://www.mlive.com/…/…/eminem_fans_who_allegedly_took.html

February 26th – 1) Here’s a bit more detail about the “Revolutions 2” exhibition at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale that I’d reported on previously, graciously provided by San Gabriel Valley Tribune writer Michelle Mills. Michelle was able to talk with several of the participating artists whose works are included in the show, including Hugh Brown (IRS & Rhino Records) and Mike Salisbury (Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, more), as well as painter and sculptor Artis Lane. Read more in Michelle’s article, as seen on the San Bernardino Country Sun site – http://www.sbsun.com/…/revolutions-2-fetes-iconic-music-art…

2) In a show titled “That’s Entertainment!” now on display at The Empty Quarter gallery in Dubai, the works of photographers Helmut Newton, Frank Worth and Peter Sanders – who all earned fame for their photos of celebrities from all walks of life – are seen, with many images now available as fine art prints. Newton brought his subjects into equally-interesting, non-studio settings – villas, luxury vehicles, hotel lobbies – and contributed photos for albums by Van Halen, Scorpions and the Rolling Stones. Worth’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and other mid-century stars are well-known by any fan of the era, while Sanders was on hand to capture the careers of everyone from Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix to T. Rex, Procol Harum and Mott The Hoople. Take a break from the mid-day sun and enjoy this show, on display now through March 16th –
http://www.theemptyquarter.com/index.php?p=exhibits_current

3) While the best-known Beatle-related album cover boo-boo has been the infamous “Butcher Cover”, WZLX reporter Alisha Jackson shows us that that wasn’t the only time that a Fab Four cover required last-minute replacing. It turns out that, in early 1970, the band was set to release a compilation record titled Beatles Again, and had printed all the labels as such. With the song “Hey Jude” gaining popularity, it was then decided to change the album’s name to Hey Jude, requiring a change in the album cover as well. Panic and mistakes ensued, with Apple Records exec Neil Aspinall relating his take on what then happened and, in his opinion, who was to blame. To read the stunning conclusion, click on over to the WZLX (Boston, MA) site – http://wzlx.cbslocal.com/…/the-beatles-hey-profanity-hey-j…/ You’ll also be able to find out more about another reported editing malfunction that left some Paul-mouthed profanity in the mix…

February 25th – 1) The LA-area is getting all the good album cover-related shows these days (yes, I’m jealous)…Running now through April 27th at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery in Hollywood is an exhibition featuring selections from the life’s work (so far) of artists, journalist and agent-provocateur Robert Williams, best-known to album art fans for the original “robot rapist” cover art for Guns ‘n’ Roses 1987 record titled Appetite For Destruction. “Slang Aesthetics! Robt. Williams” tracks his career from his role as art director for 60’s customizer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth to his contributions to early underground magazines (Zap Comix) to his launching of the “alternative art” (AKA “lowbrow art”) magazine Juxtapoz, along with his works in painting, print-making and sculpture that were promoted to collectors and fans through shows at leading galleries in LA, NYC and abroad. LA Times writer Carolina A. Miranda gives us a look at the show and the talented man behind the art in her recent article on thelatimes.com web site – http://www.latimes.com/…/la-et-cam-lowbrow-master-robert-wi…

2) Manchester, U.K. born and educated designer/art director David James is the subject of a new profile in the series titled “The Creative Class” found on the Business Of Fashion site. Best known today as the creative head for the leading design magzaine AnOther, James’ work as an independent designer has also benefited advertising and celebrity clients including Prada (who he’s worked with for over 20 years), but album cover fans will remember his stylish work on covers for Boy George, Neneh Cherry and Soul II Soul. Bringing his sense of fashion – along with a roster of design/photography talent – from the music and entertainment worlds to the fashion world established his credentials as a “go to guy” when clients wanted a unique take for their new campaigns. Rebecca May Johnson’s profile of this multi-talented artist is available for viewing via the link http://www.businessoffashion.com/…/creative-class-david-jam…

February 24th – 1) In the 1960s, London-based art dealer Robert Fraser established himself as one of the most-progressive supporters of pop art, artists and the culture they helped develop. His gallery became one of the main gathering places for the artists, musicians and patrons of their efforts (much like Andy Warhol’s “Factory” in New York), and Fraser’s influence on the scene’s participants would be long-lasting. It was Fraser who paired The Beatles with, first, artist Peter Blake, who’d lead the project that produced the cover for their Sgt. Pepper’s LP, and then with Richard Hamilton to come up with the simple-yet-powerful design for the band’s “White Album”, and he went on to have an impact on the art and music scene up to his death from AIDS in 1986. To help fans of Pop Culture gain an appreciation of the man and legacy, he people at London’s Pace Gallery have just launched a seven-week exhibition (running now through March 28th) that puts on display works by the many artists he helped introduce to collectors through his efforts, including Warhol, Jim Dine, Keith Haring, J.M. Basquiat and several others. Writing for the Wall Street Journal‘s Feature Section, Liesl Schillinger gives us a detailed account of the man and the scene he helped both invent and grow, with his influences still acknowledged today – http://www.wsj.com/…/art-dealer-robert-frasers-swinging-lon…

2) For anyone who has spent time in the Ozark Mountains, you’ll appreciate photographer Jim Mayfield’s fixation on the beauty that can be found there – from the simple beauty of a local sky, or tree or local elder sitting on a porch with his favorite pipe. Album cover fans will recall his three cover photos for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, all featuring the scenery and the people of the place he’s called home for most of his 68 years. In this article by Juliana Goodwin in the Springfield News-Leader, readers will get the chance to learn more about the path that the graduate of the Art Center College of Design took to establish himself as one of the foremost documentarians of the regions history, resources, people and the natural beauty they enjoy –
http://www.news-leader.com/…/jim-mayfields-photog…/23509075/

February 23rd – 1) While it only makes sense that folks in the album cover creation business would also be art collectors themselves, it is a rare occasion when us fans are given the opportunity to take a look at these collections. Let’s then thank the curators at the Barbican Art Gallery in London for putting together the “Magnificent Obsessions” show – running now thru May 25th – which puts on display over 8,000 objects borrowed from the collections of artists including Andy Warhol, Martin Parr, Damien Hirst, Sir Peter Blake and many others. There are dolls, musket balls and elephant figurines from Sir Peter’s eclectic acquisitions, skulls and stuffed animals owned by Mr. Hirst, several of Mr. Warhol’s prized cookie jars and a wall of album covers owned by Mexico’s Dr. Lakra. NY Times International Art writer Farah Nayeri gives us the show’s details, along with interviews and commentary by the curator and some of the participants in her recent Times article –
http://www.nytimes.com/…/magnificent-obsessions-show-at-the…

2) Sir Peter Blake also appeared in an article by Simmy Richman in the U.K.’s Independent in which the writer tracks down one of the production team members for Blake’s probably best-known album cover work – i.e., the collage created for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record – to learn that there was quite a bit of chaos present on the set where all of those cut-outs, wax figures and other objects were assembled to create the iconic final image. Richman located (via Facebook) photographer Michael Collins’ assistant during the project – Nigel Hartnup, now living in France – who was able to share more details about his involvement and what happened to at least one of the cut-outs from the shoot (Sir Peter still owns the Marilyn Monroe figure). More details via the link – http://www.independent.co.uk/…/wed-like-to-take-you-home-wi…

February 20th – 1) One of the best-known and often-discussed album covers to date is the Peter Saville-designed image found on Joy Division‘s Unknown Pleasures album. The 1979 release was unusual for a number of reasons – most notably that it was the band’s debut studio album and the cover doesn’t mention the band at all – but the memorable cover image has been somewhat of a mystery that, finally and in great detail, is unveiled by Scientific American’s art director for info-graphics Jen Christiansen via the following link – http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/…/pop-culture-pulsar-o…/ 
The article digs deep, interviewing designer Saville, finding the origins of the design he adapted and, finally, interviewing the scientist that published the original figure as part of his astronomical research in the early 1970s. Very thorough and thought-provoking!

2) 2014 ACHOF Inductee Brian Roettinger is the subject in NY Times reporter J.C. Gabel’s recent interview during which the designer talks openly about the most-influential aspects of his life (his family’s impressive record collection and suburban surroundings, to start) and about his career path that has lead him from creating album covers and gig posters for LA-area punk/metal bands early in his career to his award-winning work for Jay-Z (Magna Carta Holy Grail), Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special and, soon, Florence & The Machine’s upcoming album titled How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Quite the trip –http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/…/brian-roettinger-art-…/

February 19th – It’s all about album cover photography today! Three stories for your enjoyment and education:

1) The work of famed photographer Art Kane is the subject of a new book – curated by his son and daughter-in-law – released by Reel Art Press. Titled Art Kane, the book includes over 200 photos taken from Kane’s long career as a photographer, art director (and, later on, playwright and videographer) for magazines (LIFE, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and others) and for clients in the advertising and music arenas. His shot of The Who – taken originally for a feature in LIFE and used later for the album cover for the band’s The Kids Are Alright LP – is considered one of the best-known (and often-imitated) images in modern rock history. You can learn more about the man and the new book in Eliza Berman’s recent article in Time Magazine – http://time.com/3689728/art-kane-photographs/

2) Singer, songwriter and major contributor to the improvement of digital photo printing Graham Nash has a new photo show running now through May 31 at the Mumm Fine Art Gallery in Napa, CA that includes a number of portraits of musical friends such as David Crosby and Joni Mitchell. Nash’s introduction to photography as a young man began with a disturbing incident, with Graham’s father presenting him with a new camera, only to be arrested shortly afterwards for stealing said camera. Rather than pointing the finger at the real thief, his father would go on to spend a year in jail for the crime…Bay Area NBC News reporter Joe Rosato, Jr. provides us with a video news piece about the man and his new photo show, via the link – http://www.nbcbayarea.com/…/Graham-Nash-Singer-Songwriter-P…

3) When photographer Kishin Shinoyama snapped a photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono sharing a kiss near the pond in NYC’s Central Park (which would be used as the cover for the couple’s last studio album Double Fantasy), little did he know that, just a few weeks later, Lennon would be dead. During that day in the park, Shinoyama shot over 800 photos, with many of them never released, and so it is of great joy to Lennon fans that the folks at Taschen have teamed up with the photographer and John’s widow Yoko to publish a limited-edition art book titled “Kishin Shinoyama. John Lennon & Yoko Ono. Double Fantasy”. The 174 page book is being offered to collectors in two versions – the $700 “Collector’s Edition” book, signed by both Ono and Shinoyama, is in a limited-editon of 1980 copies, while the two $1800 “Art Edition” models (in editions of 125 copies each) come with your choice of one of two signed photo prints. Rebecca Bengal of the New York Times provides us with an intro to this new book, which includes a link to the video promo trailer – http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/…/john-lennon-yoko-ono-…/

February 18th – 1) The readers of the popular R&B/Hip-Hop site The Boombox have spoken (via the site’s annual Fan Choice Awards poll) and have selected – by a large margin – the cover of artist Jhene Aiko’s Souled Out record as “Album Cover of the Year 2015”. With design and art direction done by Salt Lake City-based designer Chris Le and the team at C-LeGFX (who has done design and film work for a host of clients including Island/Def Jam, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Records, among others), the cover depicting Ms. Aiko apparently suspended between Earth and the Heavens proved very popular with the site’s readership, garnering over 58% of all votes (with YG’s My Krazy Life, getting the second-most number of votes, approx. 22% of the total). You can take a look at the results on the Boombox site via the link at – http://theboombox.com/jhene-aiko-souled-out-wins-album-cov…/

2) Accomplished album cover designer Paula Scher lectured to an auditorium full of lucky students as part of the Stuckerman School at Penn State University’s ongoing lecture series. A long-time principal at the NYC-based Pentagram design studio, Ms. Scher spent many years in the record business, working in the 1970s-80s as the creative director at Atlantic and CBS Records before going on to bring her talents to projects for clients including Bloomberg, Citibank, Comedy Central, The Public Theater, New York Times, Target, Tiffany,The American Museum of Natural History and many others. To find out more about this opportunity to meet one of the most-prolific graphic designers at work today, follow the link to the Penn State News site at http://news.psu.edu/…/graphic-designer-scher-lecture-penn-s…

3) In my ongoing effort to present the work of “mere commercial artists” to those in the fine art world establishment, one of the questions I’m presented with from time to time is whether applying your talents as a designer to music products is simply “selling out”. I’ve heard passionate claims by those on both sides of the issue and, while I’ve always been one to hope that the talented creatives that produce the packaging for our favorite musicians/music products earn enough money to keep themselves fed, happy and eager to continue to work in the music business, it is interesting to read and attempt to process opposing/mixed views, so it is with this in mind that I link you to a recent article by writer Paddy Johnson on the ArtNet site titled “Do Artist Branding and Hollywood Talent Agency Deals Kill an Artist’s Soul?”. Let me know what you think – http://news.artnet.com/…/do-artist-branding-and-hollywood-t…

February 17th – 1) In this recent interview article by Andy Butler on the Designboom site, Smiling Wolf designer director Simon Rhodes talks about his agency’s work (including album packaging for several music industry clients), his “Brian Eno”-style approach to creativity (via “lateral thinking”) and how his appreciation of record cover design as a teenager helped him truly understand the important role that he could play in working for clients in the music, art, industrial design and fine art worlds. I was particularly impressed with the work he showed for Elevator Studios – quite the branding package! http://www.designboom.com/…/interview-with-simon-rhodes-di…/

2) With revenues from the sale of music products – both physical and digital – losing steam, musical acts of all types have to look at other ways to both build closer relationships with their fans and make money via touring, licensing and merchandise sales. While many larger (i.e., more successful) acts can rely on their labels, agents, etc., to help them fully-explore these needs, most indie/small label acts have to invest the time and resources themselves, so any help they can get in doing this correctly is always welcome. Of course, one of the most-important items that need to be created are graphics-based (logos, cover art, related merch, stage designs, promo posters, etc.), so in the article written by the staffers at the ToneDeaf site, two of Australia’s top merchandising specialists – LPATM’s Brian “BT” Taranto and 24Hundred’s Duane Jackson – give readers a “Merchandising 101” course, adding important details such as understanding your fan base, focusing on quality and. most-importantly, remembering (as much as it hurts, sometimes) that THIS IS A BUSINESS! Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who is trying to earn a living in today’s tricky music business arena – http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/…/guide-creating-selling-best-mu…

February 16th – 1) Famed album cover designer and partner in the illustrious Hipgnosis studio Aubrey “Po” Powell is the subject of a recent “Flyodian Slip” radio show, which premiered  Feb.16 and ran through Feb. 22 in markets the show is broadcast in. Host Craig Bailey talks with Powell about his career producing covers for many great bands, talks about the release of his new book on the subject (titled Hipgnosis: Portraits and published by Thames & Hudson) and rooming with original Floyd singer/songwriter Syd Barrett. Transcripts from the show, along with streaming files, will be available on the show’s site at http://www.floydianslip.com/…/pink-floyd-designer-aubrey-p…/

2) Although Grammy-nominated album cover designer Xiao Qing-Yang didn’t take home this year’s trophy, the designer is a certified star in his native Taiwan, and the loss hasn’t slowed his career, as evidenced by his latest commission – creating the latest “Story Island – Round the World” in-flight meal service motif for Taiwan-based EVA Airlines. The award-winning designer will apply his talents to tablecloths, menus and other related items for the airline’s Premium and Business Class customers. Like a good album cover, Xiao’s designs help strengthen the relationship between producer and customer, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see his efforts represented on notable music packages going forward. More on the Travel Daily News Asia web site – http://www.traveldailynews.asia/…/eva-chooses-grammy-nomine…

3) Do bad music and bad art inevitably find each other? If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve purchased records that had great covers, only to find that the music packaged inside was not quite what you’d hoped for. Well, if you take a look at this video produced by Jimbo Stephens (as related to us by writer Ryan Kristobak on the Huffington Post site), there are many examples of absolutely horrible music getting the packaging it deserves – tasteless, offensive and/or featuring head-scratchingly poor production values. You’ve seen some of these examples in previous articles on bad cover design, but I haven’t seen several of them before and, necessarily, refuse to suffer alone…follow this link, if you are a glutton for punishment – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/worst-album-covers-_n_66147… Please note – there are some REALLY offensive images included in the clip, so be sure to keep sensitive eyeballs at bay.

February 13th – 1) As Idaho-based designer Rocky Davies was growing up in the 1980s, he found himself a fan of cartoons, comics, toys and video games and, surrounded by all of this input, decided early on to learn to draw so that he, too, could contribute to the art forms he loved. Graduating from BYU with a degree in illustration, he began his career as a freelance designer, but never forgot about his favorite characters from the 80s and recently decided to devote some time to developing a series of art images that place some of his favorite villains – including the Joker, Freddy and the Sta-Puf Marshmallow Man – front and center in album covers for many tunes from the era. “Sweet dreams are made of these” takes on a whole new (nightmarish) meaning – click here to see Rocky’s portfolio of these alt-covers – http://www.rockydavies.com/?p=1393

2) A music-focused bar in Cardiff, Wales wanted to create some visuals for an upcoming event that combined the venue’s love of music with their support for the annual Six Nations rugby tournament and, if you take a look at the article and illustrations found on the Wales Online site written by David Owens, you’ll find the results of their efforts – a series of “classic” album cover images where the original featured characters have been replaced with images of Welsh rugby stars. The Full Moon Bar is now the home of Leigh Halfpenny as the alien in Aladdin Sane, and Gethin Jenkins is now a really Bad man…see the slide show via the link – http://www.walesonline.co.uk/…/rock-met-rugby-welsh-stars-8…

3) Vinyl Connection‘s Bruce Jenkins gives us an in-depth look at the cover of Procol Harum’s 1974 release titled Exotic Birds and Fruit in the latest edition of the ongoing series he calls “Art On Your Sleeve”. Bruce digs in to a number of aspects of the band’s eighth album, with insights on the choice of art, the lighting and why he thinks the cover might feature birds that have been sedated. Always an interesting take on classic album cover design – enjoy – http://vinylconnection.com.au/2015/02/12/art-on-your-sleeve/

February 12th – 1) Wanted to point you to this article regarding the recent feature done for the CBS News “Sunday Morning” show on famed album cover photographer Henry Diltz, the many responsible for a number of truly memorable photos of acts including CSN&Y, The Doors, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and many others. Reporter Anthony Mason was taken to Diltz’s archive where he was shown a number of images that those of us “Boomers” will acknowledge having seen hundreds of times – the cover shot for JT’s Sweet Baby James LP, the photo of Misters Nash, Stills & Crosby seating on THAT couch in front of THAT house and, of course, the photo of The Doors standing in the window of the somewhat-decrepit Morrison Hotel in Los Angeles. Quite the afternoon, I think…You can watch the segment and view a nice slideshow of a number of Diltz’s photos on the new net’s site via the link at http://www.cbsnews.com/…/capturing-an-era-of-rock-nobility…/

2) While I don’t have a lot of personal experience or knowledge about album cover designers who work for clients in the Latin-music market, I did just run across an interview by a writer working for the NBC News Latino site (named Juan Castillo) with a very-prolific designer by the name of Ruben Cubillos that I thought I’d share. A former performer himself, Cubillos was always impressed with the album art he saw growing up in San Antonio – in particular, the covers and logo designs done for The Commodores – and committed to himself early on to the development of his artistic talents, hoping that he’d one day excel in the field. 150+ record covers later – including ones for musical acts including Ruben Ramos,Selena and Juan Gabriel, to name just a few – Castillo has achieved that goal and looks forward to continuing to bring his artistic sensibilities to his future efforts. More on this at http://www.nbcnews.com/…/latino-album-cover-artist-ruben-cu…

3) Looking to approach your record collection – and find new music, too – in an original and different way? How about searching by color? A site was launched by the design collective called Open Work that is called Predominant.ly and, using computer power to do what I can only imagine a computer can do, fans can search for their favorite records, old and new, by the colors featured in their cover art. Going to the home page, you’re presented with what looks like the color chart found in most image-processing programs. Simply move your cursor to the color you’re most-interested, click it and presto!, you’re given a list of albums where that color is featured predominantly. While I can’t tell you why it exists, it certainly seems to work well. This might be worth some extra looking in to…Read more in the Paste Magazine feature on this intriguing new site –
http://www.pastemagazine.com/…/predominantly-wants-you-to-c…

February 11th – 1) It’s not nice to fool Mother Mitchell – in a recent New York magazine interview article, recounted here by John R. Kennedy for Canada’s Global News site, singer Joni Mitchell explains that the reason why she agreed to appear in blackface on the cover of her 1977 album titled Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter was to “freak out” the photographer who with, according to Ms. Mitchell, she was locked in a psychological battle with that day. As the shoot went on, she would retreat to change into different costumes she’d prepared and, on her fourth change, returned to the set dressed as a black man, tricking the crew who wanted to know who this never-before-seen person was on the set. And even today, Joni still states that she has much in common with black men having, as she’s quoted, experienced what it’s like being one herself.
The interview also touches on many other topics, including her take on the possibility that Taylor Swift (whose music Joni’s never heard) might play Mitchell in a proposed biopic…more via the link – http://globalnews.ca/…/joni-mitchell-reflects-on-posing-in…/

2) As part of the DIY site’s “Hall of Fame:Inside The Artwork” series, writer El Hunt introduces us to photographer Ness Sherry, who gives us the back-story to the wintery B&W image shot for the cover of Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm. While I found the story quite interesting, the one thing that most-impressed me was the fact that, rather than the setting for the photo being some Easter-bloc country’s barren wasteland, it was actually photographed in Northampton, U.K.! This reminded me of a similar photo – the one taken by Brian Griffin and used on the cover of Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame – which, rather than being the result of Brian’s trip to Italy or Russia to find a peasant woman working in a wheat field, was also a scene taken from alongside a highway in England…click on over to DIY Magazine’s site for more – http://diymag.com/…/inside-the-artwork-story-behind-silent-…

3) An author with a doctorate from the International Centre for Music Studies in the U.K., Elodie Roy brings readers a very insightful take on the relationship – a “visual enhancement”, as she calls it – between fans and active participants in today’s various musical cultures and the memorable photographs that have appeared on record albums. While, as a child, she was often frightened by the images she saw on popular albums (remember Peter Gabriel’s “melty face” cover – quite shocking, no?), she admits that, as she grew older, the images she found on retail music packaging actually drew her into the sonic and visual worlds created by each musical act. In a recent editorial she wrote for the PopMatters site, Roy goes on to give us a range of examples of images being used, throughout the history of retail music, to help establish a link between artist and fan (she also gives us a brief look at two new books that help add backup to her contentions). I always felt a strong connection to the art used to package my favorite music – now, there’s scientific proof that it exists! http://www.popmatters.com/…/190093-the-visual-enchantment-…/

February 10th – 1) For as long as rock music has been around, there has been a loyal group of fans of “psychedelia” – the music, the art and the spirituality often found in the art and music – and although it’s been called different things over time (“New Age”, “Transcendentalism”, etc.), one thing is certain – the artwork created by a short list of talented designer/illustrators continues to impress, amaze and occasionally confound viewers and fans of the genre.

In this article on the site for the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technology (IEET), you’ll meet – via text and video – one of the best known “visionary” artists working today, Alex Grey, who, in addition to fine art and illustrations seen in a variety of settings – has created album covers for bands including Tool, David Byrne, Beastie Boys and, with probably his best-known work (his painting Muscle System/Pregnant Woman) for Nirvana, featured on their In Utero album. In an article titled “Psychedelic Spirituality”, you’ll learn more about the artist, his inspirations and the “spiritual and practical uses of the Cannabis plant”. Free your mind and visit http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/grey20150128 for more.

2) I love it when the hometown paper heaps praise on “a local boy done good” (my quotes)…Ravenswood, WV native Don Pendleton and his design team won a Grammy Award this past Sunday (yes, there were other awards handed out to talent that wasn’t Beyonce on that date – sorry, Kanye) and the editors at the Herald-Dispatch proudly made the announcement to his neighbors. Pendleton won for his work on the packaging for Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt record, having been introduced to the band via bassist Jeff Ament, who was a fan of the artist’s work (having purchased examples for his own art collection back in 2009) and a fellow skateboarding aficionado. In addition to the cover art, Pendleton helped create a variety of items to help complete the package (stickers & artwork for each song) and promote the band’s tour and other promo appearances.
Read more of this hometown tribute via the link at http://www.herald-dispatch.com/…/Marshall-grad-Don-Pendleto…

3) It was my sad duty to have reported the death February 9th of Rex Ray, the talented San Francisco Bay-area artist who was responsible for a number of well-known album covers for musical acts including David Bowie, The Residents, Joe Satriani and Matmos, among others. Ray was an extraordinary collage artist and painter whose works are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Berkeley Art Museum, the San Jose Museum of Art and many others. For the past several years, his designs and unique art pieces have been featured in the Jonathan Adler design stores nationwide.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rex several years ago about his work on the cover image for David Bowie’s 2003 release titled Reality (see link, below) and found him to be a very nice guy with a simple approach to art – he just worked hard to create beauty from a variety of materials and, if you look at his portfolio of work, I think that you’ll agree that he accomplished that quite clearly. You can read more about Rex in this article by Sam Whiting on the SFGate web site – http://www.sfgate.com/…/Collage-artist-Rex-Ray-dies-6071830…

and, if you’d like to read my interview with him, follow this link –http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/…/2008/05/cover-story-int…

February 9th – 1) There’s a new show now on display at the Rhode Island School of Design’s Fleet Library that will be of great interest to fans of great design and, more specifically, great album cover design. The show, titled “Jackets Required: 40 Years of Album Cover Design” was organized by librarian (and accomplished record collector) Robert Garzillo and includes 100 covers that appeared during the years 1940 – 1980 featuring the work of many ACHOF “Early Influencers”, including Alex Steinweiss, Saul Bass, Jim Flora, Josef Albers, Andy Warhol and others. The covers represent music released in a number of different genres and give the viewer a good sense of how album art both reflected the designs of the times and also helped take record packaging in new directions. I hope to have more about this show to share with you soon. In the meantime, you can read more about the exhibition – which runs now through March 27th – in Bill Van Siclen’s article in the Providence Journalhttp://www.providencejournal.com/…/20150208-risd-exhibit-al… or on the library’s site at http://library.risd.edu/exhibitions-current.html

2) The Napa Vallery Museum is now hosting a new show featuring works from the portfolio of photographer Guy Webster, the man responsible for many notable album cover images, including covers for The Rolling Stones, The Mamas & The Papas, The Turtles and many others. “Big Shots: The Photography of Guy Webster”, on display now through March 15th, the LA-based Webster was on hand in the 60s – 70s to capture images of rising stars in many aspects of the entertainment industry and, in this show, you’ll find a host of photos of stars including musicians Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Simon & Garfunkel (among others) as well as film/TV stars such as Jack Nicholson, Raquel Welsh and Natalie Wood. On March 12, Guy will be on-hand to do an Artist Talk about his career. I’ve seen videos of his presentations and would highly-recommend attending this talk to anyone in the area…More info on this can be found on the Museum’s site at http://napavalleymuseum.org/?page_id=3063

3) Found an article I thought you all might like about a metal music fan who is working hard – with varying degrees of success – to establish himself as a working photographer covering the genre in Southern California. In this article in the OC Weekly by Rachael Mattice, Adrian Mejia gives us the often-dirty details of what it takes to shoot memorable photographs of musical acts in the clubs and theaters they’re working, all while ducking the punches, kicks, thrown objects and flying bodies often found up in front of the stage during these events. His commitment to his craft has earned him the respect of both the venues he works in and the artists he photographs – now, if he can live long enough to build on to his career, I expect that we’ll be seeing more of his work as time goes on! More via the link at http://blogs.ocweekly.com/…/a_local_metal_photographer_give…

February 8th – And the winners of this year’s Grammy Awards in the packaging categories are:

1) For “Best Recording Package” – the team that produced the package for Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt (on Republic Records) – Jeff Ament, Don Pendleton, Joe Spix & Jerome Turner, art directors

2) For “Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package” – the team that produced the package for The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27) on Third Man/Revenant Records – Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White, art directors

3) For “Best Album Notes” – Ashley Kahn, for his work on Offering: Live At Temple University

Congratulations to all of the winners – to see the complete details of nominees and winners in this category, please click on over to the Grammy site at http://www.grammy.com/Nominees?genre=22

February 6th – 1) Opening today at the museum at Forest Lawn – “Revolutions 2 – The Art of Music”, featuring hundreds of examples of album cover and music-related fine art from an impressive line-up of designers, illustrators, photographers and other contributors to great cover art. On display now through August 2nd, you’ll find prints and original works by artists including Hugh Brown, Ernie Cefalu, Roger Dean, Joe Garnett, Rick Griffin, Kadir Nelson, Joe Petagno, Tom Recchion, Mike Salisbury, Alex Steinweiss, Drew Struzan, Guy Webster and many others. There will be several related events to this show, so please visit the Forest Lawn site at http://forestlawn.com/event/revolutions-2/ to learn more about this exciting event. I hope to have some pictures of the display for you soon, so stay tuned.

2) One of the artists whose works are included in the aforementioned exhibit at Forest Lawn is designer/art director Ernie Cefalu who, over the years, has been responsible for noted album covers for Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Jesus Christ Superstar and many others. For her “Face To Face” series of artist interviews, Linda Woodyard McFadden interviewed Ernie about his role in one of the best-known designs in Rock & Roll history – i.e., the “Lips & Tongue” logo for The Rolling Stones. During this 14-minute video, Linda and Ernie take a look at the “birth” of this design via original sketches, comps and other fascinating pieces that went into “the making of” this iconic design –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eUQn4bJs64&feature=youtu.be

3) Here’s a link to an article in the Taipei Times about the two Taiwanese artists who are nominated for Best Recording Package for their impressive work on the Muddy Basin Ramblers’ Formosa Medicine Show record. Over the years, Taiwan-based artists have been nominated a half-dozen times for submissions in this category, but none has ever won. And while they’re up against some big-name competition (including records for Pearl Jam and the Pixies), last year’s winners were honored for their work for indie band Reckless Kelly, so there’s always a chance that these “underdogs” could win. I’m quite certain that both they (writer David Chen and graphic designer Andrew Wong) and their clients would be VERY happy with a win – http://www.taipeitimes.com/…/feat/arc…/2015/02/02/2003610619

February 5th – 1) Interesting post on the ArtNet site by Cait Munro about musician David Byrne and his affinity towards “outsider art”, shown quite nicely by his commission of one of the world’s most-prolific artists – the late Rev. Howard Finster – to create the cover for the Talking Heads Little Creatures album. Byrne has been collecting works in this genre since the 1980s and continues to visit shows looking for whatever’s new and exciting in the area. To read more about Byrne and his collection, click on over to the article at http://news.artnet.com/i…/david-byrne-on-outsider-art-238262 

If you’re interested in reading more about Finster and his “Paradise Garden” compound and museum in GA, I interviewed the curator – David Leonardis – several years ago and found out more about this fascinating gentleman and the work he did (and why he did it). http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/…/2007/09/cover-story-rem…

2) To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War 1, the city of Liverpool and the Tate Museum have hired legendary album cover designer Sir Peter Blake (of Sgt. Pepper’s and Band Aid fame) to produce a customized design for one of the famed “Ferries Across The Mersey”. The ferry, called “The Snowdrop”, will be re-painted with a unique design called Everybody Razzle Dazzle, and will be launched along with a fully-coordinated schedule of educational programs for schools and opportunities for other local writers and artists to contribute to. Writing for the Liverpool Echo, Catherine Jones provides us with more details and a nice slide show of the artwork created by the now 82-year-old Sir Peter – http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/…/sir-peter-blake-give-merse…

February 4th – As promised, here is a link to the “Albers In Command” FB page – https://www.facebook.com/events/1414938145466313/ There, you’ll find photos of the show on display at The Ace Hotel in LA and get to see some of the actual covers Albers designed in the 1960s. Thanks again to the show’s curator, Nitzan Hermon, for giving us “the inside scoop” on this wonderful display of design talent.

February 3rd – 1) A number of years ago, while I still lived in the NYC area, my wife and I drove out to Long Island’s wine country to see an exhibit of rock & roll fine art that was set up in a barn on a winery’s estate. There, we found a number of album cover prints featuring The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others. The show was put on by a company called “Rock Art Show” who, it turns out, worked with a local radio station to co-promote their activities. Just the other day, I saw an interview with Scott Segelbaum, who started the company back in 1991 and has expanded the collection to include concert photos, gold records and artwork by John Lennon and Ringo Starr (to name just a few). In the interview, he talks about what motivated him to start his business, how he selected what would be shown and how he works hand-in-hand with local radio stations nationwide to bring fans shows of great variety and quality – perfect for us collectors of album cover fine art and photography. Read this interview – conducted by Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media Research – on the company’s site at http://jacobsmediablog.com/…/radios-most-innovative-scott-…/

2) Its wonderful to see someone whose career began in the album art world now make strong showings in the “fine art world”. Ryan McGinness, a NYC-based artist, did his first album cover work while still an art school student (doing covers for Gerald Levert, Speed McQueen and Inner Circle in the mid-late 1990s), is the subject of a new show titled Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit now on display (through April 19th) at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Virginia Beach. In 2009, the museum commissioned Ryan to create a work of art for the museum’s collection, and the new show works to give viewers a look behind the scenes of the artist’s process as he created this 16-panel work. Read more about it on the museum’s web site – http://www.virginiamoca.org/ryan-mcginness-studio-visit

February 2nd – 1) My ongoing research has led me to the site of photographer Emilie Sandy, where I found info/imagerly on a project she did several years back that, if you haven’t seen it already, you should take the time to do so. Called “Deja Vu”, Sandy recruited a number of highly-regarded music industry photographers – Anton Corbijn, Bob Gruen, Chris Gabrin, Gered Mankowitz and many others – to work with her to “recreate” one of their best-known photos, and the results are really impressive. You’ll see well-known album cover shots for Elvis Costello, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash and many others redone to now feature their creators in the starring roles. Great idea, very well-executed. I will find out more and report back to you all with additional info as I get it – in the meantime, enjoy the show – http://emiliesandy.com/portrait/deja-vu/

2) With the credit for the album cover shot for one of the past year’s best-selling records – Grammy-nominated singer Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour – bringing her work to a much-larger audience, it seems that London-based photographer Stephanie Sian Smith still finds time to shoot beautiful images of her friends, the world around her and her cat Ron while taking care of the editorial and portrait needs of her ever-expanding list of clients. In this new video (sponsored by Nikon) on The Telegraph‘s site, you’ll get a chance to meet Ms. Smith and follow her while she works on a recent project – shooting portraits of young women with their cats (sounds like she’d have some experience on the subject, no?) –http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/stephanie-sian-smith-photograp…

That’s all for now – look for updates every week day on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back next month with another summary for you.

Album Cover News Recap – January, 2015

Album Cover News Recap – January, 2015

By Mike Goldstein – Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

The new year brings an ongoing stream of news in the world of Album Cover Art and Artists, with winners selected in the annual Best Art Vinyl voting and the day drawing near (Feb. 8th, to be exact) when we’ll find out who has been honored with this year’s Grammy Awards in the Packaging Categories. Nominees were also announced for “best album cover” in several other award shows world-wide, with those winners to be announced at various times over the next several months (keep your eye on our News Feed for the latest updates).

While a few sites/publications were a little slow in releasing the results of the “Best Of” and “Worst Of” lists for the previous year, Time and Talent marches on, with January being another busy album cover news-related month. Continuing to be popular are articles focusing on album art themes, including covers featuring food as the subject and the desolate landscapes often featuring on Alternative Rock/Grunge sleeves, along with another article on truly “bad” or “disturbing” covers (you know them when you see them, don’t you?). A number of new shows and exhibitions launched during the month featuring the works of artists and photographers from all areas of the art world, including famed Bauhaus/Yale designer Josef Albers, multi-media artist Christian Marclay, folk artist and self-proclaimed rock superstar “Mingering Mike”, Japanese “emoge” artist Tatsuya Shingyouji and modern classicist Kehinde Wiley, along with photographers Baron Wolman, Jason DeBord and Mark Weiss, among many others.

There were also examples of artists from other disciplines re-imagining album cover images as if they were done by European Modernists or by your best friend’s Mom on an Etch-A-Sketch (!!).  There were new books released featuring the work by a variety of accomplished artists for bands big (e.g., the Rolling Stones) and small, along with many interviews with creatives making their mark in the music/art world. Of note are two interviews with people that are well-known for their musical talents – Paul Simonon of The Clash and Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs – who are now happy to show us their talents in the visual arts and talk about the relationships between the two disciplines.

Of course, I’m hoping that you were able to take a look at the many new biographies posted on the ACHOF site – I’m working hard to update those already there with new information and to add another 50-75 new ones before taking a break to work on a book-related project (more to come on this later). I’m working on lining up some new interviews with some very talented men and women who make at least part of their living in the world of album cover art but, in the meantime, here’s your chance to catch up on news you may have missed while you were out shoveling snow, watching your favorite teams win/lose or doing whatever it is that makes you happy and satisfied. As I’ve said many times, regardless of how hectic your lives may be, there’s no reason that you should go without up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics (don’t you agree?), so you can be sure that we’ll continue to work (nearly) every day to continue our efforts to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site.

January 30 – 1) Noisey/Vice writer Tony Rettman has posted a nice interview with Hardcore art star Sean Taggart in which he chronicles his rise from late 70s metal fan thru early 80s NYC punker to album cover illustrator for the genre’s top acts, including Agnostic Front, Crumbsuckers, Twitching Tongues, Cro-Mags and many others. Taggart’s art is intricately-detailed…the type of art that draws you in to look for all of the things you didn’t see the first five times you looked at it (depending a lot, of course, on your state of inebriation at the time). Rettman’s got a book out on the subject, so he’s good at digging deep into the mind of this talented artist – http://noisey.vice.com/blog/sean-taggart-interview

2) Writing for the Metro UK site, author Caroline Westbrook shares a collection of album cover images that seem to have truly disturbed her and, based on the covers included in her list of “album cover nightmares you can never unsee”, a lot of her fears for her sanity are quite well-founded. There are several covers that tend to make lists like this one, but the author does work hard to cross multiple genres and include examples from both obscure genres/labels and those meant to shock as well. Glad to see both 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be (the first officially-designated “obscene” cover) and the soundtrack for “karatist preacher” Mike Crain on the list – is there anything missing, you think?

http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/30/joyce-dick-black-and-2-live-crew-15-album-cover-nightmares-you-can-never-unsee-5043162/

3) As a follow-up to my recent headline about the new “Albers In Command” show that launches in Los Angeles this weekend, I would like to point you to some additional info and commentary on the subject that has been posted by the exhibit’s curators. You’ll find some additional details on the label Albers was commissioned by, particularly Enoch Light, whose releases on the Command Records label were engineered to highlight the advantages of a high-quality sound system…learn more via the following link – https://medium.com/vvvvvv-studio/albers-in-command-b3184edd7746

January 29 – 1) Album cover artist Shepard Fairey, whose work under the OBEY Giant moniker has provided him with a well-documented place in the history of “subversive” artwork, was seen in a cameo role in a recent episode of IFC’s Portlandia tv show playing, as you might guess, a clerk in an art store here that specializes in “shocking art supplies” – smashed TV sets, baby dolls in various poses, upside-down American flags and other basic needs for use by any serious producer of “scandalous” artwork. ArtNet News writer Eileen Kinsella was kind enough to post a link to their exclusive preview of Mr. Fairey’s work alongside Fred and Carrie – pretty cute, I think – http://news.artnet.com/art-world/take-an-exclusive-look-at-shepard-faireys-portlandia-cameo-219411

2) Artist Christian Marclay, whose “Sleevage-style” works combining sections of well-known album covers to create something new and fun (you might even say “shocking”) are just one example of his career-long efforts to combine music and art, will be the subject of a new solo exhibition that launched the weekend of Jan. 30 at the White Cube Bermondsey gallery in London. In addition to many new examples of his multi-media work, the gallery will play host to an ongoing series of events and performances, including a program this weekend by the London Sinfonietta. Of particular note for fans of the LP-making process, vinyl record manufacturer The Vinyl Factory and art printing house Coriander Studio will be installing and operating a full-bore record plant, showing visitors the entire production process of making and packaging an album. More info on the gallery’ site – http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/christian_marclay_bermondsey_2015/

January 28 – Two new photo shows and a chance to see an original classic cover painting:

1) From now through May 10, 2015, the Reading (PA) Public Museum is host to a show built around shots from the amazing photo archive of Baron Wolman, the photographer credited with being one of the first – and most-recognized – photo-journalists in the modern Rock era. Titled “Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and The Early Years of Rolling Stone“, the show (according to the Museum’s web site) “…allows guests to explore how photographers and editors of Rolling Stone guided the creation of the “rockstar” persona, from concert, to cover, to icon. Immortalized by writers, filmmakers, and musicians from Stephen King to Dr. Hook, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine has embodied generations of popular culture.” Wolman’s photos also appeared on a number of record covers for artists including Janis Joplin, Chuck Berry, Booker T. & The MGs, Tony Bennett and many others, so if you find yourself om the road from Philly to Harrisburg and are looking for an interesting side trip, be sure to stop and see this fine show, curated by Ben Ahlvers of the Lawrence (KS) Art Center – http://www.readingpublicmuseum.org/museum/exhibits/exhibitions/backstagepass.php

2) Over 40 photos from the collection of Pattie Boyd will be on display for six weeks – beginning with an RSVP-only reception on Saturday, February 14th – in a show at the San Francisco Art Exchange titled “Like A Rainbow; Love & Inspiration – Photographs by Pattie Boyd”. While most rock fans know of Ms. Boyd’s history as the muse/wife for George Harrison and Eric Clapton, for years collectors have been impressed with her photos taken from her life as a chronicler of, and active participant in, rock and roll history. To make the show even more intriguing, the gallery will have, on display for the first time in the U.S., the painting used for the cover artwork on Clapton’s epic Layla album (how cool is that?). To see a selection of the photos that will be on display, and to learn more about SFAE’s show, click on the link – http://www.sfae.com/index.php?pg=400114

January 27 – Two design-oriented articles for your reading pleasure:

1) Was doing some cover-related research and followed a link to a site that I thought you might enjoy. Many album cover artists are also commissioned to produce the entire graphics package for their clients, bringing their design sense to merchandise, set design and, more commonly, gig/tour posters. So intrigued was he with the variety of styles found on such posters that one designer – Mike Joyce of NYC’s Stereotype Design studio – has developed quite the sideline – that being, recreating punk, rock, new wave and indie show posters in his own style, with the text in each design set in the lowercase Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium (not Helvetica) typeface. On his site, you’ll find (and are able to buy) prints of designs for hundreds of shows that took place at a myriad of venues over a 30+ year period. A fascinating display (although I personally would have like to have seen some of the original poster images, just as points of comparison). In any case, it’s another great example of one artist’s creativity being influenced by years of great music industry design – http://www.swissted.com/

2) Keeping in the European Modernist mindset…long after former Bauhaus (the design school shut down by the Nazis in the early 1930s and not the British goth band lead by Peter Murphy) instructor Josef Albers came to the U.S. to teach at Yale’s department of design (leaving to work independently in 1958), he was hired by “lounge music” label Command Records to create several album covers. Working alongside label owners Enoch Light and George Schwager, Albers brought his minimalist design sensibilities to bear and created covers that still impress. A collection of these covers was found by studio VVVVVV creative director Nitzan Hermon and are the basis of a new exhibition launching on January 31st at the Ace Hotel gallery in Los Angeles. Titled Albers In Command, the display is all the more special as it represents almost all of Albers’ commercial work (aside for a book cover done in 1934). At 2pm on the 31st, Hermon will lead a presentation – complete with music samples and prints from designers commissioned specifically for this event – that will certainly be a must-see for die-hard fans of album cover design. For more information, please read writer Steven Heller’s intro to the display on The Atlantic web site – http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/when-bauhaus-met-lounge-music/384711/ or click on this link to the gallery’s events page for details and directions – http://www.acehotel.com/calendar/losangeles/albers-command

January 26 – 1) Paste Magazine‘s food editor Sara Bir started off our week with a selection of 24 food-themed album covers. Some – such as The Who’s The Who Sell Out, Warhol’s banana cover for The Velvets and Whipped Cream & Other Delights for Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass – are well-known “classics”, but you’ll find many lesser-known examples from all genres of music. I’m glad that she included one of the Ohio Players’ honey-based covers and it has piqued my research genes to find others. Does Judas Priest’s Rock-A-Rolla (reimagining the Coke logo) count? Slideshow is available via the link – http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/01/hungry-sounds-album-covers-featuring-food.html

2) The Smithsonian’s American Art Museum will be launching a new exhibition at the end of February to display a collection of album covers for records that never were, created by an artist in the late 60s – early 70s who went by the name “Mingering Mike”. TItled “Mingering Mike’s Supersonic Greatest Hits”, the show is possible only due to the fact that the covers were discovered by a record collector at a flea market several years ago after having been somehow lost to the original artist. On February 27th, there will be a panel discussion featuring Mingering Mike (who’ll appear in costume) along with the collector who found him – sometimes, when you don’t find exactly what you want, it just makes sense to make it on your own, I guess… http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2015/mingering_mike/

January 23 – 1) Throughout album cover art history, there have been many examples of stylistic themes that have dominated certain periods of design – think about how many covers in the mid-late 1960s sported “psychedelic” colors and typestyles and the covers for records by early rap stars that featured band members standing in a semi-circle and looking down menacingly at the photographer…Catching us up on a trend that started 30 years ago and that still seems to be a popular theme even today, the editors for the music pages on the Death & Taxes site take us on a stroll through “The Grunge Forest”, showing us examples of barren landscapes that have been included in both album cover and music video imagery. You’ll enjoy revisiting these images from acts including U2, David Sylvian, Live, Nirvana and many others – http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/233546/enter-the-grunge-forest/ Hope that your local greenery is in better shape than the examples you’ll find here…

2) In his ongoing effort to establish himself as the supreme talent in both the music and art worlds, Kanye West has worked hard to bring his own imprint on album cover design via the work of his DONDA agency. To catalog the string of artistic designs generated for DONDA clients – for both singles and albums – HotNewHipHop writer Chris Tart has assembled a portfolio of the agency’s works and provided them to us in a nice slideshow featuring covers for acts including Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, ASAP Rocky, John Legend, Mr. West and others. Each image includes a brief description of the relationships that exist between Yeezus and his client base. http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/a-complete-list-of-kanye-west-s-donda-designed-music-artwork-news.13645.html?gallery-24783-photo-0

January 22 – 1) In another fascinating display of both creative artistry and someone with way too much time on her hands, Philly-based artist Alli Katz shows us what can be done with both in this display of classic album art done on an Etch-A-Sketch. In the slide show featured in Fast Company writer John Paul Titlow’s recent article on the subject, you’ll find faithfully-reproduced covers of records by The Beatles, David Bowie, Springsteen, Sonic Youth and several others. I’m particularly impressed with her version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours LP – what say you? http://www.fastcocreate.com/3040876/these-classic-album-covers-were-drawn-on-an-etch-a-sketch

2) Just downloaded a free guide published by DiscMakers called “The Musician’s Guide To Vinyl” and thought that I might share the link with those of you who might be interested in learning a bit more about both “the making of” vinyl records and things you should consider – including an impactful album cover design – if you’re setting out to release your own music in this format. While they didn’t spend a lot of time on the subject of album cover design, I did visit their site afterwards and found a lot more info, along with a number of good case studies, on the topic, published by their in-house design team. Warning – you will have to provide contact info in order to download the guide, but it’s a small price to pay for the info you’ll get (I think) – http://www.discmakers.com/request/musicians-guide-to-vinyl.asp?

January 21 – 1) Former President Bush is not the only one who is eager to show off his painting skills (?) later in life…In this article on the ArtDaily site, you’ll learn more about a new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London featuring the works of Clash bassist Paul Simonon. The show is titled “Wot No Bike” and puts on display a series of oil paintings the former Byam Shaw School of Art student recently completed. An avid biker, the images are representative of Simonon’s own motorcycle-related effects – jackets, gloves, boots, etc. – and, according to the artist’s site, “the paintings are as much self-portraits as they are still lifes. By rendering possessions that he uses on an almost every day basis, Simonon transmutes Wot no Bike into a visual diary in paint.” The show runs now through the 6th of February – http://artdaily.com/news/75884/Paul-Simonon-presents-a-series-of-new-paintings-at-London-s-Institute-of-Contemporary-Arts

2) The French Canadian music arts organization known as the APCM has released the list of nominees for its annual Trille Or awards, with five records, featuring the works of four design professionals, nominated for “Best Album Cover” (“Meilleure pochette”, in French):

Christian Pelletier, for Alter Ego by Le Paysagiste;

David Langis, Hannah Ford for Le Scone à soir by Le Scone;

Guy Dutrisac for Perles et paraboles by YAO;

Marc Girouard for Papillon by Gabrielle Goulet, and

Christian Pelletier for Silence Radio by En bref

The winners will be announced and awards handed out at the gala ceremony set for May 7th. Que le meilleur concepteur gagner! To read about the rest of the nominees, please visit the APCM site at http://www.apcm.ca/apcm-gala-des-prix-trille-or/nouvelles/pleins-feux-sur-les-artistes-en-lice-pour-le-gala-des-prix and don’t forget your French dictionary!

January 20 – 1) To coincide with the release of a new series of limited-edition silkscreen prints of over 40 of his best-known images (currently on display in an exhibition at the Art629 Gallery in Asbury Park, NJ), the editors at New Jersey Stage magazine have published an interview they did with photographer Bob Gruen during which they touched on a number of topics, including his experiences shooting rock royalty including John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Debbie Harry, Bob Dylan, The Ramones, etc., his feelings about the demise of many famous rock venues and his take on the benefits/drawbacks of allowing fans to bring their camera-equipped phones to concerts. There are also links to a couple of video interviews with Gruen in the article allowing us to see/hear him expand on some of the topics included in the interview. The show runs from now until February 28th, with Mr. Gruen on hand to sign copies of his latest photo book – See Hear Yoko – February 8th. http://www.njartsmag.com/new-jersey-stage-january-2015/0595784001421535801/p7

2) I was doing some research when I ran across a recent posting by Richard Butler – frontman of The Psychedelic Furs and an accomplished visual artist – during which he attempts to define the differences between “art” and “design”. He promotes three distinct differences, with design appearing to be a much more practical pursuit, and then includes a link to a video of Rex Ray – the man responsible for both a wide range of beautiful products found in the Jonathan Adler retail stores and distinctive album cover designs for David Bowie, The Residents and many others – in which Mr. Ray explains how he manages to keep his careers in both design and fine art separate-but-equally fun and challenging. Butler’s site and blog are consistently interesting reads – http://www.richardbutlerstudio.com/?p=37

January 19 – 1) The latest installment in writer Abigail Radnor’s ongoing series in The Guardian that she calls “That’s Me In The Picture”, the author tracks down and interviews the world’s best-known album cover naked baby swimming in a pool, Spencer Elden. Taken when he was just 4 months old, Spencer’s parents shared a mutual friend with photographer Kirk Weddle and responded positively when asked if they wanted to earn a quick $200 by throwing their newborn into a pool, with the resulting photo creating album cover history. He’s gotten over the fact that millions of people world-wide have seen his little penis over the past 24 years, but he’s still amazed that people claim to recognize him from time to time when he’s out in public…Ms. Radnor’s series focuses on people who’ve appeared in famous photos, with this latest posting available via the link –http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/16/thats-me-picture-spencer-elden-nirvana-nevermind

2) In reading the personal histories of many visual artists who work in the music business, one theme you’ll find over and over again is that a percentage of these creative individuals took up design or photography as a way to attach themselves to the music world since they had little or no musical skills themselves (all of us wannabe rock stars who gave up the pursuit of a career as a musician can most-certainly relate, right?). In a recent article about die-hard music fan-turned-photographer Jason DeBord – whose work is featured in a new show staged at the Monterey County Weekly’s new venue called the Press Club Gallery – tells about his journey from fan-with-a-camera to a photo pro whose images have appeared in galleries and museum shows alongside album cover photo greats including Ethan Russell and Tom O’Neal. There’s also a companion piece in which he shares the details of the times he’s met some of the industry’s best-known performers. This article proves that “stick-to-it-ievness” can a passion for what you do can certainly pay off in the long run…http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/cover/a-fan-turned-photographer-stocks-the-press-club-s-first/article_74f376f4-9c4a-11e4-bd63-af4988af8a4f.html?mode=jqm

January 16 – 1) With John Kerry in the news a lot these days, this seemed timely –  on Jan. 21, Mr. Kerry presented the US State Dept’s Medal of Arts to the artist Kehinde Wiley, the talented painter who is best-known to album cover art fans for the painting he created for Santigold’s hit 2012 record Master Of My Make Believe. I had the pleasure of seeing a showing of some of Wiley’s work at the Brooklyn Art Museum several years back and, since then, his stylish portraits of African-American subjects set in classic European settings have garnered a great deal of attention in the fine art world. Beginning in late February, The Brooklyn Museum will be launching a major exhibition of Wiley’s work titled “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic”, giving fans old and new an opportunity to fully-appreciate the scope of this artist’s talents. More on this in Sarah Cascone’s article on the artnet News site – http://news.artnet.com/art-world/john-kerry-will-present-the-state-department-medal-of-arts-to-kehinde-wiley-220370

I found a very nice video on YouTube detailing “the making of” the Santigold cover – well worth the watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQvCwOxY3jQ

2) Launched on Jan. 16 at the MPLS Photo Center in Minneapolis, MN is a new exhibition featuring the works of a number of photographers who work in the rock music arena. Titled (I think) “The World of Rock & Roll Photography”, the show is an opportunity to see a nice collection of images taken by photographers both local and national in scope, and the Center is also hosting a juried exhibition where shooters of all stripes can submit their best shots for review by a group of established rock photographers including Paul Natkin, who has produced an impressive portfolio of portraits of well-known musicians over the years and whose work is also included in the show. The collection is on display from now until March 1st, with more info available via the link – http://www.mplsphotocenter.com/exhibits/current-exhibits.php

January 15 – 1) Vinyl record recycler/designer Jeff Davis at Vinylux has come up with a VERY cool new device – an amplifier for your guitar and/or mobile device made out of recycled vinyl records! Called the “Vinyltone”, each unit is hand-made and is built around state-of-the-art technology. Power is provided by a 9-V battery, with separate controls for volume and gain. You can attach your smartphone via an 1/8″ to 1/4″ plug adaptor (not included) and, if you’d like a floor-standing version, simply attach your practice amp to any standard camera tripod. Jeff’s company also makes bowls, picture frames, notebooks and more from recycled records and album covers, so it is nice to see him continuing to innovate to bring music fans these wonderful items. The retail price of the Vinyltone is $150 (check his site for availability), and you can find out more about the company on the Vinylux web site – http://vinylux.net/

2) Many (if not most) album cover designers have also produced graphics and imagery for their clients’ promo posters and, as you’ll learn in Roger McNamee’s recent posting on the Relix.com site, their status as “the unsung heroes” in the music and fine art businesses is just as confounding. Rather than wallow in frustration, McNamee created a consortium of artists to produce great art for his musical group’s ( Moonalice ) performances and, since 2007, has been able to offer fans over 750 different posters at affordable prices. Soon, he’ll be taking it one step further as he’s just received funding to create what will be called the Haight Street Art Center in San Francisco later this year. At the center, artists will be able to produce silkscreens, lithos and other styles of poster and then display them in an attached gallery space (yes, I’m jealous!). I hope to learn more about these efforts and report back to you soon but, in the meantime, read Roger’s posting to learn more – http://www.relix.com/articles/detail/my_page_roger_mcnamee_preserving_poster_art

January 14 – Hip-Hop site Boom Box is staging its second annual reader poll for the “Album Cover Of The Year” (2015), and this year’s nominees represent quite a collection of talent and progressive art. Included in the poll are several covers that topped most of the 2014 year-end polls, including LP1 by FKAtwigs, Run The Jewels 2 and And Then You Shoot Your Cousin by The Roots, as well as entries by YG, Wu-Tang Clan and many others. The poll is open to all and they’ll be tallying all votes entered before 10AM EST on February 16, so please take a look at the entries and add your votes. Of course, you’ll find the results here on the ACHOF site as soon as they’re announced – http://theboombox.com/album-cover-of-the-year-2015-the-boombox-fan-choice-awards/

January 13 – 1) While the recorded music business in the U.S. was centered in the NYC area, talent was enlisted from all over the country to contribute to the designs used to package and promote music products, with the state of California home to a large contingent of designers, illustrators and photographers. In the new book Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936–1986 (titled this way due to the constant changes in the state brought about by its environment and population and how those changes inspired and shaped design there) published this week in the U.K. by Thames & Hudson, you’ll find a collection of promo imagery for music, film and other events done by artists who have contributed greatly to album cover/concert poster art – John Van Hamersveld, Gene Howard and Earl Newman, among others. Writing for The Guardian, Corrine Jones provides and introduction and a nice selection of examples from the book – http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/jan/10/the-best-californian-graphic-designs-1936-1986-in-pictures

Knowing that Ernie Cefalu, Nick Egan, Drew Struzan, Kosh and others based in CA are continuing to contribute to the state’s impressive portfolio of examples of great design, I’m hoping that someone will do a follow-up book, taking us from 1987 to present…

2) Artist Tatsuya Shingyouji, best known for his contributions to the anime-style pornographic video game industry (AKA “emoge”) so popular in Japan, has just published a new collection of re-interpretations of classic rock album covers, updated to include characters done in the time-honored, “Speed Racer”-style cartoon look. The mash-up of classic scenes, poses and colors with the voluptuous, wide-eyed characters found in Shingyouji’s art are truly compelling – sometimes funny, always fascinating – and another example of classic album packaging continuing to inspire artists world-wide to take things “to a whole, nother level”. Scott Green’s article on the Cruncyroll site is illustrated with several great examples, including covers for Queen, Prince, Pink Floyd, ELP and more – enjoy – http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2015/01/11/classic-era-artist-illustrates-another-set-of-madoka-magica-classic-album-cover-parodies

January 12 – 1) The tradition of fine album cover art continues to be carried on by a number of talented and motivated artists – this statement is certainly backed up by several of the impressive examples included in Rachael Steven’s latest installment in the “Record Sleeves of the Month” section of the Creative Review site. Many different approaches to intriguing music packaging are on display – fine photography, illustration and design – with several examples of quality die-cutting that adds even greater dimension to the images presented. I particularly like the design of the box set package that holds one version of The Decemberists recently-released new album What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World. For $69.98, buyers get (in addition to an autographed copy of the music on vinyl) several limited-edition prints done by the album cover designer (Carson Ellis), embroidered patches and a 14″ x 20″ “Masonic” satin banner. Read Ms. Steven’s rundown of the latest and greatest via the link at http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/december/record-sleeves-of-the-month and take a look at the special Decemberists fan package at http://www.myplaydirect.com/the-decemberists/deluxe-autographed-box-set-digital-album/details/33256560?feature-name=pre-order&feature=33227180

2) While there have been a number of musical acts that have shown a talent for the graphic arts as well, I find myself particularly impressed with the paintings of John Mellencamp and, apparently, my feelings are not unique in that there have been several exhibitions of his works over the years, the most-recent on having opened on January 11 at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA. Titled “American Dreams: Paintings By John Mellancamp, the exhibit features a large collection of his mixed-media and oil paintings and will be on display until April 12th of this year. Mellencamp decided early on in his artistic career that he’d focus on his music but, after years of training in the visual arts, I’m for one quite happy that he has since taken the time to explore, quite nicely, his painterly side as well. Additional details here on the Art Daily site – http://artdaily.com/news/75626/-American-Dreams–Paintings-by-John-Mellencamp–opens-at-the-Morris-Museum-of-Art

January 9 – 1) I am always impressed to find artists that have been motivated to re-imagine classic album cover art in new and exciting ways, so it’s my pleasure to introduce you to the work of Brazilian artist (and creative director at the Ópera Comunicação agency in Sao Paolo) Rafa Melandi, who has redone a series of well-known heavy metal album covers to present them as if they’d been created by 1950s’- 60s jazz record cover designers. You’ll find new versions of records such as Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Judas Priest’s British Steel and many others. Rafa’s tribute to the early greats in album cover design can be found on his Behance site at https://www.behance.net/gallery/22172745/Metazz-Metal-Album-Covers-Redesigned

Looking forward to new additions as they’re released.

2) Using Google’s Street View utility, Metro writer Stephen Marr has located the original settings for a number of well-known album covers and has set up a gallery of them with the ability to slide left-to-right (and back) to see the “before and after” versions – i.e., the actual locations and then the view given to us on the record cover. He’s scouted locations in the U.S. and U.K. to bring us the current views of well-known cover photos for Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Oasis, Pink Floyd, The Streets and several others. You’ll find that many spots still look remarkably the same, while others have gone through, let’s say, some “modernization”, but it’s cool to see them nonetheless. Click on over to http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/02/guess-the-classic-album-covers-from-these-google-street-view-snaps-5006837/ to find your favorites.

January 8 – Two items for fans of rock (music) photography:

1) Here’s an nice example of a well-known album cover photographer using his works to better the world – Mark Weiss, best-known for his photos of rock music icons including Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and many others in the “heavier” end of the spectrum, is auctioning off a number of his photo prints to raise money for two humanitarian organizations – Light Of Day (which works on helping those afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease) and Lunch Break, a NJ-based organization that provides assistance to those who have difficulty affording food. In the last two years, Mark’s efforts have raised over $30,000 for these organizations, and his current auction on Charitybuzz.com looks to continue his efforts. You can read more about Mark and his charitable efforts (and find a link to take you to see what’s available in his latest fund-raising auction) in this article by John Pfeiffer on The Aquarian Weekly web site – http://www.theaquarian.com/2015/01/07/light-of-day-winterfest-2015-world-renowned-rock-photographer-mark-weiss-auctions-off/

2) Over in “Rock City” – i.e., Cleveland, OH – the work of local photographer Walter Novak is the subject of a new exhibition at the Cleveland Rock Gallery on Waterloo Road, presented by Space:Rock Gallery, titled “Walter Novak – He’s Back”. Included in the show are over 50 photographs of both locally-and-internationally known music acts – including The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Van Halen, Soundgarden and many more – taken during the Czech-born shooter’s career providing imagery to both local and national publications. Read Cleveland Plain Dealer writer John Petrovic’s article on the show and the talent behind it via the link – http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/01/cleveland_photographer_walter.html

January 7 – Follow-up on two previously-mentioned items:

1) The crew behind the new Taschen Gallery in LA have generated a lot of publicity both for their gallery and the book/collection behind their opening exhibition, titled “It’s Just A Shot Away: The Rolling Stones In Photographs” and featuring over 100 images of the Rolling Stones taken over the years (including several album cover photos, such as David Bailey’s memorable shot of Mr. Jagger for Goats Head Soup) by a number of talented shooters including Bailey, Gered Mankowitz, Terry Richardson and Ethan Russell, among others. The show runs through the end of the month, but if you’re unable to make it to the gallery during its run, the editorial staff on the Artsy site have put together a nice illustrated article for you – https://artsy.net/post/editorial-taschen-offers-the-rolling-stones-visual-greatest?

2) Last April, I wrote about the work of a mysterious visual artist by the name of “Harvezt” who maintains a Flickr site featuring artwork he’s created that works to show famous album covers as if the viewer is now looking at these scenes from behind. The collection has now expanded to include over 30 such scenes, allowing viewers to see covers including Nirvana’s Nevermind, Iron Maiden’s Killers, Bowie’s Aladdin Sane and many others from an entirely different perspective. Who knew that there was an actual image of the “Stairway To Heaven”? Paste Magazine’s Jeff Pearson gives us an update in today’s posting – you’re sure to find something new and controversial there (I still can’t find this guy – any clues?)…http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/01/the-dark-side-of-album-art-series-by-artist-harvez.html

January 6 – 1) The winners of the 2014 Best Art Vinyl album cover competition have been announced, with the top 3 spots going to 1) Royal Blood’s Royal Blood (design by Richard Welland and illustration by Dan Hillier), 2) FKA twigs’ LP1 (artwork by Jesse Kanda) and 3) Future Islands’ Singles (design by Matt de Jong and artwork by Beth Hoeckel). In its tenth year of popular polling, voters from all over the world selected covers from major and indie labels, with several of the top vote-getters having appeared on a number of year-end “Best Of” lists, while other lesser-known works obviously impressing fans of music art with their ingenuity and beauty. You can take a look at the whole list on the Art Vinyl site at http://www.bestartvinyl.com/previous-winners/2014.html and, for a more in-depth look, read Angus Montgomery’s overview in this article on the Design Week web site – http://www.designweek.co.uk/3039593.article

Congratulations to the winners!

2) Scottish photographer David Boni, known world-wide for his controversial photograph featured on the cover of The Stranglers’ 2012 album Giants, is garnering a lot of attention these days with a new exhibition of photos of six women who are coming up with interesting and cathartic methods (via the destruction of objects meant to represent whatever trauma they may have experienced) of dealing with the most-traumatic experiences in their lives. Titled “Behind The Social Media Mask” and produced in conjunction with the anonymous social media site Pencourage.com, the show will launch in London and travel to other venues in the U.K., letting viewers experience the powerful images themselves and, perhaps, help them deal with their own demons in an artistic way. More on this in this article on the Herald Scotland site – http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/shocking-new-exhibition-by-controversial-photographer-illuminating-dark-corners-of-ou.26176054

January 5 – 1) Just heard from Emily at Hypergallery in the U.K. (nice to hear from you, Emily!) – for fans of album cover art, it is a business dedicated to exhibiting and publishing high-quality art prints from an impressive list of album cover designers and photographer and definitely worth a visit. In any case, I clicked on over to their site and found a very nice interview they published recently with Marc Bessant (an album cover designer and head of design for Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios) in which he gives us a run-down of his favorite album cover designs (and why they rank so highly with him). His love for cover design spans a number of decades and genres, making this a very interesting and insightful Monday morning read – http://hypergallery.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/whats-your-favourite-record-sleeve-of.html

2) Writing for Goldmine Magazine, Susan Sliwicki just posted an informative article about one of the album cover art world’s most-intriguing packages – that being the one for The Beatles’ Yesterday & Today which, in addition to the two well-known covers (those being known as “the Butcher Cover” and “the Trunk Cover”), were also recorded in several different formats which, of course, collectors must all have. Add those to the various digital versions and their respective packages and, I’m estimating, you can spend the better part of a year digging through (and the better part of your savings buying). To get a better understanding of the details before beginning any quest to own one of everything, click on over to this article – http://www.goldminemag.com/article/variations-beatles-yesterday-and-today-lp-cause-collecting-confusion?

January 2 – Here are a couple of new stories to kick off the year (my summary of album cover news for the month of December will be posted later today):

1) The folks at the VH-1 site have put together a nice compilation/slideshow of their choices for the best (or, as they put it, “most important”) music magazine covers for 2014. As you might figure, most of the photographers that produced these impactful images have many album cover credits as well (unfortunately, for most, album cover work doesn’t pay all of their bills!) – you’ll find the work of Steven Klein, Miller Mobley, Tom Medvedich and other noted industry shooters on pix of artists including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Dr. Dre (who’d have thought that the last two would ever be mentioned in the same sentence?). To see the list, click on over to Chris Rosa’s article – http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2015-01-02/2014-magazine-covers/

2) Not sure if everyone has seen the article on the “interactive” album package produced for DJ Qbert’s new record Extraterrestria (I’d seen a posting in early January) but, after doing a bit of research, I thought that I’d continue promoting it a bit as I think that it’s another fine example of how smart music marketers can come up with unique products to help separate their products from the thousands released and promoted each year. Combine novel technology, a tech-savvy audience and a limited-edition/”cool factor” off the charts and you have a winning package that fans (and non-fans) will clamor for. Hope to see more of these as time goes on – in the meantime, congratulations to all involved (Algoriddim for their DJ app and Novalia for their impressive technology, as well as the musical act for their bravery and promo smarts). See more on the Fact Magazine site – http://www.factmag.com/2014/12/31/dj-qberts-new-album-sleeve-doubles-as-a-dj-controller/

That’s all for now – look for updates every week day on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back next month with another summary for you.

Album Cover News Recap – December, 2014

Album Cover Hall of Fame Album Cover News Recap – December, 2014

2014 finished off with a bang with regards to album cover-related news, with one album cover image – the one found on the cover of LP1 by FKA twigs (her popular debut record) – garnering the most mentions in our recap of the 20+ “Best Of” and “Worst Of” album art articles published by many of the magazines, sites and blogs that cover the topic.

Above and beyond these year-end lists, December was another busy album cover news-related month. As the popularity of vinyl records continues to grow, reports of successful sales of limited-edition packages peppered the news – it seems as though many musicians, record labels and their design teams have decided to explore this area again and have stepped up to the table with impressive (and, in the case of DJ Qbert’s Extraterrestria, interactive) packaging.

The new year ended with the announcement of the names of the nominees for the 2015 Grammy Awards in the album packaging categories and the release of many new books featuring the work of photographers, designers and illustrators active in the album art world, with several of them also supported by museum and/or gallery shows. The work of photographers Glen E. Friedman, Gene Spitz,  Bob Minkin, Art Kane and Bob Gruen, along with artist Michael Fishel and the Hipgnosis design team were all featured in new books, with one book, titled Rock Covers (published by Taschen), compiling the works of many of these talented people in a 550+ page illustrated tome.

Album art fans were also treated to several interviews with folks that have important roles in the record cover world, such as exhibition curator Dave Brolan (re: his shows for Gibson Guitars), designers Vaughan Oliver and Aubrey Powell and musician Greg Lake (lamenting the loss of album cover art) along with info on the work of design teams that, for various reasons, created some excitement by riffing on classic album artwork to create updated interpretations of their own. The news featured information on  a number of new exhibitions and gallery shows, including a rare showing of works by artist Cal Schenkel (Zappa, Captain Beefheart, etc.) and a display of Rolling Stones photography at the new Taschen Gallery in Los Angeles.

Of course, I’m hoping that you were able to take a look at the new articles posted on the ACHOF site, including my interview with artist Paul Wakefield (about his work for Supertramp, Vangelis, Rick Wakeman and others) and photographer David Hamsley’s look at the unique designs created for gatefold record covers over the years. In the meantime, here’s your chance to catch up on news you may have missed while you were out doing your Holiday shopping (or out at your favorite pub or restaurant while you were working to avoid those crowds). Regardless of how hectic your lives may be, there’s no reason that you should go without up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics (don’t you agree?), so you can be sure that we’ll continue to work (nearly) every day to continue our efforts to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site.

December 31 – As we enter into the new year, I want to thank everyone who has supported the ACHOF over the past year and wish you all a Happy and Prosperous 2015.

1) Interesting article in The Independent (UK) by writer Jonathan Owen about the continued growth in the sales of vinyl records, much of which can be attributed to the desirability of the packaging. While the sales are at levels not seen in 20 years, an interesting bit of research quoted (done by ICM Research) states that, according to their polls on the subject, 27% of the people that buy records do not listen to them – rather, they enjoy the artwork and information provided with the retail packages while still listening to the music on CD or online. While vinyl records still only represent 2% of overall music sales, it is interesting to note that the sales of album cover-sized frames have risen nearly ten-fold, indicating that the display of record cover art on the walls of music fans’ homes continues to be an important way these fans choose to express their appreciation of both the music and the art delivered by their favorite musical acts. More on this at http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/album-art-resonates-with-music-fans-as-sales-hit-twodecade-high-9945564.html

2) On display in the UK for the first time in years – from now until January 18th, 2015 at the 14 Henrietta St. building in London’s Covent Garden area – is a group of images shot by the very talented Glen E. Friedman, well-known for his photos of many of the best-known punk, rap and hip-hop artists and responsible for album covers for artists including Ice-T, Beastie Boys, Circle Jerks and Public Enemy, among many others. The exhibition corresponds to the publication (by Rizzoli International) of Glen’s career-spanning book titled My Rules, the seventh book he’s released and including over 300 memorable images, of which over 50 are on display in this show. Presented by ATP and Givens, with more information available at http://www.atpfestival.com/events/gefexhibition/news/1411041049

December 30 – 1) An update to my original December 11 article on the subject – released in time for the Holidays by Taschen – Rock Covers, a 500+ page book by authors Jon Kirby and Robbie Busch, edited by Julius Wiedermann. According to the publisher, “Paying tribute to this art form, Rock Covers brings you a compilation of more than 750 remarkable album covers, from legendary to rare record releases. Artists as varied as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Iron Maiden, and Sonic Youth are gathered together in celebration of the cover art that defined their albums and their cult status. Each cover is accompanied by a fact sheet listing the art director, photographer or illustrator, year, label, and more..” They’ve also included several interviews and information about how certain covers helped define an act’s place in rock-n-roll history. More on this on the publisher’s site at http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/popculture/all/03405/facts.rock_covers.htm

Of course, this has been added to the Resources section on the ACHOF site..

2) Now on display at the Sun Valley Center’s Ketchum, ID gallery is an exhibition called “Under The Influence Of Rock & Roll”, a show that works to – via the display of a nice collection of photos, artifacts, posters, sculptures and the like – illustrate Rock’s impact on our world’s cultures and lifestyles. The work of several well-known album cover artists are on display, including the photos of Ethan Russell, Andrew Kent and SNL staff photographer Edie Baskin. The museum will be hosting several gallery walks and tours during the show’s run (now thru January 30, 2015), including a lecture in late January on Ethan Russell’s memoir titled Ethan Russell, An American Story, featuring his photos of the cream of the crop of classic rock music-makers.  http://sunvalleycenter.org/visual-arts/exhibitions-in-ketchum/

December 29 – I’ll be updating my recent “Best/Worst of 2014” article on the ACHOF site this week with some additional data (some folks were a little late to the table, but I feel that it’s important to be able to include all of the lists I can find in the “final totals”). In the meantime:

1) Music Times writer Joey DeGroot has put together a new article that just perfect for the Season – a season where we’re treated to many examples of young and cute on the “year end wrap-up” cards we all get (“here’s our five-year-old Mindy with our new puppy Ozzy!”). Titled “8 Album Covers With A Childhood Photo Of The Artist”, you’ll see examples featuring oh-so-cute pictures of musicians including Kendrick Lamar, Johnny Cash, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and the ever-so-cute (even with the finger tats) rapper Lil Wayne, among others. I’m waiting for baby pix of Steven Tyler, Lenny Kilmister or anyone from Public Enemy, but I might have to wait a while for those –http://www.musictimes.com/articles/21473/20141225/8-album-covers-with-childhood-photo-artist-lil-wayne-kendrick-lamar-nas.htm

2) Photographer Gene Spitz was on hand to take many memorable photos of music celebs as they partied at various hot spots, so its cool to see his striking photo images displayed alongside creative re-interpretations of his photos produced by an impressive international list of artists in a new exhibition that begins this week with an opening reception this New Year’s Eve at the BLDG Gallery in Covington, KY. Titled “Soul, Sequins & Solid Gold”, this show goes to great lengths to portray “the glitz, glamour, rock ‘n’ roll, disco and drama of the 70s and 80s” and lets loose the talents and imaginations of a team of 20 artists from 3 continents, the results of which will be on display until the end of January. More info and background on the show and its participants can be found at http://bldgrefuge.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/sssg_press_release.pdf

December 26 – 1) Just posted my annual “Best/Worst Album Cover” summary of the many “best of” and “worst of” lists published by the brave writers and publications that go out on a limb to tell us which album covers were worthy of your praise – or scorn – this past year. While there was a clear “winner” in the “best of” category (featured on an act’s debut album – nice start!), there were no stand-out “losers”, although there were many records whose covers were generally criticized for their impressive offensiveness or “blandness unbecoming the musical act they were produced for” (quite the serious charge, I think).

What I was most-impressed by this year was the sheer number of lists produced, so our summary conclusions were based on a LOT of data, all of which is included in the handy reference section at the end of the article.

In any case, click on the link and enjoy the read – comments, as always, are appreciated – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/best-and-worst-album-cover-art-lists-2014-summary-and-analysis/

2) While this has nothing to do with album covers, I do want to show the folks that sometimes wonder why there is an Album Cover Hall of Fame that there are large numbers of passionate people behind the many “Halls of Fame” that exist today (and are supported, to varying degrees, by collectors of all stripes). To illustrate that statement, I’d like to introduce you to the people who’ll be opening a new museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2016 dedicated to all things Bobblehead…yes, Virginia, there will be a Bobblehead Hall of Fame museum soon. How cool is that !?!? – http://www.antiquetrader.com/antiques/collectibles/bobblehead-hall-fame-coming-wisconsin?

December 24 – 1) Writing for the Diffuser.fm site, James Stafford has put together an excellent list of Christmas/Holiday-themed records that have some of the “baddest” (not sure if this means “good” or “bad” anymore but, in this case, it simply means “the worst”) album covers ever produced. While some of the musical acts are unknowns (except to those who revel in bad album art images), others who’ve chosen to use horrible Holiday imagery include Phil Spector, The Kingston Trio and Wham! And while I’m not familiar with Rudy Ray Moore’s music, I am now sufficiently titillated that I have to track it down – see the whole slideshow at http://diffuser.fm/your-really-bad-christmas-cover-art-gallery/

2) Ran across this article about an interview with singer/guitarist Greg Lake in which he laments the loss of great album cover art in the marketing of today’s music. While you’ll see (on Friday) that there is still great (and nasty) album art being produced, it is interesting to get Mr. Lake’s take on this, seeing as he’s been in bands (King Crimson, ELP, etc.) that have featured some of the most-memorable album art ever made. Read the article on the Something Else site for an intro and link to the YouTube video interview – http://somethingelsereviews.com/2014/12/24/greg-lake-king-crimson-elp-album-cover/

Also – this being Christmas Eve and all – here’s a link to a video of Greg Lake’s now-classic Christmas tune “I Believe In Father Christmas” – enjoy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXCEdrnaFlY

December 23 – 1) Was doing a bit of research yesterday on Amazon’s fine art offerings and came across a work by the artist David Ballinger that I thought would be appreciated by fans of album cover art. While I don’t know much about the artist or what motivated him to create this work, this unique item makes an optical illusion out of two famous Beatles album covers – Meet The Beatles and Abbey Road. It’ll take a second or two for you to see the aspects of both covers that are included, but I think that you’ll find the overall effect pretty cool. It’s available for purchase on the UGallery site – http://www.amazon.com/The-Beatles/dp/B00DONZ7HQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1419373526&sr=8-5&keywords=david+ballinger

2) Writing for the Business Today site (India), Jimmy Jacob interviews curator/archivist Dave Brolan about the latest showing of his “Gibson: Thru The Lens” photo exhibition, staged recently in India (co-produced by Vivanta by Taj). While, of course, the show’s focus is on shots of a wide range of guitar heroes – Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Les Paul, Elvis Presley, Noel Gallagher and many others – playing their favorite Gibson guitars, the list of photographers who have contributed to this show include a “Who’s Who” of album cover photo greats, including Baron Wolman, Mick Rock, Ross Halfin and more. Fans can learn more about the person who has produced this popular show via the link at – http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/rock-and-roll-music-photography-exhibition-gibson-brands-taj/1/213742.html

December 22 – 1) It seems unfair that all that talent lives inside of one person…just had a chance to see the album cover for the new single by Tim Biskup’s band “Big Butter” and, as you might figure, it’s quite nice. A staple in the LA-area art scene, Mr. Biskup has produced artwork featuring wildly-colorful characters and scenes that’s been quite popular with collectors of “lowbrow art” for many years, so it is great in this case to be able to get affordable prints of cover art from a well-known artist. There are two new singles with associated limited-edition prints available now, with the new full-length album scheduled for a February, 2015 release. Take a look at Tim’s latest work via the link at http://store.timbiskup.com/big-butter-open-focus-beaver-on-the-back-porch-7-single-pink-vinyl-w-print/

2) BLARE Magazine‘s senior editor Marie Rupolo is having a little fun at the end of the year in her efforts to “re-imagine” the album covers for some of the year’s best-known music releases. In her article titled “Art Attack: Re-Imagining Album Covers From 2014”, Marie gives us alt-looks at record art from bands such as Against Me, Mac Demarco, Lana Del Ray and Flying Lotus, along with many others. Another fine example of inspiration taken from album artwork and its edgy work products – more to see at http://blaremagazine.com/2014/12/17/reimagining-album-covers-from-2014/

If any of our fans have done something similar, please feel free to drop us a line and let us take a look as well.

December 19 – 1) Very nicely done interview with designer Vaughan Oliver on the Designboom site about his career in album cover production. As part of a talented team at the late, great design firm V23, Oliver and his mates contributed scores of memorable cover images for clients including The Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Lush and many others and, moving on after the agency closed in 2008, he’s made many more musical acts look great, including The Breeders and TV On The Radio. Most-recently, he’s produced the cover for The Pixies’ 2014 release titled Indie Cindy. Read more about his inspirations, his travails and why he keeps doing what he’s doing (and doing it so well) in Giles Revell’s article, via the link at http://www.designboom.com/design/interview-with-graphic-designer-vaughan-oliver-12-19-2014/

2) When Bob Seger’s Against The Wind LP won a Grammy Award in 1981 and went on to sell over six million copies, many music buyers were introduced to – in a big way – the fantastic art of painter Jim Warren, whose 1977 painting titled “Running Wild” served as the prototype for what is now considered one of the most-remembered album cover images of the era. What many (outside the art world) don’t know is that Warren is also the painter who created the world’s two “most-famous” nude paintings in the modern contemporary art world, according to Google Images search statistics. Warren’s works will be going on a world tour in 2016, but you can get a preview and some background info in this recent article on the Virtual Strategy Magazine website http://www.virtual-strategy.com/2014/12/16/sexual-explosion-vs-re-birth-which-nude-painting-ranked-worlds-most-famous-2016-art-tour-#axzz3MNPEmUkh

3) In my most-recent posting about David Hamsley’s collection of gatefold album covers, David mentioned something about a new book by author/artist Michael Fishel about the work of art publisher “Big O” and, after looking into it a bit, I wanted to let ACHOF fans know about the book in case there were folks on their gift lists who might enjoy a beautifully-written and illustrated book about the publisher’s history and output. Album cover artists such as Roger Dean, Terry Pastor, David Juniper, H.R. Giger and many others produced hundreds of memorable images for posters, books and the like during the 1960s and 70s, so to find so many of these put together in one volume is truly impressive (and so is the foreword, written by Roger Dean!). To learn more about the book (and the people featured inside), read this article on the Boing Boing site – http://boingboing.net/2014/12/05/the-big-book-of-big-of-psyched.html

December 18 – Just in time for your year-end album cover historical retrospective needs…here’s my latest article – a Featured Album Cover Fan Collection put together by writer and photographer David Hamsley, with a focus on “gatefold” LP covers, beginning with Cream’s Wheels of Fire and including a number of 12″ x 24″ masterpieces that packaged music from Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell and many others. With art and photography from album cover greats including Martin Sharp, Roger Dean, Norman Seeff and several others, David has given us an expert’s view on these stunning works of art – hope that you’ll take a moment now to learn more about the stories and the people behind some of your favorite record images. Enjoy responsibly, and please share with your friends and loved ones – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/featured-fan-portfolio-david-hamsleys-favorite-gatefold-covers/

December 17 – 1) And he took the words right out of my mouth! In this recent posting on the Creative Review (UK) site titled “Beyond The Record Sleeve”, design agency founder Simon Moore, whose firm (Baby) specializes in work for music industry clients, spells out the case for continued investment by music acts/record labels in the visual aspects of their overall creative endeavors. It’s refreshing to read articles like this in a time when many other writers lament about “the end of the album cover”. Simon and his clients seem to realize that album cover images are just one important part of an overall strategy to build an acts “brand” with more than just its music – fans want to see that their favorite acts have as much pride in their imagery, as expressed in their videos, their stage designs, gig posters, merchandise, etc., as they do in their latest releases. You can read more about Simon’s determined efforts to build a career as an artist/designer, what motivated him then and what still motivates and excites him today, via the link at http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/december/simon-moore-music-design

2) In this recent NY Times Op-Ed by Gary S. Cross, a professor of Modern History at Penn State, readers will find a compelling argument about the importance of design in bringing us products that, without thoughtfully-designed packaging to provide enough attraction to get us to take notice and, hopefully, take them home, we might never have had the chance to enjoy what they were. Using examples such as Jell-O (gelatin powder in a box), “new wave” foods (ala Tofurky) and, of course, album covers, Professor Cross makes some interesting arguments about the need for packages to go beyond just housing a physical product and that we should also consider the simple beauty of natural packages (think banana peels) as we ponder designs for products yet invented. Perhaps scientists could develop a way to grow vinyl records on trees – each one unique! Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/13/opinion/joy-to-the-packaging-people.html?

December 16 – 1) Up for bid at Christie’s in London today are a collection of photos taken by the late, great Robert Whitaker, the man responsible for both the “permissible” cover image for The Beatles’ Yesterday & Today LP and the rare and quite-valuable original version known to collectors as “The Butcher Cover”, which showed the mop-tops wearing white butcher coats decked with meat, some blood and a rather spooky selection of baby doll parts. The story of Whitaker’s relationship with the band, along with a preview to some of the items in the auction, can be found on the auction house’s site at http://www.christies.com/features/Backstage-with-The-Beatles-5359-1.aspx

2) In the newest posting in his “And Justice For Art” series, Metal Underground writer Ramon Martos Garcia gives us a nice selection of album covers that feature at that seems quite clearly inspired by the promotional images created for films. Is it flattery or simply laziness on the part of the designers? Take a look at the examples for bands including Dreamgrave, Bloody Hammers and the metal band that has my favorite name, Meshuggah (what a bunch of crazies, no?) and let me know what your take on the controversy is. http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=108945

December 15 – 1) Yesterday, I began my weekly read of the NY Times Magazine. After passing over the regular ad for nice-but-ridiculously-expensive apartments in NYC and Porsche’s latest hybrids, I came to a full-page image of David Bailey’s photo of Mick Jagger that was used on the cover of the Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup LP (not something you expect to see in The Times!), part of a two-page spread by the Taschen publishing house for a new book and corresponding exhibition at their Beverly Blvd. gallery in Los Angeles. The book, edited by Reuel Golden, is titled It’s Just A Shot Away: The Rolling Stones In Photographs and includes, in its over 500 pages, shots (including many album cover images) by an array of top photo talent, including (among others) Anton Corbijn, Annie Leibovitz, Gered Mankowitz, Terry Richardson, Ethan Russell, Jerry Schatzberg, Albert Watson and Guy Webster. The foreword was written by President Bill Clinton, and the book includes three essays from award-winning writers David Dalton, Waldemar Januszczak, and Luc Sante. I had to find out more.

Today, I logged on to the Taschen site and, in case you’re interested in getting one of these limited-edition books yourself, here are some of the details about the several editions available for purchase:

  1. There are 6 “SUMO-SIZED (20 in. x 20 in.) art editions” available, each including the book – hand-signed by Jagger, Richards, Watts and Wood – along with a limited-edition photo print by one of the featured photographers. In editions of 75 copies, two of the editions – one with the previously-mentioned photo by David Bailey and the other with a print by Corbijn – were priced at $20,000 each and are SOLD OUT (!!). The other four versions, with photos by Brent Rej, Mankowitz, Russell and Webster – each priced at $10,000 – are still available.
  2. There is an 1150 pc. SUMO-SIZED edition of the book, still signed by The Stones but without a special art print, available for $5,000 per copy.
  3. A smaller-format (13 inches square), open-edition book is selling for $150.

From now until January 31st, the new Taschen Gallery at 8070 Beverly Blvd. in LA will have an impressive show of both unique and limited-edition prints of many of the photos included in the book available for sale. Fans of the band will most-certainly want to stop by to see what’s available – there are many that you’ve seen and many new images lifted from the archives of the many photographers who’ve covered the band over the past 50+ years.  http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/photography/all/02616/facts.the_rolling_stones.htm

2) To follow-up on my December 5th posting about the new book of images taken from the archives of noted UK design firm Hipgnosis, there’s a new interview by writer Carey Dunne with surviving founder Aubrey Powell on the Fast Company magazine site. Lots of details about “the making of” a number of your favorite cover images for musical acts including Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Rolling Stones and many others (nice slide show, too). http://www.fastcodesign.com/3039377/the-dark-side-of-the-moon-cover-designer-on-the-making-of-iconic-rock-album-art

December 12 – 1) Just posted a new “Featured Artist Portfolio” article on the ACHOF site, this one featuring the impressive works by photographer Paul Wakefield, the man responsible for the amazing designs and photos featured on classic albums including Supertramp’s Crime of the Century and Crisis? What Crisis?, Heaven & Hell for Vangelis, The Scream for Siouxie & The Banshees and many more. Paul was kind enough to share some of his original sketches and photo out-takes for these projects, so you’ll get a chance to look “behind the scenes” of the creative efforts that produced these memorable images. Feel free to share with your friends and anyone you know who is inspired by the works of a truly creative photographer – enjoy – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/achof-featured-album-cover-artist-portfolio-paul-wakefield/

2) If you’re stumped trying to figure out what gifts to get your album art-loving friends this Holiday season, USA Today writer Jym Wilson gives you a number of cool rock music-related photo books to consider, including the newest releases from recent ACHOF inductee Danny Clinch and the new Hipgnosis Portraits book by Aubrey Powell, among others. Lots of nice options to consider – http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2014/12/05/books-rock-kurt-cobain-lenny-kravitz-chris-stein/19891655/

December 11 – 1) Art Kane’s cover for The Who’s The Kids Are Alright, showing the band sitting in front of a monument, draped in a Union Jack flag, is a classic album art image, but this is just one of the many photos that are featured in a new show at London’s Snap Galleries that begins today and runs through the end of January. His son, musician Jonathan Kane (of NYC’s Swans), has worked with the publisher Reel Art Press to release a new 320 page book (titled simply Art Kane) featuring carefully-curated selections from the famed photographer’s archives, with many now on display in the gallery. In Kathryn Bromwich’s article on The Guardian web site, you’ll get to see several of the featured images and read some of Mr. Kane’s anecdotes regarding some of his best-known images – http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/dec/06/art-kanes-photographs-of-60s-music-greats-in-pictures

2) When the Wall Street Journal publishes an article about the release of a new album cover art book, you have to wonder whether brokers will now be motivated to use their mega-bonuses to add some of these works of art to their collections…In a new 550-page book called Rock Covers by authors Robbie Busch and Jon Kirby, you’ll find hundreds of cover images, along with interviews with many of the art directors involved in the production of these memorable images. It’s available from art book publisher Taschen for $69.99, and WSJ writer Alexandra Wolfe has put together a nice slide show of some of the better-known covers included in the book. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-art-of-rock-album-covers-1417808393?

December 10 – Focusing today on album cover talent and imagery from the NE United States:

1) The work of album cover artist extraordinaire Cal Schenkel was on display thru December 27th at the IMPeRFect Gallery in the Maplewood Mall in Germantown, PA, organized in a show by Jim Dragoni and Renny Molenaar. Cal’s fantastic paintings and art direction have been featured on covers for Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits, among others, and since a lot of his work showcases his interpretations of machinery, autos, etc., he’s titled the show “Anthropomorphic Crankcase” – a very Zappa-esque title, for sure. Cal was on hand from time to time during the show, and the gallery had scheduled a number of related events as well, so click on over to writer Alaina Mabaso’s article on the show as seen on the Newsworks web site to get all of the details – http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/nw-philadelphia-more-stories/item/75871-renowned-album-cover-artist-launches-imperfect-gallery-show-this-weekend

2) Writing for the NJ.com web site, writer Brian Donohue has put together an article/showcase based on the many album covers featuring images of New Jersey. Hint – there’s a lot more there than what’s found on the covers of Springsteen and Bon Jovi records! In “19 Great New Jersey Album Covers”, Brian includes works in many different genres – big-name acts and ones better-known by Jersey locals, including Redman, The Four Seasons, The Bouncing Souls and others. Also included – Led Zeppelin 1 which, you’ll recall, features a picture of the Hindenberg dirigible disaster that took place at a landing pad in Lakehurst, NJ… read and view these examples of NJ pride at http://www.nj.com/ledgerlive/index.ssf/2014/12/new_jersey_album_covers_the_garden_state_depicted_on_lpcd_sleeves.html

December 9 – While I’m certainly partial to the originals, I find it fascinating when other talented artists take their turns at “re-imagining” album covers…here are two recent articles on the topic:

1) Writing for the Designboom site, Nina Azzarello gives us an introduction to the antics of the team at UK-based home entertainment retailer Superfi and their collection of Beatles albums done as if they were designed by Apple Computer vs. Apple Records. I think that, in some of the examples, the designers have gone a bit too far – on the re-do of With The Beatles, the “Fab Four” are now Apple Computer’s own stars and, in the case of A Hard Day’s Night, the multiple photos are now screen icons, but I must give them credit for coming at the entire notion of album cover spoofs from another angle… See the entire collection at http://www.designboom.com/art/apple-designed-beatles-album-covers-12-05-2014/

2) The folks at LA’s Gallery 1988 tend to come up with interesting themes for the shows they put on and, in the case of a recent show titled “33 and a Third and a Third” (which ran thru December 21st), they’ve enlisted the help of 100 artists to come up with a collection of re-interpreted album covers that span the ages and several musical genres. According to the show’s producers, “this dialogue between contemporary artists and cultural icons speaks to what it means to be a ‘fan’ and an admirer of an art form that is well acknowledged yet may be on the endangered species list in terms of relevancy moving forward into a digital age.” Many of the works are certainly inspired, and you can see 10 examples from the show in Katherine Brooks’ recent article on The Huffington Post site – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/05/33-and-a-third-and-a-third_n_6272276.html

December 8 – Two new photo-related items for your review, plus an auction update:

1) DeadHeads, rejoice! Photographer Bob Minkin has just released a new book featuring a nice selection of photos he’s taken over the years of the Grateful Dead in concert. Titled Live Dead, the 224 page book shows the band making fans happy over the 40+ year period that Bob has been associated with the group. You’ll recognize Bob’s work from both the photos that have been published in countless books, magazines and web sites and the album covers he’s contributed to, including the photo-collages he created for the “Dick’s Picks” series. Here are two links if you’d like to learn/see more – the first http://minkinphotography.com/livedead/ takes you to the info page on Minkin’s site, while the second http://youtu.be/bo94XQhcv8Y takes you to a promo video that includes a number of the images included in the book.

2) Photographer Bob Gruen’s photos have graced the covers for a wide range of musical acts, from KISS to The Raspberries, but he’s perhaps best-known for his photos of John Lennon, who he befriended in in NYC in 1971. To help promote Gruen’s book of Lennon-related photos titled John Lennon: The New York Years, there’s a new exhibit of his photos on display at the Malmaison Hotel in Liverpool, England. In Jade Wright’s recent article on the Liverpool Echo web site, you’ll learn more about Bob’s relationship with John, Yoko and many of the musical acts he’s photographed over the years, and you can buzz through a nice slide show of image there as well – http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/iconic-john-lennon-photos-exhibited-8215918

3) To follow up on the info I’d published last week about the Megadeth-related sale hosted by Backstage Auctions, it looks as though fans really valued the selection of a dozen large-scale album art reproductions that were on display in Dave Mustaine’s personal studio – prices realized for these unique pieces went from $471 for an acoustic panel featuring the cover of the band’s 2001 release The World Needs A Hero to $3098 for the panel bearing the image of 1986’s Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying along with the signatures of Dave M and his fellow band-members. To see the complete results from this specialized sale, follow the link – http://www.backstageauctions.com/catalog/auction_realized.php

December 5 – 1) Fans of 1980s album cover art should hop on over to The Mirror web site to take Richard Beech’s new quiz titled “The Totally Bodacious 1980s Record Sleeve Quiz”. There are 16 multiple-choice questions in the quiz, which features a nice mix of popular records from acts including…well, if I told you, I’d be giving away some of the answers, wouldn’t I? I got 15 out of 16 and was mad that I missed the one I missed (a Tom Petty-related question)…Best of luck to you – let us know how you did – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/totally-bodacious-1980s-record-sleeve-4685086

2) Writing for The Daily Beast, writer Ted Gioia gives us the details on a new book about one of the most-prolific art agencies in album cover history – Hipgnosis, featuring the talents of (the late) Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell and the late Peter Christopherson. You know their work for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and many others, but in the beautifully-illustrated art book titled Hipgnosis Portraits, surviving partner Powell (now a respected film director who also recently helped Monty Python stage their live shows at the O2 in London) provides a detailed history of the firm and its work, including a number of alt-take images from their projects, some of which are included in a 10-photo slide show reachable from the DB article. Certainly a great gift idea for any fan of iconic album imagery – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/05/the-golden-age-of-rock-album-covers.html

3) The Recording Academy has just published the list of this year’s Grammy Award nominees in the two categories we follow here at the ACHOF:

The nominees for “Best Recording Package” are –

Formosa Medicine Show by The Muddy Basin Ramblers (Hove Records), David Chen & Andrew Wong, art directors

Indie Cindy by the Pixies (Pixies Music/[PIAS] Recordings), Vaughan Oliver, art director

Lightning Bolt by Pearl Jam (Republic Records), Jeff Ament, Don Pendleton, Joe Spix & Jerome Turner, art directors (Pearl Jam)

LP1 by Young Turks (XL Recordings), FKA Twigs & Phil Lee, art directors

Whispers by Passenger (Nettwerk Records), Sarah Larnach, art director

The nominees for “Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package” are –

Cities Of Darkscorch by Various Artists (The Numero Group), Leland Meiners & Ken Shipley, art directors

A Letter Home (Vinyl Box Set) by Neil Young (Third Man Records), Gary Burden & Jenice Heo, art directors

The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27) by Various Artists (Third Man Records/Revenant Records), Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White, art directors

Sparks (Deluxe Album Box Set) by Imogen Heap (RCA Records/Megaphonic Records), Andy Carne, art director

Spring 1990 (The Other One) by the Grateful Dead (Rhino Records), Jessica Dessner, Lisa Glines, Doran Tyson & Steve Vance, art directors

Congratulations to all the nominees – looking forward to announcing the winners when they’re announced early next February.

That’s all for now – look for updates every week day on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back next month with another summary for you.

Featured Fan Portfolio – writer/photographer David Hamsley’s Favorite Gatefold Covers

Featured Fan Portfolio – writer/photographer David Hamsley’s Favorite Gatefold Covers

(intro by Mike Goldstein, Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com)

Earlier this year, I received an email from a photographer and author named David Hamsley. He was looking to track down an artist that he thought I might know in order to talk to him about including an example of his work in a book that David was working on. After talking a bit more about his project, we agreed to stay in touch, but after thinking about it a bit (and about his talents and background and what he shared with me about his current work), I pitched the idea to him that he should consider working with me on an article that I’d feature in the ACHOF’s “Featured Album Cover Fan Collections” section – something that would allow him to share his knowledge about – and passion for – album cover imagery.

Spring ahead a few months and I received another note from David, this time telling me that his project – a comprehensive book about Disco-era record art – was nearly complete and that he’d be open to working with me on the article I’d proposed. Rather than focus on Disco covers, though, he suggested that we work on presenting a collection of images in another segment of album art production that, since the rise of the CD and other digital music delivery mechanisms, has been pushed to the back burners of music packaging history – i.e., “gatefold” covers.

Intrigued with the notion, I asked David why this particular segment in the chronicling of album cover art was of interest to him, to which he replied that “gatefolds were a natural stretch of the boundaries for designers to have experimented with, especially as album art evolved into something that was more like a packaging “event” that included postcards, booklets, posters, etc. When thinking about putting this together for you, I decided a spotlight on gatefolds in particular would be another thread that weaves a disparate group of images together”. After looking at the records he proposed that we would include, I agreed that this would be a great opportunity to show what talented cover art producers could do when given a much-larger-than-normal canvas to work on and so, for your pleasure and education, here are David’s selections, along with both the results of his research into each cover image and his own anecdotes about what made each so compelling and memorable.

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Interview with Kosh – Linda Ronstadt’s Lush Life album cover

Interview with Kosh about the making of the album cover art and packaging for Linda Ronstadt’s Lush Life, a 1984 release on Asylum Records

Kosh, John Kosh, designer, art director, Linda Ronstadt, album cover, record cover, record sleeve, package, sleeve, Lush Life, Grammy, Grammy Award, award winner

 

 

 

 

by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com 

You may recall my recent interview with David Larkham about his long-standing creative collaboration with Elton John and the many album cover projects they worked on together. What I neglected to mention was that there were a number of such partnerships that produced many of our favorite images for record packages (and merchandise, stage sets, music videos, etc.) over the years. Other examples include historic couplings such as Pink Floyd and Hipgnosis, Anton Corbijn and U2, George DuBose and The Ramones, Peter Travers and The Moody Blues, Roger Dean and YES, Cal Schenkel and Frank Zappa, James Marsh and Talk Talk and many others. These examples help illustrate the importance of the establishment of a “shared vision” between a musical act and the person/people entrusted to build a visual identity for that act and, once that synergy has been established, how it can grow into an integral part of how that act is seen – and appreciated – by its fans.

One sterling example of such a relationship is that between recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Linda Ronstadt and the Grammy-winning designer/art director known as “Kosh”. Since the young designer met the singer in the mid-1970s (after her success with her Grammy-winning country-rock masterpiece, 1974’s Heart Like A Wheel, with design by Rod Dyer and photo by her friend Eve Babitz), the two talented artists have joined forces to release two dozen (!!) great albums, with Kosh and his team winning three Grammy Awards for “Best Recording Package” for their work over the years. The third Grammy was awarded in 1985 for Kosh’s cover designs for Lush Life, the second of three albums of big band jazz-era pop standards, with arrangements – and musical bed – provided by bandleader Nelson Riddle.

Released in November, 1984. the immensely popular record quickly became a platinum-seller, with Linda earning a Grammy Award nomination (in 1986) for “Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female” for her rendition of the title song, Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” (while she didn’t win for this particular song, Linda did go on to win 11 Grammys during her illustrious career). The first record in the trilogy of recordings dedicated to “the great American songbook” – 1983’s What’s New – established the now-popular practice of rock singers adding their own unique stylings to the classic tunes of a bygone era, with its commercial and critical success proving the viability of such projects to other artists and record labels going forward.  The Lush Life record project would again be honored by the Recording Academy when Nelson Riddle, who died in late 1985, was posthumously awarded a 1985 Grammy Award for “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying A Vocal” at the 28th Annual Grammy Award ceremony in early 1986 for the title track, “Lush Life”.

With Ms. Ronstadt’s induction into this year’s class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fresh in our memories, I contacted the still quite-busy Mr. Kosh in his studios in the Los Angeles area to ask him to give us his take on the making of the package for Lush Life, along with his feelings about his team, his creative partnership with Ms. Ronstadt and the general state of music packaging and graphics these days.  I think that – quite understandably – this relationship thrived on a mutual sense of admiration of the talents each party brought to the table, as you’ll see evidenced in the following transcript…

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Album Cover News Recap – March 2014

Album Cover News Recap – March 2014 – Album Cover Hall of Fame

Highlights of this past month’s album cover-related news include information and interviews with Grammy and Juno Award-winning designs, new books on rock and cover photography, some interesting new licensing deals involving album cover art and artists and details on the latest gallery shows, Featured Fan Collections and Featured Artist Portfolios. To top it all off, I was able to let you know about my friend Terry Currier’s successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money to enhance the customer experience at his world-class record store, Music Millennium.

As always, we’ll be sure to let you know what’s up in the world of album cover art, and we hope that you’ll let us know if there are areas of interest that you want us to cover in more detail and we’ll do our best to give you all the info you need.

March 31 – ACHOF congratulations go out to this past weekend’s winners of the Juno Award (Canada’s top music industry award) for Best Recording Package, given to Robyn Kotyk, Justin Peroff and Petra Cushieri for their work on the packaging for the Arts & Crafts:2003- 2013 compilation. The record, which provides the label’s fans with a selection of “deep cuts” from a number of well-known acts (including Stars, Feist and Broken Social Scene), was also available in a deluxe version with a 24-page booklet featuring even more impressive art and design. Peroff and Kotyk have been honored with a previous Juno Award for Recording Package of the Year for their work together on 2011’s Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scenes impressive vinyl box set. The ACHOF will try and provide you with an interview with the winner(s) soon but, in the meantime, if you’d like to see the full list of winners, please follow this link to the offical Juno Awards web site – http://junoawards.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014-JUNO-Award-Winners.pdf

March 28 – 1) Clothing manufacturer Lucky Brand has just added some new Johnny Cash-related items to their lineup, based on photographer Norman Seeff’s album cover photo for Mr. Cash’s just-released “lost album” titled Out Among The Stars. Included in the line are T-shirts, jackets and a limited-edition shirt featuring photos from the new album. More info is available on the License Magazine site – http://www.licensemag.com/license-global/lucky-salutes-lost-johnny-cash-album

2) More licensing news – KISS has a new licensing agent – Epic Rights – and are announcing plans to further the brand into many new areas (have you seen the new LA KISS arena football team?). As a side note – the iconic KISS logo was originally created by the band’s guitarist Ace Frehley, and I’d be curious as to whether he’s still earning royalties for the design, even though he’s not involved with the act any longer. Does anyone know?

http://www.licensemag.com/license-global/epic-rights-rep-kiss

3) Finally, Liverpool, one of the cradles of modern rock, is host to another rock art gallery show, this one featuring the art of designer Paul Terence Madden. For the past 10 years, Madden has painted over 40 portraits of his favorite rock stars, including The Beatles, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and The Clash, and a selection of these are now on display at the View Two Gallery from now until the end of June. More on this on The Liverpool Echo‘s site at http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/rock-star-paintings-paul-terence-6873573

But wait – there’s more! Album cover art fans will enjoy a look at selections from the personal collection of film-maker Eric Christensen. Eric has given us fans a prodigious amount of classic music content – including last year’s widely-praised album cover documentary titled The Cover Story – Album Art – and I wanted to see what a guy with nearly 50 years in the music/film business had on the walls, so it is a privilege for us to be given this behind-the-scenes look into the personal collection of someone who so appreciates the connection between art and music. Please enjoy this article, and share it with your friends, too – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/featured-album-cover-fan-collection-film-maker-eric-christensen/

March 27 – Album Cover News tidbits – two new books and a great new movie musical art print:

1) Writer Robert Landau has released a nice new book that looks back at the long line of great billboards on display over the years on LA’s famed Sunset Boulevard. Titled (appropriately) Rock and Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, this 208 page book reflects the author’s own unique history as well, living with his art gallery owner father in an apartment right above the Tower Records store on Sunset, the epicenter of the areas music and art scene. More on this book in this recent article on the Beverly Hills Courier web site –http://bhcourier.com/book-traces-history-sunset-strips-rock-n-roll-billboards/2014/03/19

2) Last Gasp Publishing has just released a new book featuring the work of the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Artist”, Mitch O’Connell. Mitch O’Connell, World’s Best Artist is a nearly 300-page comprehensive look at the prodigious output of this fine artist, well known for his work in many genres, including album cover art, where he’s produced covers for bands including Less Than Jake, Supersuckers, School House Rock! and many, many compilations. Signed copies of the book are now available directly from the artist on his site at http://www.mitchoconnell.com/merchandise/merchandise.htm

3) Rocky Horror Picture Show fans, rejoice. The nice people at Dekkel Fine Art in the UK have published a limited-edition print of the famous Red Lips logo for the film, with each of the 195 prints available hand-signed by Patricia Quinn, best-known for her role as Magenta and owner of those luscious lips. You can see the print on the St. Paul’s Gallery (Birmingham) site via this link – http://www.stpaulsgallery.com/film-prints/the-rocky-horror-picture-show-lips-limited-edition-print-hand-signed-by-patricia-quinn.asp?strParents&CAT_ID=453&P_ID=1126

March 26 – 1) Mick Rock, famous for his album cover images of Queen, David Bowie, Blondie and many others, has been busy lately. He’s re-created some of his best-known cover images, with modern rock stars as stand-ins, in a project he calls “The Revisit”, and has also put forth his opinions on the somewhat-sad re-balancing of musical talent vs. manufactured public personnas, with the weighting towards the image side of the scale. Read an interview with Mr. Rock in The Observer section of the U.K.’s The Guardian web site –http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/photographer-mick-rock-blondie-bowie-queen-miley-cyrus

2) Writer Martin Jordan has posted an article (on the ephotozine.com site) about his recent viewing of a gallery-sized version of the well-travelled “Who Shot Rock and Roll” exhibition now on display at a pop-up gallery in London sponsored by the Rockarchive.com web gallery. Titled “Rockarchive’s Greatest Pix“, the exhibition was kicked off with a discussion between photographers Jill Furmanovsky (head of Rockarchive and shooter of many well-known covers herself) and David Corio, along with curator Gail Buckland, who organized the original exhibition and has published a fine book titled Who Shot Rock & Roll. Read more at http://www.ephotozine.com/article/rockarchive-s-greatest-pix-exhibition-24305

March 25 – Very pleased to announce the posting of my latest “Featured Artist Portfolio” article on the ACHOF site. Featured today is an impressive portfolio by a really talented designer – you’ve seen his work for Supertramp (Breakfast In America, a Grammy winner), The Police (Ghost In The Machine), The Go-Go’s (Vacation, a Grammy nominee), David Bowie (Tonight, Let’s Dance and Never Let Me Down) and many others. Now, you can read more about what went in to the making of these and many other wonderful covers so, without further delay, please take a look at the work of the talented Mick Haggerty – enjoy! https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/achof-featured-artist-portfolio-grammy-winner-mick-haggerty/

March 24 – Just read an interesting interview article by Consequence of Sound‘s writer Dan Caffrey with CEO (AKA Eric Berglund) about the inspiration (and impressive body painting) behind the cover of his new album titled Wonderland. Dan will be keeping a ratings list of the album cover art on all of the records he’ll review over the year, which will culminate in a “Best of” list at year’s end. I look forward to including his input in our year-end reviews as well but, in the meantime, take a read –http://consequenceofsound.net/2014/03/album-art-of-the-month-ceo-wonderland/

March 21 – Very pleased to let you know about my latest posting – an interview with Shauna and Sarah Dodds of the Backstage Design Studio, winners of this year’s Grammy Award for “Best Recording Package” for their work on Reckless Kelly’s Long Night Moon. I’m particularly happy with their work on this packaging, as it shows both a lot of creativity AND an astute knowledge of what a complete design “package” for a client must consist of these days – album cover, web site, stage props and merchandise. While the competition was stiff this year, I think that you’ll agree that this design stood tall (as do the sisters that made it – they’re former high school basketball stars!). Hope that you’ll read this and pass the link on to your friends – enjoy! https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/interview-with-shauna-sarah-dodds-on-their-grammy-winning-album-cover-for-reckless-kelly/

March 20 – Some Beatles-centric art-related news for your review:

1) In the recent NY Times Book Review, author David Browne provides us with an intro to a new children’s picture book written by Mick Manning (text) and Brita Granstrom (art) titled The Beatles. Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, the 52-page picture book introduces young readers to the story of The Beatles, from their early days as chums in a local band up through their last days as rock’s biggest recording act. Lots of interesting facts are included (for example, did you know that the crime rate in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level EVER when the band was on the “Ed Sullivan Show”?) and Granstrom’s kid-friendly graphics will make it a must-read by Boomer grandparents looking to give youngsters a notion of just how influential these four lads were – even without Twitter accounts – read more at –http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/books/review/the-beatles-by-mick-manning-and-brita-granstrom.html?_r=0

2) “Free As A Bird” fans will be given the opportunity to bid on John Lennon‘s original drawings that were used to illustrate a book Lennon wrote in the mid-60s and used later on as the record cover for the single released after his death. This is just one item in a huge collection of Lennon artwork that Sotheby’s will be auctioning off in early June –http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/so-lennon-manuscripts-sale-n09156.html

March 19 – 1) I’m not sure exactly why I love these Lego-based images so much, but I’m always happy to see them! Here’s a group of new “band portraits” – featuring The Beatles, Foo Fighters, Beasties, Cypress Hill and many others – as they’d appear in Legoland – Dan Reilly provides an overview on Spin.com –http://www.spin.com/articles/lego-bands-photos-beastie-boys-beatles-smiths/

2) Writer Ian Holubiak introduces us to the work of a Japanese Doodle Master (are there degrees of Doodle Masterdom?) who has recreated the album covers for some of Jazz and Rap’s better-known recordings. Head on over to the Classicalite site to read more and then to click on over to the artist’s Tumblr –http://www.classicalite.com/articles/6818/20140318/photos-classic-rap-and-jazz-albums-get-a-new-medium-for-their-artwork-via-japanese-doodle-master-and-his-tumblr.htm

March 18 – 1) While not exactly the album cover art collection that I know some folks have been working for years on getting the USPS to adopt for a series of stamps, I’m happy to report that a record cover-styled image will be used as the basis of a soon-to-be-released Jimi Hendrix “Forever” stamp – here’s a brief spot about it on the WEAR/ABC -3 site –http://www.weartv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/jimi-hendrix-forever-stamp-42474.shtml?wap=0

2) Artist Tom Richmond has a story about a new CD-cover design produced by famed MAD Magazine artist Jack Davis. One of the early MAD cartoonists, Davis has put together a fine-looking cover for a special CD of music (titled Sex Clark Five – Monster Strum & Drum Hits) that will be given to folks who donate at a particular level ($75 or more) to the fund-raising efforts for radio station WFMU – always happy to see folks like Mr. Davis adding their talents to the styles of art represented on album covers over the past 50 years. Read more on Mr. Richmond’s site – http://www.tomrichmond.com/blog/2014/03/14/new-jack-davis-album-cover-art/

March 17 – Came across two interesting new books featuring fine music industry photography, so I thought that I’d pass this info on in case you can find them in your area –

1) Brad Elterman has published a book called Dog Dance that chronicles his career as a passionate music fan and photographer growing up in the 1970s and chronicling the exploits of the famous and soon-to-be-famous subjects in the music/entertainment world. Read more about Elterman’s career in Marco Annunziata’s recent interview with Brad on The Wild magazine site –http://thewildmagazine.com/blog/dog-dance-a-conversation-with-rock-roll-photographer-brad-elterman/

2) As the staff photographer for Columbia Records for many years, photographer Don Hunstein has had access to an amazingly diverse group of musical greats in the folk, rock, country and jazz genres, shooting memorable images of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and many others. In the new book titled Keeping Time (published late in 2013, edited by Grammy-nominated producer Leo Sacks and featuring text by writer Jon Pareles), you’ll find over 50 years of history in hundreds of intimate photos that caught the subjects just “doing their thing”. You’ll also find some great alt shots of a cover photo session – with a young Bob Dylan and his girlfriend Suze Rotolo freezing on the streets of NYC – that ultimately became the cover image for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. There’s also a forward by Art Garfunkel, a popular subject in Hunstein’s portfolio. http://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Time-The-Photographs-Hunstein/dp/1608872246

March 14 – Finally had a chance to look at some of the info about the major photography exhibition that is on display now thru September 7th at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. It’s called “American Cool” and it features portraits of a large number of individuals – those who help best-represent how “cool” and influential people in the arts, entertainment and sports have been in moving aspects of American Pop Culture forward via their efforts in those fields. You can read essays on “The Roots of Cool” and “Cool and the Counterculture” on the NPG site and see samples of the photos on display, including works by album cover photographers including Annie Liebovitz, Marcia Resnick, Marc Seliger and many others –http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/Cool/legacies.html

On a related note, the nice people at the RockPaperPhoto galleries have put together additional portfolios of some of the photographers featured in the “American Cool” exhibit for you to see on their site –http://www.rockpaperphoto.com/blog/american-cool-arrives-in-style-at-smithsonian/

March 12 – Attendees at the recent SXSW multimedia love fest in Austin, TX had the opportunity – on Thursday, March 13 – to watch a panel of well-respected photographers – many with a long list of album cover credits – who talked about “The Band Portrait: Marketing Perception” which included a discussion of how successful shooters approach and manage photo sessions with musical acts as clients. Featured on the panel were photographers Anna Webber (who’ll also moderate), Lynn Goldsmith, Piper Ferguson and Bob Gruen, along with singer/songwriter and photographer BP Fallon and Ken Weinstein of Big Hassle Media. The session began at 2:00pm in Room 15 at the Austin Convention Center – for more information, please click on this link –http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP990976

March 11 – Album cover art fans on the other side of the world, I’d like to bring your attention to an exciting new exhibit that opened on March 15th at the Queensland (Australia) Art Gallery’s Gallery of Modern Art titled “Seen + Heard: Works and Multiples from the Collection” that features a large display of iconic album cover imagery. Curated by David Burnett, the Gallery’s Curator of International Art, the exhibit (according to the Gallery’s site) draws “on major artworks, installations and multiples (numbered editions) from the Gallery’s Collection, which address crossovers between popular culture, music, sound and visual art.” In addition to the album art on display, there is a section featuring the multi-media works of he late, great Nam Jun Paik and Candice Breitz’s “King” – a portrait of Michael Jackson done in 2005. To read more about this show, which runs thru August 3rd, please visit their site at http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/upcoming/seenheard

March 10Carlos Santana has long been a supporter of the arts, employing a wide range of talent to create album covers for him and his band throughout the years. Examples of these artists include Mati Klarwein and Michael Rios and today, for his upcoming (May 6) release titled Corazon, he’s employed the entire Boa Mistura Spanish art collective! This group – consisting of talent from the fields of architecture, engineering, advertising and the fine arts – has been responsible for a large number of impressive works of street and public art around the world, so its exciting to see them apply their talents to imagery for a world-class musician. Read more about this effort in this article on the UlimateClassicRock.com site – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/santana-corazon-release-date-cover-art/ and, to learn more about the Boa Mistura collective, please visit their site (in Spanish and English) –http://www.boamistura.com/index.php?pagina=inicio

March 7 – Since the 1960s, there have been 27 record albums in the U.S. that have sold 15 million copies or more. Considering the number of times that the album cover images have been printed, I’m assuming that the artists that produced these images must be among the most-popular in modern history, if “popularity” is measuring in terms of the number of copies of an image that have been purchased as part of a package or alone on related merchandise.

With that being said, wouldn’t it make sense that the designers, illustrators, photographers and art directors that worked on the images that have been purchased and seen hundreds of millions of times by music fans all over the world would themselves be world-famous? It turns out that, despite the popularity of their works, many remain unrecognized outside the core music business, so it is my hope that this new article – in which I’ll introduce you to the people – the Designers, Illustrators, Photographers and Art Directors who are credited for each cover – helps raise their visibility and allows readers to get to know some of them a bit better and begin an appreciation of what they’ve added to the worlds of Pop Culture and Modern Art.

https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-resources-main-page/achof-resources-credits-for-best-selling-record-albums/

March 6 – In a nod to the early designers of album covers, designer Rodrigo Maia has created a site where he shows off his re-interpreted versions of modern album covers. Called “New Records, Old Covers“, Maia works with the recordings of more modern acts including The Black Keys, Jeff Buckley and Explosions In The Sky and re-creates them as if they were 50’s era cool jazz covers done by Steinweiss, Miles and Fujita! It’s a fascinating attempt by an artist to show how the design cues created by these “Early Influencers” could still make for compelling covers today. Read Paste Magazine writer Elizabeth Lilly’s article on the subject here –http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/02/current-album-covers-get-a-vinyl-jazz-album-makeov.html

Or visit Maia’s blog at http://newrecordsoldcovers.tumblr.com/

March 5 – Detroit-based photographer Leni Sinclair has been a part of the fabric of the city since arriving there as a child escaping the War from East Germany. She’d brought a camera with her in order to take shots of her life in the New World and it became a lifelong pursuit as she covered both the arts scene in the Motor City as well as the political upheaval that took place there in the 1960s. While co-founding the Detroit Artists Workshop and the White Panther party, she took many a notable image of local artists – MC5, Iggy Pop, etc. – as well as many visiting acts and teamed with illustrator Gary Grimshaw to produce many memorable posters for local venues (and album covers for MC5, Larry Nozero and a number of compilations). Watch her interview on WXYZ with reporter Malcolm Maddox in support of her Detroit Rocks! bookhttp://www.wxyz.com/entertainment/around-town/famous-local-rock-and-roll-photographer-leni-sinclair-sits-down-to-discuss-her-new-book

March 3 – 1) For those of you who haven’t seen any of The Gothamist‘s series on NYC-based album covers, they just re-ran the one on Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti (art by Peter Corriston and Mike Doud) to celebrate the anniversary of the album’s 1975 release date – visitors to the East Village can stop by the Physical Graffitea shop in the building, if so motivated – http://gothamist.com/2014/02/24/nyc_album_art_the_east_village_buil.php

2) Coloradoan columnist Michelle Venus laments the fact that downloading has reduced the importance of album cover art and hopes that musicians and record companies don’t forget how important the visuals have been/might be in the promotion of music products – personally, I think that there’s some great work being done these days, so while the method of delivery might be different, there is still a strong desire to offer fans another way to identify with their favorite musicians. What do you think?http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20140228/LIFESTYLE/302280075/Venus-Let-s-hope-art-album-keeps-spinning?nclick_check=1

3) To all fans of independent record shops – I feel that it is my sworn duty to let you know about a Kickstarter program now running in support of my town’s best-known and loved record emporium, Music Millennium. They’re celebrating 45 years in business here in Portland and are looking to add a refreshment area to the store. Terry hosts a always-impressive slate of in-store performances and supports the arts and artists in so many ways – he’s certainly the most-beloved guy in record retailing and someone that deserves the support of music-lovers everywhere (he’s also the guy credited with developing the “Keep Portland Weird” campaign).

In any case, hope that you’ll visit his campaign site and find a few dollars in your pocket to pledge in his direction – thanks for your consideration –https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1068673393/a-new-millennium-shopping-experience

4/1/14 – Update – Music Millennium’s Kickstarter campaign was a success, with pledges received for over $66,000! It’s great to see a community come together in support of a local institution, and I can’t wait to be there for the party later this year to celebrate the grand opening of the new beverage bar!

ACHOF Featured Album Cover Artist Portfolio – Mick Haggerty

Featured Album Cover Artist Portfolio – Mick Haggerty

by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
March 24, 2014

Every once in a while, I get to pinch myself with pleasure when I realize that I’ve been given the opportunity to meet and interview many of the talented artists that have created some of the world’s most-iconic album cover images. While, of course, I appreciate most all of the works I’ve featured in these articles, there are certain works that, for my own personal reasons, are deeply-affecting to me and, therefore, are often images that I’ve added to my own art collection, and so when I get a chance to interview the people who’ve produced these particular images, the whole enterprise takes on additional meaning and emotion for me.

In today’s Featured Artist Portfolio, I’m pleased to highlight the accomplishments of a designer who has created more than one of my favorite album covers – that being the supremely talented Mick Haggerty. As someone who has created covers for musical acts both here and in the U.K., it also gives me pleasure to learn more about a small number of covers for bands that, for whatever reason, never had much of a following in the U.S. but, as you’ll see, some of those images will impress you as much (or more) than some of his better-known covers. Great art is great art, no matter whether you’re just seeing it for the first time or appreciating it again for the hundredth time, don’t you agree?

So, without any further delay, please enjoy a selection of works by Mick Haggerty, along with some running commentary provided by the designer himself.

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Interview with Shauna & Sarah Dodds on their Grammy-winning album cover for Reckless Kelly

Interview with Shauna and Sarah Dodds, Backstage Design, winners of 2013 Grammy Award for “Best Recording Package” for their work on Reckless Kelly’s Long Night Moon

By Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
March 21, 2014

Dodds, Backstage, Design, Studio, Grammy, Reckless Kelly, Shauna, Sarah, Long Night Moon, album cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While most of the press coverage of the annual Grammy Awards show is focused on the nominees and winners in the dozen or so “major” categories, there’s a lot of talent on display in some of the lesser-promoted award categories that, given some additional attention by the show’s producers, press and music/art fans that might not be aware of them, would serve both to excite those exposed to their works and serve to show just how imaginative, innovative and influential producers of music packaging and imagery remain today.

And while there are those that insist that, due to the swing from retail to digital distribution of music and music products, album cover packaging and album art in general is less important today than other forms of marketing and promotion, I’d like to point to this year’s winning design for “Best Recording Package” – awarded to Shauna and Sarah Dodds of Austin, TX’s Backstage Design – as a great example of just how shallow this train of thought seems to be. In today’s extremely noisy music marketing arena, it takes a well-honed sense of what it takes to rise above the din and deliver a package to an act’s fans – both existing and new – that engages them and gives them a sense of intimacy with the act, it’s music and the people behind “the brand”. I think that, when you take into account the depth and diversity of what the winning design team created for their clients, you’ll agree that they delivered a package that perfectly illustrates what can – and must – be done to keep the art of music packaging relevant and exciting for artists and fans alike.

In the following interview, Shauna and Sarah give us an intimate look into their creative process, the challenging design and production briefs for the project and an unimaginable display of knowledge of lunar maps – enjoy!

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