Tag Archives: Bob Gruen

Album Cover Artist and Art News Summary and Preview for the Months of May and June, 2017

ALBUM COVER HALL OF FAME’S ALBUM COVER NEWS RECAP FOR THE MONTH OF MAY, 2017, WITH PREVIEWS FOR JUNE, 2017.

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BY MIKE GOLDSTEIN, ALBUMCOVERHALLOFFAME.COM

Greetings to you all on this first day of June, 2017.

I’d like to first let you know about an important change I’m making in the delivery schedule for my album cover artist/art news bulletins. For the next several months, I’ll be reducing the frequency from weekly to monthly (plus timely news alerts) in order to be able to focus my almost-complete attention on my book project. As it was my plan to have the book completely written prior to the launch of my fund-raising efforts – with final design and editing to come based on the success of that fund-raising (i.e., the more $$ raised, the more pages I can include in the book) – it finally occurred to me that I was getting further and further behind and, at this point, I’m nearly a year past when I’d hoped to put this out.

This is simply unacceptable to me. I’d promised all of the fine people who’d contributed to the book’s content that I’d have it in my readers’ hands ASAP, so now, even if it means trimming my news coverage, I’m going to do everything I can to live up to those previous commitments.

Such is the life of a one-man operation.

I do appreciate all the support I’ve been given and continue to get from both contributors and my readers, and I will work hard to finish this project and get back to the important work of updating the ACHOF’s bio section, adding more interviews and producing a regular series of news updates.

And so, In this month’s summary, you’ll find both a robust recap of last month’s stories about the talented people working to produce great visuals for clients in the music business as well as several previews of what’s going to be on display/hitting the shelves next month. As always. you’ll find that the galleries, publishers, curators, etc. who support and promote these works continue on with their good work, and it’s my pleasure to be able to share the details about what they do with you and whoever you choose to share this information with. There continues to be an impressive number of items about album cover art/artists in the daily news cycle, adding stories of great interest and fascination to the month’s recap of the articles, interviews, museum and gallery show information you’ll find on a wide range of related topics.

Please share this info with everyone you know who are fans of great album cover-related talent and, of course, your comments and feedback are quite welcome.

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Album Cover Art and Artist News Summary for the Month of April 2017

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ALBUM COVER HALL OF FAME’S ALBUM COVER NEWS RECAP FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL, 2017

Happy May 1st to you all. While the weather here in the Chicago area has certainly swung towards Springtime (a day spent in the gardens at the nearby Baha’i Temple found the magnolias and spring flowers in full bloom), it hasn’t quite “stuck the landing”, but I’ve gone ahead and planted basil on my balcony and can vouch for the fact that there are trees with leaves on them as I look out my office window as I write this month’s summary and continue to work on my book.

Speaking of which – I’ve scripted my presentations for my upcoming crowd-funding project and, with any luck, will have something for you to look at quite soon. As I mentioned before, I’m mostly focused on deciding what to/not to include in this first collection (that’s been the toughest part, because I want to share everyone’s stories), but it looks like this will be a 400+ page book, so fans will most certainly find things in it relating to many of their favorite album cover creators. I also finished my inventory of the premiums (art prints, mostly) that will be used to incentivize you to support me at various funding levels, so I do hope you’ll take a look at my offering once it’s up and running. More to come, for sure.

In this month’s summary, you’ll find a robust offering of stories about the talented people working to produce great visuals for clients in the music business. You’ll find that the galleries, publishers, curators, etc. who support and promote these works are quite busy – as I’ve been, too, gathering these stories so that I can share the fascinating details about what they do with you and whoever you choose to share this information with. There continues to be an impressive number of items about album cover art/artists in the daily news cycle, adding stories of great interest and fascination to the month’s recap of the articles, interviews, museum and gallery show information you’ll find on a wide range of related topics.

Please share this info with everyone you know who are fans of great album cover-related talent and, of course, your comments and feedback are quite welcome.

1) Upcoming, recently-launched/CuRRENTLY-RUNNING and just-closed show/exhibitions –

a) Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1942 and raised in Penicuik, Midlothian, a town SW of the city, Albert Watson’s technical training in the arts took place first at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (up the East Coast, in Dundee) where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design and then at the Royal College of Art in London, where his focus was on film and television. Born blind in one eye, he nevertheless enrolled in photography classes as well and, in 1970, moved to Los Angeles, where his wife had accepted a teaching job and he began his search for work as a photographer. Within a year’s time, he’d sold a couple of images to Max Factor and drew attention to his talents behind the lens.

Watson opened his own photo studio in L.A. in 1974 and travelled between the coasts frequently on fashion magazine assignments for clients including GQ, Mademoiselle and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, where his 1973 portrait of film director Alfred Hitchcock launched his career as one of the most sought-after celebrity portaitists. A portrait of an Indian Chief he’d taken was selected for use on the cover of Chicago folk band Mason Proffit’s 1974 double LP compilation titled Come And Gone and won him the Grammy Award for “Best Album Cover” the next year. In 1976, he landed a gig at Vogue magazine, which brought him to NYC to stay.

Since that time, Watson’s photos have been featured on several hundred covers for Vogue and its international editions. His celebrity photos have appeared in Arena, Esquire, Interview, Max, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Stern, Time, Vibe and others, while his list of clients in the advertising world includes companies such as Acura, Armani, Chanel, Clairol, Escada, Estee Lauder, Gap, Lancome, Levis, L’Oreal, Max Factor, Revlon, Sony Music, Toyota and many more. Some of the other album covers he’s shot include such memorable images for records including Jay-Z’s The Blueprints 2: The Gift and the Curse, Love Deluxe, Lovers Rock and Greatest Hits for Sade, Carly Simon – The Best of Carly Simon, Keep The Faith for Faith Evans,  Michael Jackson’s Invincible and LL Cool J’s All The World: Greatest Hits, among others. He found more work in the entertainment world producing photos for dozens of films/film promo posters, including The DaVinci Code, Flashdance, Kill Bill, Memoirs of a Geisha and others and further applied his film and TV production training by directing more than 650 TV commercials.  Additionally, Watson has served as the official Royal Photographer for Prince Andrew’s wedding to Sarah Ferguson and for His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco.

In addition to his busy commercial schedule, Albert has spent much of his “free” time working on projects based on his travels around the world. These images, along with his portraits of celebrities from all aspects of the entertainment, sports and political worlds, have been featured in a number of  museum and gallery shows, including exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the City Art Centre in Edinburgh, the Museum of Modern Art in Milan, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography in New York City and others and are included in the permanent collections at the NPG and the Met. A new show featuring 29 photos that span his entire portfolio – landscapes, celebrity portraits, fashion photography, etc. – and titled Albert Watson: KAOS has just opened at Opiom Gallery, in Opio, France (just off the D7 East of Grasse), and will be on view through June 10, 2017. This grouping had its first showing last year at the St. Moritz Art Masters in Switzerland and, later this year, art book publisher Taschen will be releasing a special collector’s edition of a book by the same name.

Crave online contributor Miss Rosen gives up an overview of the show on their web site at http://www.craveonline.com/art/1248555-photographer-albert-watson-is-the-master-of-kaos-and-beauty#/slide/1    while more information on this show, along with directions to the venue, can be found on the gallery’s web site at http://opiomgallery.com/en/expositions/presentation/39/albert-watson-kaos

b) This year marks the 50th anniversary of a celebrated time and place in American music/art/pop culture history, that being of the “Summer of Love” in the San Francisco Bay area. This was the epicenter in the U.S. of rebellion against “The Man” and all of the conservatism he stood for, and so it only with a bit of irony that an industry was quickly built around the art, music and other lifestyle accouterments needed to fully participate in the festivities taking place in SF’s parks and the Haight-Ashbury district.

From now until August 20th at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate park, visitors can tour an exhibit called The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion and Rock and Roll that celebrates all of the groovy, trippy and far-out elements that defined the psychedelic scene in mid-1967. You’ll find hundreds of examples of the music (Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, etc.), clothing and, of course, artwork – even a recreation of a fully-stocked poster store (Mouse, Kelley, Conklin, Moscoso, Crumb, etc., doing work for Fillmore, Family Dog, etc.) and, as you’ll note by reading Sara Wood’s recently-posted article on the topic, even those who thought they’d find the whole thing a bit too twee (bummer, bummer) were swept up a bit in the gaiety on display – http://www.ebar.com/arts/art_article.php?sec=general&article=412

More information on the shows location and hours can be found at https://deyoung.famsf.org/summer-love-art-fashion-and-rock-roll , while a rather nicely-done online presentation that includes  a special section about psychedelic posters can be toured via this link – http://digitalstories.famsf.org/summer-of-love#posters

BONUS #1 – while you’re in the general vicinity, those of you with a more-educational interest in mid-60s counterculture might also want to catch the BART to go and visit the Hippie Modernism show at the Berkeley Art Museum.  According to the show’s promo materials, the exhibition “demonstrates how the counterculture, once dismissed as a social and aesthetic anomaly, introduced ideas and techniques that have profoundly shaped contemporary life, including ecological awareness, social justice, and open communication.”

Wow, man. I think I’m just going to trip out on the pretty pictures…

https://ced.berkeley.edu/events-media/events/hippie-modernism-the-struggle-for-utopia-1

BONUS #2 – The ongoing struggle between the Boomer Generation’s desire to play up the importance of the Bay Area’s “Summary of Love” fifty years ago (!!) and its impact on popular culture versus the whining of “enough already” by reporters from younger generations is prominently on display in this new article by two KQED reporters about the current show on the subject at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. While Emma and Sarah might be distressed by what they feel “is the kind of programming every San Francisco institution is apparently required to produce by law (AKA a strong promotion from the city’s tourism bureau) during the summer of 2017,” they later find themselves admitting that one aspect of the show – the display of over 150 posters and handbills done by noted psychedelic-era artists such as Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Wes Wilson, Lee Conklin, Victor Moscoso and others, as well as a demonstration area showing how these screen-prints and lithographs are created – are something of interest and make the tour worth your while…

While nostalgia might be overplayed these days, the simple fact that people of all ages are enthralled even today by the artwork created by the aforementioned artists and their compatriots (along with the album covers they created for bands including the Grateful Dead, Santana, Journey and many others) should quash any inference that these works are less than worthy examples of fine art for the ages. Look and learn, kiddies.

https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/04/12/de-young-summer-of-love-50th-anniversary/

c) All the way over on the other side of the country, rock photography fans in and around the Philadelphia, PA area can bop on over to take a look at a new show built around the amazing portfolio of noted rock photographer Bob Gruen, the man responsible for an impressive number of images we all know and love. On display now through May 26th at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University, “Rockers” puts on display many of the highlights of Gruen’s 40+ year career during which he has captured many of the top acts in the music world, gaining world-wide recognition for his works featuring artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Muddy Waters, Tina Turner, Elton John, Aerosmith, Madonna, Kiss & Alice Cooper.

As chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine in the 1970s, Bob specialized in candid, behind the scenes photo features. He toured extensively with the emerging punk and new wave bands including the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Patti Smith Group and Blondie. This seminal body of work reflects a profound commitment and long-standing personal friendship with the artists, with perhaps his best-known buddy, the late John Lennon, serving as the model in one of Bob’s most-famous shots, that being the one Lennon wearing a “New York City” t-shirt, captured in 1974.

PhillyVoice.com writer Sinead Cummings provides us with a brief intro to the show at http://www.phillyvoice.com/bob-gruen-photo-exhibit-gives-intimate-look-at-rock-n-roll-icons/ while more information on the exhibition, including info about upcoming activities related to the show such as an artist’s interview and book signing on May 3rd, can be found on the gallery’s site at http://drexel.edu/pearlsteingallery/exhibitions-events/exhibition-archive/2017/April/Bob%20Gruen%20ROCKERS/

d) While much of the world outside of NYC knows the creative output of Alan Vega for the now-iconic eagle logo he created for the Ramones (yes, you’ve got that t-shirt) he was also, in fact, a trend-setting musician, one-half of the avant electro-punk duo and Max’s Kansas City/CBGBs regulars known as Suicide. Balancing a music career – one that began in the early 70s (in-your-face punk before there was a “punk”) before moving on to solo work and collaborations with other acts including Ric Ocasek, Al Jourgenson of Ministry and Alex Chilton (among others) – with visual output that included well-regarded gallery shows that featured his “insult paintings”, sculptures and other works, Vega died in 2016 at the age of 78.

Film-maker and Vega family friend Paul Tschinkel spent the last year since’s Vega’s death working on a documentary film featuring interviews with Alan and his family and performance footage from several different periods during Vega’s career and, for those of you who were in the NYC area on April 14th, I hope that you had the opportunity to watch a screening of Alan Vega: An Artist’s Story during a “Howl! Happening” at the Howl! Arts Gallery on East 1st St. Gallery 98’s Mark H. Miller was on hand to MC and several luminaries, including Vega’s wife and son and musician Martin Rev (his partner in Suicide), were there to share in the evening’s festivities with all in attendance. More info can be found at  http://gallery.98bowery.com/news/alan-vega-of-suicide-video-tribute-screens-friday/ and also on the gallery’s site – https://www.howlarts.org/event/paul-tschinkel-alan-vega-an-artists-story/

e) Photographer/curator/gallery owner Guido Harari’s Wall of Sound Spring Group show featuring photos by David Burnett, Merri Cyr, Henry Diltz, Jim Marshall, Gered Mankowitz, Mick Rock, Norman Seeff, Masayoshi Sukita and many others opened Sunday, the 16th of April at the gallery in Alba, Italy (SE of Turin, NW of Genoa). Titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Hearts and running through June 11th, the show will put on display dozens of well-known album art images, artist portraits and more, with some shown in public for the first time.

In celebration of both the launch of the new season of Mick Rock’s Ovation TV series (On The Record with Mick Rock) and the just-released documentary on Mr. Rock’s career as an in-demand rock photographer (titled SHOT! and produced by VICE Films and Straight Up Films), there will be an expanded selection of photos from this acclaimed shooter on display in this new show.

More info can be found on the gallery’s site – http://www.wallofsoundgallery.com/en/rock–n–roll-hearts-e21

f) Just a quick reminder to all the Chicago-area rock art, fashion, memorabilia and music fans (as my childhood friend Bozo the Clown used to say – “Hey, that’s me!”) – the Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism travelling show is now running at Chicago’s Navy Pier – http://www.stonesexhibitionism.com/

A quick trip through the show’s online picture gallery shows many examples of the wide range of creative album covers that have graced the band’s recordings over the course of their 50+ career – http://www.stonesexhibitionism.com/image-gallery/

g) 83-year-old Michael Mendel’s family fled Nazi Germany (through Holland, then to Cuba before coming to the U.S. and the New York area in 1938) when he was only 4 years old.

More recently, he used his talents as a painter (which he picked up on late in life) to create a series of black & white and hand-colored images that track some of the key moments of his life and flight to escape persecution to come to America (watch this short YouTube video, where you’ll find the artist taking you through some samples of that work – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr2E2zVL72g), where he went on to become an in-demand art director (first for Columbia Records, then on to Epic, Paramount and others) who worked on hundreds of record covers, including ones for Tommy James, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Curtis Mayfield, Van McKoy, Roy Orbison, Small Faces, The Stylistics and many others.

He retired from the music business in the late 1980s and switched his focus to producing watercolor paintings, so it is with great pleasure that I’m able to share an article by Bronx Times reporter Patrick Rocchio that introduces us to a show that was running at the Riverdale Senior Center  through the month of April in which a large selection of Mendel’s album artwork was on display – http://www.bxtimes.com/stories/2017/13/13-mendel-2017-03-31-bx.html   His son David is also promoting his “Just For The Record” show on his Instagram account (pretty cool Dad, no?) – http://www.imgsta.com/media/raisedonradio/BSP0cFDhMhw

2) Artist interviews/profile articles –

a) Of the musical acts that were recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Pearl Jam has always worked almost as hard on their visuals – their album covers, merchandise and concert posters – as they have on their music, and one of the reasons why they’re consistently coming up with “just the right” designs could be that they’ve worked with the same design firm – Seattle’s Ames Bros – for almost their entire career. The firms ties to the band go one degree further than most in that one of the two principals – designer Barry Ament – is a sibling of Pearl Jam’s bassist, Jeff Ament, and the two have shared inspirations and ideas (along with Barry’s partner Coby Schultz and the rest of band’s members, who all participate in design development) ever since they were kids.

In this recent video profile served up on Seattle’s 12News/ABC website (with reporting done by reporter Jake Wittenberg), viewers are given a brief tour of the agency’s studio and archives, where you’ll see a number of both well-known and unique designs created for the band over the past 20+ years. The duo are quite humbled by the fact that their #1 client has now been enshrined into the R&RHOF – “It’s been fun,” said Barry. “The guys have a lot to be proud of right now.”

http://www.12newsnow.com/entertainment/music/pearl-jam-artists-excited-about-hall-of-fame/429885541

b) As we’ve just passed the one year anniversary of the unfortunate death of Prince, it was nice to see the folks at CNN change their focus a bit away from the antics in Washington, DC and offer up a 2-minute package (from Stephanie Elam) featuring photographer Allen Beaulieu, the man that brought us the memorable photos found on the covers of several of the Purple One’s early hit records (Prince, Dirty Mind and Controversy). In this interview, Allen gives us a teensy bit of background on the hows and whys for each cover image but, to me at least, the most-moving part of the interview centered on the fact that he wished that he’d stayed closer to the late musician, not knowing that a big hug received during photography during the 1999 tour would be his last.

The relationships between the photographer and his subject can grow deep –

http://www.cnn.com/videos/entertainment/2017/04/21/prince-photographer-memories-elam-pkg.cnn

c) The recent Record Store Day festivities put a lot of talent on display including, I think you’ll agree, a lot of fine work on the packaging, with colored vinyl, limited-edition releases and a ton of related merch showcasing the output of designers, photographers, illustrators and the like in close collaboration with the musician and label clients. However, in this recent Creative Boom article by Katy Cowan, you’ll find an added degree of creativity in the RSD-related work of the “masters of paper craft” Nearly Normal as they joined forces with Amsterdam-based record retailer Concerto to produce some quite-special items for an exhibit that will be on display in the store through May 19th called Vinylize!

According to the store’s site, “at the invitation of the Amsterdam Shop Around, about 50 artists used their favorite record sleeve as a canvas. The artwork of various artists such as Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Jimi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and Blondie (to name a few) got a “VINYLIZE makeover”, resulting in a completely new and unique Artwork.” In the case of the one-off cover created by Nearly Normal’s Jaime Kiss, the inspiration was Kraftwerk’s 1981 hit Computer World, and not only did the agency produce a cut paper-based cover homage, they also took it further by creating a series of fine art prints for collectors and producing an animated (8-bit style) music video for the song based on that artwork. Learn more about the project and see what true love hath inspired –

http://www.creativeboom.com/inspiration/vinylize-paper-crafters-nearly-normal-celebrate-record-store-days-10th-anniversary-with-kraftwerk-tribute/

d) For some clients, image is everything, and in the competitive world of mid-1990s Gangsta Rap records, the more you could extol just how bad-ass you were, the better your credibility was with your target audience. In a recent Instagram posting (that was reported in Peter A. Berry’s article on the XXL.com web site, photographer Chi Modu shares the tale of “the making of” the quite-nasty images for the packaging of Mobb Deep’s 1996 record Hell on Earth.

Using the gangster movie Scarface for its thematic clues, Modu tells us that, in an effort to re-create a scene where Tony Montana had dumped drugs and cash on a large marble table to display the spoils of his efforts, the production crew had scouted a location inside a monastery in NYC and rented the space while not exactly sharing the details of what they’d be doing with the property owner. As you might figure, much hilarity ensued – http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2017/04/chi-modu-story-shooting-mobb-deep-hell-on-earth-cover

The folks at XXL followed this article up with one later in the month about Modu’s 1993 portrait of a young Snoop Dogg standing near a road sign on California Highway 187 (better known to locals as the section of Venice Blvd. that runs from Venice to Culver City) that’s now being used as the cover for Snoop’s soon-to-be-released new record titled Neva Left.

http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2017/04/snoop-doggs-new-album-cover-neva-left-chi-modu-photo/

e) Fans of album art with a creative streak are always working on ways to impress us with their talents and appreciation of great covers of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Sometimes, they’ll take well-known covers and manipulate them using today’s graphic design tools – mostly on computer – which produces many of the animated gifs, parodies and old-cover-with-new-characters items that pop up here in the ACHOF news feed from time to time. Rarely, however, do amateur artists go “old school” and, when they do, it’s wonderful to see what they’ve been able to create using just the basics – paints, a pencil or, in this case, a camera, some construction paper and a glass prism.

At the following link, the editors of the PetaPixel site have posted an interview with Mason Maxwell, member of the Reddit ITAP (“I Took A Picture”) group and a guy with a Nikon 5100 who decided to take this on – i.e., re-creating the memorable cover graphic for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon – while listening to the record several times for motivation.

https://petapixel.com/2017/03/30/photographer-recreates-dark-side-moon-album-cover-camera/

Check out Mason’s Reddit page via this link https://www.reddit.com/r/itookapicture/comments/627mny/itap_recreation_of_the_dark_side_of_the_moon/

f) What does an artist do with his or her day? Dennis Morris, the man responsible for some of rock’s best-known album cover portraits, including you’ve-seen-them works for an impressively-broad range of acts including Bob Marley, Public Image Ltd and Marianne Faithful (among many others), works to answer that query as he takes us on a video tour of a “typical” day as an in-demand celebrity photographer.

Morris, whose desire to become a photographer began at an early age (he began shooting photographs at the age of 8 and started his professional career began at the age of 11 when he sold some shots he’d taken of a political demonstration to the Daily Mirror newspaper), makes sure that his camera is never far from hand and continues to photograph popular figures in all walks of life, with his shots featured in publications such as GQ, People, Rolling Stone, the Sunday Times, Time, V magazine and Vogue, among many others.

This video is part of a series on BBC4 called What Do Artists Do All Day? which, over the course of its run, has also done features on two more album art-related subjects – graphic artist/designer Sir Peter Blake (of Sgt. Pepper’s and Live Aid fame) and photographer Albert Watson, whose album cover credits include shots for Carly Simon, John Denver, Sade and LL Cool J, among many others…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rjr1d/episodes/guide

g) I really need to check my Google Alerts more often – sorry about the delay in reporting this, but noted artist Alan Aldridge died several weeks ago in Los Angeles, CA at the age of 73. Anyone who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to Pop Culture visuals over the past 50 years has seen numerous examples of Aldridge’s work, having designed logos for the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafes, illustrated dozens of book covers (with a focus on science fiction titles) and, for music lovers, created an impressive portfolio of album covers, including memorable examples such as Goodbye for Cream, Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy for Elton John, A Quick One for The Who and Wonderwall Music for former Beatle George Harrison. Beatles fans will also remember Alan’s art direction and illustrations for one of the most-popular lyrics books ever published, that being The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics.

Born June, 1943 in London, UK, Aldridge’s first design job was as an illustrator for The Sunday Times Magazine. In early 1965, he was hired by Penguin Book’s editor Tony Godwin to become their art director and, for the next two years, he designed a number of well-received book covers, with a focus on science fiction titles. In 1968, he launched his own graphic design firm (called INK) and, going forward, his unique, psychedelic illustrative style was applied to a wide range of projects, with Aldridge credited for creating memorable designs/illustrations for clients including Falcon Motorcycles, Heineken, Lucky Brand, MAC cosmetics, Samson, Paul Smith, Virgin Atlantic and many others.

Sarah Dawood’s obituary for the late artist can be found on the Design Week site at https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/20-26-february-2017/remembering-alan-aldridge-revolutionary-graphic-designer-swinging-sixties/

h) Continuing on with the bad news, another famous contributor to the album cover art scene – photographer Don Hunstein – died recently at the age of 88 following a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Hunstein grew up in St. Louis, MO and attended Washington University, graduating in 1950 with a degree in English. After college he enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in Fairford, England and assigned a desk job. It was this assignment that allowed him to travel around Europe. He began photographing casually, taking pictures to send home to his family, and then with the help of a Leica M3 purchased in the PX and inspired by a book of renowned street photographer Henri Cartier Bresson’s work, his hobby began to take him on a lifelong path. Transferring to a base near London, he joined a local camera club and took evening classes at London’s Central School of Art and Design, becoming influenced by the artists and designers whom he met there. He returned to the States in 1954, ending up in New York City, where he eventually landed an apprenticeship in a commercial photography studio. There he honed his photography skills by mastering large format cameras and lighting.

He soon met and was mentored by Deborah Ishlon, who worked in the publicity department at Columbia Records. She offered him a job helping her run the photo library there and supplying prints to the press. As he began to take his own photos for the company, they recognized his talent, and he gradually worked his way into the position of Director of Photography for CBS/Columbia Records. As staff photographer during Columbia’s heyday as a major rock, jazz and classical music label, Don was there to witness – and photograph – a number of iconic moments in the early history of rock music.

Over the course of his career at CBS, he shot over 200 LP and CD covers and documented the recording of many of the great albums in music history, producing instantly-recognizable portraits of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis and many others. Notable examples of his album cover work  include Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan; Blood Sweat & Tears – More Than Ever; Al Kooper – You Never Know Who Your Friends Are…; Cryan’ Shames – Scratch The Sky; Johnny Cash – Love and Bridge Over Troubled Water for Simon & Garfunkel .

You can find more about the man and his life via the following obituary articles – http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/don-hunstein-freewheelin-bob-dylan-photographer-dead-w473676  by Daniel Kreps for Rolling Stone Magazine and Richard Sandomir’s portrait in the New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/arts/music/don-hunstein-dead-photographer-of-music-stars.html

i) Now, on to articles about the living (!!) – My wife just started a new job here in Chicago and, while meeting some of the nice people around her office, one mentioned that her grandson was in a band and had done the album art for their records, so she forwarded me a link and, after reading it and taking a look at the work that’d been done, thought that you might enjoy it as well. Twin Peaks is a popular local “garage/pop/punk” band (with psychedelic tendencies) that’s been together since 2010 and has released three albums along the way, including 2016’s Down In Heaven, which features artwork done by the band’s guitarist and vocalist Clay Frankel.

At first glance, you might think that the covers were done by another well-known indie artist/musician, Daniel Johnston, best-known to design fans for the “Hi, How Are You (The Unfinished Album)” t-shirt sported by Kurt Cobain in an often-seen photo of the late rocker, and Frankel, in this 2016 interview by Lucy Bourton for the ItsNiceThat.com site, admits to Johnston’s influence in his colorful-yet-slightly-disturbing approach to his artwork (“I really sucked at everything I tried”, he’s quoted. “Picasso my ass. But it didn’t matter. It was fun”). Working on his art during the band’s down-time (which, by the looks of their upcoming tour schedule, on the road for shows in the U.S., Canada and Europe over the next several months with White Mystery), he’s also supplied his artwork for the music video for the group’s latest single, “Holding Roses”. You can read the entire interview via the link – http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/clay-frankel-twin-peaks-070916 and learn more about the band and its ongoing activities at http://twinpeaksdudes.com/, where you’ll also be able to watch the music video just mentioned.

3) Sales/Auctions –

a) You might recall that, several weeks ago, I reported on a series of stamps released by the Isle of Man postal service that were based on the artwork of the great album art designer Roger Dean, with the collection also including some new works Dean created expressly for this commission. The artwork was on display to the public in several exhibitions in late 2016 and was returned to the Sayle Gallery in the town of Douglas on the Isle of Man, where a number of original works, along with production elements such as sketches and production proofs, were then offered to collectors in the area.

Since then, according to this article by LC on the IsleofMan.com site, four of the works, including Pathways at Night (from the YES Progeny album set) and two studies created for the cover of Moody Blues bassist John Lodge’s 1977 LP Natural Avenue were purchased by fans and collectors and have found happy homes on the Isle. Now THAT’s supporting local industry – http://www.isleofman.com/News/details/82330/roger-dean-paintings-acquired-by-isle-of-man-collectors

b) The special fund-raising photography auction held several days ago that featured a number of highly-collectible works donated by Mr. John from his personal collection of many the industry’s best-known photographers resulted in the raising of over $3.5 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. As I reported a short while back, the 120+ works included images produced by artists including Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe and others, with the big bucks being shelled out for several wonderful Ansel Adams prints, including $559K for Clearing Winter Storm, $439K for Aspens, Northern New Mexico (1958) and $112K for a color print titled Church, Sunset, Rear, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, c. 1948.

A 1978 Robert Mapplethorpe photo of Blondie’s Debbie Harry fetched over $32K, beating out a 1980 photo of the same subject by Andy Warhol, which was purchased for a mere $18,750. You can tour through all of the auction’s results – a mini-exhibition of some of the world’s best photography – via the link to the Christie’s site – http://www.christies.com/salelanding/index.aspx?intsaleid=26921

c) In early April, the team at Gotta Have Rock & Roll released the details of what was going to be on offer in their “Rock & Roll Pop Culture Auction April 2017”, and a quick look through the huge (1400+ item) catalog revealed prints by Ringo Starr, a selection of Beatles-related production artwork (including a negative taken from the “Hey Jude” photo session), a Stevie Nicks painting from the late Nicks/Fleetwood Mac cover artist Herb Worthington’s personal art collection and a custom-painted canvas stage backdrop used by the Ramones over 2 years of touring (opening bid of $10K).

The actual auction took place on April 29th, so if you’d like to take a look at what was sold in the two main categories of interest here at the ACHOF, you can click on over to these two pre-sorted pages – https://www.gottahaverockandroll.com/Category/Artwork-206.html   and https://www.gottahaverockandroll.com/Category/Photographs-110.html

where you’ll find that one of the Ringo prints sold for it’s opening bid ($1000), the Stevie Nicks painting went unsold (not a lot of buyers in this category, for some reason), while the Ramones canvas stage backdrop was won with a final price paid of $13,000. The Hey Jude photo also went unsold, but a negative of the band from the Sgt. Pepper’s photo shoot did find a new home, won with a $200 bid.

4) New Print/Book Publishing –

a) Back in February, I’d reported on the amazing success of a book from the Genesis Publishing house (REVOLVER 50: THE GRAMMY ANNIVERSARY EDITION ) that celebrated artist Klaus Voorman’s trend-setting (and Grammy Award-winning) work on the cover for the Revolver LP by The Beatles, released 50 years ago (all of the 500 copies printed of the Deluxe and Collector’s editions sold out in 12 days!). Well, with Voorman still quite active and still quite creative, the team has put together a new product – a series of fine art prints/collages, based on an updated Revolver design and individually-embellished by Voorman, making each one unique – and are now taking orders for one of the 250 of these prints that will be made.

According to Voorman, this new print will serve to illustrate how he’s reflected on his original design over the years – “I had an idea of doing a collage again so people could get an original in their hands… It’s a different version of the cover… right in the middle of creating it.” On top of a new pen-and-ink-based print, Voorman will lay on other printed elements – pens, tubes of paint, etc. – that represent the artist’s craft of making a collage. “A pair of scissors lying there, a knife or a pencil or a brush, all of these things you actually use when you are at the table working on a piece.”

To help you get a look at the artist and his take on this new work, the folks at Genesis have also posted a video – https://vimeo.com/213979087 – while if you want to see more of the works being offered and, if then so inspired, place an order for one for your very own, click on over to the publisher’s site –http://www.genesis-publications.com/revolver-50-the-collage-series-by-klaus-voormann/default.htm

b) Several years ago, when I was still running my art gallery, I had the pleasure of selling a line of limited-edition sculptures made by a company called KnuckleBonz. While there have always been rock music-related figurines available – vinyl dolls, bobble heads, etc. – the products that the team at KnuckleBonz were producing were definitely several notches above the norm (and priced accordingly). Over the years, they’ve created hand-painted models of illustrious rock and rollers such as Ozzy, Dio, Rush, Lemmy and several others. On the bookcase behind my desk stands one of my favorites – Keith Emerson, standing in front of a rack of synthesizer (mine’s wearing a miniature baseball cap I found!) and, in another room, Jimi Hendrix stands, captured in mid-solo.

I haven’t reported on these folks for a while, as my focus remains on album art-related items, but a recent press release from the company about several new items has broken the curse, and I’m happy to tell you that two upcoming releases might be of interest to album art fans looking for “something a little different”. The first item is a new statue of Alice Cooper (titled “Alice Cooper II (Snake)”) which shows the world’s best-known shock-rocker posed with his pet python in one hand, microphone in the other, and standing on top of a base that replicates the colors and textures of one of Cooper’s best-known records, 1973’s Billion Dollar Babies (with original artwork done by the talented team at Pacific Eye & Ear). The second item is a new work that continues on the company’s recognition of album art iconography, begun early on with their sculpture of Rush’s “Starman”, with the upcoming release of a statue based on Motorhead’s mascot Warpig, AKA Snaggletooth, The Bastard, The Iron Boar, etc.. When fantasy artist Joe Petagno’s first iteration of the character was used on the band’s  self-titled 1977 debut recording, little did we know that, now 40 years later, that character would rank up there in the pantheon of iconic rock logo/images, along with band IDs such as the Lips & Tongue for the Rolling Stones, the Flying Eagle logo for the Ramones and the Misfits’ Skull Fiend, but your attendance at any metal music concert would certainly support that assertion.

In any case, this meticulously-crafted bust, complete with image-appropriate scrap heap base with chains and skulls, would certainly make a great gift for the metalhead on your gift-shopping list. See these two items, along with the other just announced, officially-licensed sculptures of Syd Barrett, Lemmy Kilmeister and an alt Alice Cooper model (in strait-jacket) by visiting the KnuckleBonz site at https://knucklebonz.com/shop/

c) 40 years after “God Save The Queen” became one of the most-recognized punk-era images, artist Jamie Reid is back with two new prints – one, an update to his classic Swastika Eyes and the other making clear his take on the new “American Royal Family”. These new works will be released to hungry fans as part of the Cultural Traffic counter-culture print and publications fair that will take place in NYC beginning on May 7th and where, according to the folks at L-13 (a Clerkenwell, London-based ” creative platform, spiritual home and technical epicenter for a small group of artists that founder Steve Lowe has found himself working with – both in collaborative venture and by way of support for the individual artists” – i.e., the people who’ll be printing and publishing these new works), “40 years after Jamie Reid first put Swastikas on the eyes of the Queen and stuck a safety pin through her mouth, he now turns his iconoclastic attention to the United States of America using elements from the original Swastika Eyes collage…All profits from the sale of the print will be used to publish a bound version of Eight Fold Year: a book of the Druidic calendar by Jamie Reid.”

I want one, I want one (but I won’t tell you which one – YOU guess). You can take a look at the new prints and, if so motivated, place a pre-order via one or both of the following links:

http://l-13.org/product/jamie-reid-swastika-eyes-queen/

http://l-13.org/product/jamie-reid-swastika-eyes-trump/

d) More Mick Rock-related news – Back in 2013, photographer Mick Rock and his buddy Lou Reed were working on a book for Genesis Publishing that based on Rock’s deep archive of photos and film of the seminal NYC rocker/trendsetter. Unfortunately (in so many ways), Reed died while the book was first released and, out of respect for the family, further sales were put on hold. As this November is the 45th anniversary of the release of the ground-breaking (and, certainly, career-breaking) Transformer LP, the family and Mr. Rock have agreed to celebrate the legacy by re-starting sales of both the book and a special series of fine art prints.

While the ultra-deluxe version of the book completely sold out during the initial offering, there are still copies that will be made available this Fall from the quite-nice, Mick Rock-signed Transformer Limited Edition (2000 total copies) version, which comes complete with a specially-produced 7″ picture disc and an updated photo/essay booklet. Priced quite reasonably at £295.00, pre-orders are now being accepted at  http://www.genesis-publications.com/transformer-by-lou-reed-and-mick-rock/

Photo collectors now also have a chance to own one of the six framed photo prints in Rock’s “Transformer Series“. While they were working together on the book, Reed and Rock chose these previously-unreleased images to offer to collectors, with the selected photos of “personal and historical significance… the Transformer Series reveals Lou the performer, the New Yorker, the artist and the friend.”

The limited edition, 20″ x 30″ signed and estate-stamped giclee’ portraits are being sold for £1900.00, plus shipping. Orders are being accepted at http://www.genesis-publications.com/transformer-loureed-mickrock/default.htm

I’m particularly fond of two of the prints, one called “Transformer” that’s a contact sheet-style image of the July 14, 1972 Transformer photo shoot, while the one called “Make Up” is done in the same way (make up and lighting) that the album cover image was created – quite striking.

Bonus – here’s a link to a recent posting on the Entertainment Weekly site in which Rock gives us some background info on the shooting of the Transformer album cover. It’s also where you can watch the preview for the aforementioned Shot! documentary – http://ew.com/music/2017/04/07/mick-rock-lou-reed-transformer/

e) According to photographer Jimmy Steinfeldt’s site bio, Jimmy “is a self-taught photographer who has only to squint through the lens for inspiration.” Citing photographer Richard Avedon and cinematographer Karl Freund among his strongest influences, Jimmy’s talents have brought him from his first gigs as a shooter at local concerts – his 1986 shots of Madonna for Rolling Stone kicked his career into high gear- to a 30+ year career (which has included a 2007 honor as Photographer of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards), during which he’s produced portraits of everyone from Bob Dylan and Miles Davis to John Denver, Willie Nelson and Dee Dee Ramone. His album cover credits include work for Denver, Davis and Ramone and, after adding in shots for Paul Westerberg, Matt Sorum and Dishwalla, among others, you’ll not be a bit surprised to find that, from time to time, he’s been able to tap into his portfolio to produce very-desirable photo books for collectors as well.

Steinfeldt’s newest book – Rock ‘N’ Roll Lens Volume II – has just come to market and, according to the press, it includes “fifty of his best black and white photographs, as well as commentary attributed to the stories behind them from his celebrity friends. Contributors include Lou Gossett Jr., Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Clem Burke of Blondie, Slim Jim of the Stray Cats, Apollonia of Purple Rain, and more.”

Read more on the artist and his work in this Music Desk article on the Broadway World site – http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwmusic/article/Acclaimed-Photographer-Jimmy-Steinfeldt-Releases-Second-Volume-of-Book-Rock-N-Roll-Lens-20170310 . You can order the book on the artist’s site at http://www.jimmysteinfeldt.com/book.html

5) Other articles of interest –

a) There’s been a fair amount written about this being the 50th anniversary of the release of what many consider to be the record with the “best” album cover ever made – that being The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s album. Whether or not you think it’s the ultimate album cover, no one can deny that it has been incredibly inspirational, particularly to those musical acts and album cover artists who’ve chosen to make parodies (or are they homages?) of the record’s cover over the years.

In an effort to show us the wide range of styles and subjects that have been used to create these other works (including several newer ones from the man who lead the effort to create the original – Sir Peter Blake – the staff at the Ultimate Classic Rock site have put together a slide show of over 40 (42, to be exact) of these covers, including ones fairly well-known, such as the cover for We’re Only In It For The Money by Frank Zappa & The Mothers (one of my favorite t-shirts), to Eric Idle and The Rutles Sgt. Rutter’s Darts Club Band (featuring the classic Rutles tune “Cheese and Onions”) to covers by The Muppets, The Simpsons and MAD Magazine. I’m really quite shocked that this isn’t a must-do project idea for any self-respecting art school curriculum.

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/beatles-sgt-pepper-cover-art-tributes/

b) When musician Damon Albairn and illustrator/animator Jamie Hewlett first teamed up years ago to create their very modern animated rock band (sorry Cartoon Beatles) Gorillaz, the music world didn’t know quite what to make of them. Where could “the guy from Blur” and the comic book illustrator who brought us Tank Girl take its audience? Fans of animation understood right away – when you live in AnimationLand, you can go anywhere, do anything or be anyone, and so over the years, they’ve taken us on a musical journey – via music videos, live shows, web sites and other multi-media extravaganzas with some impressive special guests – through a world inhabited by denizens both natural and supernatural.

Now, after 7 years without a new Gorillaz record (and corresponding trips through their imaginations), the band’s creators have returned with a new record that will be backed by a tour featuring new art and animations and, in an interesting tie-in to the release of that new album titled Humanz, a travelling haunted house much like the one created for the first music video from the record for a song called “Saturnz Barz”. In the various rooms of this house where the band’s members are living are all the appropriately-spooky items, including a copy of the mind-boggling triptych by the 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch titled The Garden of Earthly Delights, a work perfectly matched to the record’s supernatural references. Artsy writer Abigail Cain takes us on a tour of the rest of this homage to all things extraordinary, something fans of the band’s work have grown to expect and appreciate over the years. With this new effort, the creators behind this band reward us amply.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-gorillaz-haunted-house-full-art

c) On April 2nd, the Canadian music industry handed out its annual Juno Award for “Recording Package of the Year” to the team of Jonathan Shedletzky (art director), Isis Essery (graphic designer) and illustrator Jeff Lemire for the wonderful packaging they put together for Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie’s 2016 solo record titled Secret Path. Downie also collaborated with cartoonist Lemire on a graphic novel to accompany this record and the entire team worked together to produce a broad series of items, including 10 posters built around the lyrics of each of the songs on the record.

AD Shedletzky has been a marketing and label manager for Arts & Crafts since 2013, while Essery’s portfolio includes award-winning work in design, film and photography. Cartoon fans know Lemire’s work from his contributions to Marvel titles such as Extraordinary X-Men, Moon Knight and Old Man Logan along with many other books, graphic novels and commercial jobs.

Congratulations to this winning team as well as to the others nominated in this category. Read more on them all via the link below – http://junoawards.ca/nomination/recording-package-of-the-year-jonathan-shedletzky-art-director-isis-essery-designer-jeff-lemaire-illustrator/

d) Speaking of the Juno Awards – As a way to bring more fan fun to the table during awards season, the folks running the Ottawa, Canada Wellington West Business Improvement Area’s promo activities recently teamed up with a designer named Jamie McLennan (co-owner of Character Creative) on a project that long-time fans of “Sleevefacing” will recognize and appreciate.

Since this year’s Juno Awards took place in the country’s capital city, music was in the air and inspired the creative Mr. McLennan to come up with a way to help the local businesses increase their visibility with the area’s residents by involving them in a creative enterprise like the one (labeled “Vinyl Faces”) they devised – using  themselves as either the main image, or part of the background, in an album cover. Even the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, agreed to participate and proudly stood behind a record  cover of the late great Leonard Cohen. Writing recently for Ottawa-area local paper the Kitchissippi Times, Bradley Turcotte gives us more of the details – https://kitchissippi.com/2017/03/30/vinyl-faces-ottawa-junos/ , while a gallery of submissions can be viewed via the link – http://wellingtonwestvinylfaces.ca/

e) Several weeks ago, I reported on a special-edition Rolls Royce motorcar that was designed by The Who’s Roger Daltry and was based somewhat on the Mike McInnerney cover art for the band’s seminal Tommy Well, it turns out that that was only PART of the story and, in fact, there is an entire series of bespoke automobiles that are being offered to well-heeled collectors by the renowned British manufacturer this year. Reading through Dave Abrahams’ article on the topic for South Africa’s Independent Media, I now see that there are custom designs for The House of Rolls that were done in concert with Ray Davies of the Kinks, producer Gilles Martin (in a tribute to his father, Sir George Martin), singer Dame Shirley Bassey (who, to commemorate the three James Bond movie theme songs she delivered – ‘Diamonds are Forever’, ‘Moonraker’ and ‘Goldfinger’- had the panel between the rear seats embroidered with a diamond, with the tread plates and Spirit of Ecstasy hood statuette finished in gold), Status Quo’s Francis Rossi and Rolling Stones guitarist (and much-collected fine artist) Ron Wood, whose artwork for his 2010 solo record I Gotta See has been woven into the embroidery placed on the panel between the rear seats. When only the most-custom will do – http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/latest-launches/rock-n-rolls-musicians-design-bespoke-wraiths-8416274

f) On occasion, it gets a bit messy in the world of rock music-related imagery. While many artists – in these days of “if I found it on the Internet, it must be free” copyright management – try to be vigilant about protecting their copyrights, there is this sometimes well-defined and sometimes less so doctrine called “Fair Use” that raises its ugly head, sending art creators and re-creators to court to figure out who-can-use-what-when and whether certain uses cross over the fair use line into infringement. In this recently-published article by Eileen Kinsella for the ArtNet News site, you can read about an example of just what lengths parties in copyright-related disagreements will go to both protect their rights as copyright holders and their rights as artists who believe that they’re free to use an image to create something derivative-but-unique. In this case, in what looks to be an interesting turn-around, the Andy Warhol Foundation is pre-emptively suing photographer Lynn Goldsmith for her assertion that, without her permission, a 1981 photo she took of the late rocker Prince served as the basis for a series of prints released by Warhol. The Foundation says that they’re suing in order “protect the works and legacy of Andy Warhol.”

Wowee. This is one to watch, for sure – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/warhol-foundation-strikes-first-photographer-complains-copyright-922025

UPDATE – In a follow-up to last month’s story regarding the battle between photographer Lynne Goldsmith and the Andy Warhol Foundation – although she’s yet to be served with the papers looking to stop her from pursuing any remedies for the use of her photo of Prince in an early-80s print made by artist Warhol, she’s not just going to let the other side win the battle taking place in the media. Read the latest salvos in Eileen Kinsella’s update on the Artnet.com site – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/prince-photographer-fires-back-warhol-foundation-copyright-suit-923759?

g) When a band chooses to name an album Heartworms, inquiring minds want to ask where the inspiration came from. Interviews with the guy who essentially IS The Shins – singer/songwriter James Mercer – seem to indicate that he’s now feeling the weight and unease of ultimately being responsible for the band’s success so, perhaps, he’s feeling that anxiety crawl through him in a fashion similar to the way the foot-long worms invade your pets’ lungs, heart and blood vessels… In any case, when Mercer turned to artist Jacob Escobedo (of Cartoon Network design fame) to help him with an appropriate cover for the new record, Escobedo – a fan of Japanese artwork featuring the spooky creatures called Yokai (seen quite a bit as the nemeses in anime) – came up with the image for the package when “after hearing the album, I had this vision of worms overtaking a lush garden, pouring out of a dead heart.” Escobedo’s no stranger to those following creative types in the music/album art world, having produced memorable images for The Shins and other clients including My Morning Jacket, Danger Mouse, Christian Rich and Cartoon Network’s own Adult Swim Singles

Billboard.com writer Zack Ruskin talks to the pair about this effort in his recent posting – http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7728836/the-shins-heartworms-cover-inspiration-japanese-yokai-art

h) According to the sentiment expressed in a recent article by John Meagher for Ireland’s The Independent, “the creative minds behind band photos and album artwork are the music industry’s unsung heroes” – a tenet yours truly has stated on several (thousand) occasions since I began writing on the topic oh-so-many years ago. Citing examples of many musical acts who’ve collaborated with visual image makers – Anton Corbijn with U2 and Depeche Mode, Peter Saville for acts on the Factory Records label and Jean-Paul Goude for Grace Jones are featured in this list – the author goes on to state that, while you can pay to work with the best, great album art can also be made on more-meager budgets, as evidenced in this year’s short list of records nominated for Ireland’s recently awarded Choice Music Prize awards – http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/magical-union-of-sound-and-vision-35539435.html

Staying on the same basic topic, an article posted by contributing writer Satish Reginald for New York University’s NYUNews.com site (https://www.nyunews.com/2017/04/06/the-paradigm-shifts-of-album-artwork/)also looks to explore the importance of packaging music in sleeves that help bring consumers to look at a new record but, as I’ve found in many similar articles over the years, the author gives readers more questions than answers and, if you take away what I did from the article, falls back on the often-stated notion (often stated by young people, that is) that the digital delivery of music to teeny-tiny screens has dramatically-reduced the value/importance of good album art.

While I completely understand that sales of physical recorded music products have tanked since the introduction of electronically-delivered music, recent upticks in the sales of vinyl, band merchandise, etc., continues to illustrate the basic “analog” nature of the human animal. Given time to explore, discover and then own physical music recordings, people of all ages are, in increasing numbers, realizing that it requires a certain level of dedication to that search for great music (and the art that accompanies it) if you really want to find something that resonates. This is, of course, a simple way for me to remind you that although this year’s Record Store Day (April 22) is now behind us, you can still visit your local record retailer to take a look at all of the special items created to celebrate the day. You can see the latest offerings on the special RSD promo site – http://www.recordstoreday.com/

Hope you’ll take the time to find something you’ll love today and going forward. It’s there – you just have to dig a little.

i) Spoofing album cover images has always been the source of fun for artists, other musicians and fans of both, but of course it took creative types with web sites and Tumblr accounts to take the practice to the edge (and, often, over). Recently, I saw an article by Louise McCreesh on the Digital Spy site that dives a bit into the phenomenon, with a focus on a Tumblr called Cover For Me that challenges participants to recreate album cover images using available materials in 10 minutes or less.

http://www.digitalspy.com/music/news/a823847/people-recreating-album-covers-10-minutes-or-less/

As you might figure, some of the records chosen are quite obscure and some of the results are less-than-impressive but, in some instances, people show us flashes of brilliance. After you read the article, I’d invite you to visit the blog site and scroll down the submissions because, right before your very eyes, you’ll see some examples that’ll surely make you smile –  https://coverforme.tumblr.com/

My favorites are the ones done for records by Prodigy (fun with aluminum foil), DMX (fun with body paint) and FKA Twigs (fun with…whatever). Yours?

j ) As it seems that this week’s summary shows off my Chicago Pride, I’d like to end it by pointing you to an article on the Downers Grove (IL)-based Suburban Life site featuring a guy from Wheaton (also down in that direction) who has invented another way to frame your favorite album covers (and comic books, too) so that they can be displayed on the walls of your abode. According to the article, Bill Zeuch is on target to sell a million dollars of these things this year (and, at less than $10 each, that’s a lot of units), so click on over to find out what all the excitement’s about (and to watch Bill demo his product with slightly less enthusiasm than the typical TV pitch-person) – http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/2017/03/15/wheaton-man-puts-comic-books-album-covers-in-new-light/amyd340/

Get more details on the company’s web site – http://www.comicmount.com/AlbumMount-AM001.htm

SPECIAL NOTE IN SUPPORT OF THE ARTS – I have always worked to make sure that my reporting was focused on the facts and not so much an expression of my own tastes, keeping my editorial comments mostly of the humorous variety. With today’s news regarding the new Administration’s proposed gutting of Arts and Humanities program funding from the federal budget, I find it necessary to appeal to everyone who understands the importance of these programs to both a well-rounded education for our kids and the livelihoods of those who use government grants to further their efforts to produce great art, music and writing for all of us and ask you to make sure to contact your local/state/federal representatives to implore them to maintain these investments in our country’s future.

Unless, of course, the plan is to hire all of these artists to paint the border wall and have musicians and poets perform on stages set up along the way but, somehow, I don’t think so…

To read more about what’s been proposed and how it will affect the targeted programs and the products they produce, click over to writer Caroline Elbaor’s recap on the Artnet site – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/trump-proposes-eliminating-national-endowment-arts-893744

The arts advocacy group Americans For The Arts recently posted an informative article on the topic that should be a must-read by anyone looking to better-understand the basics of what these organizations do (i.e., the NEA, the NEH, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Americorps, among others) so you can come to your own conclusions regarding whether/how much public money should be reserved for their ongoing operations.

http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/legislation-policy/legislative-issue-center/national-endowment-for-the-arts-funding-for-arts-agencies

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

All text Copyright 2017 Mike Goldstein and AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All Rights Reserved. All of trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.

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.