Album Cover News Recap – July, 2014
By Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
While I’ve always worked under the assumption that Summer’s a slow season in the art world (rich folks tend to focus more on spending time at their Summer retreats than in galleries buying art), this year seems to be an exception, with a lot of headlines in July about interesting gallery shows, museum exhibitions and musical acts promoting the work of album cover designers, illustrators and photographers.
I’ve been working hard adding a number of new biographies in advance of this year’s ACHOF voting which, to remind those following our efforts, this year will focus on the works of artists that got their first album package credits during the years of 1991 – Present. Beginning next year, we’ll embark on a yearly update of talent in all categories, regardless of the year they started their work in the music business. As we like to think that we’re providing fans of album cover art with the most-comprehensive information on the people who’ve created your favorite covers, if you see that we’re missing someone, please don’t hesitate to let us know by sending an email to me, the Curator, at email@example.com and I’ll do my best to evaluate your request.
Highlights of this past month’s coverage include: information on a variety of exhibitions (both in the U.S. and overseas), including major shows by artists including Winston Smith, Shepard Fairey, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page’s daughter Scarlet Page, Carly Simon and James Taylor’s daughter Susan Taylor and rock pioneer Patti Smith; several new fine art print editions of rock and album cover photography, articles on the collections of music art fans in the U.S. and the U.K. and discussions taking place about: a) the future of the relationship between art and music – some predicting its demise, while others touting its ongoing growth and importance to Pop Culture; b) album cover censorship, including a recap of “sexy” album covers released over the past 50+ years and some back and forth about what’s “sexy” vs. what’s “OMG!” and c) the business of album cover design and what artists should expect in a relationship with a musical act/record label. As we always like to say (and show you), 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. Now, on to our recap:
July 31 – Two vinyl-related stories for your daily dose of record news…The first one continues the “death of record album” discussion, while the second illustrates why, for some, the physical is more meaningful than the virtual:
1) In writer Mick Brown’s recent article in The Telegraph (U.K.), a comparison is made between the digital playlist – curated by either/both your friends and/or “curators”/experts in an area – and the long-playing record album, curated, of course, by the musical act that produced it. Most of us of a certain age might recall making “mixtapes” for our friends as a way to share what we most-enjoyed at a particular time or within a particular genre (“Mike’s Favorite Mellotron Tunes”), but I always appreciated the care some acts took in sequencing a series of tunes so that we’d delight in the concept behind the album (if applicable) or, at least, enjoy the transitions between fast/slow/loud/mellow. And while some see little value in the “arcane” information and imagery provided by the record package, I still find it interesting that many people that create playlists still try and associate images with them (why do that if all you care about is listening to single after single – hmmmm??). Take a look at this article and, if so inspired, feel free to share your thoughts – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopmusic/11000656/Is-it-all-over-for-the-album.html
2) So, why are albums important to collectors and music fans? Because, as is illustrated in this article by Dannielle Depinto in the Brisbane (AU) North News about a couple that returned from vacation to find that their record collection (and, oh yeah, some jewelry as well) had been stolen (!!), it’s hard to get a thumb drive autographed by all five members of your favorite band – http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/north/couple-offers-reward-to-recover-prized-vinyl-record-collection/story-fni9r1kg-1227007136897
July 30 – 1) Just a reminder to album art fans in the Chicago area – Artists Shepard Fairey, Winston Smith, Mark Mothersbaugh (DEVO), Ryan McGinness, Gary Panter and a host of other talents with album cover and gig poster credits will be featured as part of the “Art Alliance: The Provocateurs” exhibition that is taking place to coincide with the annual Lollapalooza music festival taking place the first weekend in August. The city has long been a strong supporter of the arts and this display – located in a 25,000 sq. ft. building near the festival site – will give fans the opportunity to see the latest works by a number of the designers, illustrators and street artists that are keeping things fresh and interesting in the art world. More on this can be found on Fairey’s Obey Giant site, via the link – http://www.obeygiant.com/headlines/shepard-fairey-will-curate-a-massive-art-show-during-lollapalooza
2) Interesting side note – each week, in the New York Times Magazine, there’s a feature called “Who Made That?” that gives readers the details about the history behind many of the inventions we now take for granted in our daily lives (e.g., Scotch tape, paper clips, insulated diving suits, etc.). This week’s story was about the Ziploc plastic bag which, as it turns out, was developed by Steven Ausnit in the late 50s/early 60s, with one of its first proposed uses being to help protect and deliver record albums (the proposal, to Columbia Records, was turned down when they deemed the operation “too complicated”. Always cool to see examples of the role the music business plays (or, in this case, could have played!) in our culture and daily lives…You can read Melanie Rehak’s article on the Times web site at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/magazine/who-made-that-ziploc-bag.html?_r=0
July 29 – 1) Very happy to share this with fans of album cover work world-wide – on Thursday, July 31, designer John Van Hamersveld was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, CA in the Surf Culture category. Besides his work on covers for The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, KISS and many others, John is just as well-known to fans of surfing for the iconic movie poster he created for Bruce Brown’s movie “The Endless Summer”. This image has been used countless times on all types of surf-related clothing, equipment and accessories, and the poster will be found in the collections of every surfer you know. Congratulations, Jon, from all of your fans at the ACHOF! More on this on the Surfing Walk of Fame site – http://www.surfingwalkoffame.com/culture/Van_Hamersveld.html. Coverage of the event as covered by the Orange County Register – http://www.ocregister.com/articles/surfing-630350-world-surfers.html
2) In August, fans of art, creativity and music living in/visiting the Martha’s Vineyard area will have the opportunity to attend a special event built around the work of artist Susan Taylor and the organization she created called Consenses. Giving a basic scenario to a long list of “creative-types” (including her uncle, photographer Peter Simon), the participants were tasked to use their unique talents – photography, song-writing, dance, painting, perfume-making and poetry (highlighting each of our main senses) – to express themselves and build upon each aspect of the task they were given. The results of these efforts will be put on display as part of a three-day “Festival of the Senses” that will also feature performances by some of the participating artists (including Susan’s parents – Carly Simon and James Taylor, along with her brother Ben). More details on this event are available via this article by Gayle Fee in the Boston Herald – http://bostonherald.com/inside_track/the_inside_track/2014/07/a_taylor_made_art_event_on_vineyard
July 28 – It’s been 25 years now since the release of the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique record (OMG!!) and, to commemorate the event, two young artists have created works of art meant to please fans of the group, bringing them a) back to the place where the album artwork was created and b) a new filmed accompaniment to the record’s trend-setting lyrics and beats:
1) At the corner of Rivington and Ludlow, on NYC’s Lower East Side – the original location of Lee’s Sportswear, featured on the cover image – you’ll now find a mural of the boys in the band done by artist Danielle Mastrion and commissioned by local hip-hop promoter LeRoy McCarthy, with the details provided by Mass Appeal‘s Gregston Hurdle – http://massappeal.com/beastie-boys-pauls-boutique-mural-painted-in-nycs-les/
2) Turin, Italy-based fans Paolo Gilli and Fabio Suano teamed up to create a film, now available for viewing online, that provides a gritty visual accessory to the trashy soundtrack provided by the album. Titled “Paul’s Boutique: A Visual Companion”, the film actually uses a remixed, recreated version of the music done several years ago by DJ CheebA, DJ Moneyshot, and DJ Food. The film’s producers are hoping that the copyright owners appreciate what the pair has done as an homage more than they care about licensing fees…if I was you, I’d hurry up and watch the video, with a link featured in this interview article written by Jonathan Peltz that’s found on the Noisy By Vice web site – http://noisey.vice.com/blog/we-interviewed-the-guy-who-created-a-visual-accompaniment-to-pauls-boutique
July 25 – 1) With all of the hub-bub about Nicki Minaj‘s cover image for her latest release titled Anaconda, it’s only fair to remind folks that she’s not the first musical act to catch our eyes by proudly displaying his/her/their naked flesh (although, I have to admit, I can’t recall lately when I’ve seen such an ample supply of it on the back end of one person). Throughout the 50s and 60s, there were hundreds of records released with “exotic” and “bawdy” photo covers, followed by the fleshy covers from acts such as Roxy Music, Ohio Players, Prince, Ween, etc. Even “classy” acts such as Buckingham/Nicks, Herb Alpert, Barbra Streisand (remember Superman?), Seal and others were happy to get a bit naked for their fans’ enjoyment and, more recently, Kelly Rowland, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga (along with the wet-in-the-shower cover done by that strange little girl whose name escapes me now), so let’s not treat this like it is something new.
The kind folks at Huffington Post were kind enough to put together a slide show featuring nearly 90 (!!) examples of these covers so, if you’re in the mood to start your weekend with something sexy, feel free to follow this link to get your party started – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/24/nicki-minaj-anaconda-cover_n_5617153.html#slide=start
2) New bios have been posted on the ACHOF site (the database is getting quite big now) – if you’d like to learn more about album cover designers including Peter Buchanan-Smith, Greg Burke, John Byrne, John Casado, Glen Christensen, Edward Colver and others, click on over to the “A-C” page on our site. The stories are as varied as their work (and, hopefully, you’ll enjoy them just as much) – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-artist-biographies-a-c/
July 24 – Very interesting interview article with a talented album cover designer/illustrator based in Mexico City – Designboom‘s Andy Butler caught up with Jorge Alderete – AKA “Dr. Alderete” – in his studio and shares the details in this article – http://www.designboom.com/art/interview-with-illustrator-dr-alderete-07-22-2014/
The Doctor’s work reflects many influences, including punk rock, Mexican Wrestling, hot rods, comic books and surf music, and the results are an interesting mix of all of them. He’s done covers for musical acts including Los Straightjackets, Lost Acapulco, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and many of the bands appearing at the popular El Alicia live music venue in Mexico City. We don’t often get to see the works of album artists working in other countries, so I have to thank Designboom for keeping us all “in the know”.
Also – just wanted to share this, in case you aren’t one of the over 1 million people on Facebook who’ve seen this updated version of the classic Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon cover image – https://www.facebook.com/92.9.KFAT/photos/a.418007088547.196043.102008148547/10151756648038548/?type=1&theater
Take a toke, pop a tab, etc. and get ready to have your mind blown…
July 23 – Two Roger Dean-related items for your review:
1) Now’s our chance to see some of the talented Mr. Dean’s dark side, via his new album cover work for the “doom rock” band Black Moth’s upcoming (mid-September) release titled Condemned To Hope. The image features a long line of WWI soldiers slogging up a stark mountainside, drawn from Roger’s inspirations received from both the band members and classic, first-person war literature (All Quiet On The Western Front, Good-Bye To All That, etc.). The promo lit from the band says that Dean has created “something truly bleak and epic” – a perfect representation of world news today, if you ask me…Read more in writer Martin Kealty’s article on the Classic Rock web site – http://classicrock.teamrock.com/news/2014-07-21/black-moth-roger-dean-condemned-to-hope
2) Dean has also been tapped to do the cover for the new YES record, and you have to ask yourself, after all these years of creating the album covers and stage designs for the band, “where does he get these ideas?”. Well, thanks to an interview that’s included on the Eagle Rock DVD for the band’s “Songs From Tsongas” 35th Anniversary tour series, Roger provides us with a simple-is-beautiful explanation. While we’re all bombarded these days with too much information and stimulation, “when you can get into a peaceful state of mind, ideas flow from you uninterrupted”. I enjoyed hearing first-hand from the person responsible for many of classic rock’s best-known images, so if you’d like to watch the entire interview (which includes commentary from other YES band members), head on over to the RogerDean.com site via the link – http://www.rogerdean.com/2014/07/04/yes-35th-anniversary-concert/
July 22 – 1) Here’s another interesting example of a musical act using their visuals – AKA, their album covers – to tease their fans into looking into the details of an upcoming release (titled V, hitting the shelves/sites on September 2). While Maroon 5 certainly doesn’t need a ton of promotion for their work (their photogenic lead singer, Adam Levine, takes care of that), I do appreciate the fact that they value and understand the importance of band-related imagery when it comes to forging an ongoing relationship with their fans. Here’s a recent article on Mashable by Bryan Anthony Hernandez highlighting this effort – http://mashable.com/2014/07/18/maroon-5-v-album-art-puzzle-piece/
2) Found this in a recent web search for something else that took me to something even more interesting (isn’t that typical for time spent doing research on the Web?)….Here’s a link to an episode of “The Art of Punk” on the MOCA.tv site that features extended interviews with artist Winston Smith and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys and highlighting the work of Smith, Raymond Pettibon and Dave King. The film was produced and directed by Bryan Ray Turcotte (Kill Your Idols), and Bo Bushnell (The Western Empire) and, at least for me, brought back many memories of when the music business segued from corporate rock to punk (and then, back to corporate rock). Here’s the link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiMLQqNFTyI#t=25 Personally, I have to find a t-shirt like the one Jello’s got on – what a great sentiment!
July 21 – 1) Photographer Simon Larbalestier just sent me a note letting me know that he’s just completed a major project, sorting thru the thousands of great photos he’s taken over the years and creating a new series of fine art print versions of some of them, including the fantastic album covers he shot for The Pixies – Pilgrim, Doolittle, Surfer Rosa (my personal favorite), Monkey Gone To Heaven and Minotaur. He’s created a whole new space on Photoshelter with these and the other photos he’s offering – take a look and tell your friends – http://simonlarbalestier.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Pixies-Familia/G00000_nT47rYknY/I0000gwnDvOBr77g
2) Rocker and creative force Patti Smith is an important part of a new exhibition organized by NY’s MoMA PS1 titled “Rockaway!”, on display thru September 1 in two NYC-area locations – Fort Tilden and the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Sponsored by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Arts Conservancy to help celebrate the re-opening of Fort Tilden and the ongoing recovery work being done in the area after the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. For this show, Ms. Smith (a Rockaway resident) supplied a large-scale installation, photography exhibition and site-specific outdoor installation called “The Resilience of the Dreamer”. The works of two other artists – Adrián Villar Rojas and Janet Cardiff – round out the show, and more information on it and related events can be found on the MoMA site via the link – http://momaps1.org/rockaway1/
July 18 – 1) To celebrate 25 years of album cover art on Merge Records, the label and the Light Art + Design organization launched an exhibition 7/18 (running thru August 9 at Greenbridge on Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill, NC) titled “Unbelievable Things: 25 Years of Art on Merge Records”. The show’s opening event included a live performance by Shark Quest. The label has been the home to acts including Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon and Superchunk and its focus on memorable album art has resulted in many memorable covers. The Daily Tar Heel’s Sarah Vassello gives you the rest of the details in her article, available via the link – http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/07/record-label-merges-music-with-art
2) The rock band KISS continues to impress with the licensing deals they sign that help extend the band’s imagery onto many items for your home, office and memorabilia collections, and this new example will help bring the band’s formidable and memorable visuals to a whole new generation. Via their new deals secured by their Epic Rights group (as reported in License! Magazine), three toy companies – Bif Bang Pow!, Figures Toy Company and K’Nex – a new range of items, including action figures, nesting dolls, drinkware and an entire build-able stage set (including band members and road crew) – will soon be available via major toy retailers and specialty shops. Parents, please be careful NOT to let your kids set any of these on fire….http://www.licensemag.com/license-global/epic-rights-signs-kiss-toys-deals
July 17 – Creative people can be collectors, too! From now thru September 9th at Spring Espresso in Fosgate, York, UK, you can go and see the amazing array of photos and memorabilia put on display and sale by photographer Ian Astle from his own collection (45 years in the making!). Astle has photographed many noted rockers (beginning in the early 1980s) including Mark Knopfler, CS&N, The Monkees, David Bowie, Def Leppard – even a long-haired Simon LeBon! – for publications including Q, Mojo, Practical Photographer and Guitarist magazines until he was sidelined by a heart attack at the age of 40, effectively cutting his career short. He just recently (at the age of 62) started going thru his archives, using modern equipment to scan his images and will begin selling art prints soon. In the meantime, fans can own something from his personal collection – details can be found in this article in The Press – http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/leisure/exhibitions/11332334.An_Exhibition_of_Rock_And_Roll_Memorabilia_by_Ian_Astle__Spring_Espresso__Fossgate__York__until_September_9/
One more thing – fans of everything “design” should take a look at the site that the AIGA has launched as part of their “100 Years of Design” celebrations this year. On the Celebrate Design site – http://celebratedesign.org/ – you’ll find many samples of great design work, along with interviews, articles and more that will illustrate how design helps “connect, inform, assist, delight and influence” all aspects of modern culture. Included are examples from music industry designers including Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, Saul Bass and Stefan Sagmeister. Enjoy the visit – it’s quite a trip!
July 16 – Oh, wow – while reading the newsletter I get from the folks at Storm Studios in the UK, I noted that they said that they’ve been working on an exhibition called “The Pink Floyd Exhibition – Their Mortal Remains”. As this didn’t register as anything I was aware of, I did a little research and, as I said previously – “Oh, wow”. This show is planned for a September 19, 2014 launch at a converted tram factory in Milan, Italy and, by the looks of the site, it looks to be pilgrimage-worthy! The show’s already been extended thru January, 2015 due to popular demand…
According to the site, the exhibit will include over 300 items – representing 50 years of the band’s history – culled from collectors (including PF band members) from all over the world, and there will be individual “pods” focused on each of the group’s members (inc. Syd Barrett). Die-hard fans can purchase one of two packages (including one that gives you opening-day access) that include show admissions, a box of limited-edition memorabilia, a personalized membership card and discounts to food/shopping on site.
I just checked and the cheapest flight from Portland to Milan are around $2,000 (14 hours), so chances are slim that I’ll be there for the opening, but if any of you have plans to attend, please let me know as I’d love to feature you/your photos of the show in an upcoming article – http://www.pinkfloydexhibition.com/?lang#intro
July 15 – Three (3!) album cover-related tidbits for today:
1) NYC-based photographer Bob Egan’s “PopSpots” site – where he features his photos of the actual places shown on a number of famous record covers – has been mentioned here before, but he’s recently updated his site with some really nice new images, including covers for the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and others. He’s a really good detective and has introduced us in the past to the spots where classic covers for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and many others were shot, so it’s always interesting to see and learn more as he adds to his collection. Read more about his work in John Hutchinson’s recent article on the Daily Mail site – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2688758/Iconic-music-albums-brought-life-photographer-super-imposes-exact-modern-day-locations.html
2) Black Sabbath fans are being rewarded with what’s now the third installment in Converse’s “Chuck Taylor All-Star Black Sabbath” footwear collection, where you’ll find classic Sabbath album cover (and other) imagery stitched and photo-etched onto Chuck Taylors (a headbanger’s shoe if there ever was one). The new series includes graphics from two records – Never Say Die and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – and a well-known photo of Ozzy in concert, complete with fringed jacket. The new shoes should be hitting store shelves any day now and, since it’s my birthday next week, I’ll gladly accept a pair of the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath shoes as a gift from any anonymous donor More at http://nikeinc.com/news/converse-unveils-new-footwear-collection-with-legendary-band-black-sabbath–2#/inline/30876
3) If you see the world as one big album cover, here’s an article you’ll appreciate. Writer Michael Marotta just posted an article on the Boston-based music site Vanyaland that shows a photo of a recent lightning strike at our nation’s capital which immediately reminded him of the cover for the debut record by Bad Brains. I have to figure that, if he’s a Zappa fan, he steers clear of the weasel exhibit at the local zoo as well….Take a look and then let me know if you’re seeing album covers in your own lives, too – http://www.vanyaland.com/2014/07/14/rock-lightning-storm-d-c-nearly-recreates-bad-brains-debut-album-artwork/
July 14 – On Friday, July 18th, album art fans in the Bay area had the opportunity to listen to a panel discussion featuring two accomplished album cover designers – Winston Smith (Dead Kennedys, Green Day, etc.) and Lawrence Azerrad (Wilco, The Beach Boys, others) – along with Death Cab for Cutie bassist Nick Harmer. The moderator was be Boing Boing‘s David Peskovitz and the discussion’s alluring title was “The Art and Allure of the Record Album”. Part of the “Talk, Play & Sip” series organized as part of the Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records exhibition, which ran thru July 27th at the Oakland Museum of Contemporary Art. Based on the headlines you’ve been seeing (both here and on many news sites) about vinyl’s “comeback”, it’d be interesting to hear more about whether this upswing in the popularity of analog audio is also bringing new creative and production opportunities to those involved in the process of making and selling music. More information on this event can be found on the OMCA’s site at http://www.museumca.org/event/talk-play-and-sip-july-18
On a more personal note, I just wanted to note the passing of Thomas Erdelyi AKA Tommy Ramone, drummer, manager and last-surviving member of the original line-up of The Ramones. While I only met him a couple of times, he seemed like a good guy, and I want to send my condolences to his family, his fans and some of the people I know who knew him much better than I did (Yvonne S., George D., etc.). Let us all remember rock ‘n’ roll radio – I wish that I’d heard more of The Ramones on it, for sure…
July 11 – 1) There’s a new photography show now on display at the Art House Crouch End in London featuring a collection of images shot by Scarlet Page (AKA Led Zep guitarist Jimmy Page’s daughter). The display – titled “Resonators” – features a nice range of portraits of a number of rock music’s best-known and most-photogenic stars, including Sir Paul McCartney, Billy Corgan, Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller, Slash and many others – including Daddy (hers, not mine!). Sales of prints from this show help raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. In writer Alex Bellotti’s article on the Ham & High (UK) web site, Scarlet shares some of the details about growing up with her famous (and famously eclectic) father, meeting many of the music industry’s most-illustrious and notorious players, and while she still got quite nervous when having to photograph the boys from Duran Duran – http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/entertainment/art/photographer_scarlet_page_s_resonators_captures_everyone_from_paul_mccartney_to_her_famous_led_zeppelin_father_1_3673768
2) Attention album cover artists (existing and wanting-to-be-discovered) – the folks from Idaho’s best-known coffee houses (Moxie Java) have a call out for submissions for album cover art for this year’s edition of their Idaho Ho Ho Christmas compilation CD, produced annually to raise funds for the Idaho Foodbank. Each year, artists with a connection to Idaho contribute their talents to this project which, in just 5 years, has raised enough money to provide over 100,000 meals to those in need. Past years’ participants include jazzman Curtis Stigers (born in Boise) and songstress Carole King, a long time resident at the Robinson Bar Ranch in central Idaho. Submissions will be accepted thru Sept. 1, with the winners selected by mid-September. Details for the competition are available on the Moxie site at http://www.moxiejava.com/2014ihhart/
I’m hoping that they get some music from Paul Revere & The Raiders, a band that got their start in Boise – we’ll see….
July 10 – 1) So, do we worry about government censorship, or are search engines a bigger problem? In an apparent attempt to save the sensitive eyeballs of music fans, Google has ordered the popular music site Drowned In Sound to alter the album cover images for certain records they feature on their site. In an effort to enforce a new rule where they don’t want ads being shown on pages that show “explicit” imagery (with ads, of course, being a major source of income for this site), Google issued a notice to the editors of the site giving them a short period of time to edit or remove the offending images (such as covers for Lambchop’s OH and Sigur Rós’ 2008 album, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust, which uses an artistically-shot Ryan McGinley photo of folks running across a road, their naked buttocks in full view) or face a cut-off of their ads. The site has complied by modifying the images, but what’s to stop Google and other ad networks from implicitly controlling any content they find offensive? More on this in Adam Sherwin’s article on The Independent (UK) site – http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-tells-popular-music-website-to-censor-album-cover-art-in-sexually-explicit-content-ban-9592942.html
Be sure to cover your eyes (and turn off your brains) before you get there – don’t say I didn’t warn you!
2) On a slightly-more-uplifting note – although they still make up a small fraction of total music sales (which, as a whole, are flat or fading every year), vinyl records continue to stage a mini-comeback, with sales last year up 33% due, somewhat, to the entire experience – both aural and visual – that they provide. In a recent featured news segment on KSDK (St. Louis, MO), reporter John Henry talks to locals about their love of the format, why it appeals to them (the video shows a person actually opening up an album cover to view more imagery on the inside – WOW!) and how younger audiences are now finding new ways to “share” with their friends (that don’t require staring down into the screen of a gadget). Some see it as nostalgic, where others say that its part of an overall sensory experience. What do you say?http://www.ksdk.com/story/entertainment/television/today-in-st-louis/2014/07/09/vinyl-records-comeback/12141275/
July 9 – San Francisco Bay-area fans of the Dead Kennedys (and you know who you are) will have the opportunity to meet two people that both propelled and documented the late 70s punk scene and get an autographed copy of a new book being released that features their work. Titled “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables – The Early Years”, the book features photographs by Ruby Ray and the collages of artist Winston Smith, who created many memorable album covers for musical acts including the DKs and Green Day.
Both artists were on hand to sign the book at an exhibition that began on Friday, July 11th at the IHeartNorthBeach Gallery located at 641 Green Street in San Francisco. More details can be found on Smith’s web site at http://winstonsmith.com/2014/07/dk-book-signing-friday-july-11/
In more Smith news – Winston was asked to join a number of influential “street artists” who’ll be participating in a show in Chicago (“The Provocateurs”) that was organized as part of the annual Lollapalooza music fest taking place in that city July 31 – August 4. Smith will be joining other artists including Shepard Fairey, RETNA, Camille Rose Garcia (all with notable album cover credits to their names) and many others in this show assembled by the Art Alliance. More info is available on their site at http://www.artalliance.com/?utm_content=logo-header
July 8 – Two articles about “super-collectors” – while many of us working in the world of album cover art pride ourselves in our collections, sometimes it is humbling to see how much time and energy (and resources) others have invested in gathering, cataloging and displaying (quite proudly!) their collections dedicated to the artist(s) they’re most-passionate about:
1) Collector #1 – The gates to the home of Anchorage, Alaska-based Beatles fan Larry Flynn feature signage identifying his home as “Hayman’s Green”. Beatle fans will note that this is the name of the street in Liverpool where the Casbah Club was found – the place where band played their earliest concerts. This serves to establish that the tour around Larry’s home will be featuring a treasure trove of Beatles memorabilia – books, posters, albums, photographs and, quite impressively, a custom-made replica of John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper’s album cover costume!
More on Larry and his collection can be found in writer Mike Dunham’s article on the Alaska Dispatch News site at http://www.adn.com/article/20140705/longing-yesterday-anchorage-man-creates-shrine-beatles-his-hillside-home
2) Collector #2 – On Monday, July 7, Bruce Springsteen fan Michael Crane launched a new web site titled “Blinded By The Light” which serves as a “virtual museum” based on Michael’s 30+ years of collecting Springsteen memorabilia. Included in this super-fan’s collection are hand-written lyric sheets (“Thunder Road”, for example), posters, an early Springsteen report card – even the 1957 Chevy Bel Air The Boss owned and referenced in his lyrics to “Born To Run”. The site is divided into sections that each are titled with a Springsteen song title or lyric and include a blog/comment area for fans to share their own BS…To fully-experience the site, you’re asked for a $9.95 monthly access fee, but you can take a look now and just scratch the surface of what’s available. Read more about this in writer Nolan Feeney’s article on the Time magazine web site – http://time.com/2940915/bruce-springsteen-online-museum/
July 7 – Two items that pose some interesting questions about albums, album art and the general state of the music business:
1) Rob Mitchell penned an interesting “music is medicine” column in the Huffington Post‘s Canadian edition about the entire “experience” of listening to an album, including taking in the art and writing (AKA “liner notes”) that accompany physical product. He notes that, since music delivery has become primarily digital, many of the experiences we had – both alone and shared with others – have been lost. While I agree to much of the premise, I’m still interested in some of the new shared experiences that have been enabled by technology – shared playlists, shared comments, recommendations from fellow fans throughout the world, etc. Read more on Rob’s take via the link – http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rob-mitchell/listening-to-vinyl-_b_5526373.html
2) RISD professor Clara Lieu just published an article in her “Ask The Art Professor” series (also on HuffPo) in which she asks the question “How Do You Explain To Potential Clients That Artists Need To Be Paid?” It seems that, in today’s “everything in the music business should be free” world, she’s often asked to license some of her work for use on album covers (and on merch) for new and established acts “in exchange for the publicity”. She goes on to recount one time she said “yes”, only to find that the nice label people went ahead and modified her art to the extent that she didn’t feel it represented her any longer. She goes on to recommend that no artist ever consider “donating” their art and to always value his/her talents..
As an advocate for people who work on the visual side of the recording industry, I couldn’t agree more. While you can certainly come up with an agreement that provides you more on the back end than the front, you should ALWAYS have a deal in place that values your talents fairly…Read more via her post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/clara-lieu/ask-the-art-professor-how_10_b_5547113.html
July 3 – Although it has been a while since I’ve been paying close attention to what’s new and exciting in the anime world (I worked for DIC Entertainment in the mid-90s while they produced the US version of Sailor Moon – an anime classic), the art form continues to impress and amaze me and, based on the examples included in the linked article about the insertion of the cast of Madoka Magica into some of rock’s best-known album covers, I think that there’s an argument to be made about the influence of both types of Pop Art on Pop Culture.
My favorites are the anime versions of records for Aerosmith, Queen and Deep Purple, with my #1 choice being the Layla cover – I hope that the artist makes prints of that available at some point soon!
To see the entire collection, read Casey Baseel’s article on the Rocket News 24 site – http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/07/02/awesome-anime-fan-art-inserts-the-cast-of-madoka-magica-into-classic-rock-album-covers/
July 1– 1) Special thanks to video editor/producer extraordinaire Wayne Vollweiler for his tip on this new article by Jordan Runtagh on the VH-1 site about “20 Fantastic Classic Albums with Truly Terrible Cover Art”. While I have to agree that there have been many great albums that have sported less-than-appropriate album art, after going through Jordan’s list, I’m left feeling that he needs to give us a bit more reasoning behind his choices. Personally, I find that a number – i.e., MOST – of his selections represent true benchmarks in album cover designs. You simply cannot say that Robert Williams’ notorious cover for Guns N Roses’ Appetite For Destruction, while disturbing, is not great art. Same for Frank Kelly Freas’ cover for Queen, Zacron’s cover for Led Zep 3, etc. I’ll give him credit for the Pet Sounds cover (and maybe the Prince cover). Sorry, Jordan, but you need to revisit this subject – there are many more you can include in any future article you might write…I trust that, with a little more research, you’ll find some more for us!
Unless, of course, Jordan did this article simply to bait us all into having a discussion on the topic. What do you all think? Comments, please – http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2014-06-30/great-albums-with-bad-covers/
2) As part of a recent contest held by the people behind the Design Crowd site (a site that hooks up graphic artists with clients looking for design help), participants were asked to create their own, re-realized versions of classic album art, and over 80 people submitted their work for consideration, with the winner being GusDesign’s colorful version of U2’s Pop record. Other nice remakes were done of records by Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana and many others. If you’d like to see more and learn more about this endeavor, please read Andrew Lasane’s article on the Complex. com web site – http://www.complex.com/art-design/2014/06/designers-recreate-iconic-album-covers-for-a-designcrowd-photoshop-contest
That’s all for now – back to you in early September with a recap of August’s album cover news.