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Album Cover Art and Artist News Summary for the Month of December 2016

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ALBUM COVER HALL OF FAME’S ALBUM COVER NEWS RECAP FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, 2016

So, we’re done with 2016 – let us all heave a sigh of relief. What a year.

While I typically have a lot to say in these intros, I find myself somewhat shell-shocked and, therefore, at a loss for words, so I suppose that, rather than ramble on meaninglessly, I should simply relate what’s new and exciting in the world of album cover artistry. Whenever I’m in a funk, I trek on over to my favorite art museum and find something to inspire. Several days ago, my wife and I set out on a trip to the fabled Chicago Art Institute and, on the way, stopped at the impressive Chicago Cultural Center (a must-see for classic Chicago architecture fans) and, much to my surprise, found an excellent show of the works of Harlem-based abstract expressionist painter Norman Lewis on display (PROCESSION: The Art of Norman Lewis is on display until January 8th – https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/norman_lewis.html). Music – particularly, jazz – influenced a number of Lewis’ works (his brother Sol was a musician), and although he never did an album cover (at least, not to my knowing), it was uplifting to see such creativity and imagination on display that drew inspiration from the local music scene. And while Lewis didn’t garner the art world fame that many of his other WPA-era contemporaries did (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, etc.), I am glad to have been able to discover his talents at this point in my life – it made me smile again.

This month’s summary, which comes on the heels of the release of my annual recap of the “Best of” and “Worst of” album cover design in the year 2016 (some of which also sparked some hope that great talents continue to ply their trades on behalf of musician/label clients), will impress you with the fact that  creative people continue to do what comes naturally and that other people with related businesses and interests (galleries, publishers, curators, etc.) continue to do what they do to share what they do with the rest of us. The people that make our favorite album imagery are still working hard to regularly contribute to the news cycle, adding items of interest and fascination to the ongoing stream of articles, interviews, museum and gallery show information you’ll read on a wide range of related topics.

Please share this info with everyone you know who might be a fan of great album cover art and, of course, your comments and feedback are quite welcome.

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

a) David Bowie by Duffy exhibition at the Proud Gallery in London starting January 6th (running thru February 5th) – David Bowie, who would have turned 70 this year had he not left this mortal coil a year ago, was an often-photographed subject, but only a few photographers have produced images of the ever-changing artist that would be considered “iconic” – one of them being the late Brian Duffy, perhaps best-known for his photos used on the covers of classic Bowie records including Aladdin Sane, Lodger, Scary Monsters and others. In a recent article on the Music Week site by writer Ben Homewood, you’ll learn of an upcoming exhibition being staged at the Proud Gallery in London titled Bowie By Duffy which will, according to the Gallery’s PR, be “a celebration of the dynamic relationship between two of the century’s greatest artistic innovators. This exhibition of original prints signed by the late Brian Duffy is a moving insight into the minds of two exceptional creatives in partnership between 1972 – 1980. Duffy’s iconic images emphasize the longevity of Bowie’s distinctive persona and offer a poignant retrospective to one of the most pioneering and influential performers of modern times…”

Homewood tells us that this show will coincide with another significant Bowie-related event – a concert that will be staged at the O2 Brixton Academy venue that’s called “Celebrating David Bowie” and will feature a large cast of Bowie band alumni including Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew and many others.

http://www.musicweek.com/talent/read/a-new-david-bowie-photography-exhibition-set-to-open-in-london-in-2017/066603

https://www.proudonline.co.uk/exhibitions

b) As the city of Sunderland works to impress in order to earn the title of the “UK City of Culture” in 2021, what better way to get the attention of the city’s elders and other taste-makers than by staging a 40th anniversary celebration of all things Punk? Titled Punk 1976-78, this exhibition at the Sunderland Museum, Library & Winter Garden kicked off with a music filled opening party on December 2nd, after which visitors were able to tour the show which includes a number of important punk-era items from the archives of the British Library such as “Original posters, gig tickets and flyers from the clubs that would become synonymous with the scene are displayed alongside original record sleeves, many of which have never been on public display before. Highlights also include John Peel’s personal copy of the Undertones’ single, Teenage Kicks and original t-shirts from Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX boutique on the Kings Road…”

The show was curated by a number of notables from both the British Library and Liverpool John Moores University, so you can be sure that you’ll find a wide range of things to see covering the music, fashion, politics and pop culture aspects of this norm-altering era. Read more in the local papers at: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/our-region/sunderland/anarchy-in-sunderland-punk-exhibition-opens-at-city-museum-1-8272527 and click on over to the museum’s web site to learn more about attending – http://www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/punk-1976-78

c) December 9th marked the launch of the most-recent staging – now, at the C/O Gallery in Berlin, Germany – of an album art exhibition that features 500+ of the most-impactful record covers produced over the past 50+ years. You’ll recall that, back in September, I’d reported on this comprehensive exhibition – titled Total Records: Photography and the Art of the Album Cover – that was most-recently on display in Budapest, Hungary and was built around the images included in an album art book (published by the French photo collective known as Aperture) that features the works of many esteemed record cover artists, including David Bailey, Anton Corbijn, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Jean-Paul Goude, Brian Griffin, Danny Lyon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Martin Parr, Irving Penn, Cindy Sherman, Pennie Smith, Andy Warhol, Albert Watson and many, many others.

According to the gallery’s press, “… Total Records presents both classic and lesser-known album covers, and traces the musical and photographic history of the twentieth century through the sometimes surprising album cover collaborations that have emerged between artists” (i.e. musicians and the people they’ve collaborated with on their album art projects). To introduce us to this new staging of this travelling exhibit, the team at Deutsche Welle (AKA “DW”, Germany’s international news network) has recently posted an article on the DW.com site that you can reach via the link at http://dw.com/en/how-art-made-album-covers-iconic/a-36703281

If you can’t attend the show in Germany during its run (now through April 23rd, 2017), it will be available to album art fans in the Rotterdam, Netherlands area when it moves to the Kunsthal Rotterdam for several months later next Spring.

More info on the Berlin show can also be found on the gallery’s site (in English) at http://www.co-berlin.org/en/total-records

d) Running now through the end of January at the 70 South Gallery in Morristown, NJ is a show featuring the photo work of one Roberto Rabanne, a man who over the years has had the pleasure of capturing stars from the music, entertainment and fashion worlds such as Lady Gaga, Prince, Springsteen and Hendrix for use in record and publishing projects and, as you’ll see when you visit the Gallery and its web site, many less-traditional venues. Part of a larger show called “Revolutionary Reflections”, Rabanne’s collection is being show under the title Photoplasticity: Fashioning The Image When Music Meets Fashion and includes images of all of the aforementioned celebrities and many others (Jerry Garcia, Madonna, Bob Marley and many more), along with those of top fashion models that were taken for top magazines such as Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vogue and Woman, among others.

Meet the photographer and get more info on this exciting new gallery show via the link – http://www.70southgallery.com/revolutionary-reflections/

e) December 11th was the final day that visitors were able to tour the “Coming On Home Exhibition 2016” show of recent works by noted album artist Roger Dean that was on display at the beautiful Trading Boundaries gallery complex located in Sussex, U.K.. What made this show so unique is that, in addition to examples of some of his best-known work for YES, Asia, Uriah Heep and others, you were able to see the paintings Dean created that were used on the cover of the recent release by former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett titled Premonitions – wonderful examples of classic Roger Dean fantastic imagery. For more information on this show and some of the upcoming musical events taking place at Trading Boundaries, follow the link – http://www.tradingboundaries.com/pages/roger-dean-gallery

f) Creative Review reporter Rick Poynor takes us on an illustrated tour through the You Say You Want A Revolution? Records And Rebels 1966-70 exhibition at the V&A Museum now through February 26th of 2017 – https://www.creativereview.co.uk/decade-disruption-vas-say-want-revolution-records-rebels-1966-70/

The curators have identified seven different revolutions that were taking place during the five years covered in the exhibition – revolutions in Youth Identity, in “the Head” (i.e., drug culture), in “the Street” (political/social protest), in Consumerism, in Living (as part of a community, or in participating in one of the many music festivals held during that period), in Communicating (spreading “the word” pre-personal computer/social media) and the on-going efforts in the areas of environmentalism, neo-liberalism, etc. – and so they used these as the basis of their groupings. Far out, man!

https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/you-say-you-want-a-revolution-records-and-rebels-1966-70

g) Alongside the recent release of their new blues-based record Blue & Lonesome, the Rolling Stones have brought a large selection of items featured in their tremendously-successful Exhibitionism show in London to a new venue in New York city and opened this display recently to fans at the Industria event space in the West Village, available for viewing from now until March 12th. Billed as the largest show of Stones memorabilia (costumes, instruments, artwork, etc. – along with a detailed re-creation of an apartment several of the band members lived together in early on in their careers) ever assembled, USA Today’s Patrick Ryan recently toured the space and shares his take on the impressive, career-spanning show in this article (complete with large photo gallery) posted on the paper’s site – http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2016/11/11/rolling-stones-exhibitionism/93586032/

Ryan was particularly impressed with some of the album art on display, which included original production elements and finished prints of the images found on records such as Sticky Fingers, Some Girls, Love You Live, Undercover, the GRRR greatest-hits recording and others, along with various iterations of the iconic Lips & Tongue logo. You can learn more about what’s on display on the show’s site – http://www.stonesexhibitionism.com/exhibition/

2) Artist interviews/profile articles –

a) British photographer Pennie Smith’s photo of Clash bassist Paul Simonon has become one of rock music’s best-known images, with the shot combined with designer Ray Lowry’s typography (that aimed to re-create the energy found on Elvis Presley’s debut recording) to produce an album cover that is always in everyone’s “Top 10” of all time listings. And although Smith was an experienced photographer working for a top music publication (NME), she wasn’t totally prepared for Simonon’s guitar-smashing expression of his unhappiness at the moment and, therefore, found herself snapping a photo that turned out to be a bit out-of-focus and, in her mind at the time, not quite fit for public consumption.

In this recent interview on the topic posted on the TeamRock.com site, you can read more about Smith’s recollections of the event, including an act of self-preservation that ended up creating a cover photo for the ages – http://teamrock.com/feature/2016-12-04/the-story-behind-the-clashs-london-calling-album-artwork

b) I’m told that there was a nice interview with noted photographer Jill Furmanovsky – who also runs the RockArchive Gallery and agency – in a recent posting on the Financial Times site, but as I’m not a subscriber, I can’t tell you much about it! If you are lucky enough to be a FT subscriber, here’s the link – https://www.ft.com/content/69583b9c-b109-11e6-a37c-f4a01f1b0fa1 – please let us know what you found, OK?

c) – It is my sad duty to inform you that another well-known album cover contributor – photographer Richard E. Aaron – has died at the age of 67. He is perhaps best-known to album cover fans for the photo he took that was used on the cover of one of the best-selling live albums of all time – Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive – his prodigious output has been seen in thousands of magazines, books and web sites over the years.

I had the pleasure of meeting with him several times and sold a number of his fine art prints when I had my gallery – he was always eager to find something special in his huge archive that’d make my customers happy.

There’s a detailed obituary that will give you more of the details of his storied career on the Billboard web site – http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/obituary/7624386/richard-e-aaron-photographer-frampton-comes-alive-dead

and if you’d like to read the interview I did with him a number of years ago about “the making of” the Frampton Comes Alive photo, I’d invite you to visit my archive at http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/2007/04/cover_story_fra.html

Those who’d like to take a stroll through Richard’s online archives can do so via this link – http://www.rockpix.com/  There, you’ll find hundreds of memorable photos, including one of my favorites of Bruce Springsteen (http://www.rockpix.com/infamous-fifty-plus-classic-rock-photos/bruce-springsteen.html) and an awesome shot of the recently-departed piano great Dave Brubeck (http://www.rockpix.com/infamous-fifty-plus-classic-rock-photos/dave-brubeck.html).

He will be missed.

d) Back in 2003, aspiring photographer Nabil Elderkin was looking to find out more about a rapper whose mixtape he’d heard and was thoroughly impressed by. He Googled “Kanye West” only to find that the domain was available for sale. He snapped it up, hoping to be able to track Mr. West down at some point, and when West’s label came knocking to negotiate for the rights to the domain, what transpired next was the foot-in-the-door moment for a photographer whose career has gone on to include album cover, publicity and other photo work for West and many others, including Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Bon Iver and many more top acts. After expanding his horizons into directing music videos and TV commercials, Elderkin is now looking to break into the feature film business, with details on these efforts, as well as stories of his early and ongoing successes, now found in a recent profile written by Rob LeDonne for The Guardian (U.K.) web site – https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/nov/09/nabil-elderkin-collaborator-kanye-west-weeknd-bon-iver

3) Sales/Auctions –

a) I was originally going to pass on reporting about something, even though I was aware of a special sale of important rock-era artworks had been announced to collectors (yes, I’m one of “those people” too) because the gallery that had sent the email – the San Francisco Art Exchange – had stated that we weren’t supposed to share the info on the sale except directly with friends/acquaintances with the means to be able to purchase one of the works (i.e., no press, no social media, etc.). As a reporter, it is hard having news quarantined, but I always respect these requests as I was once both a marketer and a gallery owner and fully understand the need sometimes to manage the flow of information so that only “legit” buyers are in contact regarding the sale of valuable works of art.

Imagine my surprise then the next day when I saw this article on the ArtDaily.com web site – http://artdaily.com/news/92632/Original-paintings-from-Pink-Floyd-s-The-Wall-on-view-at-San-Francisco-Art-Exchange in which some of the details about this sale were in fact made public. And while I won’t tell you exactly what’s going on in deference to the original request, I will simply say that, if you’re a fan of Pink Floyd and want to add something unique to your music-related art collection, you should read this article and then get hold of one of the nice people at SFAE to learn more.

b) While I didn’t find a lot to report about re: album art-related items to be featured in Bonham’s December 15th Entertainment Memorabilia auction in London, one item that did catch my eye was a set of 10 ceramic tiles that spell out the words “Abbey Road” – a set quite similar to the ones used to illustrate the back cover of The Beatles 1969 recording of the same name. While it can’t be verified that these were in fact the tiles that Iain MacMillan photographed for use on the cover, they were taken from a now-demolished wall nearby, so you can always present them to your friends with a shrug and a “well, they COULD be…” statement, right? Pre-auction estimates for this item were in the $10 – 13K range, with more info available at http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23527/lot/83/

 Auction update – A set of 10 ceramic tiles that spell out the words “Abbey Road” – a set quite similar to the ones used to illustrate the back cover of The Beatles 1969 recording of the same name – that was featured in this week’s Entertainment Memorabilia auction at Bonham’s London facility did not find a buyer. ? Pre-auction estimates for this item were in the $10 – 13K range, and while this unique item did not find a new home, the auction did succeed in selling some other great items, including

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23527/lot/83/

4) New Print/Book Publishing –

a) It’s been recently reported that music journalist/fine art photographer and rock photo collector Raj Prem is in discussions to have a new, career-spanning book published next year. Over the years, Prem has worked with a number of leading galleries, including San Francisco Art Exchange, the Atlas and Snap galleries in London and several others, to curate rock photo shows that feature the works of many of the industry’s best-known shooters and, along the way, he’s put together a personal collection that would make any die-hard music/art fan quite envious. With a fan’s obsession for gathering mementos from important milestones along rock music’s 60+ year timeline, when you see a Prem-curated display, you’ll find many of the most-iconic images alongside examples of timeless memorabilia, so it will be interesting to see what will be included in this upcoming tome. You can read more about Prem and his career in this recently-published posting on the SAT Press Releases site – http://satprnews.com/2016/12/12/raj-prem-reveals-plans-to-publish-new-book-on-his-career-in-music-photography/ and stay tuned here for more information about the book’s availability as it becomes public.

b) Well-known to anyone who follows the Bay Area music scene, photographer Bob Minkin has been a staple on the scene for many years, contributing his photos of all of the key players in the area to magazines, newspapers, web sites and, of course, record company clients. As you might figure, Bob has amassed a large archive of photos of acts over the past 40 years, including shots of the Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Moonalice, Dark Star Orchestra and many, many others, some of which were included in Bob’s 2014 book titled Live Dead: The Grateful Dead Photographed By Bob Minkin. That book proved to be so popular that it inspired Bob to revisit his archive once again, this time to focus on images of the performances that have taken place at venues in Marin County, Minkin’s home turf. The results of this deep archive dive will soon be shared in a new book that Bob is hoping to produce and ship in 2017.

According to Mr. Minkin (per his new Kickstarter project page), “THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED — a one-of-a-kind 200+ page coffee table book of photography — will feature hundreds of never-before-seen images from my archives, including live performance shots, intimate backstage, off-stage and at home photographs of our favorite players, including Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and close to 100 musicians/bands will be featured!” Supporters can opt for the book in one of two formats (“Standard” or a limited-edition “Collector’s” edition) and choose to upgrade their purchase to include one of the hundreds of photos that will be included in the book (quite the deal!). Find out more via the link – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/915441459/the-music-never-stopped-epic-live-music-photos-by

Update – Just an update to the article above regarding photographer Bob Minkin’s Kickstarter project in support of a new photo book (to be titled “The Music Never Stopped” and featuring hundreds of great shots of the creme-de-la-creme of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene) – Mr. Minkin has sent out a new email in which he tells us that he’s adjusted the amount he’s hoping to raise upward to the $25-30K range, and is offering to sweeten the pot by giving supporters an opportunity to get something special. Here’s how Bob put it in today’s email – ” I need to keep this campaign growing as the book will cost $25,000-$30,000 to produce… Therefore, if I reach $25,000 in funding, everyone who has contributed $50 and above will be entered into a drawing to win a 11 x 14 signed photograph of a Grateful Dead photo I’ve taken.”

Today’s the last day to pledge your support for this project (which has raised a bit over $25K, so I think that supporters will be in for that drawing), so I hope that you’ll take a look and support one of the music business’ nicest (and most talented) guys by clicking on over https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/915441459/the-music-never-stopped-epic-live-music-photos-by

c) You might recall my reporting about photographer Elliott Landy’s own book project last year built around his collection of photos of The Band (The Band Photographs, 1968-1969), a publication that included an impressive selection of shots Landy took of his chums at work, at leisure and in the middle of some beautiful country scenery. As Landy selected the 300 photos that would be included from the over 12,000 he had in his archive of that band at the time, he produced proof pages of pairs of these shots – truly-important by-products of the time-consuming process of assembling such a book. People who saw these proofs commented that Elliott should preserve them as historical documents, but as he’s such a giving person, he’s decided (after keeping one set for himself) to share these nearly one-of-a-kind images (produced with the same care and inks as his fine art photo prints) with fans, putting them up for sale, while they last.

Priced at $575 (a real bargain for a Landy print!), there are about 450 of these double-image prints available directly from Mr. Landy on his site – http://elliottlandy.com/nearly-one-of-a-kind-proof-prints-from-the-band-photographs-book/

I can’t think of a better gift for fans of The Band, can you?

5) Other articles of interest –

a) Album cover artists, like most other talented people, are often solicited to “do something special” for the Holidays, and such is the case with graphic artist Don Pendleton, well-known for his Grammy-winning work on Pearl Jam’s 2013 record Lightning Bolt, who donated his time and creative energies to create a poster for a recent concert benefitting the local (Bloomington, IL) Toys for Tots efforts. When a major sponsor from the previous year’s event pulled out, local promoters, musicians and others banded together to make sure that the show took place and worked to replace the $15,000 deficit, guaranteeing that the neediest kids still will be getting something memorable this Holiday season.

Read more about it on the Pantagraph news site (you’ll need to click thru some impediments to get there – sorry) – http://www.pantagraph.com/blogs/craft-from-pearl-jam-to-toys-for-tots/article_73487330-0ec9-5265-b8ef-7071fb144434.html

b) Designer/record label co-owner Peter Saville’s contributions to the world of album art imagery are many, with his Factory Records label releasing albums by bands such as Pulp, OMD, Roxy Music and New Order/Joy Division (among many others) encased in packages that set a new standard in post-modern design (how many of us still proudly wear our Unknown Pleasures t-shirts as a sign of new wave appreciation?). The label’s Manchester club, called the Hacienda and built inside a vacated yacht showroom, was a venue that allowed Saville to apply his design expertise in a grander scale (working alongside designer Ben Kelly), with the club’s floor done up in the warning stripe motif used often on the label’s recordings as well.

Since then, Saville has worked on a number of projects around the Manchester area, including designing ones for the Welcome area and entrance doors of the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry, a design that is now being used as the basis of a new series of glassware now being sold by the Museum. You’ll find three examples of Saville’s new glassware for sale in the museum’s gift shop, including this nice jar – https://www.sciencemuseumshop.co.uk/museum_gifts/peter-saville/msi_peter_saville_gas_jar.htm

Wallpaper Magazine’s site has posted an article on the topic, including insights from Peter, by Kasia Maciejowski that you can read via this link – http://www.wallpaper.com/design/peter-saville

The museum has also put together a nice overview of the role Factory Records played in the development of both Manchester’s music scene and its emergence as a hotbed of style and design – http://msimanchester.org.uk/en/collection/stories/factory-records

c) Finally, as we are at the tail end of the Holiday season and the giving and receiving gifts of a questionable nature is part of the yearly ordeal, I just had to share this article posted recently on the Society of Rock web site in which you’ll be shown a collection of Christmas sweaters that have been decorated with album cover/logo-based artwork.

Whether this is good or not is in the eye of the giver/recipient, but you’ll most-certainly be the center of attention at any post-Holiday party if you walk in wearing one of these colorful creations – http://societyofrock.com/7-ugly-rock-christmas-sweaters-guaranteed-to-make-you-an-office-party-hit-this-season/

Links are provided in the article to the vendors offering these items, so if you’re wondering what to do with one of those Visa or AMEX gift cards you received from someone, now’s your chance to add one of these to your rock & roll clothing collection.

d) Video game fans have always enjoyed these things called “Easter eggs”, which are special, hidden items – images, sounds, videos, animations, extra powers, etc. – that developers have chosen to include in their products that avid game players are always on the hunt for (there are special newsletters and blogs devoted to the topic, too). Those of us who have been paying close attention to music-related artwork over the years know that, from time to time, album cover artists have hidden objects on their miniature canvases that, over time, have become just as memorable as the images themselves. Famed illustrator Al Hirschfeld included several instances of his daughter Nina’s name in his cover art for Aerosmith’s Draw The Line album (in fact, there are always Ninas hidden somewhere in a Hirschfeld illustration), but as you’ll discover in this recent article on the Radio X web site, there have been a number of well-known records released that include hidden imagery and messaging, including albums from Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Beastie Boys and others.

http://www.radiox.co.uk/features/revealed-secret-hidden-messages-album-cover/

One of this year’s Grammy-nominated records – David Bowie’s final record Black Star, featuring artwork done by Jonathan Barnbrook, includes several hidden treasures, so the trend continues to this day.

e) Another Grammy-nominated recording package – that being for Trey Anastasio’s Paper Wheels Deluxe Limited Edition release, featuring art by Varnish Studio’s Matt Taylor – also showcases artwork that includes secretly-coded text strings that were built with a cipher created in the 1850s for use by British intelligence services at the time (and through the end of World War II). As you might figure, today’s young technologists quickly figured things out, with the results shared with inquiring minds in this article by Andy Kahn that I found which was published last year on the Jambase site – http://www.jambase.com/article/cracking-the-code-trey-anastasio-band-paper-wheels-artwork

It is work like this that makes me feel secure that, regardless of how some might be working to limit free speech, there will always be technologists and artists working together to deliver important messages…

f) com writer Fidel Martinez presents us with a summary of seven hip-hop/rap album covers that, compared with the rest of the imagery used to promote recorded music in these genres, are “tougher than the rest”. While some acts have decided to use their covers to establish their “street cred”, others have worked to put the conditions of their neighbors and neighborhoods on display for the rest of us to take in and appreciate how these conditions have shaped their music.

The article includes examples of powerfully-rendered images that have been used in the packaging of recordings by Tupac, N.W.A., DMX, Geto Boys and others. Some are hard to look at, but all are impactful in their own ways.

http://uproxx.com/realtalk/hip-hop-album-covers-tougher-than-the-rest/4/

g) Life as a music industry photographer is a life of luxury and never-ending partying with the coolest people on the planet, right? As much as we’d like to think so, a recent article by Mark Butler on the com site that features anecdotes from two U.K.-based photographers – Euan Robertson and Anthony Longstaff – gives readers a lesson in the realities of earning a living in this fashion. Yes, you do get to be in the presence of music industry royalty (at least for a few songs), but you also have to deal with over-zealous security personnel, rowdy fans and clients often more-interested in “fast and cheap” than “reliable and high-quality”. You’d also be correct in assuming that their subjects aren’t always accommodating with their time and attention…another music-industry fantasy, nicely deflated, can be found via the link at https://inews.co.uk/essentials/culture/music/life-as-a-music-photographer/

h) Artist Derek Riggs – best-known in the album art world for creating Iron Maiden’s “Eddie” mascot (first seen on their self-titled 1980 recording) – shares the story about “the making of” one of the better-known Eddie-based album covers, that being his artwork for 1982’s The Number of the Beast in which our hero is pictured accompanying The Devil as he makes a fiery swing through the neighborhood…the prolific staffers at com share this story in an article found recently on their site – http://teamrock.com/feature/2016-09-16/the-story-behind-iron-maiden-s-the-number-of-the-beast-album-artwork

i) Album art has long been used by musical acts to promote their feelings regarding the issues of the day (think System of a Down’s Toxicity or Ice Cube’s Death Certificate), but for a Boomer like me, my heart just leapt when I saw one Chicago-based design group’s proposal to use a quartet of strategically-placed golden flying pigs (ala Pink Floyd’s Animals) to block street views of the huge logo found on the river-side of the Trump Tower Chicago building located in the Windy City. Symbolism runs two ways in this story, as Trump Tower was built on a parcel created after tearing down the original building that used to house one of Chicago’s premier newspapers, the Sun Times. Make of it what you will – more info and photos can be found in Matthew Messner’s recent article on The Architect’s Newspaper site – https://archpaper.com/2016/12/trump-chicago-gold-pigs/

If you’d like to watch a short time-lapse video of the demolition of the Sun Times headquarters and the phoenix-like rising of the new Trump building that was created by a local photographer, hop on over to YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnEGFHRW3js

j) ACHOF News Flash – The nominees for awards in the Packaging Category in the upcoming 59th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced, with the lists for each category including both some familiar names and others getting recognition by the Recording Academy for the first time.

In the “Best Recording Package” category, art directors for records put out by acts including Bon Iver, David Bowie, Parquet Courts, Reckless Kelly, and Rihanna will duke it out for top honors, while in the “Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition” category include works done for a broad range of talent – from the late singer Edith Piaf to Paul McCartney, Trey Anastasio to the 1975 and J. Views, who crowd-sourced most everything for his nominated project.

You can get the details on the Grammy Awards site via the link at http://www.grammy.com/nominees?genre=22

with the winners being announced the weekend leading up to the Sunday, February 12, 2017 live telecast.

Of course, you’ll learn more about the nominees and eventual winners here, so stay tuned for further updates.

Congratulations go out to all of the talented people who’ve been nominated – great work, folks!

k) The 2016 ARIA Awards (Australia’s equivalent to the Grammy Awards) in the “Artisan Categories” – including “Best Cover Art” – were announced in late November, and while it seems to have taken a while for the info to arrive here in the U.S. (must have been sent by steamship), I would be remiss if I didn’t publicize the names of the nominees and the winner in the category – Best Cover Art: Karen Lynch for Bernard Fanning – Civil Dusk (Dew Process/Universal); Kristen Doyle for Delta Goodrem – Wings of the Wild (Sony Music Australia); Jonathan Zawada for Flume – Skin (Future Classic); Jack Vanzet for RÜFÜS – Bloom (Sweat It Out / Sony Music Australia) and Lost Art for The Avalanches – Wildflower (Modular / EMI)

And the winner was…Jonathan Zawada for his design for Flume’s record Skin.

http://www.ariaawards.com.au/nominees/2016/Artisan-Awards/Best-Cover-Art

and you can find out more about the winning art director/artist on his web site at http://www.zawada.com.au/

l) At the end of every year, the writers working for art/music/design publications of every size put themselves in a position that I will most-certainly never put himself in – i.e., having to name the “best” and “worst” album cover designs of the previous 12 months and then, somehow, justifying those choices to my readers. This year, it’s become quite clear that expressing opinions on what’s “best” or “worst” in any pursuit can prove to be a dangerous enterprise, with some of those decisions accepted with great gusto while others mercilessly berating the choices that they might disagree with. Now that it is that time of year again, I have completed this basic research and am simply ready to offer you his summary of what these (some of them) esteemed music and art critics have presented as their “best of” and “worst of” selections regarding the album covers and packaging that helps deliver – both online and in physical form – music from your favorite artists.

As I have noted in my previous summaries, “each year, music and art critics work to provide readers and viewers with their ‘Top 10/20/50′ lists in a variety of categories (by musical genre, by who most-effected pop culture, by who “raised the bar”, by who revealed the most of their inner souls or their outer skin, etc.). Many of these same publications and sites also attempt to arrive at – by their design standards and/or knowledge of the relationships between musicians, their record labels/distributors and the people they hire to create a new graphical representation of their latest music releases – which records came with the best (or worst) associated album covers.” The past several years, I found smaller and smaller numbers (but no-less-passionate) of publications and sites who were eager to proffer their opinions on the “state of the art” in album cover design, so while there was less data to take into account (particularly in the “Worst” category), it is no less interesting to read what critics have to say on the subject.

Today’s summary – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/album-cover-hall-of-fame-year-end-summary-of-best-and-worst-album-cover-art-lists-2016/

is presented simply, with links to the sites that have presented their own takes on “what’s good/bad” in album cover design these days. As for myself, I was impressed with several examples of close collaborations between the designers and musical acts that invested in projects that pushed the boundaries of how “album art” is defined. Taking into account the prevalence of both digital deliver platforms and hybrid physical/digital products at retail (i.e., those that have add-ons that are experienced via a computer/smartphone), I can say with a high degree of certainty that next year’s lists will continue to put highly-imaginative works on display for us all to take in, appreciate and discuss at great length. As always, please be sure to share your takes on which of these lists perhaps best-or-least-represented your feelings on the topic by leaving a comment for us – thanks, and here’s wishing all of you the “Best Of” Peace, Level-headedness and Prosperity during the New Year 2017!

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 2016/2017 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 Hall of Fame’s Year-End Summary of Best and Worst Album Cover Art listings 2016

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Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Year-End Summary of “Best (and Worst) Album Cover Art” listings for the year 2016

by Mike Goldstein, Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

December 30, 2016 – Chicago, IL, USA

With “The Media” taking a beating this year (some deserved, but mostly a diversion), I thought that it’d be important for this journalist to demonstrate that not ALL reporting is misleading or factless, and what better way than to share a summary of all of the articles I could find on the topic of “Best” and “Worst” album cover art featured on records released during the past year. As I’ve said in previous summaries on the topic, the focus of the ACHOF site remains on the people who create these works (rather than on the works themselves), so it is important for me to be able to share this editorial content with you as a way to illustrate that there is still a lot of work – both good and bad – being done in this aspect of the recorded music business.

At the end of every year, the writers working for art/music/design publications of every size put themselves in a position that I will most-certainly never put himself in – i.e., having to name the “best” and “worst” album cover designs of the previous 12 months and then, somehow, justifying those choices to my readers. This year, it’s become quite clear that expressing opinions on what’s “best” or “worst” in any pursuit can prove to be a dangerous enterprise, with some of those decisions accepted with great gusto while others mercilessly berating the choices that they might disagree with. Now that it is that time of year again, I have completed this basic research and am simply ready to offer you his summary of what these (some of them) esteemed music and art critics have presented as their “best of” and “worst of” selections regarding the album covers and packaging that helps deliver – both online and in physical form – music from your favorite artists.

As I have noted in my previous summaries, “each year, music and art critics work to provide readers and viewers with their ‘Top 10/20/50′ lists in a variety of categories (by musical genre, by who most-effected pop culture, by who “raised the bar”, by who revealed the most of their inner souls or their outer skin, etc.). Many of these same publications and sites also attempt to arrive at – by their design standards and/or knowledge of the relationships between musicians, their record labels/distributors and the people they hire to create a new graphical representation of their latest music releases – which records came with the best (or worst) associated album covers.” The past several years, I found smaller and smaller numbers (but no-less-passionate) of publications and sites who were eager to proffer their opinions on the “state of the art” in album cover design, so while there was less data to take into account (particularly in the “Worst” category), it is no less interesting to read what critics have to say on the subject.

By now, I’m sure that you realize that the people making these selections for their respective publications bring varying degrees of education, expertise and personal opinion to the lists they produce (with others relying more on the votes and comments received from  readers of their publications), but whether they approach these surveys from the angle of industry expert, educated fan or simply the musings of people that appreciate the importance of good album art (to the promotion and sale of music and/or a musical act’s image), these lists do provide some interesting insights into both the “art of criticism” and the passions of the fans that provide their commentary on the final poll results. One thing that I can assure you of is that works from all over the musical map have been included in these lists – I’m constantly amazed at the number of acts I’ve never heard of who have invested significantly into the effort of creating compelling and memorable album graphics.

In conclusion, today’s summary is presented simply, with links to the sites that have presented their own takes on “what’s good/bad” in album cover design these days. As for myself, I was impressed with several examples of close collaborations between the designers and musical acts that invested in projects that pushed the boundaries of how “album art” is defined. Taking into account the prevalence of both digital deliver platforms and hybrid physical/digital products at retail (i.e., those that have add-ons that are experienced via a computer/smartphone), I can say with a high degree of certainty that next year’s lists will continue to put highly-imaginative works on display for us all to take in, appreciate and discuss at great length. As always, please be sure to share your takes on which of these lists perhaps best-or-least-represented your feelings on the topic by leaving a comment for us, below – thanks, and here’s wishing all of you the “Best Of” Peace, Level-headedness and Prosperity during the New Year 2017!

Research References:

“Best” lists – listed alphabetically, by name of publication, along with the name of the editor(s) responsible for the listings, followed by the link to the article:

A Closer Listen (Richard Allen & Ryan Keane) – https://acloserlisten.com/2016/12/15/acl-2016-the-years-best-album-covers/

AudioEclectica (Brian Lacy) – https://audioeclectica.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/end-of-the-year-2016-best-album-cover/ (poll with results to be noted at month’s end)

Brightest Young Things (John Foster) – https://brightestyoungthings.com/articles/best-album-art-of-2016

BK/Brooklyn Magazine (Mike Gaworecki) – http://www.bkmag.com/2016/12/22/best-album-covers-2016/

Creative Bloq (Sammy Maine) – http://www.creativebloq.com/features/the-20-best-album-covers-of-2016

Creative Review (Rachael Steven) – https://www.creativereview.co.uk/the-best-record-sleeves-of-2016-1-david-bowie-blackstar/

Fact Magazine (April Clare Welsh) – http://www.factmag.com/2016/12/02/best-album-covers-2016/

Fubiz (by Lea, in French, but nicely illustrated) – http://www.fubiz.net/2016/12/16/10-best-album-covers-of-2016/

Happy Australia, part of the VICE network (Freya McGahey) – http://hhhhappy.com/whether-youre-into-music-art-or-both-youll-eat-up-the-10-best-album-covers-of-2016/

Hot New Hip-Hop/HNHH (Patrick Lyons) – http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/hottest-album-covers-of-2016-news.26248.html

Indie 88 (Danielle Subject) – http://indie88.com/the-best-album-art-of-2016/

Juice Nothing (Jared Woods) – http://juicenothing.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-10-best-album-cover-artworks-of-2016.html

Loudwire (Joe DiVita) – http://loudwire.com/best-rock-metal-album-covers-2016/

The Obelisk (JJ Koczan) – http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/2016/12/12/2016-album-covers-list/

Paste Magazine (Emily Ray) – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/12/the-25-best-album-covers-of-2016.html

Radar Radio U.K. (Jake Mier) – http://www.radarradio.com/blog/2016-best-album-covers-artwork

Rock The Body Electric (E. Carle) – http://www.rockthebodyelectric.com/2016/12/year-in-review-2016-best-album-art.html

Stereogum (Collin Robinson) – http://www.stereogum.com/1915359/the-album-art-well-remember-past-2016/franchises/2016-in-review/

Superhype Blog (David Deal) – http://superhypeblog.com/design/memorable-album-covers-of-2016

The Vinyl Factory (James Hammond, Chris Summers, Patrick Ryder, Amar Ediriwira and Anton Spice) – http://thevinylfactory.com/features/the-20-best-record-sleeves-of-2016/

XXL (Sidney Madden) – http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2016/12/best-album-covers-2016/

 

“Worst” lists – listed alphabetically, by name of publication, along with the name of the editor(s) responsible for the listings, followed by the link to the article:

Brightest Young Things (John Foster) – https://brightestyoungthings.com/articles/worse-album-art-of-2016

Exclaim! (Josiah Hughes) – http://exclaim.ca/music/article/here_are_the_17_worst_album_covers_of_the_year-2016_in_lists

Juice Nothing (Jared Woods) – http://juicenothing.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/the-10-worst-album-cover-artworks-of.html

The Culture Trip (Ryan Kristoback) – https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/the-worst-album-covers-of-2016

Let’s hope that the music industry continues to impress – and horrify – us with their ongoing efforts to deliver memorable packaging for their new releases next year.

Happy New Year 2017!

All text Copyright 2016 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 for December, 2015

Album Cover Hall of Fame’S Album Cover News Recap for December, 2015

It’s early January 2016 here in the Pacific NW and, I don’t know about you all, but I could surely use some sunshine, having been treated to the first extended stretches of Winter weather, making for great skiing in the nearby mountains while creating a ghost-like pallor on our skin. On the plus side, we (i.e., the city of Portland, OR) were recently rated #1 best food city in a major East Coast publication, so life here’s not all that bad.

Our collective recuperations from the past Holiday season and the Winter blahs have done little to stem the tide of album art-related news, though, with the ACHOF news feed showcasing the many exhibitions, books and other such activities we reported on during the last 30 days. With stories on the interviews, features, book releases, gallery/museum shows and annual  “best and worst” lists adding to the endless sources of excitement and inspiration found in our news feed, I’ll spend a few paragraphs giving you a summary of these highlights and updates but, after that,  it’ll be up to you  to visit our site to complete your re-reading of these items of interest on this list by reading/viewing these items at your leisure…

Lots of interesting interviews this past month – both in print and on video – with album artists, rock photographers and others involved in the record packaging world, including designers Vaughan Oliver, Sir Peter Blake, Brian Cannon and others and photographers Gary Heery and Anton Corbijn who, most interestingly, is taking a leave from the music industry to focus on topics of his own interest. Continue reading

Album Cover News Recap – January, 2015

Album Cover News Recap – January, 2015

By Mike Goldstein – Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian Pelletier, for Alter Ego by Le Paysagiste;

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

Guy Dutrisac for Perles et paraboles by YAO;

Marc Girouard for Papillon by Gabrielle Goulet, and

Christian Pelletier for Silence Radio by En bref

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to new additions as they’re released.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations to the winners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Cover News Recap – December, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nominees for “Best Recording Package” are –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best And Worst Album Cover Art Lists – 2014 – Summary And Analysis

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s “Best (and Worst) Album Cover Art” listings for the year 2014, along with summary and analysis

by Mike Goldstein, Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

December 26th, 2014 – Portland, OR, USA (updated December 31, 2014)

At the end of every year, the writers working for art/music/design publications of every size put themselves in a position that your Curator (hey, that’s me!) will most-certainly never put himself in – i.e., having to name the “best” and “worst” album cover designs of the previous 12 months and then, somehow, justifying those choices to readers who, inevitably, will accept some of those decisions with great gusto and then mercilessly berate the choices that disagree with (or those that, Heaven forbid, have been left off these lists altogether!). Now that it is that time of year again, yours truly has completed his research and is ready to offer you his summary of what these esteemed music and art critics have presented as their “best of” and “worst of” selections regarding the album covers and packaging that helps deliver – both online and in physical form – music from your favorite artists.

As I have noted in my previous summaries, “each year, music and art critics work to provide readers and viewers with their ‘Top 10′ lists in a variety of categories (by musical genre, by who most-effected pop culture, by who raised the bar, by who revealed the most of their inner souls or their outer skin, etc.). Many of these same publications and sites also attempt to arrive at – by their design standards and/or knowledge of the relationships between musicians, their record labels/distributors and the people they hire to create a new graphical representation of their latest music releases – which records came with the best (or worst) associated album covers.” This year, I found a number of new publications and sites who were eager to proffer their opinions on the “state of the art” in album cover design, so there was a lot of new data to take into account.

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Best and Worst Album Cover Art Lists – 2013 – Summary and Analysis

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s “Best (and Worst) Album Cover Art” listings for the year 2013, along with summary and analysis

by Mike Goldstein, Curator, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

December 27th, 2013 – Portland, OR, USA

It’s that time of year again, folks! It’s when your Curator scours the globe to bring you a summary of what music and art critics present as their “best of” and “worst of” lists regarding the album covers and packaging that helps deliver – both online and in physical form – music from your favorite artists. As I noted in last year’s summary, “each year, music and art critics work to provide readers and viewers with their ‘Top 10’ lists in a variety of categories (by musical genre, by who most-effected pop culture, by who raised the bar, by who revealed the most of their inner souls or their outer skin, etc.). Many of these same publications and sites also attempt to arrive at – by their design standards and/or knowledge of the relationships between musicians, their record labels/distributors and the people they hire to create a new graphical representation of their latest music releases – which records came with the best (or worst) associated album covers.

Some lists were the opinions of a publication’s reporter or staff, while others reflect the votes of readers of those publications, but whether they approach these surveys from the angle of music fan, the art fan or simply from folks that appreciate the importance of good album art (to the promotion and sale of music and/or a musical act’s image), these lists do provide some interesting insights into the “art of criticism”, as do the comments submitted by those who agree or disagree with the final poll results.

And so, presented along with a little analysis of whose artwork seems to gather the most attention on one or both of the lists (and in no particular order), here are the “best of” and “worst of” lists from sources around the world for Best and/or Worst Album Covers for 2013. As always, please be sure to let us know which of these lists best-represented your feelings on the topic by leaving a comment for us, below – thanks, and best (not worst) wishes to you all for a very Happy New Year 2014!

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