Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Idiot

Sometimes the best album covers are the simplest. That’s the case with Iggy Pop’s first solo album, The Idiot. It’s also the album cover that answers the eternal question: does Iggy own any shirts?

The Idiot was co-produced by David Bowie who co-wrote 7 of the 8 songs with Mr. Pop. It’s one of the Bowie related albums from what is known as his Thin White Duke/Berlin period. West Berlin to be precise. The Idiot was released in 1977 when the wall was still a thing.

Here’s the China Girl/Baby single cover. It’s a more characteristic Iggy shot: shirtless and leaping about.

It’s lagniappe time: here’s a promo poster with a certain producer’s name on it.

The entire album is not available on the You Tube so here’s China Girl followed by a live version of Funtime with the producer on keyboards.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Horses

Patti Smith has some interesting friends. One of whom was the late Robert Mapplethorpe whose photograph adorns the cover of Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses.

A close-up from the same photo shoot was on the cover of the Gloria single:

I like the wear and tear of that cover. I’m a bit torn and frayed myself.

Finally, here’s the whole damn album:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bootzilla

I’m about to break a rule and perhaps even set a new precedent for this feature. Bootzilla was the first single from Bootsy Collins and the Rubber Band’s 1978 debut album  Bootsy? Player of the Year. The album cover is somewhat pedestrian but the single cover is Bootsylicious, which is why I’m featuring it.

The album cover is the featured image of the video below. Cool shades, meh album cover. Get ready for the tale of “the world’s only rhinestone rock star doll.”

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw

The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw is one of the best album titles ever. Pigboy Crabshaw was the nickname/alter ego of Elvin Bishop. Why anyone would want to be called Pigboy is beyond me, but I’m not from rural America like Elvin. I’m a confirmed city slicker.

In addition to the cool art design by William S Harvey, this is a helluva album musically. The Butterfield Blues Band moved from a guitar based blues ensemble to a horn heavy R&B combo after the departure of Michael Bloomfield to form Electric Flag. A very young David Sanborn plays alto sax on the album.

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube,

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Reach Out

I hadn’t planned to do three consecutive Motown album covers in this space but that’s how it worked out. The cover is by painter James Meese who is best known for his pulp fiction paperback covers.

As you can see, Tamla/Motown often used back covers as ads for their other releases:

Finally, here’s the title track from this 1967 album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Marvin Gaye Super Hits

This Marvin Gaye compilation was released in 1970 by a record company hungry for product. Marvin shrugged it off and went back to work on his greatest album What’s Going On.

I’m uncertain as to what Marvin thought of Carl Owens’ cover art but who wouldn’t want to be depicted as a super hero of soul?

I rarely post a YouTube playlist in this space BUT this one is so good that I’m breaking my own rule. Book me, Danno.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Let The Sunshine In

Are you ready for an art nouveau Motown cover? That’s the best description of this 1969 cover for the Supremes 16th studio album. I wasn’t able to learn who designed and executed it, which is a pity since it’s pretty darn swell.

Here’s the title track:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Food Glorious Food

These are dark days because of you know who doing you know what. It calls for comic relief that has bupkis to do with politics. I went in search of comic relief and found some goofy food oriented album covers at a “food culture” web site, Ateriet. That’s right, the food fight theme kinda sorta continues.

Initially, I thought the covers would feature yogurt or cheese since culture was involved. Instead they involve canned goods, Hawaiian food, and a space age weenie roast. Two of the covers are from obscure to me artists and the last one is one of the worst covers from a major band that I can think of. It flat-out sucks.

We begin with a soupy cover from the jazz pianist Roy Meriwether. I’m not sure why the table is set with a knife and fork. I don’t know about you, but I usually eat soup with a spoon. Perhaps jazz soup is different somehow.

The minute I saw the Gerhard Polt album, I nearly did a spit take. It turns out that Herr Polt is a well-known Bavarian satirist, which means that my reaction to the cover was appropriate. I almost made a joke about not knowing that there were German satirists but thought better  of it. What’s funnier than a head on a plate of food, after all?

Finally, Live It Up by CSN. What can I say about this cover? It looks like the Krewe of Spank’s dirty weiner drop game. I bet it was David Crosby’s idea: he’s full of them and it.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Still Of The Night

Contrasting Sounds by Wasilly Kandinsky.

It’s been an eventful week in New Orleans. The city celebrated its 300th anniversary and inaugurated our first woman mayor. I expressed my reservations about Mayor LaToya Cantrell on ye olde tweeter tube:

The slogans included “We are woke” and “We will be intentional.” I’m uncertain if that’s intentional grounding or an intentional walk. I dislike the latter baseball tactic as much as exclamation points. I still wish the new mayor well. Her propensity to mangle the language is good for the satire business, and there’s no business like giving a politician the business. I believe in taking care of business, every day, every way.

This week’s theme song, In The Still Of The Night, was written by Cole Porter in 1937 for the MGM movie musical, Rosalie. It was first sung by Nelson Eddy who was in a shit ton of hokey costume movie operettas with Jeanette MacDonald. I am not a fan of the duo but I am a die-hard Cole Porter fan as evinced by the frequent appearance of his work as Odds & Sods theme songs. I considered counting them but I’m feeling as lazy as the president* today. Where did all my executive time go?

We have two versions of the Porter classic for your entertainment. First, the elegant jazz-pop baritone Billy Eckstine aka the Voice of God.

Second, the Neville Brothers featuring some gorgeous sax playing by Charles Neville. He was an acquaintance of mine. Charles died recently at the age of 79. He was a lovely man with a kind word for everyone he met.

It’s time for a journey to Disambiguation City. Fred Parris wrote *his* In The Still Of The Night for his doo-wop group The Five Satins in 1956.

Yeah, I know, Boyz II Men also had a hit with the Parrisian song but I’m not going there. Instead, let’s jump to the break. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Victor Hot Jazz Series

The Victor Hot Jazz Series were essentially the original box sets. RCA Victor Records assembled 78s of various artists and released them in the 1940’s. I stumbled into three of the releases, two of which came from New Orleans artists, the other from the good vibes man, Lionel Hampton.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Gilded Palace Of Sin

Along with Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons invented country-rock. After Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Parsons and Hillman left the Byrds and formed the Flying Burrito Brothers. Their debut album The Gilded Palace Of Sin has a great title and a fine cover. The story behind the cover is just as good as the artwork itself:

The album cover features the band in Nudie suits. Parsons had taken the band to designer Nudie Cohn to have custom sequin suits made for all the band members especially for the photo shoot, but Parsons’ was most unusual, featuring a naked woman (rendered as an old-school sailor’s tattoo on each lapel), red poppies on the shoulders, deep-green marijuana leaves on the front, and embroidered Seconal and Tuinal pills scattered elsewhere. Paradoxically, Parsons asked that a flaming red cross surrounded by radiating shafts of blue and gold light cover the back of the jacket. The suit now hangs in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tom Wilkes, who was the head of the art department at A&M at the time, explained to director Gandulf Hennig in 2004, “We decided to take them out to the desert and do something kind of surreal with the Nudie suits. And they looked great anyway. They looked funky and kind of country western and kind of rock. I felt that look was great. They didn’t really need the Nudie suits.” The album cover was shot by Barry Feinstein.

After the build-up, here are the  front and back covers:

Finally,  here’s the whole damn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Scorching Beauty

Iron Butterfly had an odd career. They were sui generis: one-hit FM radio wonders. Their droning, very long song In-A-Gadda-Da Vida was an underground sensation. They broke up in 1971 and reformed to make Scorching Beauty with only one original member.

The 1975 Iron Butterfly reunion went nowhere but the cover by Drew Struzan is epic. The artist is much more interesting than Scorching Beauty. In addition to album cover artistry, he had a long career as a movie poster artist. It’s time to quote his Wikipedia entry:

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Struzan produced poster work for such films as Blade RunnerThe ThingThe Cannonball Run, the Police Academy series, Back to the FutureE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Muppet MovieComing to AmericaFirst BloodRisky BusinessD.C. CabStroker Ace*batteries not includedAn American Tail, and The Goonies.

This was an interesting rabbit hole to go down. At some point I’ll have to do a post dedicated to Struzan’s other album cover art but let’s start small with Scorching Beauty:

Note that the butterfly’s face is inspired by the robot in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Rough Mix

Rough Mix is a 1977 collaboration between Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane of the Faces. Pete was originally supposed to produce a solo Ronnie record but it ended being a joint project. There were guest stars aplenty including Eric Clapton and Charlie Watts.

The album cover was designed by Peter Joyce and features all sorts of British pop culture images from cricket to cars to show biz. It’s busy but still amazing.

It’s gatefold time.

The back cover is a trading card bonanza.

Finally, the album itself. The first track My Baby Gives It Away rocks to a Charlie Watts beat.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bee Gees’ 1st

It may come as a surprise to those who only know the Bee Gees from the disco era, but they began life as a Beatles influenced pop-rock group. The influence extended to the cover of Bee Gees’ 1st, which was designed by German artist Klaus Voorman who is best known for the cover of Revolver.

Bee Gees’ 1st was NOT the brothers Gibbs’ first album. It was, however, the first to be  released outside of Australia and New Zealand. It features their first American hit: To Love Somebody.

Here are two of the better known tunes from this non-debut 1st album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Underground

The avant-garde jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk was almost as eccentric as Sun Ra. That’s why Columbia Records art director John Berg came up with this oddball cover for Monk’s 1968 LP, Underground. Here’s how Berg described it:

 “On Thelonious Monk’s Underground, a project with photographers Steve Horn and Norman Griner, the title of the album came from a current jazz movement, which I twisted into a version of the French anti-Nazi underground of World War II. An entire set was built and the scene was full of costumed extras. There was no problem with budgets in those days. I won a Grammy for that cover, by the way.”

Monk was kinda, sorta a musical Maquisard so I guess it worked:

If you think you’re seeing double it’s because you are. Here’s the most recent CD re-release version of the album.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Leftoverture

Rumor has it that I’m a sucker for puns. It’s true, especially when they’re attached to some fine cover art. That’s the case with the 1976 Kansas album, Leftoverture. And, yes, it was inspired by the Carrey On Wayward Son post. Anyone surprised? I thought not.

Founding member and drummer Phil Ehart was in charge of selecting album art for the band. Here’s what he had to say about Leftoverture:

“Artists were starting to submit artwork to us by this time. We would look at different paintings and we thought that the old man was really cool. We had the name “Leftoverture” already. The song “Magnum Opus” was originally going to be called “Leftoverture” but it was such a great name we said, “Screw it, let’s call the album that.” It worked. “Magnum Opus” became the title of the song. Dave McMacken submitted that and we thought it was really cool. He invented the old man and the toilet paper — somebody actually said that it looked like toilet paper on the cover. First a crab and now toilet paper…

Make sure you read the entire Goldmine article. It’s very interesting indeed.

Without further adieu, here’s the album art via Discogs.com.

I wonder if the cosmic terlet paper inspired NOLA’s very own Krewe of Tucks? Beats the hell outta me.

Here’s the whole damn LP:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Seeds Of Love

This 1989 cover by David Scheinmann is a perfect distillation of Tears For Fears’ music: grandiose, overstuffed, and glorious.

The full album isn’t on YouTube so we have videos:


Album Cover Art Wednesday: She’s So Unusual

In the Trump era, we’re in desperate need of fun. What pop star has ever been more fun than Cyndi Lauper?

She’s So Unusual was Cyndi’s debut album. It was a monster hit because of the monster hits Time After Time and Girls Just Want To Have Fun. I told you she was fun.

The photography is by the great Annie Leibovitz:

I came upon this video of Cyndi describing how the cover photo was selected:

The entire She’s So Unusual album is not on YouTube so here are the aforementioned hits:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Lonesome Echo

The full title of this 1955 LP is Jackie Gleason Presents Lonesome Echo. In addition to his considerable talents as a comic actor, Gleason fancied himself a conductor but not of snooty long hair music. Lonesome Echo is what the Great One called mood music, I’d call it elevator music but it sold well.

The most interesting thing about Lonesome Echo is that the cover art is by Salvador Dali who was a friend of Gleason’s. Here’s how the Catalonian surrealist described the cover in the liner notes:

“The first effect is that of anguish, of space, and of solitude. Secondly, the fragility of the wings of a butterfly, projecting long shadows of late afternoon, reverberates in the landscape like an echo. The feminine element, distant and isolated, forms a perfect triangle with the musical instrument and its other echo, the shell.”

How sweet it is.

Not only did Dali do the cover, he’s on the back cover shaking Jackie’s hand.

And away we go:

The album itself could be prescribed as cure for insomnia. It’s a real snoozer:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Sun Ra

In addition to being a world-class jazz musician, Sun Ra was a world-class eccentric. He claimed to be an alien from Saturn, his album covers reflected that as well as his fascination with ancient Egypt.

Are you ready to space out Arkestra style? Here’s The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra for your space age entertainment: