Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Happy Trails

Gary Duncan, a founding member of Quicksilver Messenger Service, died at the age of 72 a few weeks ago. The San Francisco based Quicksilver were one of the original jam bands. Their  influence has grown in the last twenty years. Quicksilver’s 1969 live album Happy Trails was one of the jammiest jam band albums of all.

The cover was something of an oddity at the time. It looks more like the cover of a book by Zane Grey or Holly Martins instead of an album by a psychedelic rock band. That’s why it’s so cool. The back cover is swell as well.

Here’s the whole damn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: If You Can’t Stand The Heat

I whinged about the heatwave on Monday. I use the Britism whinged (whined to us Yanks) because that post led to this search: “album covers heat.” It turned up a 1978 album by the English rock band, Status Quo. I had no idea that they’d stuck around into the 21st Century, but they were always more popular in the UK than stateside.

The cover photo for If You Can’t Stand The Heat was taken by John Shaw whose work adorns 49 album covers including records by Adrastos favorites Wings and Jethro Tull:

I wonder if they thought about Harry Truman when they shot this cover. I did when I found it.

Here are the two singles from the album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Stars and Stripes Forever

One thing our readers don’t know about me is that I love military bands. They’re a standard feature of Carnival parades and I get a thrill every time I see one. In addition to having the best uniforms, the Navy and Marines have the best  bands. It’s the legacy of Lt. Commander John Philip Sousa, the March King.

Most Sousa album covers feature the man himself looking stern and imposing. I’ve opted for a less conventional cover by Jim Flora that does not feature the man and his mustache:

Are you ready to march?

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Best Of Brahms

I have no idea why this 1972 compilation album has bacon and eggs in a skillet on the cover. Did they think it resembles Johannes Brahms or conductor William Steinberg? Beats the hell outta me.

All I know is that grim times call for comic relief as well as a good breakfast.

Best of Brahms does not eggist on the YouTube. One of the compositions excerpted was Brahms’ 4th Symphony so here’s the whole damn thing:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bayou Cadillac

This 1989 album by Cajun music gods Beausoleil features some swell pictures by New Orleans based photographer Rick Olivier. He specializes in photographing artists from the Gret Stet of Louisiana and has done many album covers. This is one of the coolest.

Here’s the Bayou Cadillac Medley:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Tumbleweed Connection

Tumbleweed Connection was Elton John’s third studio album. It was released in 1970 in the UK and 1971 in the US.  Concept albums were big at the time and this record is infused with country and western/Americana themes. It remains one of my favorite Elton John albums.

The cover evokes rural America BUT a closer look at the signs indicates that it was taken at a railway station in Sussex. It’s an indelible image from photographer David Markham.

The YouTube playlists are a mess so here are my two favorite tunes from the album instead:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Leon Redbone

Leon Redbone was a world class character. He burst on the music scene with his retro stylings in the late 1970’s and kept at it until his death last week at the age of 69.

Redbone was as mysterious and enigmatic as a Le Carre character. His web site even claimed that he was 126 when he passed. They could not let down the side.

The best thing I’ve ever read about the man and his music was published in the Oxford American last March. Meghan Pugh’s piece was titled Vesel Of Antiquity. She nailed Leon Redbone’s style and mystique.

Redbone’s album covers were always interesting. Below are two of them side-by-side:

In lieu of the albums, here’s a poorly lit 1981 live performance by the man, the myth:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest

The Fugs were an underground band formed in 1964 by poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg. This is the first time I’ve selected an album in this space because of its title: It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest. It makes me laugh every time I think of it. There are worse reasons than that, y’all.

Here’s the album in the YouTube playlist format:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bob Kames

Bob Kames nee Kujawa was a polka musician operating out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was, apparently, a local legend. I’d never heard of him until my friend Marko Romano suggested one of the Bobster’s campier album covers. I went in another direction but I’d like to thank him for putting some polka into my life.

Here are two album covers:

What’s not to love about a happy organ, beer, and the chicken dance?

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Love Me Or Leave Me

I did a search for Doris Day album covers. They were all flattering head shots and not terribly interesting. The cover of the soundtrack album of Love Me Or Leave Me was as atypical as her performance as torch singer and tough broad Ruth Etting. Does this look like a “professional virgin” to you?

Here’s a glamorous lobby card as lagniappe:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

A friend of mine recently criticized me for rarely posting heavy metal covers in this feature. It’s true: I’m not a fan of the music BUT the genre does have its share of cool covers. This week’s entry is one of them.

1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was Black Sabbath’s fifth studio album. Here’s how the cover was, uh, covered in the album’s Wikipedia entry:

Drew Struzan (who would later create the iconic cover to Alice Cooper‘s Welcome to My Nightmare LP) was the artist requested to do the cover painting, under the direction of Pacific Eye & Ear’s Ernie Cefalu. The idea behind the artwork was to depict a man dying a horrible death on the front cover, and on the back cover the same man dying a “good” death. It depicts a man on a bed, seemingly having a nightmare or a vision of being attacked by demons in human form. At the top of the bed is a large skull with long, outstretched arms and 666 (the Number of the Beast) written below it. The other side of the album features the opposite of the front cover, as shown here. Inside the gatefold sleeve there is a photo of the band members shown over a photo of a bedroom. In his autobiography Osbourne enthuses, “I fucking loved that cover.”

I fucking like the cover. I’m not wild about the gatefold so I skipped it. Sorry, Ozzy.

Here’s the title track:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blues After Sunset

Since it’s the second week of Jazz Fest, it’s time to feature a New Orleans artist. Henry Butler was a much-loved pianist and all around nice guy who died last year at the age of 69.

The cover design of 1998’s Blues After Sunset was a throwback to the jazz album cover art of the 1950’s. Fittingly, the great Herman Leonard, who did the photography on many such albums, took the cover photo of the man and his piano.

Here’s a somewhat bedraggled scan of the back cover:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album via YouTube:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: One Size Fits All

I spend a lot of time in my formative years listening to Frank Zappa. I was attracted to his oddball sense of humor and his wry and sardonic stage patter. Wry and sardonic sums me up quite well. Above all else, I loved his tricky music and the virtuosity of the musicians who worked with FZ.

One Size Fits All is my favorite Zappa album. The songs are tight, well-constructed, and perfectly arranged. It’s one of the last albums released using the Mothers name. It’s also one of the best bands Zappa ever assembled: the vocals by George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock are to die for. One Size Fits All flat-out rocks.

The cover art is by Cal Schenkel who designed 16+ Zappa covers. He was FZ’s artistic alter ego and described his style as “ragged surrealism.”

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Waiting For Columbus

Little Feat’s 1978 double LP Waiting For Columbus is one of the greatest live albums of all-time. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who has seen any of the band’s iterations over the years. Little Feat flat-out rocks, especially when the Tower of Power horns join in on the fun as they do on this album.

The cover art is by Neon Park who began life as Martin Muller and did all but one of Little Feat’s covers until his death in 1993. Cheerful tomatoes became a recurring motif on Little Feat album covers and the band even named their record label Hot Tomato Records.

If you’re ready to rock, here’s the 2002 CD re-release complete with 10 extra tracks.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: High On The Hog

Grim times call for comic relief hence this week’s selection. What’s funnier than a bunch of Southern hippies astride a hog nursing her piglets?

After the success of the Allman Brothers Band, the record labels beat the bushes for Southern rock bands. One of the groups that fell out of the tree was Black Oak Arkansas. They were self-described rednecks who were popular for a few years with their Southern-fried boogie sound.

1973’s High On The Hog was their biggest hit. It features the song Jim Dandy, which became the theme song for their grottily charismatic front man Jim Dandy Mangrum. It’s unclear who or what he was rescuing.

Here are the front and back covers of this gatefolded LP featuring the memorable porcine illustration by Joe Petango.

The quality of the interior gatefold picture isn’t great but you get to see BOA in the backwoods. Boy howdy.

I won’t subject you to the album itself but here’s BOA to the rescue live:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Gimme Some Neck

Ron Wood has not only been a rock star for longer than many of you have been alive, he’s also an accomplished artist as you can see from the artwork on his 1979 solo album, Gimme Some Neck. What’s not to love about an album with a punny title?

The music is pretty darn good as well. Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube playlist thingamabob:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Letter/Neon Rainbow

I’ve had letters on my mind this week hence this selection. The Letter was a surprise #1 hit for the Box Tops in 1967, which led the record company to rush The Letter/Neon Rainbow into release. For the Alex Chilton fans out there (myself included) a major bummer: none of his songs appear on this album. But the boxy-n-toppy cover is pretty darn swell:

Here’s the whole damn LP:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Red Sails In The Sunset

Red Sails In The Sunset was Midnight Oil’s commercial breakthrough in Australia. It was also the first time they charted in the US. The Oils got their foot in the door with this 1984 release but they kicked it in with their next album, Diesel and Dust, which is when they set proverbial beds afire.

Red Sails In The Sunset was recorded in Tokyo and features a cover by noted Japanese  artist Tsunehisa Kimura. Later releases of the album included the title and band name at the top of the cover.

Here are the original Australian LP cover and back cover:

Are you ready to rock? Here’s the CD re-release of this fine album:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Naturally

Naturally was J.J. Cale’s first album. It was recorded in the wake of Eric Clapton’s hit version of Cale’s After Midnight. Here’s Cale’s description of how the record came about:

Cale, who was languishing in obscurity at the time, had no knowledge of Clapton’s recording of “After Midnight” until it became a radio hit in 1970. Cale recalled to Mojo magazine that when he heard Clapton’s version playing on his radio, “I was dirt poor, not making enough to eat and I wasn’t a young man. I was in my thirties, so I was very happy. It was nice to make some money.” Cale’s friend and producer, Audie Ashworth, encouraged Cale to record a full album in order to capitalize on the success of his song.

The quirky cover art featuring a gentleman raccoon is by Tulsa painter Bill Rabon.

Here’s the whole damn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Strange Affair

It’s Ash Wednesday, the day after Carnival’s finale. One is supposed to repent and my legs, in particular, are penitent. Penitent and sore, which is why it’s time to repeat a musical pun I made three years ago and declare this Wishbone Ash Wednesday.

1991’s Strange Affair was the veteran prog rockers 16th album. I’m particularly fond of Ian Harris’ cover as it’s so pulpy that it looks like a refugee from Noir Alley:

Here’s the title track with a modified cover from a 2003 re-release.