Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Screaming For Vengeance

I’m on record as not being a heavy metal fan. BUT I’m a sucker for “longtime band member quits and writes a book” stories. A Guardian article about former Judas Priest co-lead guitarist KK Downing’s memoirs led me to select 1982’s Screaming For Vengeance as this week’s album cover. I guess that makes me a headbanger for a day. Ouch.

The cover is by the noted Canadian graphic artist Doug Johnson. It certainly makes me want to scream and perhaps even don some leather if it ever cools down:

Here’s a live version of the title track from the World Vengeance tour:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blue Train

John Coltrane was already a budding jazz legend when he recorded Blue Train in 1957. It was the album that sealed the deal. I think the brooding cover photo by Francis Wolff had a lot to do with clinching Trane’s status as one of the coolest musicians on the planet.

This alternate cover is something of a mystery to me.

I’ve seen this cover attributed to both Jim Flora  and Burt Goldblatt but I’m uncertain as to who the artist was or when it was used. It’s a swell image BUT the better known cover fits the image John Coltrane was trying to project. I couldn’t find any explanation on the internet but I enjoyed learning about Burt Goldblatt who was one of the most prolific album cover artists and designers ever.  Does anyone know anything about the alternate cover?

Here’s the whole damn album in the original mono:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Era Vulgaris

I’m not a Queens of the Stone Age fan but I love the cover of 2007’s Era Vulgaris, which was inspired by product ads aimed at kids. These products are really, really bad for you.

Here’s the cover from the German release of the album:

Here’s the whole damn album with a different color backdrop:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico was born in controversy. There have been lawsuits up the wazoo over the years as well as Andy Warhol’s laughable claim to have produced the record. He knew nothing about the recording process so the engineers and John Cale did the heavy lifting. The album’s Wikipedia entry does an excellent job of explaining the gory details.

The cover is legendary but has always left me cold and I like Warhol. This was not one of his better efforts. I happen to prefer green bananas.

The album was a commercial failure but an artistic triumph. I’m not sure what I think of Warhol’s album related documentary, A Symphony of Sound, but here it is anyway:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Honkey Blues

Doug Sahm was a musical force of nature. He was one of the creators of the Austin music scene and one of the most respected musicians to emerge from the 1960’s. His eclecticism prevented him from being a big star.

The Sir Douglas Quintet were originally a faux English Invasion band conceived by a shady Cajun producer by the name of Huey P. Meaux. They pulled off the sound for several years, then Doug Sahm wanted to do something bluesier and rootsier. The result was 1968’s Honkey Blues, which was recorded in California, not Texas. Holy eclecticism, Batman.

The front cover features the band and their chirren:

The back cover was all psychedelic and shit:

Here’s the inner gatefold:

Here’s the album in the YouTube playlist format:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

The Dramatics are an anomalous soul group for their time and place. They came out of Detroit but had to go to Memphis based Volt records to hit it big. The title track of this 1971 album put them over the top. It was written for the Dramatics by Tony Hester and, yeah, they do sound quite a bit like the Temptations; one reason they didn’t stick at Motown.

I don’t know about you but I’ve got my eye on this cover:

Here’s the gatefold. I skipped the back cover because it’s pedestrian as well as eyeless.

We have two versions of the smash hit title song for your enjoyment. The extended album version followed by the guys lip syncing to the single on Soul Train:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha

I used to have vivid, deeply weird dreams. I rarely have them any more but I had one the other night. It was neither a sweet dream nor a nightmare. All I can recall is a voice saying the name Xavier Cugat over and over again. Hence this week’s post.

Xavier Cugat was a Cuban bandleader and exponent of the rhumba and the cha cha cha. Apparently, he was also a bread hugger.

Below is a CD reissue cover without Cugat hugging a loaf of bread. They seem to have misplaced a cha as well.

Here’s the whole damn album. It makes me wanna hug a baguette with a beret:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Led Zeppelin

I’ve never been much of a Led Zeppelin fan. Their music is pretty good but I’ve never cared for the vibe surrounding them. It’s rooted in my memories of their infamous 1973 gig at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. In a sign of bad taste, their fans booed the Tubes off the stage, and their crew and manager assaulted some of Bill Graham’s staff backstage; one of whom was the older brother of a friend of mine. Ugh.

I’ve had them on my mind because of the skillful use of their music in the HBO mini-series Sharp Objects. Besides, what’s not to love about the cover of their debut album?

Another reason I don’t care for Led Zeppelin was the heavy-handed way they dealt with this brilliant parody by the San Francisco band, Little Roger and the Goosebumps:

Here’s the album via the YouTube playlist format. It’s probably my favorite of their records for its lack of pretension and mystical mumbo jumbo.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Shel Silverstein

The late Shel Silverstein was best known as an author/illustrator of children’s books. He also had a lively side hustle as a singer-songwriter. He was one talented dude.

Here’s a selection of album covers, presented in chronological order. Oddly enough, only one features an illustration by Silverstein:

Here’s Freakin’ At The Freakers Ball in the YouTube playlist format:

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: