Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Big Bopper

JP Richardson aka the Big Bopper was the epitome of a one-hit wonder artist. It was, however, a huge hit: Chantilly Lace. We’ll never know if he had more pop greatness in him because he was on that plane with Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and Eddie Cochran.

Richardson’s catalog is confusing because there are so many re-releases of so little material. The covers below are of the original LP and a later release with a cover with what appears to be the same model. The story is so convoluted that I opted not to wade into the thicket. I guess that means I’m not as thicket as a bricket…

A brief story before we play the Big Bopper’s boffo big hit. Longer ago than I care to admit, some friends of mine and I discussed doing a mashup of Chantilly Lace and the Elvis hit, In The Ghetto. We never got beyond the concept and two lines but I’d like to share with my readers:

Chantilly lace and a pretty face: IN THE GHETTO.

And his mama cried: OH BABY THAT’S WHAT I LIKE.

Let’s move on to the song itself. Here’s JP Richardson on American Bandstand:

It’s lagniappe time: Elvis performing In The Ghetto. Oh, baby that’s what I like:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Satan Is Real

The first time I saw the cover of Satan Is Real, I was convinced it was a parody cover. It is not. It’s the real thing. For good or ill, the cover was actually the idea of the Louvin Brothers:

The fiery setting pictured on the cover of this album was conceived and built by the Louvin Brothers themselves, using chiefly rocks, scrap rubber, and lots of imagination. The scene became a little too realistic, though, when Ira and Charlie were very nearly burned while actually directing the photography for this dramatic cover photo.

That gives a whole new meaning to the old song, There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.

I mentioned parody covers, here are a couple of pretty good ones:

Despite the corny/creepy cover Satan Is Real is widely regarded as one of the Louvin Brothers best records. The whole album itself is not on YouTube, but here are two tracks:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Rocket Cottage

I’m not sure if I love or hate the cover of Steeleye Span’s 1976 album Rocket Cottage. The folk rock veterans were aiming at mainstream commercial success with this record but it didn’t happen. The cover qualifies as either geek chic or ridiculous, my opinion changes with each viewing. It’s certainly memorable.

The back cover is more cottagey and less rockety:

Musically, Rocket Cottage is a mixed bag but it’s quite listenable:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Message From The Country

The Move is best remembered for the hit song Do Ya and for morphing into the Electric Light Orchestra who morphed into ELO. They had several hit songs…

The Move was a two-headed monster in 1971 when Message From The Country was released. I guess I should replace the word monster with leader: Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne. ELO was the former’s idea but his head was chopped off and ELO became Lynne’s livin’ thing as the song title goes.

Message From The Country was The Move’s fourth and final album. It had different covers in the UK and US. The UK cover art was by co-leader Roy Wood and is the cover that has appeared on subsequent reissues so let’s begin there.

The US cover makes it look as if the band is lost in a suburban corporate wasteland. I couldn’t find any reason as to why it was changed from the Roy Wood original. Perhaps it was a pro-Lynne plot. So it goes.

Let’s stop talking about the damn record and play it. This is the 2005 CD re-release with 8 additional tracks. It’s a terrific record with a couple of songs that sound like a proto-Traveling Wilburys, not a bad thing at all.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Gumbo

I love Carnival but I’m always glad when it’s over. This year, I still cannot quite let go given the shit storm the country is facing right now. That’s why I’m giving Dr. John a second bite at the ACAW apple with his 1972 album Gumbo. It remains one of Mac’s best records. The packaging is one reason why.

We begin with the front cover. It was actually taken in the other LA, which is something of an oddity given that the album is all New Orleans covers. So it goes.

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The back cover is swell as well:

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Finally, here’s the whole darn album. It starts off with a bang with the Mardi Gras Indian anthem Iko Iko:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Time Peace

I usually don’t use greatest hits/best of covers for this feature. Why? They’re rarely very distinctive. Time Peace is an exception to that rule. This 1968 album from the Rascals has nifty pop art packaging and I love pop art. It pops and it’s art. Pop art.

Let’s start with the front cover:

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The gatefold continues the toon ambience of the piece or is that peace?

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With the exception of their radio hits, the Rascals are largely forgotten today. It’s a pity: they were a terrific Italo-American soul-rock band whose Hammond B3 dominated sound has always floated my boat. Time Peace is only available on YouTube in the playlist format. It’s well worth the hassle:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Woke Up With A Monster

Scary clowns were in vogue last year. I haven’t heard much about them thus far in 2017. Perhaps it’s because the scariest clown of all is in the White House.

Woke Up With A Monster came out in 1994 but the title track described how the country felt on November 9, 2016. We’re still trying to recover from the hangover. It’s an ugly album cover for ugly times.

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Looks like just another day on the parade route to me.

The back cover features a shot of the band being Cheap and Tricky:

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The full album isn’t YouTubular so here are some selected tracks. The video for the title track is pretty darn trippy, man:

The band also cut a version of John Lennon’s Cold Turkey during the Monster sessions:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Three By Asia

It’s time for a final tribute to the late John Wetton. His band, Asia, is famous for its cover art and swell logos. All but one of the covers I’m posting today were by Roger Dean who is also known for his work with Yes.

Let’s begin at the beginning with the band’s 1982 smash hit eponymous debut album:

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Next up is Asia’s second LP, Alpha. It was the debut of the eyes logo, which has been a constant motif for the band over the years:

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Here’s a cover from a 2004 album without John Wetton in the band or artwork by Roger Dean. It’s a goddamn photograph, y’all:

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Here’s an appropriate hit song from Alpha:

Finally, a live duet on the same song with John and Geoff Downes:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn was one of the most interesting American artists of the 20th Century. He was a true Renaissance man: painter, photographer, muralist, printmaker, educator, writer, and lefty political activist. He also had a lively sideline as an album cover artist, mostly in the 1950’s.

Here’s a sampler of Shahn’s album cover art:

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blizzard Of Ozz/Diary Of A Madman

I am not a heavy metal fan: headbanging gives me a headache. That’s why I haven’t done any metal covers in this space before. I am about to rectify that omission but for an odd reason. Oddity is my forte as a blogger, after all. I’ve had Ozzy Osbourne’s tune Crazy Train on my mind of late. I cannot imagine why. #sarcasm

Since we’re about to ride the Crazy Train as a nation with Trump as the engineer and Steve Bannon as conductor, I give you Blizzard Of Ozz when it was reissued in 2011 along with Diary Of A Madman. Both titles really fit the moment; not that Trump as diarist is remotely imaginable. Sad.

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All aboard the Crazy Train:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Residents

The Residents are a defiantly obscure band that are impossible to pigeonhole. The best I can come up with is Dada performance art electronica. I’ve never particularly liked their music BUT their art design is a different matter altogether. As the Citizen Kane posters proclaim: It’s terrific.

Below is a representative sample of their album covers. We begin with the Eskimo album. Note that neither the band’s name nor the album title appears. It features their signature eyeball head pieces.

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Speaking of freakish:

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This looks like a cover for the incoming B3 administration. I bet Bannon has one of these hanging on his wall at Breitbart:

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Finally, a residential video featuring their trademark weirdness for weirdness sake:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir are scheduled to perform at the Trumpnaguration. The choir, however, is riven with dissent and singers who refuse to perform for the Insult Comedian and the nutria pelt on his head.

In “honor” of their January 20th gig I did a search for album covers. They’re on the boring side; either featuring the artists they’re working with or Christmas themes. The main image on the Choir’s covers is the temple’s mighty organ. Pipe organ. Below are two representative covers.

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It’s lagniappe time. I stumbled into the LDS version of the Onion: the Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer. That’s where I found the parody image below.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Make It Big

Eighties pop icon George Michael died on Christmas Day at the age of 53. I’ve always had a soft spot for George: partially because he’s Anglo-Greek but mostly because of that big voice. He was one of the best of the “blue-eyed” soul singers.

Michael was not known for his album cover art but I found this little gem whilst running a search. It’s a superhero take by Steve Howard on Wham’s Make It Big album side-by-side with the original:

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Superhero Cover by Steve Howard.

I’m not much of a Wham fan so I’ll post two of Michael’s best known collaborations instead:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Merry Stoogemas

I’m not exactly a chirpy holiday chap to begin with but this year I’m so not into it. I had a choice between going Scrooge or Stooge with this feature today. I chose the latter: the Insult Comedian’s electoral college win is a poke in the eye, after all.

The Stooges released their share of of slapsticky holiday albums and 78s over the years. I wonder if Moe ever twisted Santa’s beard? Ah, sweet mysteries of stoogey life.

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Here are some stills of the boys as the original Bad Santas. The first one includes my favorite Stooge: Shemp. Any other Shempers out there? Or is that Shempites?

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Let’s conclude this Stoogemas post with some “musical” selections. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: East Bay Grease

I’ve long thought that East Bay Grease is one of the best album titles ever. It’s how Tower of Power described their music in the early days: funky, oily, and greasy.

East Bay Grease was released in 1970 and the album art was designed by Bruce Steinberg.

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It’s back cover time:

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Here’s the whole doggone album. It’s a helluva record:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Pearl Harbor and the Explosions

I don’t recall if Pearl Harbor Day and ACAW have ever coincided before. If they have, my taste level used to be higher. Hey, who’s laughing? Everyone? Oh well, what the hell. Hopefully, this will not be a day that lives in blogger infamy or is that blogfamy?

Pearl Harbor and the Explosions were a short-lived San Francisco new wave band. I had a passing acquaintance with several members. Their lead singer went by Pearl E. Gates *and* Pearl Harbor. She’s best known for adding a u to the Harbour and marrying Clash bassist Paul Simonson before embarking on a solo career.

Pearl Harbor and the Explosions only released one album. The cover art is no big whoop but posting it beats the hell out of watching Ben Affleck bomb in Pearl Harbor.

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Time to be a back cover man:

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Also of interest is this poster from a Halloween gig at the Mabuhay Gardens aka the Fab Mab:

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I found the eponymous album on the YouTube. There’s the E word again. The record is not a bomb, it’s pretty darn good, especially Shut Up and Dance.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Liar

The Jesus Lizard’s kind of noise rock is not my cup of tea. I do, however, dig this cover by painter Malcolm Bucknall. The painting is called Allegory of Death and the album is Liar.

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All I have to say about the music is leapin’ Jesus Lizards. I’m not sure what that means but it has a nice Little Orphan Annie feel to it. It beats the hell out of listening to Jesus Jones.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Spotnicks

The Spotnicks are a Swedish rock band that I’d never heard of until yesterday.  They’ve been around since the early Sixties, which was when they first donned cheesy space suits. What’s not to love about a band whose name is a pun on the Sputnik? And they say Swedes have no sense of humor.

I thought we all needed some comic relief the day before many of you dine with your right wing relatives. Let’s circle the globe with the Spotnicks who are out-a-sight as well as:

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Just to prove I am not hoaxing you, here are a few Spotnicky tunes. They’re sort of a poor man’s Ventures:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Food Glorious Food

In addition to plugging our Food Pantry Fund, I wanted to lighten things up. What better way than presenting some foodcentric album covers? They’re largely from lesser known artists so if you want some spaghetti axe Axl or Slash.

Soup’s on.

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It’s time for the full-English Brahms Breakfast:

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Are you ready for a Manny Albam album?

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It’s time to move from the savory to the sweet: Sickeningly sweet.

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What dessert doesn’t taste better with Whipped Cream?

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For those of you who don’t believe that’s a real song, here it is:

Now that we’ve gorged ourselves on Dancing Little Tramps, it’s time to give back. Please consider donating to our Food Pantry Fund. It’s what Oliver Twist would want:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Scheherazade

All the talk about Donald Trump and the Russians led me to play Google bingo this week. The Russians are known for their classical composers so I searched for those covers. This Rimsky-Korsakoff cover from 1952 was the coolest image that popped up.

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