This week, the cover of a 2005 benefit album that I’d never heard of until recently. I was living it back then. A bunch of prog rockers put together this album: After The Storm: A Benefit Album For The Survivors Of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks, y’all.
The cover is by Michael Bennett:
I couldn’t find the whole album online so here’s a cut from Camel:
Artist/Graphic Designer Saul Bass was best known for his film work with such luminaries as Otto Preminger and Alfred Hitchcok to name a few. I featured his album cover for Anatomy of a Murder in this space 4 years ago.
Here are some more examples of Saul Bass’ album cover work:
Since The Smithereens are one of my favorite bands, I give you Blow Up via Spotify:
Nils Lofgren is best known as a sideman to Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. But he’s had a lively career as a solo artist. What’s not to love about a cover inspired by sideshow banners? Not a damn thing.
Lofgren fans call this eponymous 1975 record The Fat Man Album. He looks nothing like Jackie Gleason, William Conrad or Sydney Greenstreet. Neither does Nils.
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly regularly funk it up at New Orleans’ top two music festivals: Jazz Fest and Essence. It’s high time that I featured one of their album covers. I really dig this one by Spanish artist Montxo Algora.
Bernard Herrmann was one of the greatest film composers of all-time. He’s best known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock, but he composed many classic scores. His career ran the gamut from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
The classical music world eventually took Herrmann seriously as a composer and he conducted many of his works with major symphony orchestras around the world.
There are a gazillion Herrmann albums out there, here are two compilations with striking covers:
You learn something new every day. I had no idea that Tommy James and the Shondells recorded an experimental album in 1969. They were better known for their bubble gum hits such as Mony Mony and Hanky Panky but they were also among the first rockers to use the Moog synthesizer.
The experimental phase lasted for one album, Cellophane Symphony. I wish I could say there was a colorful back story involving label honcho Morris Levy threatening Tommy James over the album’s flop but there is not.. FYI, Levy is the guy upon whom Heshie in The Sopranos was based.
I listened to the bits and pieces of Cellophane Symphony available online. It flopped for a simple reason: it isn’t very good. The title/opening track sounds like Pink Floyd on a bad day. Low sales and mediocre music are the reason Tommy James was back Draggin’ The Line by 1971.
An alternate title for the album could have been Surrealistic Bandstand.
The Blasters are one of the greatest roots rock bands ever. The original band were led by lead singer Phil Alvin and his younger brother, the super talented songwriter and guitarist, Dave.
Gustav Alsina is better known as a movie set designer, and he brings the drama to this 1981 cover. It’s a close up of Phil Alvin’s face that’s reminiscent of In The Court Of The Crimson King. I’ve seen The Blasters live and Phil really does sweat that much.
Here’s the back cover.
The Blasters album is unavailable online. Here’s a 1991 compilation via Spotify:
I still have Curtis Mayfield on my mind after yesterday’s post. I’ve always had a special passion for Curtis’ music. Great singer, great songwriter. The Super Fly soundtrack remains my favorite Mayfield/Impressions album. Just ask Freddie; never mind, Freddie’s Dead.
I was also a white boy who loved Blaxploitation movies. I spent many happy hours at a second run theatre: the Fox In Redwood City. That’s where I saw Super Fly, Shaft, and Blacula to name but a few. We called the theatre ‘The Bone” because admission was a dollar and my circle of friends called bucks, bones. I guess you had to be there.