Category Archives: Album Cover Art

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 Runner, The Thing, The Cannonball Run, the Police Academy series, Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Muppet Movie, Coming to America, First Blood, Risky Business, D.C. Cab, Stroker Ace, *batteries not included, An 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:

 

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: A Witch Is Born

I checked Pulp Librarian’s twitter feed in search of material for tomorrow. Little did I know that I’d find a deeply weird album cover from 1970. This is an ad for the album, the cover is on the left.

Here’s the album. It’s spoken word with Wagner’s Die WalkĂĽre: WalkĂĽrenritt in the background. The 5 minutes I listened to were unintentionally hilarious.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Old & In The Way

Old & In The Way was an early side project of Jerry Garcia’s. It was something of a bluegrass super band with Jerry, Vassar Clements, David Grisman, John Kahn, and Peter Rowan.

I’ve always been fond of this 1973 album art by Greg Irons.

Here’s the whole album via the YouTube:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Wild Magnolias

The Wild Magnolias are first and foremost a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. They’re also active when it’s not Carnival with live performances and the odd recording. This week I’m featuring the covers of their first two albums, which were released in 1974 and 1975.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: In Between Tears

1973’s In Between Tears was something of a comeback album for Irma Thomas. She had not recorded a new album in seven years; then she met Jerry Swamp Dogg Williams. The result was one of her best records.

The album art is stunning. It was designed and executed by George Reeder Jr. It was his only album cover, which is a pity. In fact, I could find nothing else about him on the internets.

The cover is worthy of the Soul Queen of New Orleans.

The back cover is just as striking.

The full album is not available on the YouTube, here are some selected tracks.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Lenny Bruce

I’ve had the legendary “sick” comedian Lenny Bruce on my mind because he shows up in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as a character. The fictionalized Lenny bails fellow potty-mouthed comic Midge Maisel out of jail. I’m sure the real Lenny would have done so too. Trivia time: In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Lenny is played by Luke Kirby who played Daniel Holden’s do-gooder lawyer in Rectify. He knows from bailing out people.

Lenny Bruce was the bad boy of comedy in his day. His frequent obscenity arrests led to his being less funny over time. Who could blame him for obsessing over his legal situation?

These albums date from 1958 and 1959 respectively. They capture Lenny as his glorious politically incorrect peak. I use that term in its pre-Trumper sense. They’ve spoiled a perfectly good phrase just like they’ve spoiled everything else. Thanks, Donald.

Who among us doesn’t want to picnic in a graveyard?

If Lenny were alive today, there would be tiki torches on this cover.

It’s lagniappe time. Frank Zappa and the Mothers were Lenny Bruce’s opening act at the Fillmore West in 1966. Here’s the poster:

Finally, here’s The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce in its entirety:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Spirit Of The Boogie

It’s time to get funky at First Draft. This 1975 album from Kool & The Gang really brings the funk. Here’s what James Brown had to say about the band:

“They’re the second-baddest out there…They make such bad records that you got to be careful when you play a new tape on the way home from the record store. Their groove is so strong you could wreck.”

Good gawd, y’all.

I couldn’t find out who the album artist was but it’s a terrific package of African and/or African influenced artwork. We begin with the cover. Where else?

The back cover is nearly as good:

Not only was the LP originally released on Dee-Lite records, it’s a delight to listen to. I’d never heard it before and was pleasantly surprised by the musical range shown by Kool & The Gang. There’s traditional soul as well as hardcore funk. Good gawd, y’all.