Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Walt Disney’s Musical Monkeyshines Meets Trumpcare Instant Analysis

I’ve done more than my share of strange posts over the twelve years I’ve been blogging. This mashup may well take the cake but somehow it works. The title may be awkward but these are awkward times.

There were plenty of monkeyshines on Capitol Hill yesterday. The motion to proceed to debate the mystery Trumpcare bill passed in the Senate. That’s not the whole ballgame but the bad guys have the momentum right now. If anyone from Nevada is reading this post, it’s time to go off on Senator Dean Heller who tops the list of most endangered GOPers in 2018. I’ll be calling Double Bill Cassidy’s office again but he’ll do what he’s told by the leadership.

This is not the time to give up. Keep calling your Senators. They need to understand that they will pay a price for this vote. Senators *still* do not know what they’re actually voting for. If this weren’t so deadly serious, it would be funnier than a barrel of monkeys or the Marx Brothers’ flick Monkey Business. It’s time to send a big FUCK YOU to congressional Republicans for their health care votes. And what the hell is skinny repeal? It’s got nothing to do with Blake Farenholdt, that’s for sure. If he fought a duel with Collins or Murkowski I have no doubt who would prevail. It wouldn’t be the congresscritter who was once malaka of the week.

A word about John McCain. Every time I go soft on him, he does something terrible. I felt tremendous compassion for him over the de facto death sentence that was his diagnosis. I had planned to make his 2016 primary opponent Kelli Ward malaka of the week for crudely urging McCain to step aside. I deleted that post during McCain’s ludicrous speech after he voted AYE on the motion. If he was really concerned about the institution and “proper order” he would have given that speech *before* the vote and then voted NAY. I rarely yell at the teevee but I did Tuesday afternoon.

Shorter Adrastos:

This is the first time I’ve morphed an Album Cover Art entry into an instant analysis post and it will probably be the last. Lots of things are unprecedented in 2016.

Here’s the cover art. That’s all I got for you.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The King Tito Puente

In 1968, everyone had psychedelic album covers even the King of Salsa, Tito Puente. In Spanish-speaking countries, of course, the tile was El Rey. Whatever you call it, it’s a swell record with a groovy cover, baby or is that  bebé ?

The good news is that the music isn’t a psychedelic knock-off but Tito’s classic mix of Cuban-Jazz and Salsa. It will make you wiggle in your chair. The entire album is not online but here are a few choice selections.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Romeo’s Escape

Romeo’s Escape was Dave Alvin’s attempt to make a hit album. Things didn’t go as planned but it’s a helluva record with a swell collagey cover.

The album is only available on YouTube in the playlist format. It’s worth dealing with:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Crazy Horses

The Osmonds were effectively one of the first boy bands. I recall seeing them on the teevee when I was a kid. My mom liked The Andy Williams Show and the Osmonds were frequent guests. I preferred the talking bear myself.

The reason I’m doing an Osmonds LP cover is that I stumbled into a swell feature in the Guardian’s art section: how we made it. The piece on Crazy Horses was great fun as is the album art. The best bit was Jay Osmond’s description of their meeting with Elvis Presley:

When we met Elvis at one of his shows, he said: “Hey guys, I wanna show you something.” He opened up one of his closets and showed us all these jumpsuits. “Now that’s what you should be wearing,” he said and introduced us to his designer, Bill Belew, who did a jumpsuit for each of us, with accents in our favourite colours.

It’s time for the album art, which has an ecological Mormon white trash thing going on:

Here are the boys performing the title track of the album. And, yes, they’re wearing the aforementioned jump suits:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Batman Soundtrack

I still have the Bright Knight on my mind. Here’s more evidence of that:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Jim Kweskin’s America

Jim Kweskin was a respected folkie in the Sixties. He got involved with a semi-cult in Boston that was founded by the harmonica player in his Jug Band, Mel Lyman. There was a hair-raising story about the Lyman Family by David Felton in Rolling Stone in 1971. It was one of the magazine’s early forays into investigative reporting and it remains a helluva yarn.

The Lyman Family did not have an apocalyptic end a la the Manson clan or the Heaven’s Gate cult. Mel Lyman died in 1978 and members of the family founded a construction company, which is still active in Los Angeles. Jim Kweskin is a VP of that company: Fort Hill Construction.

Jim Kweskin’s America was recorded in 1971 during the heyday of the Lyman Family. It has a much longer official title as you can see from the cover. Richard D. Herbuck was a pseudonym for Mel Lyman. One cannot make this shit up. So it goes.

I’m not sure who did the album design but it’s a pretty good Sgt. Pepper inspired photo montage.

Here’s the album in the You Tube playlist format:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blue Oyster Cult

Blue Oyster Cult is one of the best band names ever. Their cover art was always pretty darn good as well. Here’s a sampler in chronological order for a change.

Finally, a scatological parody of the previous cover:

If you fear the reaper, here’s a song that asks you not to.

You would be well-advised, however, to fear the farter…

Album Cover Art Wednesday: In Our Lifetime

In Our Lifetime was Marvin Gaye’s sixteenth and last Motown/Tamla album. It came at  a low point for the artist commercially, personally, and artistically. It represented something of an artistic comeback. He was ready to leave his ex-brother-in-law Berry Gordy’s stable of artists and gave it his best effort on his way out in 1981.

The deeply weird cover was designed and executed by Neil Breeden with input from Gaye. Marvin frequently spoke of the two Marvins: one angelic, the other demonic. The cover is particularly creepy because Marvin was shot dead by his father in 1984; a mere three years later.

There’s an odd but interesting essay about the cover art at Reading Vessel. This image comes from that post:

I’m pretty sure Breeden and Gaye were not predicting events that took place in the 21st Century. As Athenae said the other day, the world has always been on fire.

In Our Lifetime is only available on YouTube in the playlist format. It’s worth a listen:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Graham Central Station

Larry Graham is one of the best bassists of all-time. He started off with Sly and the Family Stone but got tired of  working with the band’s brilliant but unreliable leader. He quit in 1972 and formed Graham Central Station, which is a pun on his name. No wonder I love this guy.

Graham Central Station were pop-soul-funk pioneers who have become, if not forgotten, overlooked. That’s one reason I’m posting the cover of their eponymous 1974 debut album. Another is that the photographs were taken by the great Bay Area rock photographer, Herb Greene. Finally, they’re my homeys and I saw them more than a few times when I was a wee laddie or is that shorty?

Here’s the whole damn album. As their funk contemporaries The Meters might say, get ready to funkify your life.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Abandoned Luncheonette

Abandoned Luncheonette was the Other Dynamic Duo’s third album. It was *not* their commercial breakthrough but features the song She’s Gone, which would go on to be a hit, just not in 1973.

The derelict diner on the cover is the Rosedale Diner in Pottstown, PA. When it went under, the trailer was dumped on the side of a highway where it was photographed by Barbara Wilson. Here’s how the Abandoned Luncheonette Wikipedia entry describes how this great cover came to be:

On a warm summer day, once the album was finished, Barbara, her husband, Daryl and John drove from New York city to the rural spot on the road about 40 miles outside of Philadelphia. The group arranged permission to take photos of the old restaurant but they thought that the session was incomplete without getting inside. And so they snuck in and Barbara started shooting, carefully tip-toeing around broken glass and tile. The guys squeezed then into a booth and the rest is album cover history (the interior was used as the back cover). The owner began screaming at them when he realized where they were, and they hightailed it out, hopping into their yellow car and speeding away back to New York City.[2]

Wilson shot the black-and-white 35mm images on an old Nikon SLR and then began a silkscreen process to create the surreal color imagery, using a different stencil for each hue and then hand-coloring the final piece. Atlantic Records bought the idea with one change, to re-do the neon tubing letters, which had all been done by hand. It was the only album cover Wilson ever did.[2]

The result is this classic cover.

Here’s evidence of  Daryl and John’s life of crime. One could even call them hamburglars.

The gatefold shows the former Rosedale Diner looking, well, abandoned.

Here’s the whole damn album:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Charles Aznavour

Vive la France week continues with two Charles Aznavour album covers. Aznavour is still very much alive. He’ll turn 93 on May, 22. Aznavour is the child of Armenian immigrants, and has been a French national treasure for decades. Here’s how allmusic.com describes him:

Charles Aznavour is perhaps the best-known French music hall entertainer in the world — renowned the world over for the bittersweet love songs he has written and sung, which seem to embody the essence of French popular song, and also for his appearances on screen in such wildly divergent fare as Shoot the Piano Player, Candy, and The Tin Drum.

I’ve picked covers from early in Aznavour’s remarkable career. The first one comes from 1956. The Carnegie Hall LP came out in 1963 and its cover is tres meta:

Aznavour starred as a Bogie obsessed pianist in one of my favorite Truffaut films, so here’s some cinematic lagniappe:

Finally, a best of compilation:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Innervisions

Stevie Wonder was on top of the world in the 1970’s. His 1973 album Innervisions solidified his status as an artistic and commercial titan. It also has fabulous art by Efram Wolff.

Here’s the back cover from a CD version of the album:

It’s gatefold time. I’ll omit the joint rolling joke this time around. I like to keep my readers off balance.

Finally, here’s the whole damn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Chicken Skin Music

Ry Cooder is one of the quirkiest artists in rock music history. And 1976’s Chicken Skin Music is quirky even by his standards. It’s also one of his best records. Btw, the title has nothing to do with fried chicken: it’s a Hawaiian expression that means music that gives you goosebumps. Cooder nailed it there.

The album art was done in a Mexican folk art style by Kenny Price. Here we go:

Here’s the entire LP in all its weird glory:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Magical Connection

My old friend Gus Mozart posted this Gabor Szabo cover on Zuckerbook the other day. I’d never seen it before but I liked the image immediately. And who among us does not like saying the name Gabor Szabo? He was a damn fine jazz guitarist in the tradition of  Django Reinhart.

And that’s how I made this Magical Connection:

This version of the back cover is unexceptional as well as broom-free. My friend Gus informs me that it’s from a CD reissue. So it goes.

It’s time for a few musical selections including the title track and Bacharach and David’s Close To You:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Out Of Our Hands

My friend Kyle D. Drummer (not his real name but it should be) thinks the only downside of Yes’ admission to the RRHOF is the exclusion of founding lead guitarist Peter Banks. Since I’m partial to guys with that first name, I quite agree. Jon Anderson *did* mention Banks who died in 2013 in his rambling Jonnish acceptance speech. Jon believes in including the excluded.

In fact, Banks gave Yes its name but he was fired from the band in 1970 and replaced by Steve Howe. That makes him the Pete Ham of Yes since their breakthrough came with The Yes Album in 1971. So it goes.

Banks went on to a long  and somewhat checkered career as a journeyman guitarist. His first band after Yes was Flash who released three LPs  in 1972 and 1973. Out Of Our Hands was the third album and it had a swell cover by Hipgnosis:

That was the UK cover art. The US cover had a different coloration thereby proving that pastels are never passé:

Flash’s music was pretty darn good but they never caught a break. I guess that makes them a Flash in the pan. Btw, the band beat me to that pun: their first album was called Flash In The Can. After that groaner, here’s the whole consarn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Anatomy Of A Murder

No, it’s not Pulp Fiction Thursday. It just sounds like it is. This week’s album cover was designed by Saul Bass who is best known for his distinctive movie credit work. Anatomy Of A Murder was a very daring film for 1959. It starred Jimmy Stewart as a jazz piano playing defense lawyer. The real pianist was Duke Ellington who also wrote the score. The cover is pure Saul Bass:

Here’s Duke’s cameo in the movie:

Finally, Saul Bass’ opening credits:

 

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.