Category Archives: Album Cover Art

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.

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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