Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: An Evening With Richard Nixon

Are you ready for an extra dose of the Weekly GV? Ready or not, here it comes. Gore Vidal viewed Tricky Dick with an appalled fascination. It resulted in Vidal’s 1972 play, An Evening With Richard Nixon.

I’ll let the Wikipedia entry describe it:

The play is a wry examination of the career and Presidency (up to that pre-Watergate point) of Richard M. Nixon (Irving). As it starts, two pundits, a William F. Buckley-like Pro (Rupert) and a Gore Vidal-like Con (Estredo) are debating the worthiness of Nixon. Unable to settle their differences objectively, they magically convene a tribunal of deceased, past Presidents — Eisenhower (Sterling), Kennedy (King) and Washington (Newman) — to review the Nixon career and pass judgment. The rules are strict: anything we observe in the central playing area, which is dedicated to historical recreation, is taken from actual public record; every word spoken by anyone is what that person actually said. This applies especially to Nixon, whose words, we are assured, remain in their original context. Only Pro, Con and the Tribunal speak freely in the immediate present. And of course, they have much to say.

I’ve only read the text, I’ve never heard the LP and it’s not online. But the album art by animator Paul (Sky Bear) Gruwell not only rocks, it rules.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The real world is a scary place right now so I’m focusing on the benign world of Sparky Schulz and the Peanuts gang this Halloween:

Here’s Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack:

 

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears

There are few musical acts with as wide a gap between their sound and their members behavior as this week’s featured artist. The Mamas and the Papas had a sweet, sunny sound that belied who they were as people.

It’s appropriate that there was a huge stink over the cover of their mega-hit 1966 album If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears. Note that there’s a terlet in the corner of the original cover. Retailers were not amused so a label was placed over the offending john. The band’s name was also misspelled.

The cover photograph is by Guy Webster and the second cover below was actually the fourth version of it overall. The band’s name remained misspelled BUT they had a hit album so who cared; several of them were likely too wasted to notice

Here’s the whole damn album via a YouTube playlist.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Captain Sad and his Ship Of Fools

Susan Cowsill of “the original family band” lives in New Orleans so  I ran a search for Cowsills album covers. The cover of 1968’s Captain Sad and his Ship Of Fools is a beaut. What’s not to love about clean-cut youngsters wearing masks with a pantomime ship captain in the mix?

I’d never heard this album before and I really enjoyed it. The Cowsills’ gorgeous harmonies shine through on this record as does a distinct McCartney influence in the writing and arrangements. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have two covers for your perusal: the masky one and an alternate cover that rips the mask off the Cowsills. But Captain Sad is smiling. Bad Captain Sad, bad.

The biggest hit on the album was Indian Lake. I have two-fer’d the American and Spanish single covers or is that side-by-sided?

The Cowsills were also the spokesfamily for the American Dairy Association. Here’s the punniest of the print ads:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album in the YouTube playlist format.  It’s great fun and there weren’t any commercials until after the 8th track.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Zany Covers

I did a search for zany album covers. Here are the two funniest ones that popped up.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Heart Of Saturday Night

The first time I paid attention to Tom Waits’ lyrics, I realized that he’s a noir storyteller in the Chandler/Hammett tradition. His early albums are full of songs about wastrels and losers who live on the seedy side of town. Skid Row is not just a crappy band to Tom Waits.

The Heart Of Saturday Night is Waits’ second album and the first one I heard. I bought a copy after seeing him open for Frank Zappa and the Mothers at the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos, CA, of all places. It was a theatre-in-the-round type venue, which originally featured old school show biz performers like Sammy Davis Jr.

I also recall seeing the Three Stooges there. I think my mother was auditioning for The Good Place by indulging me. As we say in New Orleans, the Circle Star Theatre ain’t dere no more. I guess it’s okay to conflate my two hometowns since Waits starred in one of the best films set in New Orleans: Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law. We are a good egg.

Time for another digression: I was a high school age smoker when I saw the Zappa/Waits show. My friends and I tried to keep up with Frank Zappa who seemed to always have a cigarette going. We’d never heard of Tom Waits or we would have done likewise with him. I gave up trying mid-way through Zappa’s set. It’s a pity that I didn’t quit for good at that point.  I continued to smoke off and on for ten more years with a brief relapse in my first semester at law school. Now I hate smoke almost as much as I hate Trump.

Back to The Heart of Saturday Night. The cover art was done by Napoleon. No, not that one but an artist named Lynn Lascaro who used Napoleon as a psuedonym. He also did the cover for the Zappa/Mothers classic, One Size Fits All.

You’re not seeing double. Here’s the whole damn album on the YouTube:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Fabulous Ivory Joe Hunter

This 1961 album by the R&B pianist and singer has a cover to die for:

Here’s the whole damn album in the YouTube playlist format:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Screaming For Vengeance

I’m on record as not being a heavy metal fan. BUT I’m a sucker for “longtime band member quits and writes a book” stories. A Guardian article about former Judas Priest co-lead guitarist KK Downing’s memoirs led me to select 1982’s Screaming For Vengeance as this week’s album cover. I guess that makes me a headbanger for a day. Ouch.

The cover is by the noted Canadian graphic artist Doug Johnson. It certainly makes me want to scream and perhaps even don some leather if it ever cools down:

Here’s a live version of the title track from the World Vengeance tour:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blue Train

John Coltrane was already a budding jazz legend when he recorded Blue Train in 1957. It was the album that sealed the deal. I think the brooding cover photo by Francis Wolff had a lot to do with clinching Trane’s status as one of the coolest musicians on the planet.

This alternate cover is something of a mystery to me.

I’ve seen this cover attributed to both Jim Flora  and Burt Goldblatt but I’m uncertain as to who the artist was or when it was used. It’s a swell image BUT the better known cover fits the image John Coltrane was trying to project. I couldn’t find any explanation on the internet but I enjoyed learning about Burt Goldblatt who was one of the most prolific album cover artists and designers ever.  Does anyone know anything about the alternate cover?

Here’s the whole damn album in the original mono:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Era Vulgaris

I’m not a Queens of the Stone Age fan but I love the cover of 2007’s Era Vulgaris, which was inspired by product ads aimed at kids. These products are really, really bad for you.

Here’s the cover from the German release of the album:

Here’s the whole damn album with a different color backdrop:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico was born in controversy. There have been lawsuits up the wazoo over the years as well as Andy Warhol’s laughable claim to have produced the record. He knew nothing about the recording process so the engineers and John Cale did the heavy lifting. The album’s Wikipedia entry does an excellent job of explaining the gory details.

The cover is legendary but has always left me cold and I like Warhol. This was not one of his better efforts. I happen to prefer green bananas.

The album was a commercial failure but an artistic triumph. I’m not sure what I think of Warhol’s album related documentary, A Symphony of Sound, but here it is anyway:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Honkey Blues

Doug Sahm was a musical force of nature. He was one of the creators of the Austin music scene and one of the most respected musicians to emerge from the 1960’s. His eclecticism prevented him from being a big star.

The Sir Douglas Quintet were originally a faux English Invasion band conceived by a shady Cajun producer by the name of Huey P. Meaux. They pulled off the sound for several years, then Doug Sahm wanted to do something bluesier and rootsier. The result was 1968’s Honkey Blues, which was recorded in California, not Texas. Holy eclecticism, Batman.

The front cover features the band and their chirren:

The back cover was all psychedelic and shit:

Here’s the inner gatefold:

Here’s the album in the YouTube playlist format:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

The Dramatics are an anomalous soul group for their time and place. They came out of Detroit but had to go to Memphis based Volt records to hit it big. The title track of this 1971 album put them over the top. It was written for the Dramatics by Tony Hester and, yeah, they do sound quite a bit like the Temptations; one reason they didn’t stick at Motown.

I don’t know about you but I’ve got my eye on this cover:

Here’s the gatefold. I skipped the back cover because it’s pedestrian as well as eyeless.

We have two versions of the smash hit title song for your enjoyment. The extended album version followed by the guys lip syncing to the single on Soul Train:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha

I used to have vivid, deeply weird dreams. I rarely have them any more but I had one the other night. It was neither a sweet dream nor a nightmare. All I can recall is a voice saying the name Xavier Cugat over and over again. Hence this week’s post.

Xavier Cugat was a Cuban bandleader and exponent of the rhumba and the cha cha cha. Apparently, he was also a bread hugger.

Below is a CD reissue cover without Cugat hugging a loaf of bread. They seem to have misplaced a cha as well.

Here’s the whole damn album. It makes me wanna hug a baguette with a beret:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Led Zeppelin

I’ve never been much of a Led Zeppelin fan. Their music is pretty good but I’ve never cared for the vibe surrounding them. It’s rooted in my memories of their infamous 1973 gig at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. In a sign of bad taste, their fans booed the Tubes off the stage, and their crew and manager assaulted some of Bill Graham’s staff backstage; one of whom was the older brother of a friend of mine. Ugh.

I’ve had them on my mind because of the skillful use of their music in the HBO mini-series Sharp Objects. Besides, what’s not to love about the cover of their debut album?

Another reason I don’t care for Led Zeppelin was the heavy-handed way they dealt with this brilliant parody by the San Francisco band, Little Roger and the Goosebumps:

Here’s the album via the YouTube playlist format. It’s probably my favorite of their records for its lack of pretension and mystical mumbo jumbo.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Shel Silverstein

The late Shel Silverstein was best known as an author/illustrator of children’s books. He also had a lively side hustle as a singer-songwriter. He was one talented dude.

Here’s a selection of album covers, presented in chronological order. Oddly enough, only one features an illustration by Silverstein:

Here’s Freakin’ At The Freakers Ball in the YouTube playlist format:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Idiot

Sometimes the best album covers are the simplest. That’s the case with Iggy Pop’s first solo album, The Idiot. It’s also the album cover that answers the eternal question: does Iggy own any shirts?

The Idiot was co-produced by David Bowie who co-wrote 7 of the 8 songs with Mr. Pop. It’s one of the Bowie related albums from what is known as his Thin White Duke/Berlin period. West Berlin to be precise. The Idiot was released in 1977 when the wall was still a thing.

Here’s the China Girl/Baby single cover. It’s a more characteristic Iggy shot: shirtless and leaping about.

It’s lagniappe time: here’s a promo poster with a certain producer’s name on it.

The entire album is not available on the You Tube so here’s China Girl followed by a live version of Funtime with the producer on keyboards.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Horses

Patti Smith has some interesting friends. One of whom was the late Robert Mapplethorpe whose photograph adorns the cover of Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses.

A close-up from the same photo shoot was on the cover of the Gloria single:

I like the wear and tear of that cover. I’m a bit torn and frayed myself.

Finally, here’s the whole damn album:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bootzilla

I’m about to break a rule and perhaps even set a new precedent for this feature. Bootzilla was the first single from Bootsy Collins and the Rubber Band’s 1978 debut album  Bootsy? Player of the Year. The album cover is somewhat pedestrian but the single cover is Bootsylicious, which is why I’m featuring it.

The album cover is the featured image of the video below. Cool shades, meh album cover. Get ready for the tale of “the world’s only rhinestone rock star doll.”

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw

The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw is one of the best album titles ever. Pigboy Crabshaw was the nickname/alter ego of Elvin Bishop. Why anyone would want to be called Pigboy is beyond me, but I’m not from rural America like Elvin. I’m a confirmed city slicker.

In addition to the cool art design by William S Harvey, this is a helluva album musically. The Butterfield Blues Band moved from a guitar based blues ensemble to a horn heavy R&B combo after the departure of Michael Bloomfield to form Electric Flag. A very young David Sanborn plays alto sax on the album.

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube,