Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Winter In America

It’s been cold so I ran a search for winter album covers and came up with Winter In America. This 1974 album is a collaborator between the late, great Gil Scott-Heron and his old friend jazz pianist Brian Jackson. The cover art is by another friend of the duo’s Eugene Coles.

Here’s a nifty inner sleeve collage designed by Peggy Harris:

I’d never heard this album until this week. It’s pretty darn good.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The New Lee Dorsey

This 1966 album by New Orleans R&B singer and auto mechanic, Lee Dorsey, was produced by Allen Toussaint who also wrote 11 of the 12 tunes. The backing band was a combo you might have heard of: the Meters.

The full album is not on YouTube so the big hits will have to do:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Gone To The Dogs

Dr. A and I closed out the holidays by watching the AKC dog show on the tube. We’re cat people who also love dogs. Della was horrified and retaliated by snoring loudly while she slept during the festivities. Holy protest snoring, Batman.

Our dog show evening has inspired a dog album cover morning. I picked the covers regardless of whether I like the music or not. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Nuggets

Nuggets was a trailblazing “various artists” album compiled by Lenny Kaye. He dug deep into the archives and produced an album of psychedelic rock and garage band tracks that was a hit in 1972. The album’s punny subtitle says it all: Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era.

Nuggets influenced the punk and new wave bands later in the decade and led to a series of Nuggets albums. It has nothing to do with chicken or the NBA team of the same name.

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube for your post-Christmas listening pleasure:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Captain Kangaroo Christmas

I’m too old to have watched Mister Rogers but I have fond memories of Captain Kangaroo. I don’t recall hearing any of his Christmas albums, but even at that young age I was more interested in listening to the Beatles. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Frank Zappa also grew up watching Captain Kangaroo. He had a particular fondness for a supporting character, Mr. Green Jeans. He used the character’s name twice in song titles but changed the spelling of the name just in case CBS felt litigious. The son is the song I like best:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Tijuana Christmas

I’ve been known to post wacky Christmas album covers in this space. This one has an obvious political subtext in the age of Trump.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR’s eponymous 1968 debut album cover featured a then fashionable psychedelic border/arch surrounding the band in the woods. They *were* among those who created roots rock, after all,

Creedence Clearwater Revival is an oddity in the CCR catalog as it features so many cover versions. John Fogerty didn’t explode as a songwriter until its follow-up, Bayou Country.

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

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Forbidden Fruit

I still have Nina Simone on my mind. Her 1961 album, Forbidden Fruit, has an unusual cover. Most of Nina’s album covers feature her sultry beauty and all around badassery. This cover has an Adam and Eve thing going on.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find out who designed the album cover, but I did find the whole goddamn LP on the YouTube:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Raven

I’m still contemplating my McRaven/Poe pun from Monday afternoon. It’s why this week’s album cover is the soundtrack of Roger Corman’s 1963 production called The Raven. It’s not an adaptation, it’s inspired by the Poe poem.

The Raven features Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre as mad scientists and a young Jack Nicholson in a supporting role. What’s not to love about that cast?

The soundtrack was composed and conducted by Les Baxter. We seem to have gone from nevermore to nevertheless.

 

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: