Category Archives: Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Wake Up, America

In addition to being a rabble-rouser who was one of the Chicago 7, Abbie Hoffman fancied himself a standup comedian. He was pretty good as didactic political comedians go.

Wake Up, America is Hoffman’s only album. Being on the lam for six years makes it hard to perform and record your act.

The artwork is by Peter Bramley. It’s heavily influenced by R Crumb. It’s okay: Crumb got his own movie and Bramley did not. So it goes.

Here’s the whole damn album via YouTube:

My favorite Abbie Hoffman moment was when Pete Townshend kicked him off the stage at Woodstock. Pete was in the right. Hoffman interrupted the Who’s set:

I could not find video of the incident. So it goes.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: It Ain’t Easy

I began this journey with the post in which I published an old letter to the editor by Linda Coney. I used Three Dog Night’s version of Mama Told Me Not To Come as a framing device. The song comes from It Ain’t Easy; its cover features a gaudy Sixties room with gaudy wallpaper. I was hooked and decided to use it in this space.

Little did I know that the original album artwork had been rejected because it was so controversial. Three Dog Night? Controversial? Who knew?

It Ain’t Easy was supposed to be The Wizards Of Orange. The cover featured Three Dog Night naked but with the naughty bits obscured. The original cover later resurfaced on a CD reissue.

I’d never heard of this mishigas. Obviously, I need to brush up on my pop-rock trivia.

We begin with the gaudy room cover:

Here’s the naked cover:

That’s so orange that I want a mimosa. Chuck Negron naked has driven me to drink but not a Negroni.

The album is not quite as juicy as that story but it’s a good one. Here it is via Spotify:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Last Time Around

Buffalo Springfield were like a comet: briefly sighted, never forgotten. 1968’s Last Time Around is their last official studio album before Stills, Young, Furay, and Messina went on to other projects and greater glory.

I’ve always loved this cover because it perfectly captures Neil Young’s restless spirit. He’s always looking for the next challenge, which is what makes him a difficult band mate and a great solo artist.

I couldn’t find any artwork credits but suffice it to say that it’s swell:

Thanks to Sgt. Pepper and We’re Only In It For The Money, everyone in those days was into photo montages. This one was on the back cover:

Here’s the whole damn album:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Great Debates 1960

They used to put everything on records. This recording of the Kennedy-Nixon debates is also one of the first double albums I’ve ever heard of.

This was an obvious selection for October 7, 2020 as Kamala Harris is debating Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire this evening. I wish they weren’t going to be in the same room but there will be some sort of plexiglass divider between the candidates. I suspect Karen Pence would like them in separate rooms but not because of the pandemic. Karens have gotta Karen.

I don’t usually post covers that are both dog eared and have some sort of frame but these are hard to find. The image is still pretty darn swell.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington née Ruth Lee Jones had a short, tragic life.  She was married 8 time and was a prolific recording artist until her death in 1963 at the age of 39. Sounds like a blues singer to me, y’all.

I’ve picked two album covers from 1962 and 1963 respectively that depict two sides of The Queen:

Here’s Back To The Blues via Spotify:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Back Together Again

The album title is somewhat ironic. Guitarist Larry Coryell and Drummer Alphonse Mouzon played together in The Eleventh House, which broke up a mere two years earlier. This 1977 album is Jazz fusion at its brashest and loudest.

The cover was designed by Bob Defrin who was then the design honcho at Atlantic Records. He went on to work with AC/DC for many years designing their album covers and stage sets. Talk about brash and loud.

I almost eggspected Vincent Price as Egghead to show up.

Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Stop The World- I Want To Get Off

Stop The World- I Want To Get Off is a title for our times. The stage show premiered on London’s West End in 1961. It told the story of a young man’s rise from lowly tea boy to rich dude. The setting was a circus; every time something bad happened to the lead character, he said “Stop the world.” Disappointed that it’s not about the apocalypse? Audiences in the Sixties were not.

On to the covers, we have the original Broadway cast album and the 1966 movie soundtrack album:

There was a 1978 revival of the show on Broadway.  Here’s the revival soundtrack starring Sammy Davis Jr:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Gilded Palace Of Sin

I’ve always thought that the Flying Burrito Brothers had one of the worst band names ever. But their 1969 debut album has one of the best titles ever: The Gilded Palace Of Sin. Not a bad short-term trade-off. I do, however, like burritos.

Gram Parsons was the Pied Piper of Country Rock. When he left the Byrds, Chris Hillman soon followed. As his subsequent career proved.  Hillman was more of a country guy than a rocker. Parsons was always restless and left the Flying Burrito Brothers  after only recording two albums with them. I told you he was restless. A restless guy in a Nudie suit.

The Gilded Palace Of Sin was where it all began:

Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Way Out West

Other than the opening track being Johnny Mercer’s I’m An Old Cowhand, I have no idea why photographer William Claxton had Jazz sax great Sonny Rollins pose in cowboy mufti. Sonny *was* something of a musical gunslinger. Otherwise the cover of this 1957 album makes no sense whatsoever. Of course, some of the best and worst things in life make no sense.

Here’s the whole damn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Thriller!

I cannot believe I used an exclamation point in the post title. I feel unclean. I perpetrated this heinous act to make it clear that the cover in question is not the 1984 Michael Jackson album but a 1973 album by the Bay Area funk-soul-rock band Cold Blood.

Cold Blood never broke through to a national audience, but I saw them several times and they never disappointed live, especially their charsmatic lead singer Lydia Pense. That’s Pense with an S; no relation to Trump’s sycophantic Veep.

The cover is by George Hunter aka Globe Propaganda. I picked it to make our readers think that Pulp Fiction Thursday came a day early. This is the age of confusion, after all.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Cold Blood on Spotify. Here’s the whole damn album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blues Cross Country

2020 is the centennial of Peggy Lee’s birth. Plans for an elaborate concert at the Hollywood Bowl were foiled by the pandemic. To paraphrase myself, no songs for the pandemic.

Dr. A and I recently watched a documentary about Peggy Lee’s life and music on PBS. It was a love letter from her granddaughter that was chock-full-o-clips. She was a staple on the variety shows that were plentiful when I was a kid. I remember watching with my mom: she’d get particularly excited when Miss Peggy Lee was slated to appear. It was Scandinavian farmer’s daughter pride at its finest.

Blues Cross Country is a 1962 concept album featuring songs about places in the US&A. The music was arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones and Peggy Lee co-wrote half the songs on the album.

As you can see, the cover is quilty but it has nothing to do with Clare Quilty theNabokov character.

Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

 

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Rick Springfield

I’m just as surprised as you are to see Rick Springfield’s name atop this post. Here’s why: I did a search for “album covers with animals on them”and these doggone covers topped the list. It was destiny or some such shit.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Hair

Hair is on my mind as well as on my head. I’ve done some self-trimming and Dr. A has taken a few whacks at the unruly curls that cluster at the back of my head but I haven’t had a haircut since before Carnival. I wish I could say that I had long luxurious locks, but I do not.

That brings me to this week’s album cover. Its full title is long as was the fashion in 1968: Hair- The American Tribal Love Rock Musical.

I used to have the original Broadway soundtrack album, but it got misplaced in one of my moves. I’m not sure that I’d play it very often in any event. There are some good songs but there’s a lot of filler. The cover, however, is a hairy classic:

I’m also fond of Milos Forman’s 1979 film version. Here’s the poster:

If you’re ready to let your hair down and let the sunshine in, here’s the album in the YouTube playlist format:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Clown

Sad clown? Funny clown? Evil clown? It’s unclear what the great Jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus and designer Marvin Israel were after with this cover. Perhaps it’s crappy clown thrown out of the circus for lazy makeup application. Beats the hell outta me.

Mingus described the title track as follows in the liner notes:

“The Clown” tells the story of a clown “who tried to please people like most jazz musicians do, but whom nobody liked until he was dead. My version of the story ended with his blowing his brains out with the people laughing and finally being pleased because they thought it was part of the act. I liked the way Jean changed the ending; leaves it more up to the listener.”

That sums up my attitude about clowns. They creep me out. The Jean Mingus refers to is Jean Shepherd a writer/actor/radio and tv personality who is best known for A Christmas Story. Holy leg lamp, Batman.

Here’s the whole damn album:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: 1984

In the Rick Wakeman segment of last Saturday’s Odds & Sods, I discussed his comeback album: 1984. It was released in 1981 and was a collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita fame. It’s almost as if Keith Emerson had collaborated with Oscar Hammerstein.

Oddly enough, Wakeman did not like Orwell’s book but made the concept album anyway. There’s no accounting for taste.

The album art was done by the ubiquitous Hipgnosis:

Here’s Rick Wakeman performing 1984 live:

What? No cape?

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Sammy Awards

I’ve been looking at a caricature of Sammy Davis Jr. for the last ten Fridays. It’s time to see him on a Wednesday.

Sammy Awards has a deeply weird cover featuring the singer as an Oscar-ish statue. It’s unclear if it’s real gold or merely gold leaf. Whatever it may be, it’s weird.

There was method to the Sammy Awards weirdness. All the songs on the album were written directly for the screen and nominated for the Best Song Oscar. They all lost. Sammy was a card.

The album itself is not that weird. In fact, it’s not bad at all but not award winning or losing stuff.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Aretha

This is not the only album the Queen of Soul released called Aretha. It is, however, the only one with cover art by Andy Warhol.

Here’s an expanded version of whole damn 1986 album via Spotify:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Discoveries

Art Tatum was one of the greatest and most influential Jazz pianists of the 20th Century. Players who he influenced include Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, and McCoy Tyner among others.

Discoveries is a compilation released in 1960, four years after Tatum’s death. The cover art is by the eminent illustrator  Irv Docktor.

I failed to discover Discoveries on either Spotify or YouTube. Here’s a short clip of Art Tatum doing what he did best:

Here’s some lagniappe, Oscar Peterson and Bill Basie with some Tatum talk:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Soul Finger

The Bar-Kays began life as a session band for Stax Records in Memphis. The  original Bar-Kays backed up Otis Redding on his last tour: 4 of them died in a plane crash along with Otis. Nevertheless, the band persisted.

Soul Finger was the band’s debut album and it’s as soulful as all get out. The psychedelic soul cover is by Loring Eutemey. It was 1967, after all:

And now for something completely different. I’m going to experiment with using Spotify here at First Draft. Please let me know if you have any playback issues. This album is well worth a listen.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Billy Preston

Billy Preston is one of two musicians who merited a “with” credit when he played with The Beatles; specifically on the Get Back single. He also had one of the best Afros in music history. It was featured on several of his Seventies releases:

Billy’s hair was also prominently featured on the covers of two of his hit singles:

Since this an odd post, our musical selection is a live album of the same vintage. It features some Prestonized Beatles tunes and Mick Taylor on lead guitar: