My Warhol collection – 2013 additions: a review of the past year

The thing that makes the past year’s collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art most exciting is, without a doubt, the informal convening of The Warhol Cover Collectors’ Club (WCCC). The Club’s four other members have contributed enormous amounts of enthusiasm and knowledge and found a many record covers with art either by Warhol or that is clearly influenced by him. I cannot thank them all enough for their input and stimulus to keep me up to date.

I have been trying to keep my list of Warhol covers up to date and members of the WCCC have pointed put omissions. I realised during the past year that I have been naive when maintaining this list. I had not realised that it had become a reference site and that posting records there influenced sales of covers and thus prices. In retrospect, I should never have advertised the RATFAB cover – I could have gone on buying copies for under $10 had I not shared its existence with viewers of my list. I’ve learned my lesson, however, and keep “mum” about one rare cover….

I have prided myself on having a fairly good and representative collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art, although my collection lacked some of the rarer early Warhol covers. Over the past twelve months I have managed to fill several of the major gaps as prices for some of the not-quite-so-rare items have come down somewhat. Thus I have added both volumes of “Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish”, “Latin Rhythms by The Boston Pops”, Vladimir Horowitz’ “Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Lizst” to my collection. I was, however, convinced that a couple of the seriously rare covers, such as the “Night Beat” promotional box and the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” would never find their way into my collection. So, I hatched the idea of making my own and supplying the WCCC with copies for their collections. 2013 just happened to be the fiftieth anniversary of the first production of Andy Warhol’s “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record cover. I hade made a digital copy of this cover for the 2008 “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition in Piteå, Sweden, but now wanted to produce true copies exactly as Warhol had done. That meant spraying record sleeves with paint and then silkscreening his “Giant Size” image over the painted sleeve. Warhol made prints of the sleeve in five colour variations: red, orange, yellow, green and white. His placement of the silkscreen on each cover was quite sloppy and he was not too bothered if areas of the “Giant Size” motif failed to print. From pictures that I have seen of the rear covers it is clear that he stacked covers on top of one another before the paint was completely dry as there is paint residue on the rear of many sleeves.

In addition to making the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record covers, I decided to make ten and seven inch versions of the unreleased “Progressive Piano” record as well as the the “Night Beat” promotional box and the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” EP. Thus I was able to add nine new covers to my collection; “Night Beat”, the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” and ten and seven inch versions of the “Progressive Piano” album and the five colour variants of the “Giant Size” sleeve.

During the year I also managed to find copies of Keely Smith’s “I Wish You Love” (both LP and EP versions), The Velvet Underground’s bootlegs “Paris 1990” and the red version of “Screen Test: Falling in Love With the Falling Spikes” and several EPs that I was missing, including Joe Newman Octet’s “I’m Still Swinging” (in several variations), Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto” in a three EP box, German pressings of Artie Shaw’s “Both Feet in the Groove” and Joe Newman Octet’s “I’m Still Swinging” and a few CDs with Andy Warhol art including Mark Blixtstein / Tobias Pinker “Piano Concerto / Keys to the City” CD, David Cronenberg’s “Cronenberg on Warhol” and Rasmussen’s “Three friends” CD. I also found copies of Walter Steding’s “Dancing in Heaven” LP and “Secret Spy” 45, Aretha Franklin’s “Jerry Lee”, “Rock-a-lott” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Enola Gay’s “Döda djur” singles and The Smith’s “Sheila Take a Bow” 12 inch.

All in all I have, over the past twelve months, added forty-one titles, including the eight replicas I have made myself, to my collection of Warhol covers. And I have added a few records with covers that resemble Andy Warhol’s art such as The Darling Buds’ “It’s All up to You” and The Velvet Underground’s “Velvet Redux – Live MCMXCIII” Video disc and “Harvest” CD. There are a few bootlegs that I have yet to find, but – as far as I can tell today – no official releases. The final addition to my collection this year is not really a Warhol cover, but the record and catalogue from the 1963 “Popular Image Exhibition” recorded by Billy Klüver with cover art by Warhol’s fellow Pop Artist, Jim Dine.

Here’s wishing all readers a Happy 2014 and much success in their continued collecting of Andy Warhol’s record cover art. I hope we will see a new exhibition of his record sleeves during the year.

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The Popular Image Exhibition record & Andy Warhol

The Washington Gallery of Modern Art put on The Popular Image Exhibition between April 18th and June 2nd 1963. Eleven artists were represented including Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauchenberg, John Wesley, Tom Wesselman, Robert Watts, James Rosenquist, Vern Blosom, George Becht, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine.

Billy Klüver, Swedish engineer turned art director, recorded interviews with all eleven artists during March 1963 and edited the inerviews, which were subsequently released on an LP record. The record was housed in a plain whitepaper inner sleeve together with the exhibition catalogue and these were sold inside an envelope. The cover image on the catalogue and the outer envelope was designed by Jim Dine. The image on the envelope was printed in a shade of blue n a white background, while that on the catalogue cover was printed in black on a white background.

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According to the catalogue, Andy Warhol was represented by ten oil paintings on canvas. There is no mention of his “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record sleeve. So how did the exhibition record come to be sold in this new Warhol designed and produced cover?

Were there records over after the exhibition that were put into new covers. or did Billy Klüver have a stock of records without covers that he felt needed new sleeves? Whichever was the case, he appears to have asked Andy Warhol to produce a new cover, resulting in the screening of the “Giant Size” cover.

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Neither Andy Warhol (who died on 22nd February 1987) nor Billy Klüver (1935-2004) are alive today to relate the true history of the Popular Image Exhibition record and the “Giant Size $1.57 Each cover.

Record sleeves that use stills from films directed by Andy Warhol

The Smiths used many images from films produced by Andy Warhol, including their eponymous first album (1984)  and the “Sheila Takes a Bow” (1987) but a couple of singles use stills from Warhol produced music videos. The first single is Factory co-worker Walter Steding’s “Secret Spy / My Room” single (1982) with stills on both the front and rear cover. You can see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMB3QBjaYt0

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The second cover is from Andy Warhol’s last music videos. He apparently liked the band Curiosity Killed the Cat and in 1986 directed the video for their “Misfit” single. He even appeared in the video holding cards plagiarising D. A. Pennebaker‘s video for Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.

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A limited edition of the 7″ single has a fold-out cover 44″ (112 cm) with more images probably taken from the video. The design cerdit on the sleeve says “Sleeve design and Polaroid treatments by the Unknown” – which is taken to imply that Andy Warhol was responsible. You can watch the video at http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9gkl6_curiosity-killed-the-cat-misfit_music. Andy appears holding six apparently blank cards 2 minutes 37 seconds into the video, which he throws one by one onto the ground and then walks off at 3 min 7 seconds.

Another cover, for the 1991 single “Cherry, Cherry” by the American group Unrest has a picture of Edie Sedgewick is often advertised on Ebay as a “Warhol cover” suggesting that the still comes from Warhol’s “Poor Little Rich Girl” film. In point of fact it is taken from the film “Ciao, Manhattan”, a later movie not produced by Warhol at all. Some Factory habitués were involved, but independently. (once again, I thank Guy Minnebach for this information.) So this should definitely not be classified as a “Warhol cover”.

Now, I don’t really consider these to be Warhol designed covers – but I include them on my exhaustive list of Warhol cover art for the sake of completeness.

The Rolling Stones – “El Mocambo 1977 +” a new bootleg box with Andy Warhol art

Both the Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones hve been well served by Andy Warhol art. And not only on official releases but even on numerous bootlegs. When it comes to The Stones there was the 1985 “Emotional Tattoo” LP with one of Warhol’s portraits of Mick Jagger on the cover and the “Live in Laxington” LP (1979).

There are several Velvet Underground bootlegs that use Warhol’s art on their covers, ranging from the “Screen Test: Falling in Love With the Falling Spikes” (with three different colour variations on the colour), “More Bermuda Than Pizza” (1987) the “Paris 1990” album (1991), “Unripened” (2007) and “Live at the Gymnasium” (2011).

This year (2013) Red Tongue Records in Germany have released a lavish box set with soundboard recordings from the two Stones concerts at Toronto’s El Mocambo Tavern on 4th and 5th March 1977 and the concerts at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium on 22nd April 1979 as well as some studio tracks by Keith Richards recorded at Sound Interchange Recording Studios, Toronto, 12-13 March 1977. The two concerts at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium in Ottowa were put on as a charity show in aid of the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) as a condition after Keith Richard’s trial for possession of 5 grammes of heroin.

The box contains 36 tracks on both four 180 g vinyl records (3 white vinyl with some marbling and one red vinyl LP) and on 2 CDs. The box cover has a montage of Mick Jagger poking his tongue out at a girl – probably his daughter Jade* – who reciprocates. The box contains a folder with the same image. On the reverse of the box and the folder is a compoisite picture of two Mick Jaggers facing each other, over which the track titles are given.

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These portraits come from a series of prints. Here are the originals:

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It is perhaps quite logical that the album aret uses images like those on he Rolling Stones’ “Love You Live” album as four tracks, “Mannish Boy”, Crackin’ Up”, Little Red Rooster” and “Around and Around” recorded at El Mocambo were mixed down and released as side 3 of that album.

The box is released as a limited edition of 700 copies and costs around SEK 1000 – which I don’t consider too exorbitant.

*Thanks to Guy Minnebach for information on these images.