New covers and things by Klaus Voormann, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons

Most of my posts have been about record covers bearing Andy Warhol’s art. But, just as a reminder, I also collect record cover art by four other artists. I have an almost complete collection of Damien Hirst’s record covers, including the highly collectible “Use Money, Cheat Death” one-sided single released on his own label.

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This image first appeared on the cover of the February 2008 number of TAR Magazine. The record was released on white vinyl in a numbered edition of 666 copies. Damien Hirst’s most recent covers are for the British band Babyshambles’ 2013 releases “Sequel to the Prequel” (LP) and (so far) the two vinyl singles from the album “Nothing Comes from Nothing” and “Fall From Grace”:

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These covers all show examples of Damien Hirst’s spin paintings.

My friend Daniel Brant at the A and D Gallery in London, knows I collect Klaus Voormann’s record cover art and he recently induced me to buy a poster by Klaus Voormann that I had never seen before. It is a print of a drawing of Paul McCartney and John Lennon in the canteen at Abbey Road during the recording of “Revolver”:

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While on the subject of Klaus Voormann – I have a 12″ single of George Harrison’s single “When We Was Fab” from 1988. And just a few days ago I stumbled on the promotional issue of this release which comes in a limited edition box with a poster and a card, which I had not seen before, so I snapped it up! The illustration of the front of the box, and on the single itself, is another fine Voormann drawing – somewhat in the “Revolver” style.

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Fellow Warhol Cover Collectors Club member Kevin Kinney suggested I get hold of Lady Gaga’s 2013 album “ArtPop”, whose cover was designed and photgraphed by Jeff Koons. Now I do not collect Koons’ covers but – because of the ArtPop exhibition currently on show in Stockholm – I decided I would buy this album.

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This is the cover’s inner spread with photographer Koons photographing Lady Gaga.

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The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” singles and EPs

In a previous post, I promised a continuation of my list of 45 rpm discs with Andy Warhol cover art. Well, I’m still working on the list, which continues to grow as I do more research.

The Rolling Stones released their “Sticky Fingers” LP with cover photography by Andy Warhol and package design by Craig Braun on 23rd April 1971. The cover art and packaging received a Grammy nomination in 1972 – but did not win. However, the album cover was later voted No 1 in VH1’s list of the best record sleeves of all time.

The design concept was by Andy Warhol and many credit him with the photography, which according to others, was by Factory associate Billy Name.  Sticky Fingers was the first LP released on the Rolling Stones own record label.

Here I will only discuss the various versions of The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” single and EP with Warhol cover art. There are many issues from all over the world with either generic company covers or alternative cover art.

The original single was released in the UK on 16th April 1971, one week prior to the Sticky Fingers LP, as a three-track single with “Brown Sugar” coupled with “Bitch” and “Let It Rock”. The covers for the UK and US singles used a photograph by American photographer David Montgomery (thank you Guy Minnebach for this information.) The rear cover used the same photo as the “Sticky Fingers” LP with a jeans-clad posterior. Interestingly, the German version of the single had the Montgomery photograph reversed on the front – that is with Jagger apparently standing at far left instead of at far right as on the UK and US versions.

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In addition to the standard single, there was a shaped picture disc (SUGAR1).

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“Brown Sugar” was released in Mexico both as a single (coupled with “Perdida” (Bitch)) and as an EP (coupled with “Caballos salvajes” (“Wild Horses”) and “Ecos de mi onda” (“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”)) both had a fold-over covers that bore the “Sticky Fingers” artwork on the front.

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The “Brown Sugar” single was re-issued in it’s original cover for Record Store Day in 2011 as a numbered edition of 10,000 copies. My copy has number 7385.

Some new covers by my favourite artists – and some that are said to be, but aren’t

Auction sites such as Ebay are popular sites where collectors can find missing items for their collections. Advertisers have often an undue optimism about items they wish to sell. Popular areas for collectors of record cover art include many of today’s more famous artists. Perhaps the one single record cover artist commanding the highest prices is Andy Warhol 1928-1987) who, in his lifetime designed or illustrated about seventy individual covers. Many bootlegs have used his art and records and CDs are still appearing with his art – the latest being The Rolling Stones bootleg box “El Mocambo 1977 +” which appeared in late 2013.

Quite a few covers have been put up for sale which the advertiser purports to be designed or illustrated by Warhol. Most commonly these are early LPs on the Columbia Masterworks label with the standard Alex Steinweiss twin (sometimes three) blocks of colour and an illustration covering approximately one-quarter of the cover’s area. Alex Steinweiss was art director at Columbia Records from 1938 until he went freelance in 1949. He commissioned other illustrators to finish LP art including Warhol, Daryll Connelly and others. The cover most commonly attributed to Warhol is the 10″ Salomé

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and Sir Malcolm Sargent’s recording of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s “Elijah” on three separate LPs, all probably illustrated by Connelly. Other early Columbia LPs with cover illustrations claimed to be by Warhol – but which are not include Jeannie Tourell’s “French Song Recital” and Eugene Ormandy’s recording of Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite, Op 20” coupled with Respighi’s “Feste Romane”

 

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Another cover that has recently started to appear on Ebay claiming Andy Warhol design is the RCA Victor Bluebird Classics label release of Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”.

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At least three covers for the Bluebird Classics record label are ascribed to Warhol, but this does not appear to be by his hand.

So what new covers have I come across that are by my favourite artists? First, I have been collecting record covers designed by Klaus Voormann and have managed to collect almost all of them save two (vols 12 & 18) of the 20 volumes of the “Pioneers of Jazz” EPs released in Germany in 1960 on the Coral label. These covers were the second commercial record cover commission Voormann received almost as soon as he left art school in Hamburg. I recently found Vols 12 and 18 on Ebay for €10 and €17 respectively. So now my collection is complete.

Second, there is the numbered version of The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” 7″ released for Record Store Day 2011. There were several on Ebay, the most expensive being advertised by seller (the seller I love to hate) Majestic Music & Art for $50+ shipping.
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I bought a sealed copy (No. 7389) for £12.99! This single’s front cover image of all five Stones standing with slicks of the Sticky Fingers LP covering various parts of each’s anatomy. The identity of the photographer, however, seems impossible to identify. The rear cover shows the same jeans rear as seen on the Sticky FIngers LP cover. Warhol expert Guy Minnebach points out that the front cover photo on the UK and US singles shows Mick Jagger standing to the right, while the German release has the photo reversed, with Jagger on the left. Guy also informed me that Brown Sugar was released in Mexico as a single and EP with the Sticky Fingers cover both on front and rear.

ArtPop – an exhibition of record cover art at Stockholm’s Spritmuseum

Stockholm has many museums and most are worthy of a visit. Remarkably, there is even a Spritmuseum – a museum devoted to alcholic beverages. Spritmuseum is home to the Absolut Art Collection a collection of over 800 works by renowned artists celebrating (or advertising, depending on how you view the works) Sweden’s Absolut Vodka. The collection started in 1986 when Andy Warhol painted his protrait of the Absolut Vodka bottle.

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Warhol recommended Keith Haring to produce his version of the Absolut Vodka bottle and from those initial works the collection started and has grown steadily.

The ArtPop exhibition combines works by some of these artists with record cover designs that each made. The exhibition took its title from Lady Gaga’s latest LP “ArtPop” with cover art by Jeff Koons.

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But the exhibition proper starts with some of Sir Peter Blake’s covers – well, actually, with the exception of the Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” 12″, just posters for the covers: there is (obvioulsy) “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band”, Oasis’s “Stop The Clocks”, Brian Wilson’s “Gettin’ In Over My Head”, Paul Weller’s “Stanley Road”, Madness “Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da”and Ian Dury’s “Brand New Boots & Panties” all surrounding Blake’s photo selfportrait with Absolut Vodka bottle, surrounded by dead great artists. Once again, and to my annoyance, the Sgt Pepper cover is only credited to Peter Blake. Jann Haworth, Blake’s ex-wife and the co-designer, is “conveniently” forgotten. But they both received Grammys for the design.

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The following artist is Jan van Hammersfeldt with his huge wooden Absolut Vodka work surrounded by covers of The Jefferson Airplane’s Crown of Creation” (probably my favourite Airplane album) and posters for a Jimi Hendrix and a Velvet Underground concerts. van Hammersfeldt’s cover for The Stones “Exile On Main Street” is in a separate monter in the centre of the exhibiiton.

There are covers by Ed Caraeff, including “Trout Mask Replica”, Captain Beefheart’s magnum opus. Others by Damien Hirst, Stephen Sprouse,  Then there is a wall with “influential” cover art, ranging from Elvis’s debut LP via Joy Division to Kraftwerk – perhaps fifty covers in all.

At the far end of the exhibition hall is a wall almost completely devoted to Andy Warhol. Sixteen record covers ranging from Artie Shaw’s Both Feet in the Groove” to Paul Anka’s “The Painter” via John Wallowich and The Velvet Underground & Nico.I would, perhaps, have placed these covers in a different order – probably chronological to make Warhol’s artisic development more obvious.

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Most interestingly, is the photo of Warhol’s original drawings used for the RATFAB cover. According to the explanation Calle Häggkvist, the band’s basist, played the single for Warhol when his grandfather took hm to meet the artist at The Factory. Though Warhol was apparently indifferent to the songs, he agreed to do the cover art.

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The RATFAB cover is in a separate monter.

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As are further copies of “Sticky FIngers”, “Love You Live”, John Cale’s “Academy in Peril”, Ravel’s Daphnis & Chlöe” and The Velvet Underground & Nico” (However, in my excitement, I forgot to check whether or not it was a “Torso” cover.)

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There was also a turntable and many of the records from the covers on display thjat could be played by exhibition visitors. I played Joe Strummer and the Mescalino’s “Rock Art and the Xray Style” (cover by Damien Hirst) – the title seemed to fit the exhibition.

 

In summary, I found the exhibition well worth a visit. The idea of coupling works from the Absolut Art Collection with record covers by the same artists is inspired. I hope the exhibition will become popular. I will definitely visit it again.