New cover art by Sir Peter Blake.

Towards the end of September, I came across a Rolling Stones CD with cover art by Andy Warhol that I had not seen before. A search for a possible source lead me to a seller in Japan from whom I bought a copy and thereby found myself on the seller’s mailing list. A newsletter arrived at the end of November and I scrolled through it to see if there were any another Stones CDs with Warholian art that I had missed–with no success. BUT–there was a CD box with a portrait of Eric Clapton that looked suspiciously like a recent Peter Blake portrait. Enlarging the cover picture showed that it really was by Peter Blake–and even had his signature. This was a 14 CD box of all seven concerts that Clapton played at London’s Royal Albert Hall between 14th and 23rd May 2015 to celebrate Clapton‘s 70th birthday that was on 30th March. The set is released on the Mid Valley label and must be a bootleg.
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Further Internet searches showed that Clapton had also played two concerts at Madison Square Garden on 1st and 3rd May as part of his birthday celebrations. There had been a common programme for all nine concerts–a LP-sized book with the same picture on one cover and the same portrait of the other but with the Madison Square Garden text.

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So I bought a copy! Inside was a further portrait of Eric holding a card with other  portraits, drawn by his daughters, Sophie, Ella and Julie:
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Well, I had to have the CD box to “complete” my collection of Peter Blake covers but when I returned to the Japanese site it was listed as being out of stock! A feverish Internet search ensued which eventually lead me back to an Ebay seller in Japan who had copies for sale and within four days it had arrived! And then I had another surprise. The same seller advertised a 3 CD set of the Madison Square Gardens concerts! The cover art was again taken from the programme cover:
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So I placed an order for this one, too.

I then noticed that there was an official album of Clapton‘s Royal Albert Hall Concerts released on CD, DVD and vinyl called “Slowhand at 70 – Live at The Royal Albert Hall” but the cover art is not by Peter Blake.
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And then I started googling Eric Clapton bootlegs. I was astounded by the number available. It would seem that almost every concert Clapton has played since the early 1990s has been bootlegged. Thus it is completely logical that Reprise Records released a double CD and Double LP of Clapton‘s 1991 “24 Nights” series of concerts at The Royal Albert Hall in order to cash in on the interest in his live performances. I found that there were several bootlegs of individual concerts from the “24 Nights” series available. The majority had covers showing photographs of Clapton in various poses take at the concerts, but two–one with a recording from the first night (5th February 1991) and one from the fourth night (9th February 1991) used some of Peter Blake‘s drawings from the cover of the official release. Here is the “First Night” cover:
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and here is the “Fourth Night“:
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The “First Night” is a double CD while the “Fourth Night” is a double CD-r.

These four CD sets are the first bootlegs that I have been able to discover that use Peter Blake’s art. I wonder if he knows about them? Probably not!

I shall continue to search for others.

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Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for ‘Drella’ and The Velvet Underground reunion

In 1968 John Cale and Lou Reed had fallen out during the recording “White Light / White Heat”, The Velvet Underground’s second album. They vowed not to play together again. However, they met at Andy Warhol‘s memorial service at St Patrick’s Cathedral on April 1st 1987 after having not had any contact with each other for many years. Apparently, Julian Schnabel suggested that they write a memorial album for Andy.

Warhol superstar Ondine had nicknamed him “Drella“–a contraction of Dracula and Cinderella and Reed and Cale decided to call their work “Songs for Drella“. They previewed the work at Brooklyn’s St. Anne’s Church in two concerts on January 8th and 9th 1989 before it was  complete.And these concerts were recorded and a bootleg LP appeared.
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The record cover was a silkscreened copy of Nat Finkelstein‘s 1965 portrait of Andy Warhol holding a tambourine. John Cale recorded a single with two songs from the “Songs for Drella” project live on 27th July, 1989. These were “Style It Takes / Forever Change“. The cover showed two contractions of Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of Andy Warhol (C The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation).

AW by RM

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The complete work was performed at a series of concerts in November and December 1989 and one performance filmed and released on DVD and Laserdisk. Reed and Cale recorded the work over the following two months for an album, which was released by Sire Records on 24th April 1990 on standard CD, a limited edition Digipak CD and on LP.

SongsForDrella
“Songs for Drella” CD with a Warhol self-portrait visible behind Lou Reed and John Cale.

A single “Nobody But You / Style It Takes” was released from the album.

A tour proved out of the question although Cale and Reed did perform together again in 1990 in Paris. They were joined by Sterling Morrison and Mo Tucker to play “Heroin“. This concert was also recorded and released on a bootleg entitled “Paris 1990“, with fluorescent cover art on a black background. The front cover showed a Warhol lily and the rear a portrait of Warhol in a diamond-shaped lozenge.

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The arrival of Morrison and Tucker at the Paris concert lead to a further reunion concert in 1993 that was also recorded and released on CD and Laserdisk entilted “The Velvet Underground Redux Live MCMXCIII” and later as a four-LP set with Warhol’s banana as the cover art.

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