How I’d like to Display my Record Cover Collections.

I believe every collector would really like to be able to show off his or her collection to others, and not just to fellow collectors. I am no exception having lent record covers to numerous exhibitions, but I don’t have any on show at home! “Why?” I hear you ask. Well there are two reasons:
1. it has taken a long time for my wife to see the aesthetics in my collection, and, most importantly,
2. I have not been able to find an attractive way to display the record sleeves.

Well, thanks to Lars Magnell (and his company Wag the Wall), who reads this blog, I may have found the answer. There are, as I am sure many of you will know, loads of frames for LP records, ranging from the cheap IKEA version to Vinyl Art’s relatively expensive (but to be fair, the Vinyl Art frame has the advantage that one can take the record out of the frame to play, without having to take the frame off the wall).

In September 2015 I went to an auction of Andy Warhol‘s record covers at Sotheby’s in London. The records were displayed in individual perspex holders each hung on a perspex rail. The rail is just discernible on the right of the picture. Obviously this system had been custom-made for the seller, who was an art gallery owner.

Didier Calvo's Warhol Collection, Sotheby's.
Sotheby’s display of Andy Warhol’s record covers at their September 2015 Rock and Pop sale.

However, I don’t fancy screwing several rails on to my walls to hang the perspex record holders on.

Lars Magnell has invented a cleverer method that he calls “The Magic Vinyl Display“. His perspex record holders hold up to seven LPs and have a self-adjusting flap at the rear that holds the records flat against the front of the holder even if there is only a single LP in it. The holder is open at both sides so one can slip the record in and out at will. If one tires of the cover currently on show, just take it out and the cover underneath becomes visible. These holders would be a great way to store one’s LPs, too. They attach to the wall with a single screw which holds a magnet against the wall and the record holder has a “coin” that attaches to the one on the wall. And thanks to the magnetic wall docking ystem mounting the frame on the wall is quick and easy and it’s easy to adjust if the frame isn’t initially sitting straight without having to undo any screw. Really simple and efficient!

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Wag The Wall’s record cover display holders. Each will hold up to seven LPs and is attached to the wall by a magnet.

Thus, I could store all my 24 Peter Blake LP covers in three holders and change the cover on display daily, or seventy of my Andy Warhol covers in ten of these holders.

I can imagine that exhibitions would be able to use these provided it was possible to prevent visitors removing the covers. And record stores could use the to display and hold LPs that are for sale with up to seven copies of each LP in a separate holder.

Lars tells me that these holders are currently under production. Go to https://www.igg.me/at/wagthewall see videos of the system.

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Rare Oasis “Stop the Clocks” Memorabilia.

When Noel Gallagher was planning Oasis‘s retrospective album “Stop the Clocks” in 2006 he wanted Peter Blake to design the cover. The story that I have heard is that Peter Blake allowed Noel to select items from Peter‘s collection to fill Blake‘s Blue Cupboard–an artwork that Blake had created in 1959. Blake then placed other objects, including an antique dartboard, beside the open cupboard.

StopTheClocks-LP
The front cover of Oasis’s “Stop the Clocks” album with two dartboards behind the table on the right.

Blake designed the cover slipcase and the inner sleeves of the tripple LP set as well as using the dartboard as the cover image of the double EP also entitled “Stop the Clocks“.

OASIS-7inch
The cover of the double 7″ EP “Stop the Clocks”. This was a numbered, limited edition of 5000.

What I didn’t know until very recently (June 2016) that Oasis‘s record company (Sony Music) had produced a promotional item of the dartboard with three darts with tailfeathers bearing the Oasis logo. This would be a great addition to my Peter Blake collection.
Promo Dartboard.jpg

The dartboard is obviously a facsimile of Peter Blake‘s originals. This would look great displayed beside the record covers!

Klaus Voormann’s Covers.

I don’t really know why I haven’t done it before. I felt kind of forced to make a list of my covers with art by Banksy before the collection was shipped off to Rome for the “War, Capitalism & Liberty” exhibition which opened in May 2016. I had a basic list of my collection of covers with Andy Warhol art, but I needed lists of Peter Blake‘s, Damien Hirst‘s and Klaus Voormann‘s covers. Finally last month I  sat down and started compiling these lists and was surprised to find that there are seventy-six covers with Klaus Voormann‘s art!

Then, just as I had finished my list I saw an advert for a book entitled “Albums with Cover Art by Klaus Voormann“. Well, naturally, I thought someone else had done the work for me. So I bought it. What a disappointment! It only lists eleven covers designed by Klaus and included a number of covers not designed by him. None of his covers designed for German artists are mentioned and none of his early jazz covers. There are several pages devoted to the recording of “Concert for Bangladesh” with pictures of the original box set and a reissue, neither of which were designed by Voormann! The book, produced by Books LLC, Wiki Series, Memphis, Tennessee, is thus a complete waste of money. Well, not quite–the book did show a picture of Wet Wet Wet‘s 2007 single “Too Many People” which has a cover drawing by Klaus Voormann.

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A little booklet purporting to list Klaus Voormann’s record covers.

I already have Wet Wet Wet‘s CD “Timeless“, both as the official CD and a promo version with two different Voormann covers. After a bit of research I found the there were two CDs of the “Too Many People” too.

Then Thorsten Knublauch, an expert on The Beatles‘ early days in Hamburg, who sold me my original copy of the Paddy, Klaus & Gibson 10″ compilation EP tipped me off about a CD by Albert Lee & Hogan’s Heroes entitled “Fretterning Behaviour” with classic Voormann art.

Fretterning Behaviour
Cover art for Albert Lee & Hogan’s Heroes CD “Fretterning Behaviour”.

Almost simultaneously, I saw a seven-inch single advertised on Ebay of Klaus Voormann‘s song “Lu Le La Lu“, which he recorded for Apple in the sixties but which was never released. A group called Wishful Thinking released the song as a single in 1974. Now http://www.aisforapplebooks.com released a limited edition of 1000 copies (250 of which were autographed by Klaus) featuring a remastered version of Klaus‘s recording of the song backed with Wishful Thinking‘s version. The single, in a gatefold cover with Klaus Voormann‘s self portrait from 1960 on the front cover, is sold in aid of a charity for refugees.

LuLeLaLu-fr
The front cover of the split single with Klaus Voormann’s version of “Lu Le La Lu” on the “A” side and Wishful Thinking’s version on the “B” side. The cover picture is Klaus Voormann’s 1960 selfportrait.

At the same time another Ebay seller was selling a 1974 Jimmy Smith album entitled “Black Smith” and stated that the cover was by Klaus Voormann. I was very surprised to see this and started searching for confirmation that the cover art was by Klaus as I didn’t feel that it was typical of his work. It didn’t take long to find a picture of the rear cover with clear credit to Voormann. So I had to order a copy, which wasn’t too difficult as there were many for sale at very reasonable prices.

Suddenly there were these five Klaus Voormann covers, which I had missed! I could have almost done without the book on Klaus Voormann‘s record cover art, although it did tell me about the Wet Wet Wet singles. But, apart from that, I’m sure I could do a better job myself.

Record collecting – a love affair or an addiction?

Okay, as you probably have gathered if you read my blog, I live in Sweden. This is not a very important piece of information, but it explains why this post was inspired (probably not the right word) by a recent book and a magazine number. The book, by Olle Johansson, is called “En skivsamlares memoarer” (ISBN 9789163776618, Rabarber förlag, Stockholm, 2015), which translates to “A Record Collector’s Memoirs” and the magazine is the Spring 2016 number of the Swedish music magazine Sonic–a 116 page special number entitled “Alla talar om skivsamlande“, again in translation “Everyone is talking about record collecting“.

Most people would not see any difference between a record collector and a music collector, but there is huge difference and these two publications illustrate it perfectly. Olle Johansson is a MUSIC collector. He is not interested in the format the recording is presented on. He does not care about record labels, catalogue numbers, or the cover art. He wants the music, and it doesn’t matter if it is a reissued CD or vinyl. He doesn’t search for original pressings or special editions. He just wants the music or the artist.

A record collector, however, cares about all, or at least some, of these things. There are those who collect a particular artist–and must have EVERYTHING released by that artist, including unofficial (bootleg) releases. Alternatively, the collector may collect a particular record label, quite independently of the type of music released (though the label will probably have released music that suits the collector’s taste). Then there are collectors who will collect a particular format– say 1960s EPs, or picture discs; the options are endless. And there are strange types, like me, who collect record cover art. Even here there are subdivisions; record cover art by a particular artist, cover art by any famous artist, or cover art that uses a particular design feature or a certain typography.

There are loads of books on record cover art and others on greater or lesser celebrities’ record collections. One recent, almost encyclopaedic one is Eilon Paz‘s “Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting“. Paz visited record collectors and photographed them with their hoards of vinyl–everything from rare 78s to the world’s largest collection of coloured vinyl records. Sonic magazine interviewed musicians, DJs, record collectors and record buyers at record stores. I used to have a library of books about record cover art. I have only kept a few that I really treasure. These include Nick de Ville‘s “Album: Classic Sleeve Design: Style and Image in Sleeve Design“, Richard Evans‘ “The Art of the Record Cover“, Paul Maréchal‘s “The Complete Commissioned Record Covers“, Jennifer McKnight-Trontz’ & Alex Steinweiss’For the Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss, Inventor of the Album Cover” and the catalogue from Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum’s 1981-2 exhibition “Ytans innehåll: utställning av skivomslag” [“The Surface’s Contents: An Exhibition of Record Covers“].

Where did my collection begin? Born in the mid forties, I was raised on vinyl records. My father loved music and had a few hundred LPs and a few 78s. In my late teens I had a friend, Chris,  who worked on Saturdays at The Chelsea Record Centre, a shop on The King’s Road, Chelsea. We used to go to pubs and listen to R ‘n’ B and, when I went to University we started going regularly to the 100 Club on Oxford Street. We could see The Pretty Things, The Graham Bond Organisation or The Artwoods. One night–I suppose in 1964 or 1965– we went to see Bo Diddley and his famous band (who I had at that time only heard of through some Buddy Holly recordings.) Well, to call that concert mindblowing was an understatement.

The first records I bought were LPs–Eddie Cochran‘s “Memorial Album“, “The Buddy Holly Story” and John Lee Hooker‘s “Don’t Turn Me From Your Door“. One evening in late November 1963 my friend Chris came home with a copy of “With the Beatles” and we spent an evening just playing and replaying the album. And almost a year later on the 24th October 1964, Chris and I went to the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn to see The Beatles–I can’t say we heard them because of all the screaming. I still have the “Four Aces” programme from the concert! I started buying records and became a regular at two of London’s independent record shops that imported American albums; One Stop Records in South Moulton Street and Musicland in Berwick Street.

In early 1967, My brother, who had been living in America, returned to England and presented me with a bundle of records including Big Brother & The Holding Company‘s eponymous first album (on the Mainstream label), Country Joe & The Fish‘s “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die“, The Jefferson Airplane‘s “Takes Off” and “Surrealistic Pillow“. I  bought The Doors‘ first album, which was one of the greatest albums of 1967, at One Stop, and they recommended an album by The Velvet Underground & Nico, which I bought but didn’t really get into. I liked the cover, though. Then I discovered bluebeat, ska and reggae and for the first time bought singles. Prince Buster, The Ethiopians and Desmond Dekker before finding Phil Spector and then soul music in the form of Doo Wop with Clyde McPhatter & the Dominoes, The Coasters, The Drifters, Don Covay, Joe Tex and, of course, Otis Redding. Thus far, I was still a music collector.

Then in April 1971, I bought The Rolling Stones‘ “Sticky Fingers” with its Andy Warhol designed cover. I already had The Velvet Underground & Nico, so this was my second Andy Warhol cover. I also had two covers by Peter Blake: “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and The Pentangle‘s “Sweet Child“. So I had the beginnings of two cover art collections. In the early 1980s I stumbled across an album by The Cocteau Twins and soon started collecting albums on the 4AD label designed by Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson (as 23 Envelope) and Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg (as v23). I also found Fetish Record‘s “Final Testament” and collected every cover I could find with Neville Brody‘s art.I also had all three of Joy Division‘s albums but didn’t start collecting Peter Saville‘s record covers in any systematic way, though a few did find their way into my collection. In the early 2000s I fell for Rob Jones‘ work–both as a poster artist for the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and Dead Weather–and for his record cover art. I also collected Swedish designer Martin Kann‘s covers for the band bob hund. All the while my collection of covers by Warhol and Blake grew. I also found that I had many covers by Klaus Voormann and then Damien Hirst produced a few record covers that found their way into my collection. In about 2008  I picked up a couple of albums with cover art by the artist known as Banksy and managed over the course of two years to collect almost all the covers bearing his art.

When I retired in 2010 it was apparent that my wife and I would have to move to a flat and that I would not be able to take my collection of records, posters and CDs with me. I had to downsize. I decided only to keep my collections of record cover art. I said “good bye” to my 4AD, Martin Kann, and Rob Jones records and kept only my Banksy, Blake, Hirst, Voormann and Warhol collections. So now I am a RECORD collector rather than a music collector. The music is secondary to the cover art.