I used to be a music nerd with a large collection of all sorts of recorded music, though mainly a vinyl freak. I started out in the sixties, got swept away by psychedelia and into music posters which I continued to collect up until 2013, when space shortage meant I had to sell the major part of my collection. I had already started collecting record cover art and had an complete collection of art by Vaughan Oliver (4AD) and Neville Brody (Fetish Records), which unfortunately had to go. I had all Peter Blake's record covers as well as the nucleus of a representative Andy Warhol collection. In addition I had an almost complete collection of covers by Banksy, Klaus Voormann and Damien Hirst so I decided to continue to collect covers by these five artists.
Back in March I published a post about winners of the Tate Museum’s Turner Prize. A surprising number of these artists are involved in music projects, either as musicians themselves or as contributors of record cover art. Another post dealt with Turner Prize winner Susan Philipsz’ records. Wolfgang Tillmans won the Turner Prize in 2000. He was the first non-British winner. Besides being an internationally famous photographer and conceptual artist, Tillmans has also released three extended play 12″ vinyl records and provided their cover art.
Today I went to see the Tillmans exhibition at the Tate Modern.
The exhibition was vast. Unfortunately there was no audio guide to help visitors understand what the exhibition was about. I found it extremely difficult to appreciate more than a minority of the photographs on show and didn’t spend much time going through the many rooms. My feeling was that, as most photographs in true Tillmans style, were of everyday objects and often unidentified people I didn’t get much from looking at them. I obviously need a guide to looking at Tillmans art.
BUT, following Banksy’s advice, I exited through the gift shop and there were Tillmans’ three vinyl EPs on sale. As a Tate member I even got a members’ discount.
First there was the 2016-1986 EP:
Second: the Device Control EP:
And third: the “Thats Desire” EP:
Each EP comes with a mp3 download.
I couldn’t resist putting the covers of the 2016-1986 and “Device Control” EPs side by side as the pictures seemed to be from a single image photographed in different lighting conditions and with altered coloured hangings. Are they the same images but manipulated, or what?
I have previously discussed my collection of Velvet Underground & Nico albums and this time I thought I’d celebrate the fact that this album was officially released 50 years and two months ago.
This historic album was, of course, initially recorded as a ten-track acetate in Norman Dolph’s Scepter Studios in New York on 25th April 1966. Two acetates were pressed and one was given to Andy Warhol offered it to Columbia Records, Atlantic Records and Elektra who all turned it down. Warhol then took the band to Los Angeles and with Ted Wilson re-recorded most of the songs and Verve Records agreed to release it. Warhol’s acetate disappeared but the other copy surfaced in a New York street sale in 2006 and was bought by record collector Warren Hill for 75 cents. Hill put the record up for auction on eBay, and eventually sold it for $25,200. It was resold in 2014.
A bootleg of the acetate recording called “Unripened” appeared in 2007, pressed first on green and later on black vinyl with a pastiche of Warhol’s original cover for the Velvet’s album. The green banana was not peelable and instead of “Peel slowly and see” beside the banana’s neck this version said “Unripened listen slowly and hear.”
The album received its first official release on CD together with the 45th Anniversary 6 CD set in 2012 and a limited edition of 5000 numbered copies was released on vinyl for Record Store Day that April.
There was a later unnumbered vinyl release. There is yet another version released in 2014 in a different cover.
The historic value of the acetate recording is indisputable, but musically it is inferior to the re-recorded full album. In its first year “The Velvet Underground & Nico” appeared in several versions. There were at least two promotional copies, both mono, released in the original “torso” covers. One with a yellow label and the other with a white label. The identical slick could be used for mono or stereo copies,– the mono slick was pasted with the stem of the banana almost at the cover’s top edge.
The MONO version.
The STEREO version.
Both mono and stereo versions were originally released with the “torso” cover, which was soon withdrawn when Eric Emerson demanded payment to allow his picture to be used on the cover. Verve recalled many albums and stuck a large black sticker over the offending “torso” photograph. Later printings replaced the “torso” cover with an version with Emerson’s picture airbrushed out. These were still gatefold covers.
The original U.K. release was housed in a single cover with the an unpeelable banana. In Germany an unusual reissue was produced in 1976. This cover is unique; coloured blue and with an image of the peeled banana.
The first CD version of the album appeared in 1986. There was a limited edition of 3000 copies German release in a slipcase with a peelable banana that was hand numbered the following year.
The standard 1986 CD.
The limited edition slipcase from 1987. CD.
.In 1991 a further reissue appeared in the U.S.A. and Australia that had a single cover and the album’s title on the front cover as shown on the 1986 CD. Mobile Fidelity released a gold CD version of the album in 1997.
There have been many reissues since the late nineteen eighties both on CD and since 2000 on vinyl. I mentioned the picture disc varieties in my previous post. The latest vinyl reissues have been pressed on 180 g virgin vinyl and have restored the original cover including a peelable banana and a restored “torso” rear cover released as a 45th anniversary issue in 2012. And there have been numerous reissues pressed on coloured vinyl. I have seen yellow and red vinyl issues as well as Newbury Comics limited (1000 copies) pressed on yellow/black split vinyl which also has a peelable banana and “torso” rear cover.
There are at least three complete cover albums of Velvet Underground & Nico album. The first appeared in 1990 in Italy where a series of punk bands played the songs from the Velvet Underground & Nico album.
The second cover album was another various artists compilation of the VU & Nico album tracks recorded on the Castle Face Record label in 2012. The banana on the cover was by David Shrigley, who drew a portrait of Andy Warhol on the back cover.
Castle Face & Friends play the Velvet Underground & Nico album with David Shrigley’s cover art.
The rear cover with Shrigleys portrait of Warhol.
A third cover album called “The Velvet Underground & Nico and Ben Benderbe” was recorded by Bud Benderbe and released as a limited edition LP with a very strange large sliced banana sticker.
There are also numerous records that use variations on Warhol’s banana image that have no other relationship to the Velvet’s music. These include the split single by Eat All You Can and Hickey called “Banana Split”.
Another is a rare jazz LP by the Instant Composers Pool Group, recorded in Holland in 1970.
The classical quartet’s, the Fauré Quartet, first recording “Popsongs”, released on the Deutsche Grammophon label had an apple sticker on the cover which, when peeled revealed a raspberry.
A very recent variation on the design is a 2017 release by John Nemeth called “Feelin’ Freaky”. On this cover, though, the banana was replaced by a red gherkin.
Often called the album that launched a thousand bands, “The Velvet Underground & Nico” has proved itself to be one of rock music’s most influential albums and the number of reissues on both CD and vinyl confirm its importance. Andy Warhol’s cover art was a major work of pop art and has had almost as great an influence on cover design as the music has had on the development of rock music.
Okay, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Henrik Berggren, former frontman of Swedish indie band Broder Daniel, who disappeared from radar after the band’s 2008 farewell concert in its native Gothenburg.
Henrik and fellow school comrade Daniel Gilbert formed Broder Daniel in 1989 and the band was joined by Håkan Hellström (who went to the same school as Henrik and Daniel, and would become an enormously popular artist in his own right) on drums and later by Johan Neckvall and Anders Göthberg (guitar; 9th October 1975-30th March 2008). Broder Daniel released its first album “Saturday Night Engine” as a Digipak CD in 1995. Gilbert left the band after the “Saturday Night Engine” tour and was replaced on bass by Teodor Jensen (who would go on to form the band The Plan). Hellström left the band in 1994 to join Honey Is Cool.
Broder Daniel‘s tours were infamous for alcohol and drug use and for unreliability that made concert-bookers wary of booking the band. In particular Henrik Berggren misused a variety of drugs together with alcohol and often performed ‘under the influence’.
Håkan Hellström rejoined the band in 1998, now playing bass, and Broder Daniel‘s third album “Broder Daniel Forever” was released on 22nd April 1998.
Broder Daniel toured the album over the summer of 1998 and were scheduled to play Hultsfred’s Festival in June 1998. I was one of the festival doctors and the medical team received a phone call at about 10 a.m. on Friday 12th June from an hotel in Vimmerby, about 30 kms from Hultsfred, to say that a member of a band that was due to play at 15.15 h that afternoon was unwell and could we send a doctor. “No.” We couldn’t send a doctor as the medical crew was based in the festival area. However, Vimmerby had a general practice near the hotel, and, it being Friday, it was open and we suggested that the band member went there.
At about 1 p.m. the band arrived at Hultsfred’s Pampas stage and I was called to examine the singer (Henrik Berggren) who was not at all well. We learned that he had consumed a fair amount of alcohol and various uppers and downers and felt he couldn’t perform. I had two hours to get him shipshape for the show. He was mainly complaining of stomach pains so I gave him a Zantac tablet dissolved in water and suggested he rest until it was time to go on stage. I checked in on him every half hour or so and he seemed to brighten up. By 3 p.m. he was up and about and could do the hour-long show!
I had brought a copy of the limited edition “Broder Daniel Forever” LP with me and after the band had done their thing I asked them all to sign it. Håkan Hellström refused to believe it was my album and said he thought it must be my daughter’s! Actually, my daughters had bought it for me for my birthday a couple of months earlier.
Fast forward to July 1999 and a new festival in Stockholm called Stockholm Open. Broder Daniel were again scheduled to appear. I was in charge of the medical crew for this festival and had managed to recruit many of the members of the previous year’s Hultsfred crew to help out. While I was out patrolling the festival area Henrik Berggren came to the Medical tent and asked Kajsa, one of the nurses, if “his doctor” was at the festival. Kajsa knew he meant me and reported that he had been asking for me. But this time he was only looking for reassurance and didn’t need any medical attention. As the Festival ended early on Sunday morning, I waited outside the medical tent for my daughters, who had been at the festival with me, and their classmate Tobbe who would be coming with us back to town. We were talking about Henrik and I said that I really felt fatherly towards him (“jag får faderskänslor”. Tobbe, who was gay, immediately replied “Jag får sambokänslor” (I feel he could be my partner).
I met up with Henrik at a couple more festivals in the ensuing years and we went to after festival parties and chatted. He always struck me as a gentle soul with quite a wide education.
However, after Broder Daniel‘s farewell concert in Gothenburg in 2008, just months after the band’s guitarist Anders Göthberg had died, Broder Daniel disbanded and Henrik disappeared. Apparently, he developed chronic tiredness syndrome and has lived as a recluse. But then in March 2017 posters appeared all over Stockholm announcing a new solo album by Henrik due for release on May 5th!
The album, “Wolf’s Heart” will be released on CD and LP. There will be a standard black vinyl LP and at least five limited editions of 300 copies each on coloured vinyl; pale blue, pink, red, violet and yellow. Thus there are at least six variations of “Wolf’s Heart” on vinyl. The five coloured vinyl versions amount to 1500 copies. I’m not sure how limited the black vinyl version will be but Henrik is obviously counting on selling at least 2000 copies. He will probably succeed, knowing the growing cult following his old band
I have an unwritten rule that I will not start collecting any new artists’ records, but rules are made to be broken,and I have ordered copies of all the variations of “Wolf’s Heart” on vinyl!
Artipelag is an art gallery on Sweden’s Baltic coast about a 30-minute drive eastwards from Stockholm. It was founded by Björn Jacobsson, the man behind the Baby Björn range of infant products. Jacobsson had a vision for a gallery located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and found an architect willing to design it. There have been many inspiring exhibitions there since it opened in 2012. One of the more recent exhibitions was “The Legacy of Andy Warhol” which ran from 15th April until 25th September 2016. This exhibition was curated by Artipelag’s artistic director Bo Nilsson, himself an avid Warhol fan and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the first to write about Warhol’s record cover art in the catalogue to Sweden’s Nationalmuseum’s 1981-1982 exhibition of record covers.
The first thing that met visitors to the exhibition was a mountain of Brillo boxes, like the ones on the poster, specially made for the show.
One large, silver foil-clad exhibition space was devoted to films including Roland Nameth‘s 1966 film “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” featuring the Velvet Underground, apparently the first time the film has been shown with its original soundtrack, and Warhol‘s “Empire State Building“.
There was a small room with walls lined with a selection of reproductions of Warhol’s record covers–though mainly from the 70’s onwards, although the “Velvet Underground & Nico” cover was there, too, and surprisingly one of Warhol’s drawings for a projected Billie Holiday EP was included. I thought it a pity that there were no actual record covers, only prints.
A real surprise waited just through the sliding doors into the next space. The walls were lined with a large selection of Daniel Blau‘s collection of Warhol‘s drawings from the 1950s. I suppose there were about thirty drawings, but the two that I immediately reacted to were obviously related to Warhol‘s record cover art.
The drawing of the apple made me think of the “William Tell Overture” cover and the reclining woman was obviously a study for Kenny Burrell‘s “Blue Lights” album cover.
There was also a photo booth at the exhibition–a real Warholian touch! Visitors could photograph themselves free. And out came a card with four Warhol-style photos!
I visited the exhibition twice and photographed myself both times. but I lost the second photo in the restaurant. Clumsy!
I put the exhibition out of my mind until I read Guy Minnebach‘s wonderful “Andy Earhole-Another Blog about Andy Warhol’s Cover art” and a post about the “Night Beat” box set, which Guy illustrated with a picture of a man talking on the telephone from Daniel Blau‘s 2012 book “From Silverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings“. I immediately ordered a copy and consider it one of the best books on Warhol‘s art in my book collection. Not only are the pictures superb, but the essay “Environments, Situations, Spaces” by James Hofmaier is a wonderful introduction to Andy Warhol‘s world.
There were more drawings in Blau’s book that resembled Warhol’s cover illustrations. The only one I couldn’t find in the book was the apple drawing I saw at Artipelag. Here are a selection with the respective cover.
Note that the original drawings for the “Blue Lights” cover and the hands on the Jan August cover are mirror images of the original photos. This is because they are blots of Warhol‘s original tracing. The drawing of the piano playing hands from the Jan August album was used for the unreleased “Progressive Piano” LP and EP.
The drawing I have placed beside the Horowitz album is not the one used on the record sleeve, but just shows how Warhol drew many pictures of hands playing the piano. Perhaps this drawing was intended for the “Progressive Piano” cover too, but was never used.
I really must thank Guy Minnebach for telling me about Blau‘s magnificent book “From Silverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings“, I will spend many happy hours enjoying the superb drawings. It obviously is the catalogue of an exhibition of Warhol‘s 1950’s drawings–an exhibition I would love to have seen. But seeing many of the original drawings at Artipelag feels like I did get a little peek.
I really felt as though I had exhausted the subject of record covers showing Kate Moss‘ portrait in my previous post. No sooner had the proverbial ink dried than two more covers appeared. The first is a 7-inch single-sided EP by American punk/hardcore/grunge band Vomit, entitled “Kate Moss” on the Give Praise record label.
Now, a search of Discogs will reveal more than ten bands that have used the name Vomit. The Vomit in question seem to only have released this one “Kate Moss” EP.
Then I was reading about the two CD and one DVD set of Bryan Ferry‘s 2010 “Olympia” album. I already have the limited edition Vinyl Factory LP version of this, that includes the cover portrait of Kate Moss but without the text–obviously intended to be framed and hung on a teenager’s wall. I hadn’t considered the box set as I felt it probably wouldn’t add anything to the LP version. Well, I was wrong. The 40-page book that houses the discs contains many more photos from Adam Whitehead‘s sessions for the album. The DVD has an interview with Bryan Ferry on the making of the “Olympia” album and the “You Can Dance” video as well as a video of behind the scenes activity in the making of the “You Can Dance” video.
The pictures are stunning. Here are a selection:
The CDs and the DVD included in set come in card covers, two of which have different cover photos from the LP and deluxe box.
CD1 has the album cover photo, while CD2 and the DVD cover have different photos. You will have to examine the covers of the CDs to spot the very subtle difference (hint look at Kate’s right hand).
And just when the thrill of finding the box set sort of settled, I came across an Ebay ad by my least favourite seller Majestic Music & Art. I consider this seller to be quite ruthless in his (I presume it is a “he”) price-setting. Many years ago, I bought a couple of albums from Majestic Music & Art that were poorly packaged and arrived damaged. They would not discuss a return or a refund and I promised myself never to buy from them again. But in mid-March 2017 they posted this ad for a copy of the Luke Fair remix of Primal Scream‘s (and Kate Moss‘) “Some Velvet Morning” (the old Lee Hazlewood classic). This single normally comes in a plain black generic cover, but Majestic Music & Art advertised a copy with Kate Garner‘s famous 1992 portraits of an 18-year-old Kate Moss affixed to front and back covers.
Despite my promise to myself never to buy from Majestic Music & Art, I did buy the 12″ single to add to my collection. I knew of Kate Garner‘s Kate Moss portraits from an exhibition of Russell Young‘s recent screen prints at London’s Halcyon Gallery. Russell Young’s portraits are really wonderful–some are as big as 200 x 200 cm and covered in diamond dust, so they really sparkle!
Kate Moss‘ name crops up in music as a songwriter and artist–several tracks by other artists/bands are entitled “Kate Moss“. Examples include Arab Strap‘s 1996 album “The Week Never Starts Around Here” that contains a track entitled “Kate Moss“, but there is no picture of her on the record cover. German rocker Maximilian Hecker‘s 2003 CD “Rose” also has a song called “Kate Moss” as its first track. Again, there is no portrait of her on the cover. I don’t suppose these will be the only songs called with this iconic title.
It has been my ambition to collect all record covers with Andy Warhol‘s art. Most of the seventies and eighties covers are relatively easy to find and shouldn’t cost the earth (an exception is Ultra Violet‘s eponymous LP from 1973), but the earlier ones, particularly the fifties covers have become increasingly expensive. And the original “Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967) along with many of it’s reissues are becoming increasingly expensive.
I have long searched for decent copies of Moondog‘s “The Story of Moondog“. While copies of the Moondog album do pop up relatively frequently on Ebay, most are in pretty poor condition with severely discoloured covers, but I had the great good fortune to find a near mint copy on Discogs which I bought as a Christmas present to myself.
The other major hole in my collection was John Wallowitch‘s second album for Serenus Records called “This Is (The Other Side of) John Wallowitch“. This album doesn’t come up for sale very often and bidding goes crazy on good copies. A reasonable copy popped up on Ebay in late January and despite having depleted my funds the previous month for the Moondog album, I managed to win it with a not too outrageous bid.
Front and rear covers of “This Is (The Other Side of) John Wallowitch”, 1965.
As can be seen, Wallowitch chose as the rear cover picture to reuse the “photo booth” photos taken by Warhol that were on the front cover of his previous Serenus Records release “This Is John Wallowitch“. It’s sort of ironic that the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, as stated on the front cover, is portrayed on the rear from the chin downwards, so one cannot see any of the thousand faces (actually, there are only 56 photos, or parts of photos on the cover, not thousands).
So now there are two of Warhol’s original covers and one bootleg that I need to complete my collection of Warhol’s record covers. These are the pink version of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky, Cantata Op 78” and the unobtainable “Night Beat” promotional box set that Guy Minnebach wrote about in his Andy Earhole blog (https://warholcoverart.com/2017/03/25/night-beat-rarest-of-the-rare/). Though I do have the facsimile box of the latter.
The remaining bootleg I am still looking for is the limited edition of Keith Richards‘ “Unknown Dreams” (Outsider Bird Records, OBR 93009).
As you all know by now, record cover art has become highly collectible. The long player, invented by Columbia Records in 1948 allowed graphic artists a 31 x 31 cm canvas on which to apply their art.The arrival of the compact disc in 1982 was predicted to banish the LP forever and, in the mid 1990s many artists had abandoned the format. However, the vinyl LP didn’t die; it faded away for a time, but has made a dramatic recovery in the last few years and artists are once more releasing albums on vinyl. And this has made designers and artists return to the medium and produce many great works of cover art.
Some record covers by famous artists now change hands for extraordinary sums. Nowadays, collectors will only pay top buck for a record cover if it is in pristine condition and preferably for an original pressing. One can only congratulate those who bought some of the rarer records when they were first released as the cover art has proved a surprising investment.
There have been many exhibitions of record cover art over the past thirty or so years. The first one I heard about (and visited) was produced by Aarhus Kunstmuseum in 1981 (shown there from 5th September until 4th October 1981), which then transferred to Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, where it was shown from 24th October 1981 until 17th January 1982 and later to Bildmuseet in Umeå. I saw both the exhibitions in Stockholm and Umeå (and lent 30 covers to the Umeå exhibition) and I still have the exhibition catalogue and even a poster from the Stockholm exhibition, signed by Andy Warhol!
Catalogue from Nationalmuseets 1981-2 exhibition “Skivomslag” (record covers).
Poster from Nationalmuseet’s exhibition, signed by Andy Warhol.
Many books have been published illustrating “great” record covers, “The 100 (or even 500) best record covers of all time” or just plain record covers. There have been a few good books on the history of record cover art. My favourites are Steven Heller‘s, Alex Steinweiss‘ & Kevin Reagan‘s “Alex Steinweiss Inventor of the Modern Album Cover“, Nick De Ville‘s “Album: Style and Image in Sleeve Design” and Richard Evans‘ “The Art of the Record Cover“. There have been even fewer books devoted to a single designer: Paul Maréchal‘s pioneering “Andy Warhol–The Record Covers 1949-1987. Catalogue Raissonné” from 2008 and updated in 2015 as “Andy Warhol–The Complete Commissioned Record Covers 1949-1987” and, again, the “Alex Steinweiss Inventor of the Modern Album Cover” are wonderful examples. Fewer books focus on the artists behind the record covers.
In January 2017, Taschen published Francesco Spampinato‘s “Art Record Covers” edited by Julius Weidemann. This book with over 400 pages provides an overview of artists who have produced record cover art, ranging from the early days of record cover art with covers by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol to currently active artists including Banksy, Jeff Koons, Karin “Mamma” Andersson and with in depth interviews with Tauba Auerbach, Shepard Fairey, Kim Gordon,Christian Marclay, Albert Oehlen and Raymond Pettibon. Thereafter the bulk of the book, over 300 pages, is an alphabetical presentation of, I guess, 500 artists with selected illustrations of their work.
Spampinato must have an enviable collection of record cover art! Many (most?) of the photos are of records from his personal collection. The book is beautifully produced, being almost LP sized (30 x 29.5 cm) and on heavyweight paper. Many of the covers are reproduced almost full size.
Do I have any criticisms? The book concentrates on artists not affiliated with record companies, so there are no Reid Miles or Vaughan Oliver or Peter Saville, or even Alex Steinweiss covers. The covers chosen for the book are all art works and there are no photographic covers. there are a couple of artists that I miss: Anton Corbijn has designed loads of covers for U2 and Depeche Mode that aren’t purely photographic. And there is Klaus Voormann who has designed record covers for over fifty years for artists such as The Bee Gees, Manfred Mann and, not least The Beatles‘ “Revolver“. These are really only petty quibbles though. The “Art Record Covers” is a magnificent book and a snip at its recommended price of £49,99. So, go out and buy it! But be warned, it’s heavy so take a cart with you.