All posts by rockdoc999

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.

A History of Swedish Music Posters from Gröna Lund.

Gröna Lund is a permanent attraction in Stockholm with exciting rides, restaurants, bars and an important concert stage on which most of the world’s more famous artistes–ranging from Birgit Nilsson via Chuck Berry to The Clash–have performed.

Posters for events and concerts at Gröna Lund have become highly collectible. Between 1971 and 1988 they were designed by one man, Nils Sture Jansson–who produced about 800 individual posters, sometimes with incredibly short deadlines. In 2012 Premium Publishing produced a book containing 200 of Nils Sture Jansson’s poster designs edited by Nils Sture Jansson’s son, Jonas, and Gröna Lund’s own historian Andreas Theve. The book rapidly sold out when it was published–but I was lucky to find a copy in Söders Bokhandel– a little, but extremely well-stocked bookshop in Stockholm. The book has  also become highly collectible.

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The book’s cover. The cover picture is of The Ramones (see poster below)

Nils Sture Jansson’s relatively simple illutrations capture the spirit of the artists and, according to the introduction, were much admired by them. Only a few were unhappy–and that was sometimes due to the fact that his or her name was misspellt.
Here are some samples (posters for artists I personally like):

Jansson would be supplied with photos of the artist(s) and deconstruct them to make his poster designs.

Kristian Russell has taken over and is continuing the tradition of Gröna lund posters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Andy Warhol’s “Biting” Photos on Record Covers and Elsewhere

Finding details of where and when Andy Warhol took the nine famous “biting” photographs that were used on the “Love You Live” album cover and other items hasn’t been easy. In a recent interview (July 18th, 2017) in Interview Magazine about the origins of many of Warhol’s photographs Christopher Makos explains where many of Warhol’s photographs were taken. Towards the end of the interview, Makos mentions the photos for the “Love You Live” album.

Makos remembers that Andy was given a “point and shoot” camera sometime around 1975. And he used it constantly throughout the late 1970s, often replacing his Polaroid camera, which he primarily used for his portraits. However, the “biting” photos are nearly always shown as if they were Polaroid pictures, so I cannot be sure which type of camera they were taken with. However, the reproductions on posters and elsewhere suggest that Warhol used both Polaroids and his “point & shoot”camera.

During the summer of 1977, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards rented Peter Beard’s* house in Montauk (East Hamptons, New York State) and Andy took some of the photographs there and some additional ones at Warhol’s third Factory address at 860 Broadway in New York later. Obviously Jagger had brought his daughter Jade to Montauk as it is her hand Mick is “biting” on the “Love You Live” cover. There is also a photo of Jagger and Jade sticking their tongues out at each other.

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Andy Warhol’s photographs for the cover of “Love You Live”.

It seems eleven photographs were taken and a contact sheet produced. However the last picture int he second row shows Mick Jagger biting a child’s hand but this is  not the photo that appears on the front cover of “Love You Live“.

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The Front cover of “Love You Live” showing Mick biting a child’s hand (Jade Jagger). Jade’s arm in a different position from that in the contact sheet photo.

There are also other pictures that do not appear on this contact sheet, in particular the picture of Mick and Jade  (born 21 October 1971) sticking their tongues out at each other.
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…And here’s how it looked on the “El Mocambo 1977” box set cover.

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Mick and Jade Jagger in a picture from the “biting” session on the cover of a limited edition bootleg box set.

The photos were also used on the cover of a four-track promotional EP for the “Love You Live” album, entitled simply “The Rolling Stones” (Rolling Stones Records, EP-PR-287). In addition there was a picture disc (probably a bootleg) with the same four photos.

A new bootleg of a Stones concert, presumably from Lexington, Kentucky, was released in 1978 with the title “Live in Laxington” with a fairly traditional front cover picture of Mick and Ronnie Wood. However, one of the “Biting” photos appeared on the back cover.

The photographs were also used for other promotional items. The Rolling Stones threw a release party for the “Love You Live” album at the Trax club in New York on September 27, 1977 and the photos featured on the plastic tablecloths used at the reception. These measured 36″ x 48″ (91,4 x 121,9 cm). There were also similarly sized posters on paper. Carrier bags with the photos were also produced, I would guess as goodie bags for guests, though I don’t know if they were appeared at the launch party or later.

Andy Warhol was fastidious about typography and was annoyed by Mick Jagger’s addition of the record title and the Band’s name to the artwork for the “Love You Live” album cover and usually refused to sign the front cover, preferring to sign the inner spread.

This autographed copy of “Love You Live” is from my collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover.

*Peter Beard (born 1938) is a photographer, film director, author and artist who has lead an adventurous life. He was friends with the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and other celebrities.

 

 

Collecting Andy Warhol’s Record Cover Art. How to Credit Previously Unrecognised covers?

I curated what I thought would be the first exhibition of Andy Warhol’s record covers in Piteå, Sweden, in July 2008 I enlisted the help of fellow collector Guy Minnebach to assemble as complete a collection of record Warhol’s record covers as possible. Only later did I find out that Warhol’s record covers had been shown before-usually as part of other exhibitions of his art, and then only exhibiting a few covers. My intention with the 2008 exhibition was to try to gather together all the covers he designed or illustrated.

Just two months after the exhibition in Piteå closed, the Museum of Art in Montreal, Canada, put on a major exhibition entitled “Warhol Live!” which showed the link between Warhol’s art and music. Many of the record covers shown came from the collection of Paul Maréchal and his book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers 1949-1987: Catalogue Raisonné” was published to coincide with the “Warhol Live!” exhibition.

Just before the Piteå exhibition, Guy Minnebach had discovered the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr.” EP and the “Warhol Live!” exhibition showed Paul Maréchal’s newly discovered “Night Beat” box set. Less than a month after the exhibition in Piteå closed, in September 2008, a friend of mine read an interview in a magazine with Tomas Alfredsson, a Swedish musician turned actor, who had been a member of a band called Roland and the Flying Albatros Band (known as RATFAB for short). In the interview he said that the cover of the Band’s second single had been designed by Andy Warhol. Thus started my search for this cover, and I quickly found three copies. The RATFAB single “Det brinner en eld / Mörka ögon” became the first Warhol cover NOT to be included in Maréchal’s 2008 book!

Since then, a number of covers, unrecognised in 2008, illustrated or designed by Andy Warhol have been identified.
1. Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish, Volume 2 (LP),
2. Vladimir Horowitz – Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Lizst (LP),
3. Mendelssohn – Wedding March / Scherzo (45 RPM EP)
4. Lew White – Melodic Magic (EP),
5. Erika Morini – Tchaikovsky–Violin Concerto
6. George Gershwin / Edvard Grieg – Porgy & Bess / Symphonic Dances (LP and EP box),
7. Curiosity Killed the Cat – Misfit / Man (7″ single).

And this list doesn’t include bootlegs or records and CDs that simply appropriated Warhol’s art for their covers. Nor does it include covers after 1987 that simply use or reuse Warhol’s art, such as Paul Anka’s “Amigos” or Skyline’s “Skyline” or even The Silver Apples’ “Fractal Flow / Lovefingers“.

There has been a problem in having new covers suggested to be by Warhol verified. An example is the rear cover drawing on Keely Smith’s 1957 Capitol Records LP “I Wish You Love“. By this date, Warhol was an acclaimed commercial artist and his “dot and blot” technique was being used by other illustrators. Warhol is not known to have worked with Capitol Records on any other projects, so this drawing cannot certainly be accredited to Warhol. There are similar discussions about the Tchaikovsky (No. 5 in the above list) and the Gershwin / Grieg (No. 6 in the list) designs also released in 1957, but these were at least released on the RCA Victor Bluebird label, and Warhol did many designs for RCA and its other subsidiary Camden Records. Maréchal has included the Tchaikovsky, but not the Gershwin / Grieg in the second edition of his book.

There are variations in some of the covers that Maréchal has described. There are various colour variants of the covers illustrated, starting with the first cover in the book, “A Program of Mexican Music” (Columbia Records – ML 2080). Maréchal includes the green cover variant but doesn’t mention the rarer pale blue coloured version. Similarly, there are five colour variations of the “Alexander Nevsky” (Columbia Records – ML 4247)–pale blue and a deeper, almost turquoise, blue that contained the original LP with dark blue labels. The album was re-released in the late fifties with the cover in green, orange and pink. These copies have records with Columbia 6-eye labels. Maréchal includes the green reissue cover, but not the original blue covers. Then there are minor variations such as the various printings of the “Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops” EP. Friend and Warhol expert Guy Minnebach noticed that some copies had the text “A High Fidelity Recording” just beneath the RCA logo in the upper right of the cover. Some had this text in silver and some in green. There is a minor variation in the cover of the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” EP. Some copies have “Printed in U.S.A.” at bottom right while others do not (probably due to the way the slick was cut before being affixed to the cover.)

There are probably more cover designs by Andy Warhol waiting to be identified. A recent case in point is the sister box to NBC’s “Night Beat” entitled “Voices and Events“. As with the designs for the “Progressive Piano” EP set and 10″ LP a lithograph of the “Voices and Events” cover design exists in The Warhol Museum and was shown at the “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” exhibition in Australia early in 2017. It isn’t clear whether The Warhol Museum recognised this to be the design for an EP box set, but when I saw it I immediately saw the similarity to the “Night Beat” design with the dots on three sides. No one knows if the “Voices and Events” box was ever released. I suppose, like the “Night Beat” set, it was intended as a promotional teaser but the radio show it was intended to promote only lasted three episodes… so probably not.

By my reckoning, there are some 55 individual covers that can be attributed to Andy Warhol (I do not count different formats that use the same, or similar, designs), but there is no way that a newly identified cover can be given accreditation, other than being recognised by Paul Maréchal and included in future editions of his “Complete Commissioned Record Covers“.

 

The 50th Anniversary Box Set of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – a set I didn’t think I needed.

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The deluxe 50th anniversary box set of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” with all the ‘goodies’.

It seems I’ve been writing a lot about “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” since it’s 50th anniversary on June 1st. In March, I heard about the projected release of an upgraded version of the stereo version of the album together with a variety of previously unreleased alternative takes of the songs (including “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane“, which had not been included on the final album) on double vinyl, double CD and a four CD, Blu-ray and DVD box set which included a 144-page LP-sized book, and 2 posters as well as a reproduction of the original cutout from the LP.

I decided that I already had the original LP (actually TWO copies) and didn’t think I needed to shell out £30 for the double LP or over £100 for the box set as I am not particularly interested in hearing alternate takes. And I felt I didn’t need to listen to a third re-mastering of the original, though I listened to the new stereo version on Spotify and definitely heard a new, clearer mix. My main interest in “Sgt. Pepper” extends to the cover design.

But on a visit to my favourite record store I saw a copy of the box. What first caught my eye and made me take it off the shelf was the lenticular version of the cover image, which made it appear three dimensional. Now, that was a version of Peter Blake’s & Jann Haworth’s cover that I hadn’t seen before. Then, on opening the clamshell inner box I found what I thought was a copy of the LP–but the box clearly stated that it didn’t include the LP only 4 CDs, a Blu-ray and a DVD. There were three posters and the book which had a chapter devoted to the story of how the cover came about. Now, THAT did interest me. So I decided I’d try it and the offer of a 10% discount clinched the deal!

When I got home, I removed the plasticwrap from the LP sized album and from the book. On opening the gatefold I saw the CDs, Blu-ray and DVD were housed in separate LP-style covers. Only when I started to upload the CDs onto my computer did I notice that each CD had a different version of the classic “Sgt. Pepper” photo, with the Beatles in different poses in front of the Blake/Haworth montage.

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Four different variations on the original “Pepper” cover. The one at top left is is the standard photo.

The book tells Paul McCartney’s version of how the cover art came to be. He tells that he had the idea of the “Sgt. Pepper” theme while on a flight back from America. He says that Mal Evans asked for him to pass the salt and pepper and he misheard it as Sgt. Pepper, which immediately inspired him to create an alter ego for The Beatles. He says that he mad some sketches for a possible cover scene and took them to his friend, gallery owner Robert Fraser, who proposed Peter Blake and Jann Haworth as artists to realise his ideas.

There is no mention of John Lennon’s discussions with design group “The Fool”, though the chapter ends with an interview with Marijke Koger who tells of the visits by The Beatles to their home, which inspired them to commission a design for the planned “Sgt Pepper” album cover. However, only The Fool’s design for the red, pink and white inner sleeve was used.

I have also now listened to the re-mastered stereo version included in the set as well as the original mono version. There really is a new clarity in the stereo version. But–I have lived with the original stereo version for just over 50 years and it still remains the one I probably will listen to on vinyl.

Anyway, no I can add the lenticular cover of the Blake/Haworth design and the alternative Michael Cooper photos of the “Sgt. Pepper” set to my cover collection.

“Voices and Events” – A Previously Unrecognised Andy Warhol Record Cover.”

Occasionally serendipity strikes. A week ago I went to Stockholm’s Moderna Museet to see the retrospective exhibition of Marie-Louise Ekman’s art. In true Banksy style I left thru’ the gift shop and while there I noticed a new book about Andy Warhol’s early career–“Adman-Warhol Before Pop“, published b the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, to coincide with their exhibition of the same name, which ran from February to 28th May 2017.

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Nicholas Chamber’s exhibition book published by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

I couldn’t resist a quick flick through just to see if there were any record covers featured. I was excited to see quite a few of Warhol’s earliest covers, including “A Program of Mexican Music“, “The Story of Moondog“, with Julia Warhola’s beautifully querky calligraphy, Johnny Griffin’s “The Congregation” and sketches for the Tennessee Williams LP, Billie Holiday EPs and one of the “Progressive Piano” designs. There was also a picture of one of Julia Warhola’s early attempts to write the cover for “The Story of Moondog” album.

 

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Julia Warhola’s trial version of the cover text for “The Story of Moondog”.

But what I wasn’t prepared for was:

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Page 97 in “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” with a picture of the cover slick for an recording of an NBC radio programme called “Voices and Events“.
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The cover slick for “Voices and Events” box set.

Having made reproductions of the “Night Beat” box set, I immediately recognised that this was the design for a similar box. While there exists a physical example of the “Night Beat” set, discovered by famous Warhol collector and author, Paul Maréchal, that has a record company catalogue number, as far as I know no physical example of the “Voices and Events” box exists and so I cannot know if it was actually released. I don’t even know if it was intended for a box of seven-inch EPs or for LPs, but I suspect the former.

So–all you Warhol cover collectors out there please start searching! Meanwhile I’m gonna try to make me a copy.

 

Banksy Picture Discs – All That Glitters Is Not Gold!

Readers of this blog may already have suspected that I have a serious case of OCD or just plain collectors’ mania. I aim to keep my collections of record cover art by artists/themes I collect as complete as possible. Therefore, I have compiled lists of each of these which I try to remember to update when I find or acquire new items.

So, a couple of weeks ago, picture discs with Banksy cover art began to appear on Ebay posted by a seller from Israel. The looked really cool and I could imagine hanging a selection on my wall.
Think TankPulp FIctionKeep It real-1

The prices were high–but genuine records with Banksy covers are fetching quite amazing prices nowadays, so I didn’t reflect too much. I made an offer on one disc which was promptly accepted and I was happy. The seller informed me that he had “a couple of other Banksy picture discs” and was prepared to offer me an even “better” price if I bought those, too. He even offered free shipping, so I agreed.

Less than a week later, the package arrived.

These turned out to be single-sided singles. The “Keep It Real” is a version by Jamal, called “Keep It Real“. As shown, it came in a die-cut, black card sleeve. The other two are shaped picture discs. The Blak Twang record is the “Kik Off” single and the One Cut has the track “Mr. X“.

Examination revealed that the records are 2 mm thick pieces of perspex with a sort of  thick flexidisc with the image and sound track affixed. The image is slightly blurred as if it has been copied from a picture sourced on the Internet.The sound quality is poor, probably lifted from an MP3 file.

The seller informed me that he had “bought” the discs and the person who had sold them to him said they were made in Japan and only twenty or so copies existed. He had about twenty-five different discs with Banksy cover art for sale and was prepared to let me have them for the “bargain” price of $139 each.

Further research on Ebay gave more surprises. The same seller is selling picture discs by other artists, such as Björk, Aphex Twin, Led Zeppelin and others at the same sort of inflated prices.

These records are not proper pressings. They are produced to appeal to collectors and sold at wildly inflated prices. They cannot really be called bootlegs as they are not really records at all. And the quality of the artwork, not to mention the sound, is really poor.

I decided not to “invest” in the 25-or-so Banksy picture discs the seller had on offer. I prefer “proper” records, not pieces of perspex with a flexidisc attached. And I would like to issue a warning to other collectors not to support this type of exploitation solely aimed at fleecing collectors.

 

The Beatles–Some Swedish Single and EP Covers.

I used to have a fantastic collection of Beatles records–everything from Mono and Stereo copies of “Please Please Me” LPs with the black and gold Parlophone labels, an autographed copy of “Love Me Do” single and just about every LP and boxes of albums and EPs. I also had a complete set of the HMV boxes of the 1987 CDs. I actually SAW The Beatles live on 24th October 1964 at the Gaumont State Cinema. I still have the “Four Aces” programme from the concert, which cost 1/- (one shilling, for those of you too young to remember pre-decimal currency). However, my Beatles records went when I sold most of my music collection when I moved to Stockholm four years ago. The only Beatles record I kept was my copy of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” as a part of my collection of Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art, a copy signed by Peter Blake, which I later asked Jann Haworth to also sign (which she gracefully did!)

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The signed “Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You” single, which I always said would be my pension insurance.
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Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover signed by Jann Haworth and Sir Peter Blake.

I can’t say I have missed my Beatles collection, though. The Beatles released 22 singles in the United Kingdom and I had them all both in a singles box and as 3″ CD singles and the complete set of picture disc singles released on the 20th anniversary of each single’s original release.  However, despite living in Sweden, I was never tempted to buy the Beatles’ Swedish singles or EPs.

The Beatles released 32 singles in Sweden between 1963 and 1970. However, the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do/P. S. I Love You“, was never released as a single in Sweden. Today, I was given a pile of nineteen mint covers for Swedish Beatles singles (fourteen different single covers plus four duplicates with slightly different colours) together with four EP covers, one of which is apparently very rare. So I now have fourteen of the 32 single covers (43,75%).

The story behind these is that Daniel Burfitt who owns Nostalgipalatset in Stockholm, to whom I sold my record collection, comes from the town of Strängnäs, where the printers of many of the Swedish record covers were located. Daniel was contacted by the printer a couple of years ago when he was having a clear out and wanted Daniel to buy some old LPs. While looking through them, he was shown a box of unused Beatles single covers, which he bought. He asked the printer why he had kept them for fifty-odd years and was told “Well, The Beatles were special”.

The covers for Swedish singles were generally made of thin paper and were easily worn, dogeared or torn and collectors with records in good condition were, naturally, very interested in these pristine covers to replace damaged ones.

There were 20 Beatles EPs released in Sweden. Among the covers Daniel gave me are four EP covers. These were printed on heavier paper and are laminated. Again all are in mint condition.

So, a nice collection of Fab Four singles and EP covers reminding me of some of the best music of the sixties. What a great gift! Thank you Daniel.