Category Archives: Damien Hirst

In Search of That Elusive Record Cover.

My collections of artists who have designed record covers seem to grow and grow. There always seems to be another cover to add to them. However, eventually I find that I have got as far as it seems possible to go and my collections just need that one elusive cover that I just cannot find.

My biggest collection is of Andy Warhol’s cover art. I have a broad view of what to include in it and have collected bootlegs, CDs and a few magazine covers, so that I currently have over 200 “Warhol covers”. However, there are still gaps that I suppose I never will fill. The main one is the NBC box set “Night Beat” – a promotional set of three EPs for a 1950s radio show – only one copy of which is known to exist. There is also a Japanese EP of Mendelssohn’s “Scherzo” with Warhol’s drawing of angels on the cover. Again, only a single copy has so far come to light. There are a couple of other albums that it may, one day, be possible to find. I’ll keep you posted on those.

I thought my collection of Peter Blake’s record covers was complete until I was tipped off about a 1983 cover for a recording of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue/An American In Paris” with a beautiful Blake painting. Luckily that was easy to find. So now I’m only waiting for him to produce his next cover.

I once had a complete collection of Damien Hirst’s record and CD cover designs. However, when I sold my main collection, I wasn’t careful enough to check what went and what stayed, with the result that the promotional booklet for The Hours’ “Ali in the Jungle” with its 3″ CD disappeared along with four of the band’s limited edition 7″ singles. At least I have been able to replace these, but the promo booklet has eluded me.

Again, my collection of Banksy records and CD covers is only missing one very rare item; the promotional 12″ single by The Capoeira Twins. A couple of copies have come up for sale recently, but way over my budget!

I thought that my collection of Klaus Voormann’s record cover art was complete with about seventy-four covers. I was mistaken. Klaus designed a cover for a jazz LP in the early sixties with artwork in the same style as his covers for the Pioneers of Jazz series of EPs on the Coral label.

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The Klaus Voormann’s cover for a German jazz album.

Unfortunately, no one can read the title. Could it be “Wir nie im Bett Programm gemacht”? That’s the nearest I can get to deciphering it. And I have asked Klaus, but he doesn’t remember the artist or the title. I’ve shown the picture to German dealers, but none has seen a copy.

Then I have a collection of record and CD covers featuring supermodel Kate Moss. I got started on collecting Kate Moss covers as I already owned Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12″-ers (both first and second versions) and Damien Hirst’s “Use Money, Cheat Death” single sided 12″ with his portrait of Kate with half her face dissected away. Kate has a musical background having cooperated with Primal Scream on their remake of Lee Hazlewood’s “Some Velvet Morning” and there are two 12″-ers that feature Kate on the covers. And also with Babyshambles while she and Pete Doherty were a couple.

Bryan Ferry used Adam Whitehead’s photos of Kate on his 2010 Olympia album and on the limited edition 12″ singles and remixes taken from the album. However, one single, “Heartache by Numbers” apparently didn’t make it onto vinyl, though I didn’t know this initially and spent some considerable time searching for a copy, obviously without success.

So collectors, it seems that completing one’s collection of a particular artist is well nigh impossible. But it is the unfinished collection that still provides a challenge. Will I ever find these missing covers?

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Never say you have completed a collection – it’ll come back and bite you!

I know that sometime ago I boasted that I had completed my collection of record covers designed by Damien Hirst. Well, I was premature. I have also said that that I own copies of all the records designed by Sir Peter Blake – again I was premature. At least I have never (yet) said I have every Warhol cover design.

Like most collectors, I do regular Internet searches looking for new items designed by my favourite record sleeve designers. One regular Ebay vendor manages with surprising regularity to find covers that I have missed. You can imagine how irritated that makes me, particularly as these covers are usually quite difficult to find at other (cheaper) sites. Well, this vendor turned up a Dave Stewart 12″ maxi single of remixes of his “Heart of Stone” single. I couldn’t find another copy anywhere else at the time so I bought this one. It cost me an arm and a leg, but that’s he way it goes sometimes. When checking Dave Stewart’s discography later I found the there was another 12″ remix EP with cover art by Damien Hirst and Jason Beard. I managed to find a copy for $4 so that felt better.

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Heart of Stone – The Dance Remixes, which cost me an arm and a leg.
Heart of Stone - The Sure Is Pure Remixes. Bought for $4.
Heart of Stone – The Sure Is Pure Remixes. Bought for $4.

Just a few weeks ago I saw another little Damien Hirst gem on Ebay that I had never seen before. This time from a seller in the US. It was a promotional USB stick for The Hours’ album “See the Light”. The stick was shaped like a skull with clock faces in each eye socket – typical Damien Hirst! There cannot be many of these around as I haven’t seen one advertised before (there is one on Discogs just now). The asking price was $99 + shipping. It didn’t sell the first couple of times it was advertised, so I put in a cheeky bid of $50, which the vendor accepted! So now it has joined my collection.

I was scanning different sites looking for any new Peter Blake cover art when I saw that an art gallery in Brighton was offering two limited edition posters of the cover art for Brian Wilson’s “Gettin’ in Over My Head” and Landscape’s “Manhattan Boogie-Woogie” albums. These were editions of 250 each and were 48.25 x 48.25 cm (19 x 19″) in size. They are priced at £1200 each! Peter Blake had told me about the four cover designs he had made that were never used. The Landscape design was one and thus I didn’t have the cover. The other three were for albums by Steeleye Span, Ray Davies and Robbie Williams. Apparently the Steeleye Span and Ray Davies designs are lost. Robbie Williams wanted to use his portrait by Peter Blake on a cover but the record company refused.

Well, I got hold of a high definition file of the “Manhattan Boogie-Woogie” print and scaled it down to LP format and printed a poster and several record album slicks. I took my copy of the Landscape album and photographed the back cover and got it printed in LP format and stuck the front and back together to make a sort of album cover for my collection. I don’t dare say my Peter Blake album collection is complete, though, just in case one of the “lost” covers turns up sometime!

Peter Blake's cover design for Landscape's "Manhattan Boogie-Woogie" album.
Peter Blake’s cover design for Landscape’s “Manhattan Boogie-Woogie” album.

Well – Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Banksy and Klaus Voormann are all still alive and kicking, so hopefully more covers will come from all of them. I hope I shall be around to collect them.

Damien Hirst’s record cover art 1994 – 2013

Damien Hirst in August 2008. Photo by David Bailey.
Damien Hirst in August 2008. Photo by David Bailey.

On October 25th 2013 Damien Hirst’s 22nd record cover for Babyshambles’ “Fall From Grace”, the band’s second single from their “Sequel to the Prequel” album was released on September 2nd 2013. The album cover as well as both singles had cover design by Hirst, who with this latest cover passed the number of covers designed by Sir Peter Blake. Depending a little on how one defines a Peter Blake cover, Blake has produced 21 covers in the 47 years since Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967. This cover was, of course, designed by Blake and his then wife Jann Haworth – and so should be regarded as a joint effort. The cover for Madness’ limited edition CD version of “Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da” has him pictured on the cover, but the design is by Paul Agar with photography by Perou.

I do not suppose many would argue with me if I suggest that much of Damien Hirst’s art is ugly. Dissected animals or fish in formalin tanks, skulls (even when encrusted with diamonds) do not appear beautiful to these eyes. And Damien Hirst’s record covers fit the mould. His first record cover art was for Dave Stewart’s “Greetings From the Gutter” released in 1994. Hirst’s first covers are really unremarkable – the six variously coloured gas tubes with tubing attached on the Dave Stewart album and the dissection of an egg by two rubber-gloved hands on the “Heart of Stone” single from Stewart’s album are hardly design masterpieces. These are followed by Hirst’s ugliest covers; the CD for Fat Les’ “Vindaloo” with foldout poster and “Yalla Yalla” the single from Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ album “Rock Art & The X-ray Style” from 1999. For the album, Hirst drew a series of matchstick men reminiscent of stone-age cave paintings or aboriginal art and these figures appeared on the “Bankrobber 99” promotional single as well.

Joe Strummer & The Meascaleros' "Rock Art & the X-ray Style" LP cover.
Joe Strummer & The Meascaleros’ “Rock Art & the X-ray Style” LP cover.

In 2006, Hirst became manager for the band The Hours and designed the covers for their first album “Narcissus Road” and the singles taken from it; “Ali in the Jungle” and “Back When You Were Good”. These were released on the A & M label.
Hirst made a limited edition of 210 spin-painted skulls as holders for the CD retailing at a cool £4,500 each!
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Damien Hirst's spin-painted skull holder for The Hours' "Narcissus Road" CD.
Damien Hirst’s spin-painted skull holder for The Hours’ “Narcissus Road” CD.

Hirst then started his own record label “Is Good” and The Hours’ second album “See the Light” was released on the label, again with cover art by him. The album was released on gatefold vinyl and a double 12″ single “See the Light” was also released. And, as had been for the singles from “Narcissus Road”, each was decorated with more of Hirst’s skull designs.

In February 2008 the cover of TAR Magazine used Damien Hirst’s portrait of Kate Moss where the right side of her face was dissected down to the muscles. The following year, Hirst released a white vinyl, one-sided 12″ single with the same image on the cover. Hirst’s given name was misspelt on the record label: “Damian”. The single was released in a numbered edition of 666 copies and is currently very sought after.

Damien Hirst's portrait of Kate Moss from TAR Magazine to his "Use Money, Cheat Death" 12" single cover.
Damien Hirst’s portrait of Kate Moss from TAR Magazine to his “Use Money, Cheat Death” 12″ single cover.

Hirst’s next cover “I’m With You” for The Red Hot Chili Peppers (2011) revisited two of his earlier subjects, drugs represented by a coloured capsule and decay, represented by a single fly on the capsule.
Red Hot Chili Peppers' album "I'm With You".
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album “I’m With You”.

Hirst designed the cover for the band 30 Seconds to Mars’ fourth album “Love Lust Faith & Dreams” in May 2013 and used his polka dot pattern. The album was released on CD and vinyl and in a limited edition boxed set with the LP, a double CD, a book and four prints.
30 Seconds to Mars' super de luxe promo box set of Love, Lust & Faith
30 Seconds to Mars’ super de luxe promo box set of Love, Lust & Faith

Later the same year Hirst designed the covers for Babyshambles’ “Sequel to the Prequel” album and the two singles released from it that autumn; “Nothing Comes From Nothing” and “Fall From Grace”. According to Babyshambles’ bassist Drew McConnell reported in NME: “It happened kind of naturally and in the spirit you’d hope for. We asked Damien to suggest someone to put something together, then to our amazement he offered to do it himself. The fact that he used a pic taken by Pennie Smith, who shot all those iconic photos of The Clash (Damien’s old pal Joe Strummer’s band), just makes it make even more sense.
So those are Damien Hirst’s first 22 covers from his first twenty years of record cover design 1994 – 2013.

And, as is my wont, I’ll list one cover ascribed to Damien Hirst that is not by him. According to Wikipedia Hirst did prepare a design for the cover for the Band Aid 20 single “Do They Know It’a Christmas?”. His design showing the grim reaper and a starving child was considered too scary and was dropped. Mat Maitland at Big Active, a designer in his own right who has designed covers for Michael Jackson and others was commissioned to design the replacement. Rumour has it that Hirst released a limited edition print of his design for the cover. But I have, thus far, not been able to find one.

More Damien Hirst record covers

Damien Hirst has not yet designed many record covers. So far I have identified only twenty-three. I am primarily interested in those covers released on vinyl, but for completeness have also included CDs in my list on http://www.rateyourmusic.com (http://rateyourmusic.com/list/rockdoc/damien_hirsts_record_cover_art/). There are three quite rare vinyl issues: The most soughtafter is “Use Money, Cheat Death” by Damien (spellt on the record as Damian) Hirst that uses the Kate Moss portrait with half her face dissected away as the cover image. This picture was originally on the cover of the February 2006 issue of TAR magazine. The other two rarities are Dave Stewart’sGreetings From the Gutter” and the original release of Joe Strummer & The Mescalino’sRock Art & the X-ray Style“, which has since been re-issued on vinyl with the same cover.

Three new Damien Hirst covers have been released so far this year. In May the group 30 Seconds to Mars released their fourth album “Love Lust Faith – Dreams” with Damien Hirst artwork. Quite pretentiously, they have released the album in three formats – a standard CD, a Super Deluxe Pack (price $295, and includes double white viny LPs a 100-page photo book, lithographs and an autographed CD) and a Super Duper Deluxe pack (price $999, which includes all the stuff in the Super Deluxe pack plus a pair of drumsticks, plectrums, a t-shirt, triad USB and a personalised message from the band.)

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British group Babyshambles released their fifth full length album on 2nd September 2013 with cover art by Damien Hirst who used a photo of the band taken by Pennie Smith (who, you will remember, took the photo of The Clash used on their “London Calling” album.) NME reports on how Hirst came to design the cover “bassist Drew McConnell said: “It happened kind of naturally and in the spirit you’d hope for. We asked Damien to suggest someone to put something together, then to our amazement he offered to do it himself. The fact that he used a pic taken by Pennie Smith, who shot all those iconic photos of The Clash (Damien’s old pal Joe Strummer’s band), just makes it make even more sense.” “Nothing Comes to Nothing”, the first single from the album also comes in a Damien Hirst designed cover.

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