Category Archives: Peter Blake

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.

Voormann 60s cover
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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Andy Warhol by Sir Peter Blake. Post Dedicated to Daniel Brant.

As readers of this blog will know, I collect both Andy Warhol‘s and, not by any coincidence, Peter Blake‘s record cover art.. I would list these great Pop Artists as the equals–Warhol as an exponent of American Pop Art and Blake curiously English.

Andy Warhol died on 22nd February 1987, just 30 years ago. Art lovers, it seems, love and hate him in almost in equal measures. However, Warhol‘s art still causes excitement and discussion. Peter Blake‘s art continues to evolve, now in his 85th year.

In 2009 Sir Peter Blake produced a 355 x 355 mm (14 x 14 in) print of Andy Warhol in an edition of 25, complete with diamond dust. A new, larger (510 x 510 mm) edition 0f 75 was produced in 2016.

Warhol by Blake
Sir Peter Blake’s 2009/2016 print “Andy Warhol”.

This would make a great addition to both my collections! I’m going to start saving up tomorrow.

I dedicate this post to the memory of Daniel Brant of the A and D Gallery, who died on 19th January 2017 and who gave me many insights into Andy Warhol‘s art and gave me the opportunity to meet Sir Peter Blake at the opening of the Gallery’s show Peter Blake‘s “I Love London” in 2010. I suppose it is also an homage to Andy Warhol and Peter Blake, too.

A Peter Blake Cover I had missed.

As I have said before, I have stopped saying that my collection of a particular artist’s record covers is complete, because, just as soon as I write this, someone points out a cover I have missed. I was SO sure I had all of Sir Peter Blake‘s record covers that I was prepared to boast that, in fact, my collection WAS COMPLETE, when a moderator at rateyourmusic.com, Harlou123, notified me that he had a Classics For Pleasure album from 1981 with a cover painting by Peter Blake!

Well, I had to find a copy–luckily that wasn’t too difficult as the LP wasn’t too old, and had obviously been quite popular when it was released. The album paired George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in Blue” with his “An American in Paris” and had Ferde Grofé‘s “Piano Concerto in F” as a filler.

Gershwin-fr
The cover art for Music For Pleasure’s 1983 album of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue/American in Paris” LP.

The cover art really conjures up the feeling of Paris! Thank you Harlou123 for the tip off!

Harvey’s of Bristol, importers of sherry apparently commissioned six British artists to each illustrate a cover for a classical release on the Classics for Pleasure label. I usually associated Classics for Pleasure as a low-price label that reissued classical works at mid price. However, these six recordings were made by winners of the 1981 Leeds Piano Competition (sponsored by Harvey’s of Bristol) specially for the label and the cover art was newly commissioned for each album. Peter Blake‘s contribution was number 6 in the series. Other artists who painted the covers included Patrick Heron and David Inshaw. I have not been able to identify the remaining painters.

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!

Eric Clapton’s New Album with Peter Blake’s Portrait.

I suppose it was bound to happen! Early in 2016 Sir Peter Blake painted a couple of portraits of his good friend Eric Clapton  and these appeared on the cover of the programme for Clapton’s seventieth birthday celebration concerts at Madison Square Garden and The Royal Albert Hall in May 2016. However, the official album of the concerts “Slowhand at 70“–a tripple LP with DVD–did not use the Blake portraits at all. However, two unofficial CD releases included both (please see my previous post on these). Now we know why the “Slowhand at 70” cover didn’t use the Blake portraits–Clapton was saving them for his next studio album “I Still Do“, released on 16th May 2016, exactly one year after the 70th birthday concerts.

The front cover is beautiful in that Clapton and the record company have chosen not to place either the album’s title or Clapton‘s name on it, but rather allow Blake‘s lovely portrait to send the message.  This is the second time Clapton has allowed an unadorned portrait to grace the cover of one of his albums–the previous one was 2004’s “Me and Mr Johnson“.

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Eric Clapton’s “Me & Mr Johnson” album cover.

I have to thank Guy Minnebach for pointing out that these two covers join Andy Warhol‘s cover for “The Velvet Underground & Nico” and Martin Kann‘s cover for bob hund‘s “Omslag: Martin Kann” as the only covers that have the graphic designer’s/painter’s name on the cover rather than the artists’ or the album’s title.

I think the latest album cover by Sir Peter Blake is one of his best. It emphasises just what a great portraitist he is.

Peter Blake and Eric Clapton’s “24 Nights”

During the past few months I have been concentrating on Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art and trying to do some in-depth research to find out how his record covers came about, who made the commissions, which techniques he used, upon which photographs were illustrations based and any other facts, relevant or not. I have tried to contact the artists involved where possible. I have also nurtured a lust to get hold of the one item of Peter Blake‘s record cover art that I had not managed to find. I refer to the Genesis Publication’s set “24 Nights –  The Limited Edition. Music by Eric Clapton / Drawings by Peter Blake“. This box set included two books – a “Scrapbook“, an A4 sized book of Peter Blake‘s drawings and photographs and a 58-page “Commentary” by Derek Taylor – some “memorabilia” comprising a badge, guitar strings, four plectra and a backstage pass from the Journeyman tour and two photographs of Eric Clapton. This set was published in a numbered edition of 3,500 copies as well as a further 200 copies numbered in Roman numerals “for review purposes”. All copies were signed by both Peter Blake and Eric Clapton. Published in 1991, it soon sold out.

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The cast:
Eric Clapton (born 30th March 1945)- legendary guitarist and lover of the Blues.
Peter Blake (born 25th June 1932) – equally legendary artist.
Derek Taylor (1932-2008) – Journalist, author, friend of the above and former press officer for The Beatles.
Brian Roylance (1945-2005) – founder of Genesis Publications and friend of all three above.
Roger Forrester (born August 1949) – Eric Clapton’s manager until 1998.

The 24 night series of concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall were to be the finale to Eric Clapton‘s “Journeyman” world tour that played 153 concerts in 78 cities around the world over 14 months and were seen by almost 2.5 million fans. The tour was a promotional tour for Eric’s 1989 album “Journeyman” and his record company Reprise Records, a Warner Brothers subsidiary, planned a live album to be released after the tour. Eric Clapton knew Brian Roylance (1945-2005) the founder of Genesis Publications and suggested a documentation of the tour. Warner Brothers commissioned Peter Blake to paint a portrait of Eric Clapton, and wanted three other artists to do the same for an album to be called “Four Faces of Eric Clapton” but in the end only Peter Blake was commissioned instead to draw four portraits. Peter Blake had not met Eric at this time.

The Journeyman tour started in Birmingham on January 14th 1990 and ended at the Royal Albert Hall on March 9th 1991. There was a break for Christmas from 13th December 1990 until 31st January 1991 when it would resume in Dublin. The band reconvened in Dublin earlier to rehearse. Brian Roylance wanted Eric Clapton‘s longtime friend Derek Taylor (1932-2008) to write a commentary to the project and asked Derek and his wife Joan to travel to Dublin to be at the rehearsals. Peter Blake arrived in Dublin around the 26th January and had dinner with Roger Forrester who asked Blake if he liked Eric Clapton’s music. Blake replied, “No, I’ve never been a fan. I hate long guitar solos.”

Peter Blake had access all areas to make his sketches and said everyone got so used to him being around that they hardly noticed him. He could sketch freely. He followed Eric Clapton back to England and continued sketching at the Royal Albert Hall and at the two blues concerts at the Brixton Academy on February 21st and 22nd, 1991. Warner Reprise Records got their cover drawing for the “24 Nights” album released on 8th October 1991.

Twenty-five years after the release of the “24 Nights” album and Genesis Publications’ box set I managed to get hold of my own copy of this wonderful set. And thanks to Derek Taylor‘s “Commentary” book included in the set and Peter Blake‘s detailed notes in the “Scrapbook” have helped me piece together this story.
24Nights_Commentary.jpg

 

 

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.

HeartStone_Dance_fr
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.