The 50th anniversary of the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” has caused considerable interest in various aspects of what came to be called “the summer of love”; 1967’s glorious pop year. It was also the time of “Swinging London” and Carnaby Street’s first heyday.
That the cover of the “Sgt. Pepper” album would become a classic had been foreseen by Beatles manager Brian Epstein who wanted a “proper” artist to design the cover rather than the original psychedelic ideas suggested by fashion designers The Fool. From an idea by Paul McCartney via his friend and gallery owner Robert Fraser, Peter Blake and Jann Haworth were recruited and with some input from Jann’s father, Ted, the couple set to work.
It didnt take long for the first of many pastiches of the cover art to appear. The Mothers of Invention’s album “We’re Only in It for the Money” released in March 1968. Frank Zappa wanted the cover (designed by Cal Schenkel) to be a copy of the “Sgt. Pepper” cover and asked Paul McCartney for approval. Apparently McCartney wished that Zappa’s and The Beatles’ mangers discussed the suggestion. Zappa went ahead abut Verve Records, who would release the album would not allow Schenkel’s copy of the “Sgt. Pepper” montage to appear on the front so the band’s portrait, photographed against a yellow background became the outside of the gatefold.
The front cover of “We’re Only in It for the Money”.
The lyrics, printed against a similar red background to those on the “Sgt. Pepper” cover appeard on the inside of the gatefold opposite Schenkel’s montage.
Release of “We’re Only in It for the Money” was delayed five months because of the record company’s anxiety over a possible infringement of copyright. In the event there was no reaction as the front cover only revealed four band members.
There have been innumerable pastiches of the “Sgt. Pepper” cover since the Mothers of Invention’s album; ranging from albums by the Muppets and Simpsons to more “serious” artist like The Ruttles. An Internet search turns up literally hundreds. Probably only the cover photo from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” has been copied/parodied more often.
My collection includes only three pastiches of the (probably) hundreds out there, collected because of their originality (and possibly rarity). The oldest, from 1969, is Jack O’Reilly’s “You Can Be a Ventriloquist” (subtitled “Constable O’Rourke’s Wooden Hearts Club Band“, just so that no one would miss the reference to “Sgt. Pepper“). An instructional album that was probably privately pressed and thus in relatively limited numbers. O’Reilly went to inordinate expense to put together a background of forty ventriloquists’ dummies for the cover photograph.
The second example is a German album by Jun Fukamachi called (not so strangely) “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. Fukamachi plays several of the “Sgt. Pepper” songs rendered as jazz tunes. I like the cover for the idea of reversing the whole scene. It must have taken weeks to paint!
And the final parody that I have collected is Junichi Masuda’s “Pokèmon” LP from 2015. This is an unoffical release on the Moonshake record label. Masuda, who is programmer and director at Pokèmon also makes the music to video games. The “Pokèmon” album was released in several versions. The “standard” album came in four variations of coloured vinyl housed in a cover that is a parody of the “Sgt. Pepper” design.
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).
I just found out that I had missed yet another major exhibition of record cover art, this time in Arles in southwest France. The exhibition, called “Total Records” was first presented at Les Rencontres d’Arles from June to September 2015 and is said to be travelling round France. The exhibition catalogue has just (October 2016) been published as a free-standing book also called “TOTAL RECORDS – Photography and the Art of the Album Cover”.
I bought the 448 page book as it promised an introduction to how photographers and the record covers they took photographs for came together. However, the short introduction in English at the start of the book doesn’t live up to the promise. You have to turn to the end of the book for the full stories but, unfortunately for me, this section is only in French. Quelle horreur! Zut alors! and all that.
The book is divided into twenty-five “chapters”, some devoted to a single photographer and others more thematic with titles such as “Below the Belt” and “B-side America: Riverside, Bluesville and Yazoo”. There is a section called “Photo-Copy” which shows how some cover art has spawned plagiarism (The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers“, The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” and “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“.)
But the photographs are great. Most pages picture a single cover. Not surprisingly, as the exhibition is French, there are many French covers. Johnny Halliday and Sylvie Vartan figure prominently alongside less well known French artists including a lovely cover of Catherine Deneuve’s “Souviens-toi de M’Oublier” with cover photo by Helmut Newton. There are also Newton’s photographs on the cover of Sylvie Vartan’s album “Au palais des congress“.
The first cover pictured in the book is Alex Steiweiss’ “Smash Song Hits by Rodgers and Hart“–Steinweiss’ first picture cover for Columbia Records from 1940.
The first two chapters in the book, “The Sound I Saw” and “Aural Reappropriation” act as an introduction to the variety of photographs in record cover art and include covers by a multitude of photographers and make up nearly 30% of the book. These include cover photos by Andy Warhol (“This Is John Wallowitch“), Nobuyoshi Araki (Björk’s “Enjoy” and “Possibly Maybe” and Mango Delight’s “Conglomerate of Crazy Souls“), Annie Liebowitz (Cyndi Lauper’s “Change of Heart“, John Lennon’s “Interview Disc” and The Jim Carroll Band’s “Dry Dreams“), Herb Ritts (John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John “Two of a Kind” and Madonna’s “True Blue“). There is even Arthur Doyle’s “No More Crazy Women” with its Cindy Sherman cover photo (see my previous post on Cindy Sherman’s record cover art). Robert Mapplethorpe is represented with the classic Patti Smith cover for “Horses“, Taj Mahal’s “Taj” and Laurie Anderson’s “Strange Angels“.
Following these introductory chapters are sections/chapters devoted to individual photographers. First off are Jean-Paul Goude and Anton Corbijn. Corbijn is, of course, well known for his covers for Depeche Mode and U2. Jean-Paul Goude is best known for his cover photos of Grace Jones and eight of them are pictured in the book. It is a selection of Corbijns photos for U2 that are featured–mainly from the “Joshua Tree” sessions.
Next are eight of Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s covers, including covers of albums by Madonna, Björk, The Eurythmics and Prince.
The chapter after is reserved for Andy Warhol’s photographic covers. “This Is John Wallowitch” appeared in the first section of the book and this section includes the covers for “The Velvet Underground & Nico“, Miguel Bose’ s “Milano/Madrid“, Paul Anka’s “The Painter“, “Silk Electric” by Diana Ross and the cover of the “Muscles” single from the album and finishing with the cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Love You Live” album with a page devoted to the polaroid pictures on which Warhol based the cover design. “Sticky Fingers“, the other Stones album Warhol designed, appears in the section Photo-Copy along with several pastiches.Obviously, in a book on the photography and the art of the album cover, I wouldn’t expect any of Warhol’s graphic covers to be included–and there aren’t any, with the possible exception of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” cover. I’m not sure how much photography was involved. Did Warhol actually photograph the famous banana?
More chapters are devoted to the work of David Bailey (more Rolling Stones covers), Lucien Clergue And Lee Friedlander’s photography for jazz artists on the Atlantic label. The jazz theme is logically continued with a chapter devoted to some of the Blue Note label’s photographic covers with photography by Frank Wolf. And the label theme continues with a chapter on covers from the ECM label photographed by a variety of photographers. Other labels highlighted include Brazil’s Elena Records, ESP-dosc and a chapter devoted to the American Bluesville, Riverside & Yazoo labels before moving on to a chapter of Hipgnosis designs including the usual Pink Floyd covers (but happily, not the “Dark Side of the Moon” cover which I feel has become a cliché).
In the next chapter, aptly titled “Transartistic” there are covers by Robert Rauschenberg (Talking Heads’ “Speaking in Tongues”), Paul Bley (“Paul Bley Quintet“) and Andy Warhol’s “Index” book with the Lou Reed flexidisc. Even Jeff Koons’ cover for Lady Gaga’s “Artpop” and Damien Hirst’s cover for Dave Stewart’s “Greetings From the Gutter” are included.
One of the best chapters is entitled “Propaganda and Slogans” which includes thirty eight covers ranging from the clenched fist on the cover of The BlackVoices album “On the Streets in Watts” to Rage Against the Machines album with the self-imolating buddhist monk on the cover.From this provocative chapter with covers portraying Che Guevara, Charles de Gaulle,Malcolm X and Martin Luther King the book goes “Below the Belt2 with a selection of “racier” covers such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ” Electric Ladyland” (The British cover with the nude models photographed by David Montgomery), Roxy Music’s “County Life” and more Rolling Stones in the form of both versions of the “Beggars Banquet” cover (the originally released version with the white cover which simply stated the group’s name and the record’s title as well as the version The Stones originally wanted with the lavatory interior scene, first released in 1986.
The final three chapters, “A life on Vinyl:David Bowie and Johnny Halliday”, “Word and Image” with many spoken word albums (Allen Ginsberg, Albert Camus, Jack Kerouac, etc.) and “from Grain to Groove”, a homage to the Soundtrack album cover, round off this nice book.
I think this is one of the nicest books on record cover design which I will keep alongside Alex Steinweiss’ “The Inventor of the Modern Record Cover“, Nick de Ville’s “Album: Classic Sleeve Design–Style and Image in Sleeve Design” and Richard Evan’s “The Art of the Album Cover“. I would have been thrilled to see the exhibition and have been able to see the covers full size. But the covers in “Total Records” are beautifully photographed by Romain Riviere and do them justice.
Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons are two contemporary artists working in totally different media. Cindy Sherman (born 19th January 1954) is a photographer who specialises in self portraits in which she disguises herself in costume and in various situations. She is considered a conceptual artist.
I have thus far managed to find six record, video and cassette covers with cover art by Cindy Sherman.The earliest recording I have found that has one of her photographs on its cover was for the television production “Two Moon July” which featured the music of Laurie Anderson, David Byrne (with whom Cindy Sherman had a relationship from 1991 to 2005), Philip Glass and others. The programme was released on VHS in 1986 and on Laserdisk the following year with Cindy‘s photograph of the Empire State Building on the cover.
In 1988, one of her self portraits was used as the cover art for a cassette of visual artists talking. The cassette was released as Tellus Magazine #21 entitled “Tellus #21: Audio by Visual Artists“. Tellus was a bi-monthly cassette magazine that was founded in New York in 1983.
Sherman was involved with the female band Babes in Toyland in the 1980s and even appeared in one of their videos. Her photographs appeared on the covers of two of the group’s records “Fontanelle” (1992) and “Painkillers” (1993).
Babes in Toyland’s 1992 LP “Fontanelle” and 12″ “Painkillers” with cover photos by Cindy Sherman.
The punk band Cloudburst released two singles. The first, released in France in 1999 was a purple vinyl, three-track 7″ EP entitled “Love-Lies-Bleeding” and had a Cindy Sherman painting as its cover art.
The latest cover i have been able to find is a five-track, single sided, yellow vinyl 12″ EP called “No More Crazy Women” by tenor saxophonist Arthur Doyle. I’ll be returning to Arthur Doyle in my list of Jeff Koon‘s cover art.
There only seem to be three record or CD covers with Jeff Koons’ art. Or that is all I have hitherto been able to find.
Eli and Edye Broad have built up a magnificent collection of American postwar art which is housed at The Broad at 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles and is open to visitors. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted an exhibition of 100 works from the Broad Collection from 7th October 2001 until 6th January 2002. The exhibition was called “Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collection“. In conjunction with the exhibition a CD was released called “John Cage to David Byrne: Four Decades of Contemporary Music“. The exhibition later transferred to The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC (16th March-3rd June 2002).
The CD was a compilation of 13 tracks by artists from David Bowie (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide“) to John Cage (“Atlas Eclipticalis”) via The Velvet Underground (“Femme Fatale”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Be Bop”) and Klaus Schulze (“Floating”).
The CD booklet also contains pictures of other artworks from the Broad Collection, including Andy Warhol‘s “Elvis” (1963), Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s “Horn Players” (1983), Sharon Lockhart‘s “Untitled” (1996) and Stephan Balkenhol‘s “Large Woman with Green Pants” (1996). The rear inlay shows Roy Lichtenstein‘s “I… I’m Sorry” (1965-1966).
The second release with Jeff Koons‘ art is another Arthur Doyle record. This time another single-sided, two track 12″ single with cover that shows Koons‘ print “Donkey 1999” from 1999 produced in an edition of 99 copies. The cover, once again, has two corners cut off.
And the third Jeff Koons cover is the best known. Lady Gaga‘s “ArtPop” from 2013. For this cover Koons acted as photographer.
I will keep looking out for more covers with art by Sherman and Koons and will probably update this post sometime in the future.
Klaus Voormann has a greater claim to being the fifth Beatle than most. If I had to rank the contenders, I’d put Brian Epstein on the top of my list, followed very closely by George Martin and then, probably, Klaus at number 3. After all, he knew them and became friends with them in Hamburg. He lived for a while with Ringo and George and was the one John phoned when The Beatles needed a cover for their seventh, at the time unnamed, album that became “Revolver“. Later Klaus played on many recordings with individual Beatles (including George Harrison‘s “The Concert for Bangladesh“) and was a founder member of the Plastic Ono Band. So other “contenders” for the title of the fifth Beatle such as Pete Best or Murray the K (Murray Kaufman, born February 14, 1922 – died February 21, 1982) don’t come close.
Quite apart from being an accomplished musician, Klaus Voormann has pursued a successful career as an illustrator. He is a master at portraying TheBeatles as they were in the sixties and has produced posters of Lennon and McCartney in the Abbey Road canteen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The latest set of Beatles portraits appeared on the covers of the August/September 2016 German music magazine “Good Times“. This issue had five different covers.
The magazine contained an interview with Klaus on the 50th anniversary of “Revolver” and each magazine included an A2 poster of the cover portrait.
There was even a promotional brochure that pictured all five magazine covers.
While researching Klaus‘ book “The Birth of an Icon-Revolver 50” (see my previous post on this) I stumbled across another of his books that I had previously missed completely. In 2005 he published “Four Track Stories“, an illustrated paperback describing The Beatles‘ time in Hamburg.
This first edition is autographed on the flyleaf:
I ordered my copy directly from Klaus‘ website and it arrived in less than a week. There was a discussion about the shipping cost and Klaus refunded the shipping together with an autographed postcard with a personal message:
In our mail exchanges I asked if he knew of any record or CD covers that he had designed that were due for release and he asked which covers I already had. So I mailed him my list of 80 of his of his record covers with an apology that I only had 78 of them. So far he hasn’t replied about any new covers in the pipeline.
Sir Peter Blake is best-known for the cover to The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” album which he designed together with his then wife Jann Haworth and photographer Michael Cooper. In the forty-six years since that cover was released, Peter Blake has only designed 22 more covers of which 19 were actually released. One of the better-known released covers is the design for the “Do The Know It’s Christmas” single, released in 1984. What is less well-known is that Peter Blake also designed the poster and programme for the Live Aid and Live 8 concerts.
Until last month, I had not heard that he had also designed the cover for Q Magazine’s February 2006 issue that published a list of the 100 greatest albums of all time.
A copy of this classic Peter Blake design arrived last week, complete with targets, flags, drink logos and pictures of the record covers, so that I didn’t need to open the magazine to see that Radiohead’s “O.K. Computer” was voted best album of all time. By the way, it’s not an album I like at all. Peter Blake is quoted in the magazine as saying his favourite is Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light”, but that isn’t in Q’s list.
Another piece of useless information is that Peter Blake is, to my knowledge, only the second cover designer to actually appear on a cover that he had a hand in designing. He apears, dressed as Moses, on the cover of Madness’ de luxe compilation “Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da”. The other artist was Martin Kann, a Swedish designer responsible for most of the cover art for the Swedish band bob hund. He put himself on the cover of bob hund’s 1996 album “Omslag: Martin Kann” (literally – Cover: Martin Kann). I know that Andy Warhol’s portrait has appeared on several covers, but none on which he has had a hand in designing.