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 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.
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.
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.
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.
I have to get rid of my music collection in the next three months. I had a visit from a British company that buys record collections. Two guys spent 36 hours going through my collection and making notes and agreed that it was a pretty interesting collection. A week after they left, I received an offer for about one fifth of what my estimation of the collection’s value. So I turned it down. Now I’ll probably have to sell on Ebay. That’ll mean a lot of hard work.
As I have previously stated, I will keep my specialist collections of record cover art. My Banksy collection lacks just three covers. I have a possible contact for getting hold of the elusive “Monkeys With Car Keys” CD, but I’m not sure how reliable that contact will prove to be. We’ll see. My Klaus Voormann collection is still growing as I find more covers. I’ve just found an further two; Heinz Rudolf Kunze’s “Reine Nervensache” from 1981 and what appears to be a new release – Van Dyke Parks’ “All is Golden” seven inch single – which has a lovely Voormann painting on the front cover.
This coming week I’ll be discussing the possibility of putting on an exhibition of Banksy’s record cover art in Stockholm this summer. It seems highly likely that it will come off. Just some niggly little details like finance to be ironed out.