The Record Cover Art of Sir Peter Blake–A Discography.

I have written about Dave Haslam’s little monograph “A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes–How I Survived Selling My Record Collection” (Contingo Publishing, 2019) in a previous post. In it, Haslam classifies collectors into either completists or surveyors (that’s my term not his.) I’m a completist–If I collect record covers by a particular artist, I HAVE to have EVERY cover by that artist, whereas those whom I call “surveyors” can collect odd items that represent their subject without the encumbrance of having to get every single item in the field.

As everyone who reads my blog knows, my particular obsessions are collecting record cover art by (in alphabetical order–obsessive again?) Banksy, Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Klaus Voormann and Andy Warhol. I have almost complete collections of these artists. I have to stress the word “almost”. I have many times boasted that I have complete collections of Banksy’s, Peter Blake’s and Damien Hirst’s record cover art and, as near as dammit, complete collections of Klaus Voormann’s and Warhol’s record covers. When it comes to my Warhol collection, I have been able to fill the gaps by making my own reproductions of the rarest items, however, I’m missing one Voormann cover which I probably will never find…

But, back to Sir Peter Blake and my “complete” collection. Obviously I cannot have a cover of a record that has not yet been released (I refer to the forthcoming album by The Who discussed in my last post) but I reckoned I had ALL the other Peter Blake covers. WRONG! So it’s time for a revised list.

  1. The Beatles — Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – June 1967
  2. Pentangle – Sweet Child – 1968
  3. Chris Jagger – The Adventures of Valentine Vox the Ventriloquist – 1974
  4. Roger McGough – Summer With Monika – 1978
  5. The Who – Face Dances – 1981
  6. English Chamber Orchestra / Steuart Bedford / Daniel Blumethal – Rhapsody in Blue / Piano Concerto in F / An American in Paris – 1983
  7. Ian Dury – Apples (LP) – 1989
  8. Ian Dury – Apples (7”) – 1989
  9. Eric Clapton – 24 Nights  (gatefold LP)– 1981
  10. Eric Clapton – 24 Nights (promotional box set of 7″ singles) – 1981
  11. Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (7”) – 1991
  12. Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (collectors CD) – 1991
  13. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas – 1984
  14. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas (reissue) – 1985
  15. Paul Weller – Stanley Road LP – 1995
  16. Paul Weller – Stanley Road (7” Box) – 1995
  17. A Stranger Shadow – Colours (CD only) – 1995
  18. David Sylvian – A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (12”) – 1986
  19. David Sylvian – A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (picture disc) – 1986
  20. Various Artists – Brand New Boots and Panties—Tribute to Ian Dury –2001
  21. Brian Wilson – Gettin’ in Over My Head (orange vinyl double LP)–2004
  22. Eric Clapton – Me and Mr. Johnson (Classic Records 200g LP) – 2004
  23. Oasis – Stop the Clocks (3LP) – 2006
  24. Oasis – Stop the Clocks (numbered 7”) – 2006
  25. Oasis – Stop the Clocks (CD in card cover) – 2006
  26. Oasis — Champagne Supernova (promotional, single-sided 12″) — 2006
  27. Various Artists – John Peel-Right Time, Wrong Speed (CD only) – 2006
  28. The Blockheads – Staring Down the Barrel (CD only) – 2009
  29. Ben Waters – Boogie for Stu: A Tribute to Ian Stewart (gatefold double LP) – 2011
  30. Eric Clapton – Me and Mr. Johnson (re-issue LP in gatefold sleeve) – 2011
  31. Madness – Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da (double LP) – 2012
  32. Paul Weller – Dragonfly (numbered 12”) – 2012
  33. Eric Clapton – I Still Do (Double 45 rpm LP) – 2016
  34. Eric Clapton – I Still Do (CD in card sleeve) – 2016
  35. The Who – WHO (triple LP) – 2019
  36. The Who – WHO (double LP) – 2019
  37. The Who – WHO (cassette) – 2019
  38. The Who – WHO (deluxe CD) – 2019

Please note that this list is heavily weighted towards vinyl releases but I have had to include a few CDs and a cassette for completeness. I had not previously known about the David Sylvian’s “A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil” single or Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova” promotional 12″. So how many other Blake covers do I not know about?

Andy Warhol was active as a designer/artist for thirty-eight years (1949–1987) and produced 80 record covers in his career. Peter Blake has only produced 25 individual designs (increased to the 38 listed in various formats) in fifty-seven years. But he’s still going, so more may appear.

“WHO”–Peter Blake Designs the Who’s 2019 Album Cover.

Sir Peter Blake is still at it! At the age of 87 he is still very productive, making a variety of works including paintings, prints, and, what interests me most, record cover designs. So far he has produced a total of 27 record covers in the past fifty-two years!

The latest record cover he designed was Eric Clapton‘s 2016 “I Still Do“, on which Eric used Peter Blake‘s portrait of him. This portrait harks back to Clapton‘s 1981 live album “24 Nights“. Peter Blake didn’t know Eric prior to being asked to paint his portrait, which was planned to be the cover picture for the “24 Nights” album. Blake watched Clapton and his band at rehearsals and concerts in Dublin, Brixton and the Royal Albert Hall and got to know Clapton well and they became firm friends. Blake sketched while watching Clapton and his band perform and produced a series of drawings, but no portrait of Clapton. It would take a further thirty-four years before Blake finally painted Clapton‘s portrait.

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Peter Blake’s 2015 portrait of Eric Clapton.

Just this month (September 2019), The Who announced that they will be releasing new album on 22nd November 2019 called, quite simply, “WHO” and that Pete Townsend‘s pal Peter Blake had designed the cover.

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Petr Blake’s cover for The Who’s 2019 album “WHO”.

The cover design uses elements from a recent series of Peter Blake prints entitled “The Sources of Pop Art” and is reminiscent of the cover for Paul Weller‘s “Stanley Road” album cover from 2005.

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The cover of Paul Weller’s 2005 album “Stanley Road”.

The Who‘s “Who” album will be the 28th record cover that Peter Blake has designed. The Album will be released on 22nd November 2019 and special limited editions are available on The Who’s official site.

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The limited edition tripple vinyl, Deluxe CD and cassette edition of “WHO”.

The Capoeira Twins’ “4 x 3 / Truth Will Out” Promotional 12″ Revisited and a Very Nasty Swindle.

In October 2017 I boasted that I had finally completed my collection of record and CD covers with cover art by the artist known as Banksy. The final two items were a copy of the Capoeira Twins‘ promotional single for Blowpop Records entitled “4 x 3 / Truth Will Out” and the Boys in Blue promo 12″ single “Funk tha Police“.

I was really happy to have found what I thought was a genuine copy of the “4 x 3 / Truth Will Out” promo, but I had misgivings. First, the cover was in such pristine condition–no sign of wear or discoloration that would be expected on an 18-year-old sleeve. Second, the catalogue number etched into the deadwax was BLOWP 008, not the BLOWP 001 that I had expected. I could find no reports of any record on the Blowpop label with that catalogue number. Third, there were obviously THREE tracks on the record–a single track on side A and two on side B. Much later, I managed to play the record and (thanks to Shazam) found that it was, in fact, a promotional copy of Håkan Lidbo‘s “Capoeira” single. The original matrix number DP 012 was still visible in the deadwax beside the obviously newly engraved BLOWP 008. There was also a sticker arttached to the record label on which was written “Capoeira Twins”. I guess this hides the true title of the record. So–I have been swindled!

I decided that I needed to see a genuine copy of the record for comparison. There were three copies for sale on Discogs, one of which was purported to be in near mint condition and I contacted Andy, the seller, to ask for photos, and especially photos of the engravings on the record’s deadwax. He duly sent me pictures, but still I couldn’t make out much except that the catalogue number was definitely BLOWP 001.

I made him a cheeky offer for the record, which he duly refused. I heard nothing from him for a couple of weeks and made a more serious offer. Once again a week’s silence. So, I repeated the improved offer and he accepted. I met him and he explained he was a DJ that had bought the record from a used record shop in 2000 and had used it occasionally when DJ-ing.

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Andy with his copy of “4 x 3 / Truth Will Out”.

Once back at home I put the covers of the BLOWP 001 and BLOW 008 beside each other:

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The covers of BLOWP 001 (left) and BLOWP 008 (right). The matador image is much clearer on the 001 copy and the cover is significantly larger. The “Blowpop Records” text seems fractionally smaller on the 008 version.
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The back of the two covers. BLOWP 008 on the left and BLOWP 001 on the right. Note the slight yellowing of the 001 cover and the hint of a wear ring.

Using a jewellers’ magnifying glass I examined the printing of the covers. The black ink is much more even in the darker portions of the BLOWP 001 cover, while there are lines in the ink of the BLOWP 008 copy that could be from silkscreening (or other printing technique) but hardly be the result of spray painting. In addition the overall width of the matador/car image is almost one centimeter larger on the BLOWP 008 than the image on the BLOWP 001 cover. That would hardly be possible if a stencil had been used.

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Capoeira Twins promo, I had made a limited edition set of ten digital copies of the cover in, I think, 2010.

I can now confidently say that I have three copies of this enormously rare promo in my collection: my 2010 digital copy, the probably fake BLOWP 008 version from 2017 and an undoubtedly genuine BLOWP 001.

A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes – by Dave Haslam.

Have you sold your prized collection? Books? Records? China elephants? Anything?

Six years ago I sold my record collection. I used to say it was a life’s work, a library of great music, mainly mainstream rock but with loads of indie, classical, some jazz and some weird stuff that just seemed to appeal. Packed into sixty boxes standing in the middle of the room I wondered if I had been sick to have accumulated all this “stuff”. My wife and I moved from our house where I had a music room to house my music collection of 5000 plus records and CDs (probably more than 4000 vinyl records.) When we moved the records and memorabilia (posters, displays, and other music-related things) went into storage for a time. I would have a fifteen minute walk from home to the storage rooms in a converted garage under a block of flats. I would make the trek perhaps once a month to root around in the boxes. Almost every record I pulled out held an association. But who could I tell the stories to when I was alone in that sterile environment, unable to play the record or sit and contemplate the cover art. In addition the storage was expensive and the cost was not offset by any pleasure so I decided to sell the majority of the records.

I had lots of valuable records–a fully autographed copy of “Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You” on the red Parlophone label that I always said would be my old age pension, and both stereo AND mono copies of The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” LP with the original black and gold Parlophone labels. I also had hundreds of autographed albums by artists such as Björk, Oasis, The Ramones, The White Stripes, and quite a few rare promotional records. I offered friends a chance to buy some of these before I sold the remainder of the collection.

Then one May day in 2013 I sold the lot: records, posters and memorabilia. All collected and driven away from the storage units I had been renting. All I had to do was sweep them out and terminate my contract. I was strangely unmoved after everything had gone.

However, to be honest, it wasn’t true that EVERYTHING had gone–I kept my collections of  record cover art by Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Banksy, Klaus Voormann and Damien Hirst. So there was still a collection or sorts, though dramatically downsized.

A month or so ago I read of a book that I felt I had to read. Dave Haslam, journalist, author, and ex DJ, at Manchester’s Hacienda Club and other places has written “A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes”, subtitled “How I Survived Selling My Record Collection”.* Well, having sold my own record collection, I obviously had to read it.

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Dave Haslam: A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes.

The book opens with a general discussion about collecting and the (subtle) difference between collecting and hoarding. Haslam suggests that orderly storage and possibly cataloguing mark the collector, while hoarders just, well, hoard. He also suggests that there is another category of collector–a person who can’t, or doesn’t, throw things away. So someone who has shelves of books might be called a collector despite there never having been a conscious idea to collect. Haslam illustrates the idea of a record collector by describing a number of collectors. One collects José Feliciano records, others are DJs, three women DJs/collectors are mentioned an a major section of the book is devoted to a French colelctor of jazz records. Collectors can be categorised into “completists”, those searching for a particular record, music style, record label or any other aspect of recorded music. He insists that it is a love of music that underlies the collecting.

Haslam had accumulated 4,500 records in his 40-year career as a DJ. He decided to sell them in September 2015. Why did he eventually decide to sell? He asks the question towards the end of the book–answering it by saying that he’d stopped using vinyl records when DJ-ing, preferring self-recorded CDs as he’d had “incidents” affecting some records while he was DJ-ing. However, I don’t really buy this explanation. He mentions that his marriage “had hit a difficult phase and I felt isolated”. He does say, though, that he was unsure of the real reason for selling his records. He states “you can drift apart from someone and never quite work out why”. But he doesn’t say this was the reason for selling, though he used the money earned from the sale for an “extended stay in Paris”. The inference is that he went alone–divorced?

Haslam denies any post-sale depression, he rather felt unburdened. He had come to regard the records as “baggage from the past”. He says the “letting go was also exhilarating. I realised I wasn’t just surviving selling my records collection; I was surviving by selling my record collection”! He kept his books and memorabilia, so he wasn’t totally “unburdened”.

So, does “A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes” explain anything about me? It tells me that collecting is a common human endeavour and that there are many ways to collect records. I sold my collection as I didn’t have anywhere to store it and for purely financial reasons. I needed the money to help buy a flat. I didn’t feel depressed or lonely, nor was I exhilarated by ridding myself of a lifetime’s collection. Like Dave Haslam I kept a small part of the collection, which gives me joy to this day.

*Dave Haslam,. A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes: How I Survived Selling My Record Collection. Manchester, U.k., Confingo Publishing. 2019. pp53.

Cover art for Madonna by Mr. Brainwash.

Street art has become mainstream. Street artists are increasingly in demand as commercial artists and recording artists are turning to these readily identifiable painters for cover art for their recordings. In America, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and  designed record covers in the eighties, and Shepard Fairey, Robert del Naja (aka 3D) and Banksy (the latter two in the UK) produced covers mainly from the nineties onwards.

Covers by Basquiat and Fairey‘s art covers are very collectible and many are currently very expensive as they were produced in limited editions. Vinyl covers with Banksy designs are also rare and command high prices. I was lucky enough to start collecting Banksy’s record cover art relatively early and have managed to collect what I consider to be a complete collection of his record cover art. Thierry Guetta–better known as Mr. Brainwash–is a more recent street artist to design record sleeves. So far I have only been able to identify three such covers; all for Madonna. He designed the cover for her 2009 compilation “Celebration” which was released on vinyl as a 4 LP set in a gatefold cover.

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“Celebration” 4LP cover.
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Rear cover of “Celebration” 4 LP set.

There is also a 12″ EP of “Celebration” remixes.

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The cover of the 12″ EP with remixes.

Then there are a variety of CD releases. The standard double CD uses the same Mr. Brainwash image as the LP set, but there is a slightly different (more anemic) variation also.

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Alternative CD cover art.

And the 12″ picture disc and CD singles hare the same artwork:

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12″ picture disc with Celebration remixes.
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The CD single of “Celebration”

A couple of other records turned up when I searched http://www.discogs.com for other cover art by Mr. Brainwash and I fell for one that I thought probably was by him–Travis Barker‘s “Give the Drummer Some“:

Unfortunately, this cover is NOT by Mr. Brainwash but is by Pushead (aka Brian Schroeder, who, according to Wikipedia, is a graphic designer and record label owner.) More of his designs may be seen here. Skulls seem to be his speciality!

The Art of Mike & Doug Starn–Another Way to Collect Record Cover Art.

A while ago I went to Wetterling Gallery,one of Stockholm’s premier galleries, to view an exhibition and saw two paintings by twin artists Mike & Doug Starn. These paintings were abstract works painted on record covers which were hung with magnets onto a metal backing plate allowing each record cover to be removed and the record contained within played! Each individual record cover still had its original album inside.

On 11th June the Wetterling Gallery held an opening reception for a repeat show of Mike & Doug Starn’s art with the artists in attendance.

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Mike & Doug Starn in front of their painting “Monitor: Feed Your Head”

There were six large works and two smaller ones in the show–all painted on record covers.

According to my count there were a total of 201 record covers used for these eight artworks. I wondered if Mike and Doug raided all the secondhand record stores to source the covers. There seemed not to be any logic in the arrangement of the covers, not in the motifs painted on them, with the exception of the “Little Richard” painting. And as the exhibition was called “Iggy and Franz”, I assumed the painting with the androgyn figure, called “I’m Only Five Foot One”, pictured Iggy Pop.

These paintings were not cheap! Prices ranged from $10,000 + VAT for the two single cover works to $195,000 + VAT for the largest ones. Somewhat out of my price range.

A Previously Unknown CD with Banksy Art.

Ebay is a remarkable research tool. I regularly do searches of various Ebay markets looking for records by artists I collect–and when I write “artists” I don’t mean the band or similar, I mean the graphic artist who designed the cover.

I am constantly on the lookout for new covers by the artist known as Banksy–the latest one I had found was the Boys in Blue single “Funk tha Police” from 2015. I found a Banksy pastiche by Junichi Masuda on his “Pokémon” test pressing and a limited edition copy of this cover a year or so ago. But nothing with a new Banksy design since 2013 whn a download by TerranceK used Banksy’s “Death of a Phone Booth” on this EP.

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TerranceK’s “Hot Line” EP from 2013, only available as a download.

Anyway, a CD entitled “Skateboards” with Banksy’s “Insane Clown” cover image turned up a month or so ago. I had not heard of this CD before, despite it having been released in 2000, It was a promotional EP for Clown Skateboards, some of which used the Banksy image.

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The cover of “Skateboards” CD booklet with Banksy’s “Insane Clown” image.

The CD contains two tracks each by Dynamic Duo (DJs Niall Dailly and Bryan Jones a.k.a. DJ Extra) and Nasty-P. I discovered that Dynamic Duo also released one of the tracks “Style by the Dozen” on a 12″, with the “Insane Clown” image on the label.

 

Record sleeve art by artists I collect