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.

 

The Thoughts of Gilbert & George LP.

I saw the Gilbert and George exhibition at the Tate Modern about 10 years ago. It was so huge that I and my friends hadn’t the stamina to see it all at one go, so we chickened out halfway. In February 2019 Moderna Museet in Stockholm opened another Gilbert and George retrospective entitled “The Great Exhibition“, which ran from 9th February to 12th May 2019. Gilbert and George visited Stockholm in the week preceding the exhibition’s opening to design the show and I had the opportunity to meet the artists to get my copy of their LP “The Thoughts of Gilbert & George” autographed in person.

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“The Thoughts of Gilbert & George” LP cover.

This album was released by the Museum of Modern Art in New York on 3rd August 2016 in a signed and numbered limited edition of 2000 copies. It was signed on the inner spread of the gatefold cover. My copy, No. 1145 arrived in 2017.

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My doubly signed copy of the “Thoughts of Gilbert & George” album.

In addition the artists gave me a copy of the exhibition catalogue, which they kindly dedicated.

I spent a charming ten minutes chatting with Gilbert and George before hurrying away with my goodies. I visited the exhibition itself the following week and was impressed by the limited size of the show and the brilliant arrangement and hanging of the works. Often in art exhibitions ‘less is more’. Definitely true of this show.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Revisited.

I described the 50th anniversary box set of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” in a post in July 2017. Way back in 2008–2009, when I was preparing an exhibition of Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art, I felt that Jann Haworth, his former wife and co-designer of Blake’s most famous cover, had almost been forgotten. Whenever one reads about Peter Blake, in articles or exhibition catalogues, he is invariably introduced as “the designer of the Sgt. Pepper cover”. Indeed, he has said that this is “an albatross sitting on his shoulder”. So I contacted Jann and she was most helpful providing details of the construction of the Pepper set up and even sent pictures. She also agreed to sign my copy  original “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” LP that Peter Blake had previously signed.

We discussed the gender and racial imbalances of the figures represented on the cover and Jann told me this was something she had been thinking about and tried to redress in a “Pepper” mural in her home town of Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.

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Jann Haworth’s 2004 mural “SLC Pepper” in Salt Lake City (SLC).

In late 2018 I bought a copy of the 50th anniversary “Sgt. Pepper” LP signed by Sir Peter Blake at a gallery in Liverpool. I thought it would be cool to have this anniversary album signed by both Blake and Haworth, so I contacted her again. She was more than happy to help out and I didn’t waste a moment before posting the record and a couple of other “Pepper” covers to the address I had been given ten years before. I should have checked Jann’s address before posting as it transpired she had moved from the old address. Despite her efforts to trace the parcel it was never delivered to her but found its way back to me in January 2019. So, I repackaged the covers and, after confirming Jann’s address, sent them again.

Jann was busy painting two new murals and had a deadline to keep, so the covers sat with her until the end of March. They arrived in mid April. Jann had signed nine items:
1. The 2017 Pepper anniversary LP signed previously by Peter Blake,
2. The Album cover from the 2017 box set containing four CDs, a DVD & a Blu-Ray disc
3. All four of the CD covers from the above,
4. The stage set from the Japanese 50th anniversary box set, and
5. The cover of an old 1967 copy of “Sgt. Pepper”.
6. The insert from the above.

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the 2017 LP cover signed by both Jann Haworth and Sir Peter Blake.

In the package was a handwritten letter describing the soft figures she made for the Pepper cover. She had made the Shirley Temple doll in 1965 or 1966 and, on the cover, it was sitting in the lap of an old lady. I had never really noticed the old lady–and I suspect few other people had either. The old lady, Jann told me,was modelled on a photo of her great grandmother, a seamstress who had been widowed early and had to raise two children on her own.

Since the arrival of the signed records Jann has kept me informed of some of her current projects, including a joint “Work in Progress” mural with her daughter Liberty Blake. This mural is in seven panels and has been shown in several museums.

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Jann Haworth’s and Liberty Blake’s “Work in Progress” mural.

I recently asked her if she had been involve in any other designs for record covers and it transpires that she has produced one other–a limited edition artwork.

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Jann Haworth’s & Joe Ephgrave’s 2017 cover for a cardboard record.

Jann told me of her work with Joe Ephgrave, the fairground painter who painted the drum om the “Sgt. Pepper” cover. He painted different versions of the Pepper title on each side of the drum. The one we are all familiar with, and another version that he considered “more modern”, that I had not seen until now.

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Joe Ephgrave’s alternate version of the “Sgt. Pepper” drum.

Joe was paid £25 for the drum painting and disappeared soon afterwards. Internet searches have failed to find any information about him–and there are suggestions that he never existed! However, Jann has scotched that rumour. She has taken Joe’s painting of a tiger and produced a record cover of sorts. In July 2008 the “Pepper” drum was sold at Christie’s for £541,250 ($1.07 million).

To almost round off my collection of the 50th anniversary issues of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” releases I added the limited edition picture disc to my collection.

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The US limited edition picture disc.

The only version of the 50th anniversary issues of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” releases I don’t yet have is the double LP version. Perhaps I’ll try to get that some day.

 

Record sleeve art by artists I collect