I’d never heard of the hard rock band Warrior Soul until a friend a couple of weeks ago mailed me a picture of the cover of their album Destroy the War Machines and asked if it was a Banksy design. Well, it was a slightly modified version of Banksy’s CND Soldiers painting and I had to have a copy. The cover design and layout are credited to Ballsy. Collage credited to Joachim Ljungh and photos by Tim Hodgson and Dajana Winkel
Warrior Soul is a band based in New York centred around leader Kory Clarke (vocals) with members Janne Jarvis (bass), Johnny H (guitar), Johan Linstrom (drums) and Rille Lundell (guitar) from the U.S. and Scandinavia. The band’s first release was the album Last Decade Dead Century, released on Geffen records April 17th, 1990.
There were several for sale on Discogs, one of them from just round the corner, so I ordered it for the standard LP price of €23 + €7.50 shipping. It arrived two days later. My copy is number 255/333.
The album had been released on CD by Acetate Records in 2009 but the limited edition, numbered vinyl version was not released until August 2016 on the Night of the Vinyl Dead label. I had managed to miss it for almost five years! This album was banned from being advertised on Discogs the week after I bought my copy for unknown reasons but has since reappeared. Although it is listed on Warrior Soul’s official site as a legitimate release. At the time of writing, there is one copy for sale on Discogs for an asking price of €350!
I’m sorry that Romain Beltram has had to close his Triphopshop — a combination record store and art gallery. Romain is a fan of hip hop, street art, and fashion, revamping tired jeans jackets by painting on them. Another of his specialties is re-imagining LP covers and I bought a couple from him last year. Now, as he is closing the gallery, I traded a couple of paintings for seven more of his re-imagined covers.
There are two David Bowie albums – Pinups and Diamond Dogs, The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun, Prince’s Parade, Grace Jones’s Living My Life, an album of religious Indian music called L’Inde and Madonna’s True Blue.
I think the Doors and L’Inde cover are the most successful, but I also like the others, too, especially the Pinups cover as it is one of my favourite Bowie ablums (I have a soft spot for cover albums.)
In 2020, just when the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting hardest my friend Romain Beltram invited me to show some of my paintings in his Triphopshop gallery in central Stockholm. He already showed some of Iron’s work and for a month from 9th September Iron was to have an exhibition of his work at restaurant Riche — one of Stockholm’s hip places. The exhibition, curated by Carl Carboni och Lars Liljendahl, was centred around Iron’s portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping as Bat Man — playing on the theory that the Covid-19 pandemic that started in Wuhan, China, might have spread from bats. Thus Iron portryed Xi Jinping as the Bat Man.
However, the exhibition was rapidly closed after complaints from the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm, objecting to the portrayal of the country’s president in this manner. Iron became an instant hero!
He has also satirised Ronald McDonald as the fast food chain has been accused of being resposible for the increase in obesity in recent decades. Iron has portrayed Ronald begging for forgiveness.
I have also a unique painting by Iron. He has reimagined the cover of John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy LP cover.
I think the cover art is really striking and puts a “punk” feeling on the design, which I like.
It seems that people only get around to collecting major artists’ record sleeve art when prices for paintings or limited edition prints become unaffordable. Record sleeve art — particularly on vinyl covers — must always be released in limited editions, even though the “edition” might be as big as ten or twenty thousand copies. I am sure that in the 1990s CDs were produced in far larger numbers than vinyl releases, and this is probably true up to the middle or late 2000s.
One only has to look at prices for Andy Warhol’s or Jean Michel Basquiat’s record covers to see that collectors of their art woke up very late to the fact that many of their record covers were issued in very limited quantities. And there are other examples. Record covers bearing works by Banksy have have increased in price almost exponentially in recent years as the result of all the publicity that has surrounded sales of his prints by famous auction houses. Perhaps a warning is in order here. David Shrigley’s art is becoming highly collectible. Once again, collectors have been slow to collect his record sleeve art. A little strange when one considers Shrigley’s own love of vinyl records coupled with the fact that the majority of records and cassettes with his sleeve art are very limited editions, often produced by art galleries or as own releases.
I also have collections of Peter Blake’s record sleeve art. Here prices have not escalated as they have for the artists already mentioned. It is really only original vinyl copies of Blake’s & Jann Haworth’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album and, possibly, the vinyl release of Oasis’s Stop the Clocks collection that have increased in value. Nor have records with cover art by Damien Hirst increased dramatically in value in recent years. My collection of Klaus Voormann’s record sleeve art is, at best, worth what I originally paid for each item. Only a copy of The Beatles’ Revolver signed by Klaus has increased in value.
I was lucky to have started collecting record sleeve art before prices went over the top. I am constantly amazed by the sums some collector are prepared to pay for some record covers. Several sleeves with Banksy’s art have sold recently on Ebay for over £2,000! And these were released in editions of 1000 copies. Even some CDs with Banksy’s art have started to increase in value although only a few were issued in limited quantities.
The sport now, is to guess which artist who also lends his art to record sleeves, will be next to tempt collectors.
It has been quite a while since I have had anything to write about other than David Shrigley or Banksy record and CD covers. A couple of months ago, however, I saw an advert for a 2018 album with cover art by Andy Warhol that I had missed. The band Third Eye Blind (or 3EB) had released an EP on vinyl called Thanks for Everything and used one of Andy Warhol’s Skull paintings as the backdrop.
Andy Warhol is said to have bought a human skull in a flea market in Paris in 1975 and made a series of still lives of it in 1976.
Warhol even made drawings of the skull and was photographed with the skull on his head or on his shoulder.
The Thanks for Everything cover had a different skull image on the rear cover reworked to look like street art.
So this is the latest addition to my Warhol cover collection.
I have been collecting record and CD covers designed illustrated or handmade by the artist known as Banksy, as well as record and CD covers that use his art since 2007. My list of records and CDs has grown steadily and now totals eighty-one (including a few doubles).
Sometime early on in my search for Banksy covers I saw a list on the Urban Art Association website that pictured a CD that I have been looking for ever since without success. I had a poor quality picture of the cover image and discussed it with a Banksy/street art collector i know. He mailed me a picture of a Banksy painting that formed the background to the CD cover image and I (as is my wont) made an attempt at reproducing the cover and I sent my reproduction to him and within a few short weeks he had located the missing CD. Someday I will provide a picture but not yet…
However, that is not the only find to arrive in recent weeks. In December 2020 another Bansky collector, Tasso von Haussen, alerted me to an Ebay advert for a September 1999 issue of Sleazenation Magazine that had a CD attached. The CD, The Next XI, is a compilation of tracks put together be Wall of Sound Records with cover art by Banksy.
This is an early Banksy cover that is a great addition to my collection.
I discussed the various covers for Blur’s 2003 Think Tank promo CDs in a recent post and said that I had seen pictures of a rare variation with a baby’s handprint instead of the Petrolhead stamp but never actually seen one and I wondered if it was genuine. Well, now I have a copy.
I got it from a collector in Newcastle who, many years ago had bought a lot of the standard Petrolhead promo CDs and found this unusual one among them. So now I have three variations of the Think Tank promo:
Finding the hand print CD cover makes me wonder if there might also be a variation with a baby’s foot print? So — with the help of Photoshop — I made myself one to keep until a real one turns up (if it ever does).
Now I wonder if my collection of record and CD covers by the artist known as Banksy is complete. I have previously said that I have a complete collection, but I have learned the hard way never to say that any collection is complete — something new always turns up as soon as one says one has everything.
In Part One I mentioned that many, if not the majority, of Shrigley’s record, cassette and CD cover art has been produced as limited editions. I will present several more here.
First off, is a various artists compilation called Worried Noodles. This double CD and book is a tribute to David Shrigley’s Worried Noodles: The Empty Cover book published in 2005 and uses the same cover art. Thirty-one of the poems in the Worried Noodles book were set to music and recorded by a variety of artists ranging from the famous to the (for me) obscure: David Byrne, Franz Ferdinand, Aidan Moffat & The Best Ofs, R.Stevie Moore, Alig Fedder (who will reappear later) and Deerhoof are the artists I’ve heard of.
Next came what I understand to be a limited edition seven-inch single called White Night by a band called White Night, which consisted of David Shrigley and Glaswegian friends.
There are two more releases from 2008. First, the A Brighter Beat/Point of Light seven-inch single taken from Malcolm Middleton’s album of the same name.
The other is Jason Mraz’s Album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. Released on CD, there is a limited edition three-sided double LP with etching on side four. Even the inner sleeve is doodled by Shrigley.
There was only one Shrigley cover in 2009 — for a ten-inch mini album by the Parenthetical Girls, an experimental pop band formed in Everett, Washington, and then based in Portland, Oregon. Six of the eight tracks were written by Ivor Cuttler.
Gallerie Feiber in Berlin held an exhibition of Shrigley’s art in 2011 and releases a limited edition double seven-inch set with cover art by Shrigley and pink vinyl records. Disc one was by Forced to Speak With Others (i.e. David Shrigley) and disk two was by Thee Oh Sees. The two singles were bound together with a pink banner. The edition was limited to 200 copies initialled and numbered by Shrigley.
Shrigley also had an exhibition in 2011 at London’s Hayward Gallery and published a book called Brain Activity which included a two-track seven-inch single.
The following year (2012) Castle Face Records released a version of The Velvet Underground & Nico album with each track played by a different artist. They got David Shrigley to design the cover.
Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement fame) got together with friends in 2013-4 to rerecord Can’s breakthrough album Ege Bamyasi, which was released as a limited edition for Record Store Day in April 2014. The European version was pressed on red vinyl and the American on green vinyl, but both had the David Shrigley cover art.
Only one of the seventeen records, cassettes and CDs/CDrs released beween 2013 and 2020 isn’t part of a limited edition. That is a CD of Malcolm Middleton’s and David Shrigley’s cooperation called Music + Words. However, the couple produced a limited edition LP (1000 copies) of the work with handmade cover featuring Malcolm Middleton’s hand print on one side and David Shrigley’s on the other (don’t ask me which is which.)
David Shrigley has cooperated with Scottish guitarist and producer Iain Shaw on several releases. The first was a limited edition cassette called Awesome on which Shaw provided music to Shrigley’s lyrics. There is also a limitd edition CDr of the recording.
And in 2016 the pair released another collaboration called Listening to Slayer. This was released on a limited seven-inch EP, a limited edition cassette and a limited edition CDr.
Iain Shaw originated in Stornoway, Scotland, and currently lives in Glasgow. He has adopted the alias Lord Stornoway and used this name in his latest collaboration with David Shrigley — an album entitled Don’t Worry that was released in conjunction with Shrigley’s exhibition at the BQ Gallery in Berlin and pressed on luscious pink vinyl. Shrigley also produced a limited edition seven-inch single for the gallery called I Am an Actor.
Finally, there is a limited edition cassette single by Daphne and Celeste called A.L.T.O. with cover art by David Shrigley.
I also have a couple of promo CD-Rs of the Don’t Worry album and a couple of singles from the Listening to Slayer EP.
There is a limited edition book with an LP called Goat Music that I still haven’t been able to get, but hopefully that will turn up soon.
David Shrigley’ is very popular and his paintings, sculptures and posters are becoming highly collectible and consequently expensive. However, he is — as he has admitted — obsessed by records and these are relatively inexpensive at the moment, though many of the limited editions are already very difficult to find. Perhaps this collection of Shrigley’s record, cassette and CD art might turn out to be a sound investment.
Collecting David Shrigley’s record cover art has proved much easier than I had thought it would be. My main research engines have been Ebay and Discogs plus some targeted Internet searches. In my last post on Shrigley’s record cover art I said I had identified twenty-one records. CDs and cassettes with his art. I have been working hard since then and my tally is now up to forty-two records, tapes and CDs/CDrs plus three items that are not strictly records/record covers. These last include David Shrigley’s limited edition I Am Deep in Thought print included with David Grubbs 2003 Cosmic Structure LP, Shrigley’s 2005 book Worried Noodles: The Empty Cover and his I Collect Records Records Frisbee. The frisbee was created in 2014 after David Shrigley’s Life and Life Drawing exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Despite these not being true record covers I decided to include them in my Shrigley collection.
Many, if not the majority, of David Shrigley’s record, CD and cassette covers are limited editions. These are often produced by museums or art galleries in conjunction with exhibitions of Shrigley’s art. However, the first three releases that I have been able to identify (from 2002-3) are two CDs by the Scottish band Ballboy — A Guide for the Daylight Hours and The Sash My Father Wore And Other Stories and the cover for Blur’s Good Song DVD (the only release from Blur’s Think Tank album that had cover art by someone other than Banksy.
In 2005 Shrigley allowed the group The Singing Adams to use his Untitled (Wild Animal) print design on the cover of their 2004 CD Problems.
Shrigley’s next release was a limited edition LP (500 copies) entitled Forced to Speak With Others which was also released on CD.
And this was followed by a very limited seven-inch single called Ding Dong released in connection with David Shrigley’s exhibition at the Dundee Contemporary Art museum in 2006. Side one has the “ding” sound of a doorbell and side two the “dong” sound.
Two other seven-inch singles appeared in 2006; A split single with Belle & Sebastian’s Casaco Marron (Latenitetales) coupled with David Shrigley’s When I was a Little Girl, and a picture disc The Perfect Me by the American band Deerhoof. Designer and record cover artist Jan Lankisch who was working at Tomlab records introduced David to Deerhoof and he designed this single and agreed to make the cover for Deerhoof’s forthcoming Friend Opportunity album as well as a further picture disc single Matchbook Seeks Maniac (Dedication Mix) / MaKko Shobu.
The Friend Opportunity album contained twelve alternative cover designs produced by David Shrigley.
There would be three more releases in 2007. Malcolm Middleton, a member of Arab Strap (among other constellations) recorded his A Brighter Beat album released on both LP and CD. The CD came in a standard issue and a limited edition. All three had cover art by Shrigley.
The final release of 2007 was by R. Stevie Moore a prolific American musician/guitarist who put music to poems from Shrigley’s Worried Noodles book and released a cassette and CDr of these tracks called Shrigley Field. The CD was released in a limited edition of 20 numbered copies signed by David Shrigley.
I suspect that this cover is R. Stevie Moore’s rendition of David Shrigley’s portrait of Moore that appeared in BOMB magazine (No 101, July 13, 2010).
I shall continue the story of David Shrigley’s record cover art in the next post.
This post is going to be rather philosophical. Why collect record cover art? Well, I started as I was interested in music and I found that I would prefer to buy a record with music that I liked if it had a more attractive cover. My collection began with a collection of cover art by Vaughan Oliver and his collectives 23 Envelope and V23. I built up a super collection of releases primarily on the 4AD label — not only records and CDs — but also a large number of posters. I had all the really rare items designed by Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg including the famous Lonely Is an Eyesore wooden box and two copies of the Lilliput CD promo book. Vaughan Oliver autographed both the Eyesore box and a Lilliput book when I went on a pilgrimage to his studio in South London in 2001. I sold my whole Vaughan Oliver collection in 2010-2013.
I started collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art in 1967, when I bought the Velvet Underground & Nico album at One Stop Records in London’s South Moulton Street. I confess I didn’t realise its greatness until a couple of decades later, but that didn’t stop me from buying White Light / White Heat the following year — again on US import at One Stop. So I had two Andy Warhol covers. That was the start of the collection. I bought the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers when it came out in April 1971 and their Love You Live in 1977. I got my fifth Warhol cover in 1982, when my family bought me Diana Ross’s Silk Electric as a Fathers’ Day present. From there I started looking for Warhol covers and gradually (and with the help of ace Warhol collector, Guy Minnebach) managed to collect every known Warhol cover by 2008, when Guy and I curated an exhibition of Warhol’s record cover art at Piteå Museum in northern Sweden arranged to celebrate what would have been Andy Warhol’s 80th birthday on 6th August 2008.
At the same time I had collected a representative collection of Peter Blake’s record cover art, including records, posters and books with a few rarities. I also noticed that I had several records with covers designed by Klaus Voormann; the Beatles’ Revolver (of course), Manfred Mann’s As Is, the Bee Gees first album and all three Beatles Anthology albums (on vinyl) and, when Klaus visited Stockholm in 2003 he kindly signed several album covers for me. So I continued collecting his covers, too, and now have almost every cover he has designed.
Around 2008, my son-in-law wondered if I would like to invest in a print by a street artist called Banksy, who had an exhibition in Stockholm. I passed on that (stupid, or what?) But, I had seen Blur live at Hultsfred’s Festival in 1996 and had all their albums and I had even bought the Think Tank LP in 2003 — my first Banksy cover. Then, in around 2008, I happened to find a couple of record covers designed by Banksy and found a contact on the Internet who was trying to offload his collection of Banksy-designed record covers. They were cheap at that time and I bought quite a few. As my Bansky collection grew, so did the prices for the rare items. A DJ, who was about to get married and needed money, offered me a copy of Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. promo double LP with the Bansky-sprayed cover for what was an exorbitant amount back than, but which I’m today glad I paid. I later added both versions of Banksy’s / Danger Mouse’s Paris Hilton CD (the original first issue and the reissued second release.) Since then my Banksy collection has been exhibited in a number of Banksy retrospectives.
I started to collect Andy Warhol’s record cover art as I am a Warhol fan. I have always loved his art and found I couldn’t afford to buy any original works. But his record covers were affordable and easy to store, much easier that hanging prints or paintings. I started collecting his covers when they were affordable and could even trade rare covers for others that I didn’t have. I had no idea that many would become valuable. I have been lucky to find several covers signed by Warhol to add to my collection.
A similar situation has happened with my Banksy collection. Bought first for the art and in an attempt to collect a complete collection of Banksy’s official and inofficial covers I found that I had made an investment. I have no idea what my collection is currently worth.
But what about my other collections? My Peter Blake collection of record and CD covers could still be bought for only a little more that I originally bought the covers for. Similarly, I don’t think there would be much interest in my collection of Klaus Voormann’s covers; although I treasure them both.
I have recently started to collect record, cassette and CD covers designed by David Shrigley. A couple of years ago, my wife and I had a wonderful meal at Sketch, a London restaurant who’s walls were decorated with Shrigley’s paintings and posters. As I have said in a previous post, I was lucky to get David Shrigley to sign my copy of Castle Face Record’s version of Velvet Underground & Nico cover, and so started my collection of David Shrigley’s record cover art. His posters and prints are now well beyond my budget, but his record, tape and CD sleeves are still very affordable. I wonder if they will one day, like my Warhol and Banksy covers, prove to be a sound investment, too.
I should emphasise, though, that I didn’t start collecting record cover art as an investment, but because I liked the art. That it has proved to be an investment only adds icing to the cake.
Last October, I posted an article about Andy Warhol’s unreleased cover art and described my attempts to reproduce the Billie Holiday, Volume 3 covers. Warhol made four designs for a possible Billie Holiday EP or LP entitled Volume 3.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth, Guy Minnebach published his research on the four covers. The first he found from a sale catalogue, it seems that two are in the Warhol Museum’s collection and the fourth was shown at the Robert Miller Gallery (New York) in 2011 according to Olivia Feal‘s blog.
A careful look at these covers shows that they are really collages — various bits of paper stauck together to make the finished design and then painted. Song titles are written in Warhol’s hand style. So, when were they made? Guy Minnebach, in his 2015 blog post, suggests that they were made in the early fifties, about the time he illustrated Margarita Madrigal’s book Magic Key to Spanish (published in 1953.) He points out that all the titles, were recorded in the 1930s for Columbia Records or its subsidiaries. I speculate that the covers may have been made later, towards the end of the fifties when Billie Holiday had left Columbia Records. Perhaps we will never know for sure.
I realize that these designs are unlikely ever to grace a real record and so I decided to try to make reproductions of Warhol’s designs. I’m in good company here. Many artists have reproduced Warhol’s art, starting early in the late sixties with Elaine Sturtevant’s copies of well-known Warhol works and continuing up to the present with Richard Pettibone’s miniature reproductions and Gavin Turk’s reinvention of Warhol’s Fright Wig Self Portrait.
So here are the results:
These are my renditions of Warhol’s originals.
My printer has managed to print up a limited edition of ten copies of each cover as ten-inch covers.
I am very happy with the results and to be able to add these to my other reproductions, such as the Progressive Piano ten-inch LP and seven-inch that I made several years ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if Columbia Records actually issued these records?