At Last–My Collection Organised.

We had been planning a revamp of our wardrobes almost from the moment we moved into out current abode seven years ago. Finally, last spring, we finally decided that we should get on with it. This involved moving a wall to enlarge our closet so that we could fit wardobes and cupboards on both sides. I planned for three metres of shelf space to house my record and CD collection. Unfortunately, there was no way to fit the three metres horizontally, so I had to arrange them vertically. And in mid-October everything was complete and I could fetch a crate of records from our storeroom in the cellar and arrange them om the new shelves.

My collection of Andy Warhol record covers was returned from the exhibition at Moderna Museet in Malmö at the same time and I could unpack the records and shelve them somewhat haphazardly until I had time to sort them properly. Almost simultaneously my collection of Banksy record and CD covers was dispatched to Genoa for the “Il Secondo Principio di un artista chiamatio Banksy” exhibition there.

Over the past weeks I have sorted the records and CDs according to designers–a shelf for Peter Blake’s record covers, two for Andy Warhol covers, spaces for Damien Hirst’s and Klaus Voormann’s covers and separate shelves for CDs (where all artists’ covers are collected together for the first time).

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The three missing Warhol covers.

But as I began sorting the covers returned from the Warhol 1968 exhibition in Malmö I couldn’t find three covers that I knew had been returned but just didn’t seem to be among all the others. Two were irreplaceable–Paul Anka’s The Painter album signed by both Anka and Andy Warhol and Ultra Violet by Superstar Ultra Violet. The third album was the US promo of John Cale’s The Academy in Peril, which isn’t too hard to find. I was desperate. I could buy a new copy of the John Cale album but I wouldn’t be able to afford new copies of the Ultra Violet and Paul Anka covers, even if they were available.

I spent three days going through every cover looking for these three. I took all the covers out looking for them, even opening gatefold sleeves to see if they had slipped inside but to no avail. I really thought the covers were lost. Had I really got them back from Malmö? I was about to contact Moderna Museet when I remembered that I had checked the returned covers by clipping the album title out from the delivery list accompanying the delivery and slipped each clipping into each respective record’s plastic protective sleeve (you can see the little strips in each cover in the photo). So, obviously I had received the records–so where were they? I spent the third night worrying and slept badly. On the fourth day I decided I’d go through the shelves for a final time.I started at the top and removed box sets and opened them to see if I had unconsciously put the records in them. They weren’t there, of course, but I did find some singles/EPs that I thought I had lost when I sold the major part of my record collection nearly six years ago–among them three German-pressed Count Basie EPs with Andy Warhol’s Basie portrait on the covers and two rare promotional CDs for the Hours’ Ali in the Jungle in a silver-covered booklet.

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The three Count Basie EPs I had considered lost.
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The front and rear covers of The Hours’ promo booklet for Ali in the Jungle.
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Miguel Bosé’s singles with Warhol cover art.

And, in addition, I found some other singles with Warhol cover art–The Silver Apples (Fractal Flow / Lovefingers), Jeanne Moreau & Günther Kaufmann (Each Man Kills the Things He Loves) and the seven inch EP box of Hugo Winterhalter’s recording of Rhapsody in Blue / Grand Canyon Suite. I am very pleased to be able to reintroduce these “lost” items into my collection.

I went through all seven shelves of records starting at the top, took out all the CDs sifted through a pile of singles and when I finally reached the bottom shelf, I found the three missing Warhol albums together right at the start of the covers lined up there. It was as if someone had removed them knowing I would be sorting the collection and then taken pity on me seeing my misery and carefully replaced them! Had they been there previously I would have found them. I mean I took every record out several times. Poltergeist? Someone or something from “the other side”? Any other explanaiton?

Anyway, having found the missing LPs–and a load more stuff I thought I’d lost–I can at last store my records where I can find them and have everything in order.

Banksy’s Second Principle–Retrospective Exhibition of Works by the Artist Known as Banksy in Genoa, Italy.

Three years ago the Fondazione Roma organised a retrospective exhibition of works by the artist known as Banksy, curated by Stefano S. Antonelli, Francesca Mezzano and Acoris Andipa. I was honoured to be asked to show my collection of Bansky’s record and CD cover art at that show and when the Associazzone MetaMorfosi was planning a new show once again to be curated by Stefano and Acoris, this time at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa planned to run from 23rd November 2019 to 29th March 2020. Acoris again asked me to lend my record and CD covers to the exhibition.

Stefano Antonelli has entitled the exhibition “Il secundo principio di un artista chiamato Banksy“, which translated means “The Second Principle of the artist known as Banksy“. Okay. But if this exhibition is Banksy’s second principle, what is his first?  Stefano explains in his essay in the beautiful exhibition catalogue.

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The exhibition catalogue.

Banksy’s first principle, according to Stefano, is “If you want to say something and have people listen then you have to wear a mask“. His second principle is “If you want to be honest then you have to live a lie“. And I suppose one should bear that in mind as one views the exhibition–however, I only read the catalogue at breakfast on the morning AFTER I went to the opening.

The exhibition is housed in the Palazzo Ducale’s cellar–eminently suitable for a show of “underground” street art. It is beautifully laid out and contains prints, sculptures and aforisms in addition to my collection of record and CD covers. The works on show have all been lent by private collectors and, as the organisers are at pains to point out in the introduction to the exhibition hall, that it is not authoised by Banksy.

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The introduction to the exhibition.
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General view of the exhibition locale.

The only famous Banksy prints I missed were the Kate Moss series, which Banksy had done in the style of Andy Warhol. And I was reminded of how Banksy really knows his art history as I wandered round the five exhibition rooms. My records and CDs are in Room Five.
Bansky covers

The CDs and single records are shown in an impressively massive black trunk.

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The trunk showing the CD and 7″ covers.

All in all a thoroughly thought out exhibition that I’m very happy to have been a (small) part of. Thank you to Stefano and Acoris for letting me share this experience. But, to return to the exhibition title “Il secundo principio di un artista chiamato Banksy“, I wonder if to be honest, I have to live a lie? This exhibition is an honest retrospective of the work by the artist known as Banksy. But is Banksy living a lie in trying to be honest?

A New Andy Warhol Record Cover

From March 31st to September 8th, 2019, Moderna Museet in Malmö showed a major part of my collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art advertised as the first time a complete selection of Warhol’s cover art production was on show. At a forum on record cover art at the Museum on 31st August, 2019, I suggested that we do not actually know if the sixty-eight covers on show are really all the covers produced during Warhol’s lifetime. I noted that new discoveries were still being made–coincidentally, often soon after and exhibition closed. And so it has turned out again!

Warhol expert and collector extraordinary, Guy Minnebach, recently visited The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and did some further research through Warhol’s letters and invoices collected at the Museum [https://warholcoverart.com/2019/10/13/the-bossa-nova-cover-no-one-knew-was-a-warhol-paul-desmonds-take-ten/]. he turned up an order from RCA Records dated May 1st, 1962 for cover art for an album with catalogue number LPM/LSP 2598. An invoice with the same date had a July 6th written on it, suggesting that that was when it was paid.

Guy didn’t recognise this catalogue number among currently identified Warhol covers and quickly discovered that the number belonged to Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.

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The cover of Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.

In the nineteen fifties Andy Warhol designed or illustrated about twenty-eight record covers. By the mid- to late fifties he was one of the highest paid commercial artists in New York, but, surprisingly, only three record sleeves were known to have been produced during the sixties; the “Giant Size $1.57 Each”, the “John Wallowitch” covers, and–of course–the famous “banana” cover for the “Velvet Underground & Nico” album. So the discovery of a further cover released in the sixties is sensational.

This appears to be a silkscreen portrait of Desmond against a coloured background. This possibly could be Warhol’s first silkscreen portrait. He only began making silkscreens in August 1962, so he probably had no idea for the cover when the order arrived. There is a sweet story as to how Warhol hit upon the idea of using silkscreens to “mechanise” his art. In 1961, he met a couple of English teenagers, David and Sarah Dalton, at party and invited them to see his art at his home. The Daltons were regular visitors to The Factory and David would in 1966 co-produce the Aspen Magazine box set together with Warhol.

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The pop art edition of Aspen Magazine produced by David Dalton and Andy Warhol in December 1966.

David Dalton went on to a successful career as a writer. But I digress, When Warhol met the Daltons, David was 16 and his sister Sarah 14. In early 1962 Warhol was experimenting with ways to speed up the process of producing multiple images on a canvas. He tried using stampers made from various materials but found that he could only produce small images by this method. According to one story, Sarah Dalton was visiting the Factory in early 1962 and saw Andy at work and he complained about the problems of reproducing many images quickly. Sarah was attending art classes at the time and suggested to Andy that he should try silkscreening as she had tried the method in her classes. Sarah would be a regular visitor and When Andy had filmed his first major film “Sleep”, he asked Sarah to edit it. Sarah had no previous experience of film editing but took on the challenge. It was the start of her career as a film editor.

Warhol usually used photographs from which to make his drawings and silkscreens. Thus he used a publicity still from Marilyn Monroe’s film “Niagara” for his “Marilyn” portraits, and a photo of hibiscus flowers, taken by photographer Patricia Caulfield as the basis for his “Flowers” paintings and prints. I therefore suspect that he found a photo of Paul Desmond on which to base his cover portrait. I have been searching for the photo, but without success.

Warhol’s cover design was also used by RCA Italy for a slightly different Paul Desmond album called “The Artistry of Paul Desmond” also released in 1963 and containing six of the original eight tracks from “Take Ten” but substituted “The Night Has a Thouand Eyes” and “O Gato” for “El Prince” and “Samba de Orfeu” on the original US release.

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The cover of “The Artistry of Paul Desmond” album.

So, my collection of Andy Warhol covers on show at Moderna Museet in Malmö during the summer of 2019 was incorrectly advertised as being “complete”. The finding of the Paul Desmond album barely one month after the show closed proves the collection to have been incomplete. I wonder how many more Warhol covers will turn up in the future?

 

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?

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David Sylvian’s “A Little Girl Deams of Taking the Veil”, 12″ EP uses Peter Blake’s “Just at this moment, somehow or other, they began to run”, One of Blake’s 1970 illustrations of “Alice in Wonderland”. Peter Blake has signed this cover.

 

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A picture disc of the “A Little Girls Dreams of Taking the Veil” single.

 

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OASIS’ “Champagne Supernova (Lynch Mob Beats Mix) promo, single-sided, 12” single. Cover signed by Peter Blake

While Peter Blake is consistantly producing new works in a variety of formats, paintings, prints and collages, he has only produced 27 individual record cover designs (increased to the 38 listed in various formats) in fifty-seven years. I look forward to the arrival of The Who’s latest album and hope that the 87-year-old will continue to design even more.

“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.

Record sleeve art by artists I collect