2016 is drawing to a close and it’s time for a summary. It’s been a great year with important additions to all five of my chosen artists’ collections. Perhaps the biggest thrill, however, was being invited to show my collection of record covers by the artist known as Banksy in the major retrospective at Rome’s Palazzo Cipolla in May.
I realized some time ago that collecting all the record covers that five artists have produced would be a full time job and had promised myself that I would not start collecting any additional artists. However, this year I succumbed to temptation and added two more artists to my list of collectible record covers. The first was not really a designer, but an icon. I realized that I already had some of the rarest covers with portraits of Kate Moss and that collecting the ten or so remaining covers might not be too difficult. The second artist I started to collect is Jeff Koons. So far, though, I have only found three covers with his art, so that hasn’t been too taxing.
I’ll take you through the additions to my collection artist by artist.
- Banksy: Well. It’s been a poor year for new record covers with Banksy art. However, I did find one by Junichi Masuda, who composes for computer games and is a director at Pokémon. He released an album in 2015 called simply “Pokémon” with a cover that was a pastiche of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover
There are at least three different variants of this album pressed on coloured vinyl: blue/red swirl, red/white swirl and red/clear swirl. each colour was released in limited editions of 500, 200 and 100, respectively. But, there was also a test pressing released in a limited edition of 100 with a completely different cover:
This is a hand-sprayed version of Banksy‘s “Flower Thrower“–but instead of throwing flowers he is about to throw a Pokémon ball. As I mentioned, there were intended to be 100 copies of this cover, but the stencil didn’t last for the whole edition and the last few copies were given a different design:
Again this was based on Banksy‘s “Girl With Balloon” design. Probably less than ten covers had this design. However, I had the “Pokémon” album with the “Sgt Pepper” cover and the “Flower Thrower” cover, so I didn’t think this particularly “Banksy” enough to include in my collection.
When the invitation to show my Banksy collection in Rome arrived I decided that I had to get the original first pressing of the Paris Hilton CD “Paris“. Luckily two came up on Ebay at prices way below what the CD had been auctioned for just a couple of years ago, so I made what I thought was a cheeky offer and, to my surprise, my offer was accepted. My joy was, however, tempered a couple of weeks later when the other copy sold for less than I had paid. Oh, well. At least the CD could be included in the Rome show.
- Sir Peter Blake: It’s been a good year for my Peter Blake collection with some new releases and some older items that I had missed.
I have already owned up to my obsession with Eric Clapton‘s “24 Nights” recording. Well this year I have really fed it.
The first additions to my collection were two bootleg CDs from the “24 Nights” concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. These were for the first and fourth nights, respectively. Both CDs had original artwork that incorporated Peter Blake’s drawings.
I also bought the 7″ single “Wonderful Tonight/Edge of Darkness” with its Peter Blake cover.
Then, finally, I splashed out on the magnificent “24 Nights Limited Edition–Music by Eric Clapton/Drawings by Peter Blake” box set published by Genesis Publications in 1991. I was lucky enough to find one of the promotional copies (Number XXV/200), signed by both Clapton and Blake. The box set contains two CDs “24 Nights” that include 3 previously unreleased tracks, purported not to be available anywhere else.
Well, that proved untrue as I found a “Collectors Edition” CDEP entitled “Wonderful Tonight” that included these three tracks among the six on this double CD.
I June, I was walking along St Eriksgatan in my hometown, Stockholm, where there still are several record shops and secondhand record stores and as I passed The Beat Goes On I noticed a record with Peter Blake‘s 2015 portrait of Eric Clapton on the cover. It was the newly released “I Still Do” double album and I bought it on the spot.
Then I started to do some research and found that Eric Clapton‘s own site had sold limited editions of the album–a box set with the CD, a photo and a USB in the form of a radio valve with the album including two extra tracks and a film of an interview with Clapton and the album’s producer Glyn Johns. The box had sold out on Clapton‘s site, so I turned to Ebay and a search quickly turned up some affordable copies and I ordered one. Sweden’s postal service is not what it once was and I still hadn’t received the box after a month. I had been tracking the parcel and to my horror found that Postnord (the Swedish postal service) listed the parcel as “delivered”. But I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was desperate. After a further ten days or so I decided it was lost forever and ordered a second copy. A few days later, when the second copy was already on its way, the original parcel turned up! So now I have two copies, one still sealed.
Then I saw that there was a further limited edition with just the USB in a box like radio valves were sold in. I found a cheap copy in Australia and after 4-5 weeks it duly arrived.
Then in August, one of the moderators on the Rate Your Music site tipped me off about a Blake cover that I had never heard of. It turned out to be the only classical music cover Peter Blake has so far designed. It was a recording of George Gershwin‘s “An American In Paris” coupled with “Rhapsody in Blue” and Ferde Grofé’s “Piano Concerto in F” played by Steuart Bedford and the English Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to the recordings, I have managed to find some rare memorabilia relating to Blake’s record covers. I found one of Sony Music’s Peter Blake dartboards given away as prizes for a competition in connection with Oasis‘ “Stop the Clocks” release. The dartboard figured on the cover of the LP and CD versions of “Stop the Clocks” and on the CDs themselves as well as on the covers of the limited edition double 7″ and CDEP also entitled “Stop the Clocks“.
And I found a tour poster for The Who‘s 1981 Face Dances tour of the US in mint condition.
I also got hold of copies of the programme sold at Eric Clapton’s 70th birthday concerts at Madison Square Garden and The Royal Albert Hall . These are LP sized with the same Peter Blake portrait of Clapton as on the “I Still Do” album cover. I fully expected that this portrait would be used on the cover of the triple LP set “Slowhand at 70” which was the official release of the Albert Hall Concerts.
But I hadn’t realised that Clapton was saving it for the “I Still Do” cover.
In addition I bought two music-related books:
a. Paul Weller‘s “Surburban 100“; a collection of Weller‘s song lyrics with cover designed by Weller‘s friend Peter Blake.
The copy I bought was even signed by Paul Weller–an added plus!
b. I already had the first paperback edition of Roger McGough‘s “Summer With Monika” with Peter Blake‘s rather racy cover painting of a nude woman lying on her bed. Penguin Books decided that they couldn’t use that cover picture so they chose another rather more platonic Blake painting for their edition.
My new copy is signed by both Peter Blake and Roger McGough.
- Damien Hirst: As far as I am aware there has only been one new release with Damien Hirst‘s art so far this year–Jeff Wootton‘s brilliant solo album “The Way the Light“. For those who don’t know of Jeff Wootton he is a 29-year-old guitarist from Manchester who has an impressive CV. He has played with Damon Albarn (in Gorillaz, among other combinations), with Noel Gallagher in Gallagher’s post-Oasis band High Flying Birds.
“The Way the Light” was released in February 2016 as a digital download and as a 500 copy numbered, limited edition vinyl album which included a lavish booklet with 10 new spin paintings by Damien Hirst. Even the LP’s back cover had a spin painting.
The limited edition sold out in just over six months.There were a number of promotional singles, tracks from the album. released either as downloads or on CD or CD-rom. I have managed to find three of these CD/CD-roms (there might be a fourth, which I have to trace). These are “The Eternal” (a one-track CD-rom with no catalogue number), “Sonik Drips” (a one-track CD-single with catalogue number JWPROMO02) and “Reverie” (another one-track CD-single with catalogue number JWPROMO04) . Each has a Damien Hirst spin painting on its inlay.The “The Way the Light” album had a Japan-only release as a CD with an extra track (“The Eternal Reconstructed“).
During the autumn I saw a copy of “The Way the Light” for sale on Ebay and snapped it up to find that it was unnumbered! I suppose it must be a promotional copy, but it didn’t have any indication, other than the lack of a number, that it was. So now I have both a numbered (No. 409) and an unnumbered copy.
I have spent much of 2016 searching for the five singles produced by The Hours in 2006-7. I had four of these in my collection but they mysteriously vanished–I suspect when I sold the bulk of my record collection in 2013. They are limited editions with picture covers designed by Damien Hirst and Jason Beard and inner picture inner sleeves, too. The singles are “Ali in the Jungle/Nothing“, “Back When You Were Good/Back When You Were Good (remix)“, “Love You More/Mum and Dad“, “Ali in the Jungle/For a Moment” and “Big Black Hole/Killing Time”. I managed to collect then all again–but they cost quite a bit more this time around.
4. Klaus Voormann: I have a great many additions to my Klaus Voormann collection this year. 2016 saw the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ “Revolver” with its Klaus Voormann cover art. Apparently, Robert Whittaker had taken photos of the Fab Four for a cover, but John Lennon wanted something different and contacted Klaus, who was then living in London and playing with Manfred Mann. I already had my copy of revolver signed by Klaus but I bought his lovely book “Revolver 50: Birth of an Icon” from him and received a beautiful signed copy. I also found that he had written another book about his time with The Beatles called “Four Track Stories” and he sent be a signed copy of that too, with a signed postcard!
The German music magazine Good Times devoted its August/September number this year to “Revolver” and there were five different covers; four of which each had a new portrait of a Beatle, drawn in Revolver style by Klaus Voormann, on the covers and the fifth had a composite of all four Beatles. The magazine has also produced t-shirts with Voormann‘s Beatle portraits, but I haven’t invested in those.
- I discovered a really poor booklet published in America purporting to be a catalogue of Klaus Voormann‘s record covers. When it arrived I found out that it only included covers listed in Wikipedia. The only useful information I got out of it was the fact that Klaus had designed covers for two CD-singles by Wet, Wet, Wet that I had not heard about. They were easy to find–and cheap!
Klaus also designed the covers for two CDs by his friend Volkwin Müller which Thorsten Knublauch told me about. The first called “Strawberry Songs” was by Volkwin & Co and released in 2012.
The second was simple titled “Volkwin” and released earlier this year.
Klaus Voorman even had time in 2016 to design the cover for Albert Lee & Hogan’s Heroes‘ CD “Frettening Behaviour“.
Another unexpected find was the cover of Jimmy Smith‘s 1974 album “Black Smith“. I had no idea that Klaus Voormann had designed a cover for Jimmy Smith until i saw a copy advertised on Ebay with cover art credited to Klaus. I found a mint copy for a couple of dollars on Discogs.
The last Voormann cover I bought this year was a signed copy of the single “Lu La Le Lu“– a Klaus Voormann song he recorded for Apple in the sixties but that was not released until now. The song was recorded and released by Wishful Thinking in 1972. This single issued for charity had a remixed version of Klaus Voormann‘s recording on the A side and Wishful Thinking‘s version on the B side.
- Andy Warhol: I managed to find fifteen covers with Warhol designs, only four of which were actually released in Andy‘s lifetime. These are Artie Shaw‘s EP “Both Feet in the Groove“, Aretha Franklin’s “Jimmie Lee” and “Rock-a-Lott” 12″ Maxi singles and a rare Debbie Harry 12″ picture disc version of “In Love With Love“.
I also found a copy of Sonic Youth‘s “Into the Groove(y)/Burnin’ Up” 12″ single released under the moniker Ciccione Youth. The cover is a play on Warhol‘s design for Madonna‘s Wedding photo, but the cover isn’t really a Warhol cover.
There are a myriad of different re-issues of the magnificent “Velvet Underground & Nico” and I collected a couple of picture disc versions this year–one in a die-cut card cover, the other in a transparent plastic sleeve. Both apparently produced in Russia. The version in the die-cut cover is quite rare and the disc differs slightly from the version without the cover.
A group called Land of Sex & Glory released a 7″ single called “I Always Wanted to Be Andy Warhol’s Movie Star” in 1984 in a poster sleeve and I found a mint copy.
Another 7″ single that I bought was The Weaklings‘ “It’s So Criminal/Real Cool Time” with cover photo by Richard Avedon of Warhol‘s scarred abdomen after he had been shot by Valerie Solanas.
There were some CDs with Warhol art that I picked up just for fun. Marilyn Monroe‘s “Happy Birthday Mr. President“, “Warholes or All Andy Would Enjoy (And Fear) / Warhol Memory Disorder” by unpronounceable Lengow & Heʸᵉrmeᵃʳs, Otomo Yoshihide & Sachiko M. that has a Warhol cow on the cover punctuated with bullet holes. The final CD with Warhol‘s art was “John Cage to David Byrne: Four Decades of Contemporary Music” a various artists compilation
There is also a digital download with all the remixes of the tracks on the Vinyl Factory remix singles, with a playing time of about 4 hours called “Olympia Remixes“
I also found a Dutch promotional CD of “Heartache by Numbers” which I also added to my collection.
As far as I can tell there are fifteen covers with Kate Moss‘s portrait and I now have ten of them. Those outstanding are the two remaining Bryan Ferry 12″ Vinyl Factory singles, “You Can Dance” and “Alphaville“,