All posts by rockdoc999

I used to be a music nerd with a large collection of all sorts of recorded music, though mainly a vinyl freak. I started out in the sixties, got swept away by psychedelia and into music posters which I continued to collect up until 2013, when space shortage meant I had to sell the major part of my collection. I had already started collecting record cover art and had an complete collection of art by Vaughan Oliver (4AD) and Neville Brody (Fetish Records), which unfortunately had to go. I had all Peter Blake's record covers as well as the nucleus of a representative Andy Warhol collection. In addition I had an almost complete collection of covers by Banksy, Klaus Voormann and Damien Hirst so I decided to continue to collect covers by these five artists.

Andy Warhol’s Unreleased Record Cover Designs.

There are currently 68 known record covers with designs or illustrations by Andy Warhol (not counting colour variations or variations in format — LP or 7″) produced in his lifetime–the exact number is unknown as new covers with his illustrations/designs seem to turn up with monotonous regularity as soon as there has been an exhibition purporting to show his complete oeuvre. A case in point being the discovery of Paul Desmond’s 1963 Take Ten LP found in 2019 just as the Warhol 1968 exhibition at Moderna Museet in Malmö, closed, where a “complete” collection of Warhol’s covers was shown.

In addition, there are countless record and CD covers that use Warhol’s art released since his death. There are also designs for at least six record sleeves that Warhol made that were never released. These are:
Progressive Piano — a Various Artists compilation — planned for release by RCA Records, both as a 10″ LP and as 7″ EP (probably a double EP) as RCA allocated catalogue numbers for both formats. Lithographs of these covers are in the collection of The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Progressive Piano – 10″ LP, RCA Victor LJM-3001.

Progressive Piano – RCA Victor 45EP-EJB 3001.


– Four designs for a Billie Holiday four-track EP entitled Volume 3, probably aimed at Columbia Records, as the songs were recorded for that company’s subsidiaries. The song titles were written on the covers of two of the designs. There are four songs on one and seven on the second. The songs are:
Did I Remember?
I’ll Never Be the Same
They Say
Georgia on My Mind
I’m in a Low Down Groove
Romance in the Dark
Night and Day
No Regret
We do not know if these designs were actually commissioned or were simply Warhol’s own idea. No single record with these titles seems to have been released.

I first read about the four designs for the Billie Holiday covers in 2015 in Guy Minnebach’s excellent Andy Earhole blog. You can read his post here. And I’ve been thinking about trying to recreate them on record covers.

All these designs must be from the early 1950s. The Progressive Piano collection was probably as early as 1952 and the Billie Holiday designs I would guess were made around 1953 or 1954 as they are somewhat in the style of the drawings Warhol made for Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish and that appeared on the record covers to the two albums of pronunciation exercises that accompanied the book, published in 1953.

I made reproductions of the Progressive Piano LP and double 7″ EP several years ago and these have been included in exhibitions of Andy Warhol’s record cover art; most recently at Moderna Museet in Malmö, in 2019.

Recreating the Billie Holiday covers is much more difficult. Redrawing Warhol’s sketches means finding pens that can imitate Warhol’s lines. Then painting the colours round his drawings. So far I have attempted three of the covers:

There is a lot more work need to make them even remotely like Warhol’s originals. I hope I’ll be able to post more polished results sometime in the future.

Mother Samosa — A Ska Band From Bristol.

I recently bought a couple of promo CDs of Blur’s Think Tank album from Paul Coombs, who it turns out is a dedicated Banksy expert hailing from Banksy’s home town of Bristol. We began corresponding and Paul told me about a Bristolian ska band calling itself Mother Samosa. The band had released a CD called Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown in 1993. He told me that the band had originally released two cassettes, the second called The Fairground of Fear) that had become extremely rare. In actual fact the CD is also very difficult to find–I have yet to find a copy of any of them.

The CD cover of Mother Samosa’s Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown.


What is interesting for a collector of Banksy’s record cover art is the fact that the design of the cassette inlays is credited to one Robin Gunningham. Once upon a time, the Daily Mail tried to find out Banksy’s true identity and suggested that he was none other than a Bristolian named Robin Gunningham, said to have been born in 1974. The paper even approached Gunningham’s parents, who true to form, refused to admit anything.

A while ago music fan Raimund Floeck sent me a link to a podcast about the Vibronics, a dub group from Leicester. U.K. The podcast was an interview with Vibronics frontman, Steve Gibbs (a k a Steve Vibronics) who told a story about how in the mid to late 1990s an artist called Robin designed the Vibronics logo, and that this same Robin turned out to be the guy who became the famous artist Banksy. So I had to establish that Banksy had actually been in Leicester around that time. Two things could be established: 1. that there was a DJ couple in Leicester atthat time called Tom & Banksy and 2. Paul Coombs told me about a festival in Leicester in the mid 90s that many Bristol artists visited, probably including Banksy.

So, let’s try to create a possible timeline. If Banksy was born in 1974 (or 1975 as some others have suggested) he would have been 19 or 20 in 1993 when the Mother Samosa cassettes were released and he would have been perhaps 24 or 25 when the Vibronics logo was designed. Now, if this Robin is a fan of ska and dub music, it would seem to be a possible link between doing designs for a Bristol ska band (Mother Samosa) and a Leicester dub collective (The Vibronics.) What is known is that Banksy moved to London together with Hombre Records boss Jamie Eastman in 1998 or 1999 and designed the covers for hip hop artists One Cut (or OneCut.) He later became associated with Wall of Sound Records and designed a string of covers for artists on that label and its subsidiary Ultimate Dilemma. By the early 2000s he was back in Bristol.

As I reported in a previous post, Ed Cartwright, who sold me a copy of Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. promo, once worked for Wall of Sound records and was there in 2001 or 2002 when an artist called Robin (Ed never heard his surname) spray painted the covers to the Melody A.M. promo.

Banksy’s first came to widespread media attention in the U.K. in 2006 when he redesigned Paris Hilton’s CD booklet to reveal her topless and instead of the Paris CD included a CD-rom of music by DJ Danger Mouse. 500 copies were secretly placed in HMV stores all over the British Isles.

The redesigned Paris CD by Banksy and DJ Danger Mouse

Wouldn’t it be cool if my timeline was correct and Robin Gunningham is Banksy’s real name? But I’m only guessing, and I cannot, as yet, guarantee that the Mother Samosa cassette and CD covers or the Vibronics logo are actually early examples of Banksy’s art. But I’d like to think that they are.

The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers–Zip or No Zip.

Sticky Fingers was the Rolling Stones eighth full length U.K. album, released on April 23rd 1971. And when you ask anyone with any interest in record design what record covers did Andy Warhol design the answer will generally be: the Banana cover (The Velvet Underground & Nico) and the one with the zip.

Andy Warhol had the idea to design a record cover with a working zip. He photographed one of his associates’, Jed Johnson ‘s jeans from the waist down to the mid thighs Some say it was Joe Dallesandro, but I disagree). He also photographed someone wearing jeans from the rear. No one is exactly sure who’s rear this was. Once Warhol had designed and photographed the cover images and the underpants hidden under the front cover, Craig Brown put the package together including the inner sleeve. An additional design first was the inclusion of John Pasche’s tongue logo, the first time this appeared anywhere.

Sticky Fingers cover.

The U.S: cover.

The album was released in the United Kingdom with the band’s name over the right hip pocket and the title on the right thigh. In the United States both title and band name were placed on the belt towards the right.

Some people have manged to separate the right edge of the front cover to allow it to open and reveal the underpants beneath and called this a gatefold cover. However, the only true gatefold version was produced in New Zealand in 1973, with the record being inserted from inside the gatefold as opposed to the normal top insertion on all other issues. In addition this cover had a printed, non-functioning zip.

The outer spread of the New Zealand gatefold cover.
The inner spread of the New Zealand gatefold. Note the flip over from the rear cover at top and bottom.

There are variations of the zip, too. The standard zip has a small pull tag. There were a small number of early U.K. pressings with a larger pull tag, the Pan tag (as PAN is inscribed on it), and there is apparently a third variation on the U.K. version with the STAR pull tag. I’ve never seen one of those, but there’s a picture on Discogs.com.

The standard zipper on German pressings of the album had a much larger pull tag, similar in shape and size to the Pan tag.

Several reissues of the Sticky Fingers album have appeared over the years, many of which, like the New Zealand gatefold mentioned above, have had printed, non-working zips. There are a couple of special issues that are worthy of note here: in 2015 Polydor Records released an expanded version as a limited edition double LP with working zip with John Pasche’s tongue design as the zip’s pull tag. In 2020 the company reissued the original album half-speed mastered and pressed on 180g vinyl, but the cover of this album had a printed, non-functioning zip.

There a re myriads of variations of the Sticky Fingers cover released in other countries. I do not collect these but I do have all the variations described in this short post in my collection, bar the U.K. PAN zip pull version. I am not sure I need to include that as well.

Chu Bops Bubble Gum with Record cover Art.

You may have read my recent post on Anonymouse’s installation of a miniature record store in Lund, Sweden, displaying tiny record covers that parody well known covers, giving them a murine slant.

I seem to remember seeing bubblegum packed in miniature record sleeves in the late sixties or seventies but I only recently saw the ones manufactured by Amural Products Company and called Chu Bops in the 1980s. I have seen more than seventy different covers:
– The Beatles (16 covers)
– Rolling Stones (ten covers)
– Elvis Presley (eight covers)
and diverse covers by:
Abba, Air Supply, Allman Brothers, ARS, Pat Benatar, Blondie (two covers), Blue Öyster Cult, David Bowie, Brothers Johnson, Charlie Daniels Band, Commodores, Crystal, Neil Diamond, ELO, Foghat, Heart, Isley Brothers, Billy Joel (two covers), Jefferson Starship, Judas Priest (two covers), The Kinks, The Knack (two covers), Little River Band, Loverboy, Meat Loaf, Willie Nelson, Juice Newton, Gary Numan, Robert Palmer, Teddy Pendergrass, Rush, Santana, John Schneider, Rex Smith, Southside Johnny & The Ashbury Dukes, Spinners, James Taylor, Pat Travers Band, Stevie Winwood,

Each cover is three inches (9 cms) square and contains a pink bubblegum disc made to resemble a record.

There are even shop displays with Beatles or Rolling Stones covers and LP-sized collectors covers into which you could save your bubblegum records.

The Chu Bop Rolling Stones collection includes both Sticky Fingers and Love You Live covers hat would fit in my collection of Andy Warhol covers and The Beatles colection includes the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover that would be a nice addition to my Peter Blake cover collection. The question is do I need them?

Ricotta Records–A New REcord shop in Lund, Sweden.

The Ricotta Records shopfront. Photo Anonymouse.

There’s a creative group in the town of Lund in Southern Sweden called Anonymous, that makes miniature shops that suddenly appear on the streets and attract the attention of passers-by. They seem to appear magically by night. There has been an Indian restaurant, a detective bureau, a pharmacy and a jazz club, a barbers shop, and, most recently, a record shop called Ricotta Records.

There are fourteen record covers in the shop window.

The shop is packed with record sleeves, and rock posters, all in miniature format. People have gone to amazing lengths to recreate actual record covers but given them a murine twist.

The Anonymouse Instagram post attracted followers to design their own mouse-associated covers.

I’d love to do some miniature covers of my own, but I seem to lack the inspiration to mousify any of my favourites. But all cred to Anonymous for making this great addition to the streets of Lund.

What’s in a Name? My Latest Art Attempts.

I spent three intensive days last week on a silkscreening course. I’ve been on several over the years but this time I had some ideas — a couple of friends are getting married later this month and I thought I could produce a portrait of them as a wedding present. In addition I had some unfinished paintings that I thought I could finish.

It turned out that I could do both in the fifteen hours that the course lasted.

First the wedding present. I had downloaded the couple’s portrait from one of their Facebook posts and edited the background out to leave just the couple seated together holding hands. I made two screens, one with the photo as originally taken with M seated on the left and a second with the picture reversed. I had previously prepared backgrounds on 300 g watercolour paper and simply screened the image onto the prepared backgrounds.

While I had the screen ready I decided to make a separate portrait for myself:
I screened a silver background and then screened the portrait on top.

Silver wedding

Then I had six portraits of Andy Warhol that I had painted some time ago and wanted to finish. Two were only in the early stages of production and had to be finished.

Then the series was complete:

And, I added diamond dust to make them sparkle!

We were four participants on the course and we had a discussion as to whether or not we should sign our work. The general consensus was “if one accepts ownership of the work, then it should be signed”.

Okay, then. But I don’t really think my name rings really ‘artistic’. I mean, not like Picasso or Cezanne or something catchy — even if my wife jokingly calls me the family Picasso! So I just put “Richard F ’20” on each picture.

Chris Makos Portraits of Loredana Bertè on Album Covers.

When I started collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover more seriously sometime in the early 2000s there weren’t that many covers known to have been designed or illustrated by him. Everyone knew about the Velvet Underground & Nico and the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers but there weren’t many of the early covers that were recognised. Some of his jazz covers were signed but I could still search Ebay for less recognised covers including copies of early records like Cool Gabriels and buy the relatively cheap and resell doubles to fund further purchases. I had a fair collection by 2008 when I was offered the opportunity to put on a show of what I at the time considered to be a COMPLETE collection of Warhol covers. I was helped considerably by Warhol expert Guy Minnebach who had recently discovered important covers. We managed to collect about 65 covers. Then in September 2008 the Warhol Live! exhibition opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and included Paul Maréchal’s collection of Warhol’s record covers and his catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s record covers was published (Andy Warhol: Record Covers 19489-1987. Catalogue Raisonné. Prestel, 2008.)

Included in Maréchal’s book was a cover of Loredana Bertè’s 1981 album Made in Italy. The cover photograph was by Warhol’s good friend Christopher Makos. On the rear cover the photograph was credited “Album Concept and Photography Christopher Makos Andy Warhol Studio“. Loredana Bertè spent at least a year in New York in the early 80s learning English and has said she became friends with Andy Warhol and cooked him spaghetti. However, it seems doesn’t seem that Andy Warhol actually had any input into the design of the cover of the Made in Italy album, though he might well have come up with the title. I have always had difficulty in calling the Made in Italy album cover a “Warhol cover”, but who am I to argue with Paul Maréchal?

Interestingly (at least for me) is the fact that Chris Makos provided the portraits for Bertè’s 1983 album Jazz. There are two cover portraits of Loredana — the version of Jazz released in Italy has a photo that looks as though it could have come from the same photo session as the portrait on the Made in Italy album. The version of the same album released in Holland has a different portrait, this one in colour. Both are credited to Chris Makos, New York.

Chris Makos met Warhol probably in 1976 and is credited with showing him the 35 mm camera and its possibilities. He accompanied Warhol on several trips to Europe and took many photographs of him, including the famous series of Warhol in drag.

Should the Jazz album covers also be credited as “Warhol” covers like the Made in Italy album cover? I don’t think so. But then I don’t really think the Made in Italy cover should be included either.

Vinylizing Two Andy Warhol Covers.

It’s probably a mortal sin, but I’ve allowed two of my Andy Warhol covers to be subjected to remakes by artist Romain Beltrame.

I have duplicates of a few Warhol covers and selected Aretha Franklin’s 1986 album Aretha together with Miguel Bosé’s 1983 Milano – Madrid album for Romain to ‘play’ with.

I left thecovers with him only a week ago and today he mailed me that he was ready. The results are amazing.

Beltrames Aretha
Romain Beltrame’s additional artwork on the Aretha LP cover.

Beltrames Bose
Romain Beltrame’s additional artwork on the Milano – Madrid LP cover.

I fully realise that collectors of Warhol’s record cover art might be horrified by these re-imagined covers, but I like them and welcome them as new additions to my cover art collection. After all, they are unique.

Two Banksy Covers I Didn’t Know About.

Today was a bit of a special day! I discovered two CDs with Banksy artwork that I had never seen. I was casually surfing the Internet when I came across a picture of a CD cover that I didn’t recognise but that had classic Banksy artwork. The CD in question is an 11-track compilation released by Seven Magazine and called Seven Magazine Presents the Soundtrack to Sizzler Parties, and contains tracks by Blak Twang (Twixstar) and the Röyksopp remix of The Mecons Please Stay. This CD was released in 2002, so I don’t really understand how it has eluded me for so long!

The second CD, Orange City by a Canadian band called One Bad Son, was released in 2007. The front cover didn’t look promising — probably explaining why I had missed this release.

It isn’t until you open the jewel case and see the CD that the Banksy connection appears.

Here the Bomb Hugger girl image appears both on the CD and on the inside of the rear of the jewel case. I suspect that this is an unofficial use of this particular Banksy image that appeared officially on the Peace Not War compilation CD that accompanied the February 2004 number of the Big Issue magazine.

 

As I write this, my collection of Banksy records and CDs is moving from the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa to the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara until September 2020 and then from September to December to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto. Perhaps I should add these rare CDs to the exhibit.

VINYLIZE! — Art on Record Covers — Art on Art.

You should know by now that I collect record cover art. I have twice in my life designed record covers. The first was when I bought a copy of the Rolling Stones’ bootleg Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be sometime in around 1970. The original cover was white with the title stamped on in black, and I thought it would benefit from a bit of colour.

Live'r_Than_You'll_Ever_Be_original
The rather uninspiring, unembellished cover for “Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be”

As I was in poster-painting mode, I decide to “improve” the design:

Liver than LP
My “improved” version of the cover.

The second cover, the one I designed myself, was for a student review called Tower Power at Guy’s Hospital in 1969:

Tower Power LP
The cover for the “Tower Power” LP.

Otherwise, the art on record covers has been sort of “holy”, to be appreciated and enjoyed, and not to be tampered with. However, I have begun to realise that not everyone shares this view.

Vinyl records have been recycled in various ways — made into wall clocks, melted into decorative bowls or other items or lazer cut into designs. But I thought the covers had escaped recycling until i saw the work of artists Mike and Doug Starn (see my post from 21 June 2019) who use record sleeves as the background for their, sometimes abstract, large-scale paintings.

Then I passed a little shop called Triphopshop that had three redesigned record covers (two Grace Jones and a David Bowie covers) in the window that I thought quite exciting. Then I read of a Dutch project that asked artists to rework record cover designs called Vinylize!, a cooperation between Bert Dijkstra (of Shop Around) and Dick van Dijk (owner of Concerto record store). They put on an exhibition of the reworked record covers together. I found out about this from an Album Cover Hall of Fame blog post and and learned that they had published a catologue of the exhibition. Of course, it’s now out of print, but I was lucky to find a copy on Amazon. It arrived yesterday!

Front and rear covers were shown in its 106 pages, with the rear covers altered to include a short biography of the artist who reimagined the cover with a list of that artist’s ten favourite albums. The artists include Bart Aalbers, Eric Huysen, Jillem, Typex (I just last week bought Typex’s book Andy – A Factual Fairytale. The Life and Times of Andy Warhol), Loudmouth, etc. Naturally, mainly Dutch artists, but all with a history of designing record covers. Olla Boku had reimagined Andy Warhol’s cover portrait of Billy Squier:

Vizualise-Guilty-fr

Eric Huysen had reimagined Barbra Streisand’s Guilty cover:

Vizualise-Wall-fr

Jillem had a humourous turn on the Pink Floyd’s The Wall:

Having looked through the Vinylize! catalogue, I went back to Triphopshop and talked to owner and artist Romain Beltrame. He is into street art and sells clothes that he has embellished with his own paintings: many jeans jackets that he has redesigned. He also sells posters by other artists — much in the style of Blek le Rat or Banksy. But it’s his reworking of record covers that interest me.

The Triphopshop on Rörstrandsgatan, Stockholm.

 

Romain Beltrame holding his reworked Diamond Dogs cover.

Here are just some of the covers he has re-designed.

 

I am trying to work out how I feel about artists reworking cherished covers. Some of the covers pictured in Vinylize! are clever, others strike me as rather destructive. It could be a new field for collectors or amateur artists! But perhaps I’ll be tempted to buy some secondhand covers and try to remodel them myself, who knows? I have asked Romain to reinvent a couple of Andy Warhol covers — Aretha and Miguel Bosé’s Milano–Madrid. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.