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 large collections of art by Vaughan Oliver (4AD) and Neville Brody (Fetish Records), which unfortunately had to go. My collections of Andy Warhol’s, Sir Peter Blake's and Banksy’s and the Swedish band kent’s record covers have been exhibited in major exhibitions both in Sweden and internationally. I also have collections of David Shrigley’s, Damien Hirst’s, Klaus Voorman’s, Cindy Sherman’s and Richard Prince’s record cover art and a couple od Jean-Michel Basquiat’s covers.

Some New Re-imagined Covers by Famous Artists That are Way too Expensive for Ordinary Collectors.

Ever heard of Interscope Records? I hadn’t until recently when a good friend and fellow collector tipped me off about a new Damien Hirst cover that was to be released by Interscope Records as part of their thirtieth anniversary celebration.

It turns out that the company released Eminem‘s first album The Slim Shady in 1999 and that they are releasing limited edition albums of the Eminem catalogue with new cover art by Damien Hirst. Five of the redesigned albums are picture discs in new Hirst designed covers produced in limited editions of 500, while a further seven are available on black vinyl, in signed editions of 100 that include a giclée print of the cover art packaged in Gucci-designed wrapping. Each picture disc version costs USD 100, and the signed editions cost USD 2,500 each. Damien Hirst has done these reimagined covers for free as the proceeds are going to charity. Despite the fact that the proceeds from the sale of these art covers are going to charity I feel that they are wildly overpriced. The picture discs are each produced in editions of 500 copies and USD 100 strikes me as too expensive. I think a more reasonable price would be around USD 50. I would expect a record priced at USD 2,500, like the black vinyl albums to be in much more limited editions, perhaps even unique items in order to motivate the price. These are probably aimed at galleries or institutions rather than individual collectors and the exorbitant price prevents serious collectos of the individual artists’ covers from buying them.

In addition to these new Damien Hirst covers there is a redesigned Snoop Doggy Dogg Doggy Style LP cover by KAWS for USD 100 in an edition of 500 copies that sold out almost immediately it was released. However, there was only one further release that I was interested in, and that is Richard Prince‘s reinterpretation of Nine Inch NailsThe Downward Spiral LP.

Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral Reimagined by Richard Prince.

In addition to the Damien Hirst designed covers for the Eminem albums, Interscope have released twenty-one other albums with redesigned covers priced at USD 2,000-2,500 by artists such as Gwen Stefani, Lana del Rey, Helmet, Dr. Dre, Billy Eilish and others.

These are the black vinyl Damien Hirst albums:

I actually really like these Damien Hirst covers! Obviously I can’t afford the USD2,500 limited editions and so I can never own a complete set of the artist’s record cover art.

I have ordered the five Hirst and the RIchard Prince picture disc editions. Perhaps I’ll make my own versions of the USD2,500 editions later to complete my collection.

All these covers can be bought through the Interscope Records site or via NTWRK app, subject to availability.

Have I Bought My Last Record?

I bought a record the other day. But it wasn’t for me. My Internet friend Ruggiero needed a copy of RATFAB’s single Det brinner en eld / Mörka ögon to complete his collection of Andy Warhol record covers, and I found him one.

Otherwise I haven’t bought a record for over a month — that must be some sort of record for me! Strangely, I don’t feel the urge to buy any more records. I am beginning to realise that I have an impressive collevtion of record cover art — okay, there are a couple (or three) gaps that I could try to fill, but those gaps are so exceeding rare and filling them would be extremely expensive if I ever found any of them. Actually having these rarities might give me a moment of two’s joy, but then my collections would be COMPLETE, and where’s the joy in that? So — I’m thinking of stopping the search.

However, a new though occurred to me: what happens if one of the artists whose record covers I collect produces a new one? Should I go for that? Andy Warhol isn’t going to produce any new covers (though hi art may very well appear on a new cover somewhere.) I’m somewhat doubtful as to whether Sir Peter Blake will produce any either. I have heard that Damien Hirst has at least one cover in the pipeline, as has Richar Prince (another artist I like). Klaus Voormann is still active despite soon being 85 years-old and could well come up with another cover or two. David Shrigley is very much active and still interested in music and, in particular, records. Viz. one of his latest posters Awful Music.

Record covers that parody famous covers always interest me. I have some Sgt. Pepper parodies and a number of Velvet Underground “Banana” cover parodies. one by the aforementioned D. Shrig: his cover for Castle Face Record’s The Velvet Underground & Nico and another of his for Stephen Malkmus & Friends’ rerecording of Can’s Ege Bamyasi.

David Shrigley’s parody of the Velvet Underground & Nico cover.

I have always liked Kraftwerk — I’ve seen them live three times — and even have a pullover with the Die Mensche Maschine cover image. I painted a version of that cover not too long ago.

And I recently discovered that the Ebony Steel Band’s cover had recorded a cover version of the album:

Well, I very nearly pressed the Buy it Now button for this one but I realised that I didn’s actually own Kraftwerk’s original, so there was little point in buying this reverential recreation of that famous cover.

So, I don’t think I’ll be buying any new records for the foreseeable future. Unless…

Famous Artists’ Works on Record Sleeves. But are They Really by the Artist?

The idea for this post came a couple of days ago when I discovered a “new” (well, new to me, anyway) cover for the Strokes’ 2020 album The New Abnormal (RCA Records), designed by Tina Ibanez that uses part of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1981 painting Bird on Money.

Here’s the complete painting: a tribute to Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Now I have a couple of record covers designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat — hos famous Beat Bop for Rammelzee vs K-Rob and the Offs First Record, and these were actually designed by Basquiat. I also have a 2020 reissue of Beat Bop and this is still a “genuine” Basquiat cover. However, can I accept Tina Ibanez’s use of the Bird on Money detail as a Basquiat cover? After all, there’s no offical acknowledgement that Basquiat’s estate had sanctioned the use of the painting.

Looking through my cover art collection these are other covers that are of doubtful provenance. There are a lot of covers on vinyl records and CDs that use Banksy’s art without the artist’s authorization — perhaps more than are actually approved! The last record cover with approved Banksy artwork appears to have been released as long ago as 2007 was Danger Mouse’s From Man to Mouse LP (not on label) that I assume was authorised as the artwork is credited on the back cover to Banksy.

Danger Mouse – From Man to Mouse double LP.

There is also one Peter Blake cover that I’m not sure Peter Blake even knows about. I’ve tried to ask him a couple times but without success. It’s the cover to the Fall’s I’m Frank promotional 12″ (Fontana Records).

This was released in 1990 when Blake’s painting Nadia was in private ago. It was donated to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995 and no one currently at the School knows of it being used on this cover. It’s my guess that Peter Blake doesn’t know either.

In 1986, Debbie Harry released her second album, Rockbird (Geffen Records, 1986), and the cover is generally ascribed to Andy Warhol. However, he didn’t design it; Stephen Sprouse was responsible. The photogrpah of Debbie Harry was taken by the Canadian photographer couple Guzman, not Warhol. However, Sprouse asked Warhol for permission to use his Camouflage pattern as the backdrop. There are four colour variations of the Rockbird cover.

Another cover often included among Warhol’s sleeves is the East Village Other’s Electric Newspaper (ESP Records, 1966). This cover was not by Warhol and his only involvement is the inclusion of his track Silence on the record itself. Other trsck were by Warhol associates Gerard Malanga and Ingrid Superstar but the cover was by East Village Other founder Walter Bowart.

Andy Warhol’s input on the design of Moondog’s The Story of Moondog album (Presige Records, 1957) was limited. The design calligraphy was dione by his mother Julia and Andy only clipped the text to fit the cover frame.

The cover of Thelonious Monk’s 1957 album Monk (Presige Records) was designed by Reid Miles with calligraphy again by Julia Warhola, but the cover is still considered a “Warhol cover”.

The fourth “Warhol cover” not designed by Warhol is the Ultra Violet LP from 1973 (Capitol Records). The front cver photo of Superstar Ultra VIolet (real name Isabelle Collin Dufresne) was taken by photographer Lee Kraft but she icluded a picture of a Polaroid portrait taken by and autographed by Warhol.

And finally there is Loredana Berté’s album Made in Italy CDG Records, 1981). Berté became friends with Warhol and is said to have made him spaghetti dinners while she lived in New York to learn English. He intended to design the cover for this album but it never happened and Christopher Makos took the cover photo and the cover is cretidited to the “Warhol Studio.” Makos also took Berté’s portrait for her next album Jazz but that doesn’t seem to qualify as a “Warhol cover”.

I’m sure there must be other covers in my collection that are incorrectly attributed to a specific designer but I can’t come up with any others just now.

The Nation’s Nightmare — Updated.

I suppose I could date the start of my collection proper of Andy Warhol’s record covers to 1967 when I bought The Velvet Underground & Nico and then, a year later, bought White Light/White Heat (the Velvets’ second album) but although I bought the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers when it came out in April 1971 I didn’t really consider I was collecting Warhol covers. Another Warhol cover — The Rolling Stones’ Love You Live LP arrived in 1977 and then Diana Ross’ Silk Electric turned up in 1982 and I realised I had a collection of Warhol covers! However, I had no knowledge of his early work until I was introduced to his jazz covers by Guy Minnebach, whom I had met online, and who tipped me off about a number of covers and sold me my treasured copy of The Nation’s Nightmare in 2006. While showing obvious signs of wear, this album cover was one of my prized possessions.

I continued to add to my collection of Warhol covers in the years before and after the acquision of The Nation’s Nightmare and was lucky to have started before many of the rarer covers were recognised as being Warhol designs. Some of the rare ones, such as The Story of Moondog and Ultra Violet, evaded me for many years, but I was eventually able to add these, too.

I 2018, I attended the opening of Moderna Museet’s exhibition Andy Warhol 1968, an homage to mark the 50th anniversary of the Museum’s historic Warhol exhibition that ran from February into March 1968. Having toured the exhibition, and just before leaving, I saw eight record sleeves on the final wall. Among them was the cover for East Village Other (aka Electric Newspaper) labelled as being a Warhol cover.

The eight “Warhol” covers at the Warhol 1968 exhibition with the East Village Other cover (bottom row, second from right).

Well, I knew it wasn’t! So I plucked up courage to look for John Peter Nilsson, the exhibition’s curator and pointed out this misstake. I mentioned to him that I had a “complete” collection of Warhol covers and he told me of plans for the exhibition to move to Moderna museets filial in Malmö from March to September 2019 and the possibility to display my complete collection. In the preparation for the collection of my covers, my The Nation’s Nightmare cover got slightly damaged.

My damaged cover.

Ever since it was returned to me late in 2019, I have had an ambition to replace it with a better copy. Several have appeared on auction sites and Discogs over the past three years but none was in the condition I was looking for until I saw a copy on Discogs in late January 2023 and, after seeing pictures, and doing som haggling, decided to buy it.

The seller was locatred in Connecticut, USA, and posting it to Sweden would make me liable to pay an exorbitant import charge, so I enlisted a friend in Savanna, GA, to receive the record and post it on. The record arrived safely and he posted it on Febrary 8th and I follwed the USPS tracking with bated breath seeing that the package left JFK airport on February 14th. After that there were no further tracking records. I contacted the Swedish postal service Postnord, who told me that they had no record of the shipment and that it might have been flown to any European city and that I should wait for further information from USPS. None was forthcoming, so on 23rd February I phoned USPS who couldn’t trace the shipment. I was desperate and mailed my firend in Savanna to start proceedings to claim for a lost shipment. However, before he could do so, I received notice from USPS on 24th February that the package had indeed been flown to Arlanda (Stockholm) airport and had been handed over to Postnord for customs clearance that day. I breathed a sigh of relief. At least the shipment wasn’t lost. But a week went by, and then ten days, and I still hadn’t received any informatin from the Swedish customs or Postnord, so I phoned again on March 7th and after a ten-minute search the operative told me that the package had been cleared by customs and would be with me in three or four days. It finally arrived on 10th March, a little over a month after it was posted.

The cover is in beautiful condition, I would call it “excellent” with no major wear or writing anywhere. The record looks unplayed with immaculate labels and the rear cover shows some yellowing due to age but is otherwise great. I am greatly relieved that it finally arrived and really pleased to have this lovely copy in my collection.

Hellstrom – A Swedish Street Artist.

As a collector of record cover art, I have tried to limit collecting to a manageable number of artists, and the ones I have chosen are those that have produced a collectible number of covers. I once set out to collect Alex Steinweiss covers but gave up after I had found about fifty as there were still about 2,450 still to collect. I similarly decided not to try to collect Anton Corbijn‘s record covers — he’s been responsible for far too many. As I have mentioned on a previous post I did have a nice collection of Vaughan Oliver‘s record cover art but in the end I couldn’t house it all so it had to go.

My collection of record covers by street artists is limited to only three. I have what seems to be an ever expanding collection of covers by the artist who calls himself Banksy and a few choice covers by Robert del Naja (a.k.a. 3D). However, a couple of years ago I had an exhibition of some of my paintings at a gallery in Stockholm and exchanged a couple of works for posters by the Swedish street artist Iron. At the same time I had begun to notice the appearance of paper deer stuck on hoardings surrounding building sites around town. These turned out to be the work of another Swedish street artist by the name of Hellstrom. Like Iron, he prefers to keep his identity secret but he has been interviewed in a recent book Hellstrom Street Art published in 2019.

The book gives a good overview of Hellstrom‘s work to date. One picture in particular, together with the cover image, struck a chord.

Hellstrom shares his name with the popular Swedish singer Håkan Hellström and it is Hellstrom‘s portrait on Hellström on the cover of the book. It transpires that Hellstrom (no dots over the “o”) stencilled this portrait on a limited edition of Håkan Hellström‘s (with the dotted “o”) 2019 album Illusioner in an edtion of 40 copies.

One day last August I popped into my favourite record shop in Stockholm and saw this album hanging on the wall. It was number 36/40 and it accompanied me home to be the sole representative of Hellstrom‘s (minus the dots) art in my record cover collection.

My Day With the Ramones.

I fancied that I hada pretty compete collection of punk albums ranging from the original 1977 version of Never Mind the Bollocks… through all the Clash albums and Stranglers and Damned albums, too. I had picked up a cutout copy of the Ramones Leave Home and a copy of Road to Ruin but I wasn’t a fan.

I used to read Jan Gradvall’s column i Swedish music magazines and in 1995 bought his essay anthology Artiklar, intervyuer, essäer 1981-1994 (in Swedish) and one of the first essays (on page 66 already) was about the Ramones. The essay started with a list of the timings of the 28 songs on the Ramones It’s Alive album. 1:57, 1:54, 1:56, 2:20, 1:49. 1:34, 2:24, 1:36, 2:15, 1:34, 1:35, 2:40, 2:19, 1:42, 1:40, 1:45, 1:35, 2:16, 1:40, 1:25, 2:40, 2:08, 1:14, 1:51, 2:05, 1:40, 1:20, 2:02. Gradvall used these timings to declare the Ramones as the perfect pop group. I was fascinated and started to listen to them.

A few weeks after reading Gradvall’s eulogy to the band I read in a local newspaper that the Ramones were no longer going to tour. I had sort of decided that I really wanted to see them live. Oh, well, thought I, that ain’t gonna happen. However, only a few weeks later I heard that Ramones were scheduled to play at Skellefteå festival a mere 133 kms south of Luleå, where I lived. Skellefteå festival was a fixture on the northern Swedish festival circuit and “happened” to always be on the same weekend as the huge Roskilde festival in Denmark. Thus Urkraft, the organisers of the Skellefteå festival managed to book artists appearing at Roskilde including Skunk Anansie, Suede, the Stooges alongside top Swedish bands.

So, I phoned Urkraft and simply asked which hotel the band would be staying at and was immediately told that they would be at the Scandic Hotel, so I booked myself in there for the duration of the festival.

So I drove down on the 24th June in the midsummer sunshine and went to check into the hotel. I was standing at the reception desk and asked if the Ramones had arrived just as a man emerged from the lifts behind me and heard my question. It turned out this was Monte Melnick, the legendry Ramones tour manager. He asked who I was and what I was doing there an I explained that I was from the town of Luleå where I worked as a doctor. Monte immediately asked me if I could help him. He had a chronic cough, he said, and doctors couldn’t find the cause. He wondered if I could help. I had to admit that I hadn’t brought my stethoscope with me… We chatted a bit and I showed him the records I had brought with me and asked if there was a chance I could get them signed. Monte said that the band would be in the hotel restaurant at six and that I should meet them there.

Said and done! I arrived at the restaurant on the dot of six and saw one band member sitting alone at a table and so I wandered over and, not knowing what to say, shyly asked “are you with the band?” It was, of course, Johnny. He looked at me and snarled “can’t you see I’m eating?” and he told me to come back when he’d finished.

I was hungry, too, and took a seat at a table almost as far away from Johnny as possible and ordered a hamburger and a beer and waited. No sign of Monte and the other three band members yet.

Johnny finished his meal and came over and joined me at my table and started asking questions about who I was and what I was doing in Skellefteå. He told me how many gigs the Ramones had played in their career (I think I remember he said 1200, but that can’t have been right) anyway we started talking and he told me about his autogrpah collection of over 14,000 signatures. He told me he collected photographs of sports personalities and B-movie stars and sent them to the artist to get them signed. I said I thought he got them back as he was a celebrity and I didn’t think I would be as lucky! We chatted for about 45 minutes while Monte, Marky and Joey arrived in the restaurant. Marky and Joey sat pasty-faced leafing through girly magazines and looking bored. They happily all signed my records though. CJ was already somewhere in the festival area so I had to catch up with him later. Monte gave me a backstage pass (I still have it somewhere, but can’t lay my hands on it) to get into the festival even though I had bought a ticket — so I was enrolled in the Ramones for the rest of the evening. I had to teach Joey how to pronounce Skellefteå (shell-eff-tio) before the gig. Monte invited me to watch from backstage, but I wanted to see the Ramones in action so went out front.

They came on stage at exactly on schedule and — “one, two, three, four” — played without a pause for 75 minutes — an utterly amazing experience! I felt I’d been run over by a steamroller. Hey Ho, Let’s go! These were the days before smartphones so I don’t have any pictures. But I treasure the experience.

In 2011, Swedish author Bengt Ohlsson published his book Rekviem för John Cummings a biography of Johnny Ramone, which I immediately bought and read. I recognised much of what Johnny had told me in Skellefteå.

Fast forward to today. In mid November 2022, I read a review of a new book Ramones i Sverige — världens första punkband skruvar upp tempot i folkhemmet (Ramones in Sweden — the World’s First punk Band Speed up the Welfare State) by Sven Lindström, Jan Lagerström, Petter Lönegård and Kjell Magnusson. The book catalogues the twenty Ramones gigs in Sweden between May 1977 and June 1995, plus a gig in Oslo, Norway in August 1980 and their concert at Roskilde festival, Denmark, in June 1985.

I was too shocked to try to time the songs and I didn’t/couldn’t make a set list either. I spent the rest of the evening in a daze wandering the festival site. A few years later, in 1999, I joined the Skellefteå festival crew as festival doctor looking after both the artists, the festival crew and memebrs of the public. I got quite a few autographs as well.

Mother Samosa’s Two Albums on CD. Designed by Robin Gunningham.

Do we really care who the person behind the Banksy moniker really is? Well, in 2015 the Daily Mail “revealed” that one Robin Gunningham, a public school educated person is indeed Banksy. However, this has never been officially confirmed and collectors of the artist’s work don’t seem to mind who is behind the art and art dealers won’t accept that works signed Robin Gunningham should be classified as being by Banksy.

In the past decade, everything that Banksy seems to have had a hand in has escalated in value; even record and CD covers with his art have become sort after collectors items. Now there are literally hundreds of such covers floating around among collectors but only a few are offically authorised as being by Banksy. The vast majority are covers that use the artist’s works, often subtly modified to suit the us

The earliest authorised Banksy covers are for the Bristol hip hop band One Cut (or OneCut) released on Jamie Eastman’s Hombré label between 1998 and 2000. In 1999 John Stapleton asked Bansky to stencil 100 promotional covers for the Capoeira Twins 12″ single 4 x 3 / Truth Will Out.

At about the same time Banksy had been with the Easton Cowboys football team on their tour to Chiapas, Mexico, where he painted some murals. A cassette of revolutionary songs Called Canciones electorales was released using Banksy’s painting of a Zapatista on the inlay. The cassettes were white, yellow and red and produced in limited quantities.

Back to the artist named Robin Gunningham. Sometime in the mid to late 1990s a guy called Robin visited Leicester and designed the logo for the dub organisation the Vibronics, whose owner, Steve ‘Vibronics’ Gibb is sure must have been Banksy.

More certain, are the covers for two cassettes released by the Bristol group Mother Samosa in 1993 and 1994. The cassette inlays are both credited to Robin Gunningham. Assuming Gunningham to be Banksy, then these cover designs are probably the first “Banksy” covers. The first cassette was called Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown (1993), and reputedly also released as a CDr at the time. The second was Fairground of Fear (1994). The cassettes were produced as limited editions and I have thus far never seen one.

I was lucky to get hold of printers proofs of these two cassette inlays in late 2020. I recently read that a set of these had been up for sale by Art Broker in 2018 with an estimate of GBP 4000! I got mine from a oen-time friend of the band.

In 2006 and 2007 the band reissued the remastered albums as limited edition Digipak CDs. The first was the nine-track Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown, while the second, the Fairground of Fear album was released on Digipak CD with only 11 of the original twelve tracks (track five on the tape’s side two Wallace P. Bowl was omitted from the CD.) The person who sold me the cassette inlays contacted me again in early December 2022 and offered me the two CDs, which duly arrived before Christmas!

According to my supplier, these Digipak CDs were released in editions of one hundred numbered copies with a handful released unnumbered. Neither of my CDs is numbered.

Now, I suppose I will have to continue my search for the original cassettes.

Some More of My Own Art.

I keep trying to be creative, and not only in the record cover collecting field. Last summer I went on another silkscreen course and though I didn’t manage to get as much done as I had hoped, I still did produce a few nice things.

I printed a number of teeshirts and five new sets of Andy Warhol’s and Billy Klüver’s famous Giant Size $1.57 Each record covers. This involved first spray painting the record covers (white, yellow, red, green and orange — the same colours Warhol/Klüver used on the originals) and then screenprinting the Giant Size $1.57 Each text on top. I did 25 covers in all!

I also printed a number of teeshirts with the same design, but this time in gold.

A bit later, I got Urban, my friendly neighbourhood printer, to print replica record labels that I could stick onto some LPs that I sourced from the record store that I sold my collection to a few years ago. They had loads of records that were unsellable and that they were glad to get rid of!

At he same silkscreen course, I printed two pictures using the same Giant Size stencil. These turned out so well that Anette, our course leader, wanted me to print her a tote bag with the design in gold.

But the things I was most pleased with were two large-scale prints 100 x 50 cms that I decided to frame and submit for consideration for inclusion in Liljevalch’s 2023 Spring Salong. Unfortunately they weren’t accepted but I’m pleased I tried.

Latterly, I’ve gone back to painting. Anyone who has followed this blog may have read about my collection of sixties Bill Graham Fillmore Autitorium and Avalon Ballroom handbills. The original posters are now fetching large sums at auction and I always wanted Wes Wilson’s The Sound poster from 1966. Knowing I couldn’t afford an original, I reckoned the next best thing woud be to paint a reproduction… Note: not a forgery, a reproduction.

There are many instances of artists appropriating the work of others, ranging from Elaine Sturtevant, who in the sixties reproduced several of Andy Warhol’s paintings to Ulf Linde, who reproduced Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and which are on permanent display at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet (Linde even got Duchamp to sign the reproductions!) He made further copies (I mean reproductions) fifteen years after Duchamp’s death, but then had his widow sign them! Another celebrated case of reproductions is the Brillo Boxes ordered by Pontus Hultén for an exhibition that were made in Malmö, Sweden, and many were later sold as original Warhol Brillo Boxes. The fact that Hultén had commissioned them only came to light six months after his death in 2006.

So now I decided to paint myself a copy/reproduction of Wes Wilson’s magnificent poster as near full size as possible (acrylic on paper) . And here is the result.

I got inspired by how well this turned out and a friend posted a picture of Banksy’s 2004 I Fought the Law and I Won print. I have two record covers that had travestied this design — The Promise’s 2002 album Believer and the test pressing for Embalming Theatre’s and Tersanjung XIII’s split EP called Mommy Died – Mummified / Hellnoise — and I decided to reproduce Banksy’s original. I did a black and white version and then saw that one of the big auction houses was selling a red/orange version. So I decided to paint that one too.

Then I looked for something perhaps more complicated to paint and I saw the cover of the band UFO’s 1979 album Strangers in the Night and decided to give it a go. However, I though the dots might prove tricky.

My latest painting, completed only yesterday, is the front cover of The Clash’s eponymous first album with photography by Kate Simon.

Painting these record sleeves makes a great addition to my collection of record cover art. I really feel like painting some more. I thought I might try Kraftwerk’s Die Mensche-Maschine cover. A given for anyone, like me, who likes typography. We’ll see if it materialises.

A New Cindy Sherman Record Cover.

I went to a massive Cindy Sherman exhibition at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet entitled “Untiitled Horrors” in late 2013 and noted that Sherman had contributed to several record covers. I managed to find information and pictures of seven:
1. The Kitchen Presents “Two Moons July” — videodisc
2. Tellus #21 – Audio by Visual Artists — audio cassette.
3. Babes in Toyland’s album Fontanelle
4. Babes in Toyland’s album Painkillers
5. Cloudburst – Love – Lies – Bleeding,12″ EP
6. Athur Doyle – No More Crazy Woman.

… and just recently, I could add a seventh cover; Teddy and Jenni Do George and Tammy, a limited edition, four-track EP by Teddy Thompson (son of Richard and Linda Thompson) and Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Geoff and Maria Muldaur) who duet on two songs each by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Apparently, Jenni and Cindy Sherman are pals and Cindy agreed to do the cover for this EP.

Teddy & Jenni Do George & Tammy

It transpires that thee cover of the videodisk while being advertised as beoing by Cindy Sherman actually isn’t, so I can cross that one off my list. I haven’t been able to find the Tellus #21 cassette but the other covers are relatively easy to find and make a nice collection by a famous photographer.

My Love Affair with 4*A*D Isn’t Over …

I’ve culled my bookshelves quite mercilessly over the past few years but have jealously guarded many of my “art” books. One of these is Martin Aston’s Facing the Wrong Way — The Story of 4 A D. I’ve been staring at the book’s spine for yonks but only started to read it a couple of weeks ago. It rekindled my interest inall things 4*A*D.

I am a big fan of record cover design and fastened for the work of 23 Envelope, and, later, v23 in the early eighties when I bought a Cocteau Twins album — probably Head Over Heels — in Camden Market. I was struck by the cover and shortly after bought a folder of posters by the design team called 23 Envelope; Vaughan Oliver and his longtime friend photographer Nigel Grierson. I still have it.

The cover of the 23 Envelope poster folder.

Thus started my collection of Vaughan Oliver’s art; primarily record covers from 4*A*D. Over the years up until 2013 I built up a collection that included most of the more desirable record covers and books. I had the original This Rimy River book — a catalogue (of sorts) of an exhibiiton at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles in 1994.

The original This Rimy River catalogue.

The limited edition of This Rimy River.

I invested in the deluxe limited edition, too. Mine is No. 65/400.

My collection of 4*A*D rarities included two copies of the Lilliput double CD album, the deluxe LP version of Lonely Is an Eyesore as well as the wooden box version, a limited edition of 100 boxes, intended for the artists on the 4*A*D label. Although fifty were on general sale when it was released in 1987.

I had sent my copy of Rick Pointer’s book Vaughan Oliver: Visceral Pleasures to Vaughan sometime in late summer of 2001 with a letter asking for a signature, but I hadn’t heard anything from him. I was going to London in November 2001 and I therefore planned a visit to v23’s studio in south west London. So I packed the lid from my Lonely Is an Eyesore box, my copy of limited edition of This Rimy River and a copy of the Lilliput CD album in the hope that he would sign them. I popped down to the studio one day but neither Vaughan nor Chris Bigg were there, so I left a business card. I returned mid morning on, I think, the 16th, and Vaughan welcomed me as the weird Swede, having seen my business card. We had a chat and I aasked him about my Visceral Pleasures book, which he immediately produced and signed.

Vaughan Oliver’s dedication in Visceral Pleasures.

I showed him the other stuff I had with me and he graciously signed everything! Then Chris Bigg reminded him they had a lunch meeting at 4*A*D to re-negociate their contract! So Vaughan suggest I pop to the local pub and grab some lunch and then have a look through v23’s poster archive to see if there were any posters I would like. I picked about 20 which Vaughan gave me when he and Chris returned from their meeting.

I sold most of my 4*A*D / Vaughan Oliver collection in 2013. probably the only part of my extensive record and poster collection that I today regret parting with. However, I have catalogued my complete record collection online and can view all the 4*A*D records and CDs I had had. And, of course, I can listen to them on Spotify.

Vaughan Oliver died in December 2019, a year after his magnum opus Vaughan Oliver: Archive – a two-volume resumé of his career was published. I’m ashamed to say, I only found out about it recently. It’s a limited edition and very difficult to find now.

So all I have left of my Vaughan Oliver collection are the 23 Envelope posters, Pieter Nooten’s LP Sleeps With the Fishes (that I consider the most beautiful v23 cover), the limited edition of This Rimy River and the little paperback Vaughan Oliver and v23 Poster Designs, published to celebrate 4*A*D’s 25th anniversary. I shall treasure them all.

Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook – “Sleeps With the Fishes” cover design by V23 with calligraphy by Chris Bigg.

Thank you Martin Aston for rekindling my interest in all things 4*A*D.