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.
My vinyl bundle of this latest Ed Sheeran release arrived this week. I received the limited edition recycled vinyl LP, the standard CD, the limited edition coloured vinyl LP with CD in the deluxe book cover, and the limited edition cassette.
Nowhere could find a credit to the art direction or design. However, Ed Sheeran’s friendship with Damien Hirst is well documented; not least on Sheeran’s Instagram site, and the presence of butterflies is highly suggestive of Hirst’s work.
Further research into Ed Sheeran’s discography took me to the artist’s previous album release “Divide”, which has a sort of spin painting on the cover, looking suspiciously like a Damien Hirst work.
However, it turns out that Damien Hirst allowed his mate to use his studio to play around and make this artwork himself. So the “Divide” cover is not a Damien Hirst design, but an Ed Sheeran product.
Well, that saves me the expense of having to chase a copy of this particular Ed Sheeran album.
I used to be a stamp collector but music and art took over. However, I did buy two complete sheets of the set of Beatles record cover stamps issued by the Royal Mail on 7th January, 2007.
These stamps showed six of the Beatles’ original thirteen album covers, including Peter Blake’s & Jann Haworth’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. These stamps were thus not designed by the cover artists.
I only recently discovered that Sir Peter Blake had actually designed a stamp. This was one of the Millenium series issued by the Royal Mail on 1st June, 1999, called The Entertainers Series and consisted of four stamps.
The Freddie Mercury stamp, I discovered, was designed by Peter Blake and I decided I would get a nice block of these. Douglas White, of Queen Fan Store, had a block of 25 of these on offer and, after a little haggling, they arrived.
Douglas included the official Royal Mail postcard.
A nice addition to my collection of Peter Blake’s music-related art.
It seems that this blog has become a reference work for information on record and CD covers with cover art by the artist known as Banksy. And I find it very flattering. My aim, way back in the 00s, was to catalogue all record and CD covers with Banksy’s art, irrespective of whether or not the release used an authorised Banksy image. To date I have catalogued about 100 releases.
Banksy’s art has been sold as paintings, stencilled prints or silkscreen prints, the latter being the most commonly available. The prints are commonly limited editions, often in editions of 100 or 250 which may be signed or unsigned. Both are becoming scarce and command very high prices; witness the recent sale of Banksy’s painting Love is in the Bin for GBP 18 million. Signed prints of his more iconic works are currently (October 2021) on offer for GBP 100,000 to 200,000.
I bought Blur’s Think Tank LP when it was released in 2003 and the promotional Parlophone and Observer CDs around the same time. However, I didn’t start seriously collecting Banksy’s record cover art until around 2005. Back then I could buy the records as they were released and they cost no more that other 12″ records, so my set of Dirty Funker’s Future 12″-ers cost GBP 6.99 each; likewise my set of Dirty Funker’s Laugh Now / Keep It Real 12″-ers (there’s a set for sale on Ebay just now for GBP 10,000). The most expensive release I bought was Dirty Funker’s Let’s Get Dirty (the first press without the Dymo strips across Kate Moss’s eyes) from a fellow collector for GBP 100. I added more and more records and CDs as time went on.
Once upon a time, the most expensive Banksy covers were the two he had purportedly stencilled himself: the Capoeira Twins’ promotional 12″ 4 x 3 / Truth Will Out and Röyksopp’s promotional Melody A.M. double LP; each produced in editions of 100 copies, comparable to Banksy’s limited edition prints. However, the records have been selling for about a tenth of what an equivalent print would cost.
So, when I started collecting, the covers were affordable and remained so until about 2015 when prices began to rise. Now, however, many collectors are competing to find Banksy’s record covers and prices have skyrocketed. I am amazed (and shocked) to see someone trying to sell copies of Dirty Funker’s Flat Beat 12″ for between EUR 815 (about GBP 700) and AUD 6,500 (about GBP 3,500), and copies of Queen & Cuntry’s Don’t Stop Me Now are for sale on Ebay for about GBP 4,000! These prices are stimulating the production of forgeries. I am not sure all the copies offered for sale nowadays are 100% genuine.
Apart from the question of forgeries, there are other ways unscrupulous producers are cashing in on the willingness of collectors to fork out large sums for limited edition covers. These seem to be on the increase. Take TV-Age’s beautiful The Player EP (an apparently hand screened cover in an unnumbered edition, said to be 100 copies) or Boys in Blue’s two 12″ singles Funk da Police (unnumbered edition, said to be 100 copies) and Strawberry Doughnut / Thick as Thieves (numbered edition of 250 copies). In my view these have been produced exclusively to lure collectors of Banksy covers to pay large sums for worthless music.
Another group that is cashing in on the widespread interest in collecting record cover art are the Israeli producers of picture discs with art by a variety of artists ranging from Banksy (like this one) to Warhol. They sell via Ebay and generally cost around USD 300 for a single-sided, generally unplayable, 12″ single. I made the mistake of buying a couple of these to test. I hope nobody else will fall for the con.
Thus I have now decided in future to concentrate only on official releases with Banksy’s art. Several CDs and cassettes have recently surfaced that are unoffical and I will not join in the bidding for these, nor will I go for the latest Boys in Blue 12″. Let’s all agree to boycott the speculative releases and just concentrate on the legitimate ones.
Should I, Shouldn’t I? I always wonder if I should post information about new or future releases with cover art by graphic artists that I collect. But today I think I will.
First, a batch of new covers designed by Damien Hirst. Actually the first of them hasn’t yet been given a physical release, but is, at the time of writing, only available as a download.
This is DRAKE’s new album Certified Lover Boy with its cover art of pixelized pregnant dolls. So far, I’ve only managed to tear a couple of posters off walls to remind me of the cover art.
So let’s see if a physical copy does arrive.
The next collection to get a Hirst cover is the The Problem of Leisure — Gang of Four & Andy Gill Celebration double LP/CD. Released in August 2021. There are several variations of the cover art of this one. All have Hirst’s not so cuddly toy dog on the cover, but in a variety of colours – a limited, numbered version on red vinyl (red doggy) – yellow vinyl edition (yellow doggy) – black vinyl edition (green doggy) – CD with blue doggy – CD with brown doggy – cassette with purple doggy
The third Hirst cover belongs to the forthcoming Ed Sheeran album to be released on 29th October 2021 and here Hirst reverts to his images of butterflies.
That’s a lot of vinyl to add to my collection. I am still thinking whether or not to try to get all five colour variations of the The Problem of Leisure album.
I have a small collection of record cover art by Robert del Naja (a.k.a. 3D) and was intrigued to read that Martina Topley Bird is going to release an limited edition EP called Pure Heart in November 2021 with cover art by 3D. Bird has accompanied Massive Attack in concerts and so this collaboration seems entirely rational.
Once again a record cover turns up to prove that my previously “complete” collection of an artist’s record cover art isn’t complete.
I’m trying to write a discography of Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art and had produced a first draft when it occurred to me to do a search of Discogs’s database. Discogs logs credits to many (most?) of the records, CDs and cassettes catalogued there and users can easily choose to search for individual musicians, record producers or, indeed, graphic artists. My rather belated search turned up a surprise:
I had never seen this cover before but it certainly looks like a Peter Blake painting and the rear cover gives Peter Blake the credit. So I sent an email to Sir Peter’s gallery, the Waddington Custot Gallery in London, to enquire about the source of the painting. Unfortunately they had not handled a painting like this but assured me they would ask Sir Peter if and when an opportunity arose. I’m still waiting for a possible reply to that. It turns out that this is painting by Blake called Nadia, oil on hardboard (29.2 x 21.6 cm / 11.5 x 8.5 inches), painted in 1981. It was exhibited in the Peter Blake retrospective at the Tate Liverpool in 2007 and there’s a full page picture of Nadia on page 120 of the exhibition catalogue Peter Blake : a Retrospective, published by the Tate.
The Nadia painting is in the collection of the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A., one of three paintings by Peter Blake in the museum’s collection. I just wonder how The Fall came to choose this as their record cover art. They do not credit the RISD Museum.
This U.S., 1990, four-track, promotional EP seems quite rare. I can’t quite understand how it managed to slip under my radar for so long, but I managed to find one on Discogs and it arrived this week (23 rd September) to “complete” my Peter Blake collection. I now eagerly await the next Peter Blake cover I have never seen. It’s bound to turn up soon.
In a previous post I described the posters I collected in the sixties and I promised I’d write about some of my own poster designs.
I started painting posters while at University, in the late sixties. My collecge, Guy’s Hospital had an active social club and somehow I got involved and someone had to produce adverts for dances, lectures, plays etc., and that someone turned out to be me. I can’t remember how I got elected to this honorary position but it resulted in the production of many posters over a period of two or three years and then, after a long hiatus, I started painting again in the nineties and started doing silkscreen courses in the past five or six years.
As there were noticeboards in various locations about the Guy’s campus, three or four posters were needed for each event. That meant much work late at night. After a while Andrew Batch joined in and we worked together to produce our posters. A few were actually printed by a south London silkscreen firm, but mostly we hung our original paintings.
This poster was not for any event, but was a sort of challenge between Andrew and me. We would each paint a poster with this girl’s face and this was my version. I was particularly proud of this and took it to Gear in Carnaby Street, and they offered me £25 for it! I thought that wasn’t enough and walked way (how stupid can you get? £25 was a lot of money in 1967!) I later paid for it to be printed and sold a few for £1 each. I didn’t make £25, though.
Here are some posters for lectures.
And some posters for plays.
Now for some pure art posters:
Finally some of the posters for parties, dances and balls:
All these posters are hand painted using gouache on paper.
Some of my later work includes paintings and silkscreens.
Some other series:
I have always been interested in record cover art and when a cover eiother doesn’t exist, or is so rare / expensive that I will never be able to get it, following in the tradition of other artists like Elaine Sturtevant, I can make my own version. thus far I have recreated Andy Warhol’s & Billy Klüver’s 1963 Giant Size $1.57 Each cover (2013 — the 50th anniversary of its original production)
Other warhol covers I have recreated include the LP and EP, the extremely rare box sets Night Beat and Voices and Events.
I hav also made some reproductions of record covers with cover art by Banksy. The most recent being the rare test pressing of Embalming Theatre / Tersanjung 13 split 7″ entitled Mommy Died – Mummified / Hellnoise.
I have other artworks, too, but I think this is enough for this post. Perhaps I’ll return to the remainder later.
When at University in the sixties I used to paint posters for dances, balls and parties. Having limited imgination, however, I found inspiration from many sources. I bought Michael English’s posters of Coke bottletops, Fried eggs and, as one half of Hapshash & the Coloured Coat (with Nigel Weymouth) the third issue of English OZ magazine.
Unfortunately, I no longer have these two, but I do still have:
While still a student, I used to spend Saturdays walking down the King’s Road, Chelsea, bird-watching. I found a boutique somewhere near the Town Hall that sold psychedelic postcards/handbills by artists such as Wes Wilson, Rick Griffin, Mouse & Kelley and, probably my favourite, Victor Moscoso. These were for concerts at the legendary Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom. I managed to find forty of these and, some time later, my brother sent me a further postcard from a concert at the Fillmore East, making forty-one in all. I’ve spent a happy hour or two cataloging them, and here’s the result.
I have no idea if any of these are particularly rare — but I still think they are beautiful and many seved as inspirations for my own poster designs that I’ll show in a forthcoming post.
I used to collect stamps. I had a brilliant collection (I thought), but it just stayed in my cellar storage when I moved on to record collecting. Eventually I sold most of it, but I keep finding remnants — first day covers, or bits of sheets of stamps whenever I go through old boxes of books or such.
I saw that Madagascar (of all places) had released a set of stamps with Banksy’s art in 2018. They released two mini sheets — One with four Malagasy Ariary 18.00 postage stamps and the other with a single Malagasy Ariary 65.00 diamond-shaped stamp.
Some further research, via that well-known research engine, Ebay, turned up an even earlier use of Banksy’s art on a mini sheet of stamps produced in a prestige stamp booklet by the Royal Mail on January 7th, 2010. This booklet was produced to celebrate famous record covers: Pink Floyd — The Division Bell, Coldplay — A Rush of Blood to the Head, Blur — Parklife, New Order — Power Corruption and Lies, The Rolling Stones — Let It Bleed, The Clash — London Calling, Mike Oldfield — Tubular Bells, Led Zeppelin — IV, Primal Scream — Screamadelica and David Bowie — The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
However, also included in the booklet were two mini sheets of ordinary definitive stamps (i.e. standard stamps bearing only the Queen’s head). One of these had a Banksy connection.
So I rekindlled my stamp-collecting and added these to my Banksy collection.
There are rare records that can take some time to find. One such was an early LP by the Swedish band bob hund. It was called Omslag: Martin Kann and is (as far as I know) only the second LP to only have the designer’s, not the band’s, name on the cover. The first is, of course, The Velvet Underground & Nico with only Andy Warhol’s name on the front.) The bob hund LP took me seven years to find!
There is an LP with Andy Warhol’s art that I’ve been trying to find since 2008. That is the longest time I’ve been searching. But there’s another release that has taken ten years to find.
Sometime in 2010 I found, on a website, an illustrated list of records and CDs with cover art by Banksy. I had seen most, if not all, of the covers pictured except one — for a CD called Monkeys With Car Keys. It was a relatively poor quality thumbnail picture with an URL across it.
Of course, I tried to reach THEBANKSYFORUM.COM but it lead to notbanksyforum and I couldn’t find any details about the CD. Thus began a longterm search for a CD I really wasn’t sure even existed.
Fast forward to late 2020. By this time I had been looking out for this CD for ten years without success. I mailed a photo of the thumbnail picture to a friend who had roots in Bristol and he confirmed that Banksy had painted this design as a mural in the late 90s
Sadly, the mural has since disappeared. However, a couple of months later my friend told me he had actually found the CD and sent me a copy!
So it does really does exist! I am thrilled that my ten-year search has finally ended and I have been able to add this desperately rare CD to my collection. My sincerest thanks are due to my friend who found it for me.
Followers of this blog will remember how I have, on several occasions, noted (and not without a degree of smugness) that this or that collection now is complete, only to discover a short time later some new item I had missed. I’ve said it about my Warhol, Banksy, Kate Moss, Damien Hirst, Klaus Voormann and Peter Blake collections. The one I was most certain about was my collection of Peter Blake’s record covers. There just aren’t that many of them and so I thought I had it covered (pun intended).
Just imagine my chagrin earlier this week when I did a little search on Discogs that turned up not one, but FOUR covers that I had missed. Okay, so three of them were Paul Weller CD singles taken from his 1995 Stanley Road album that only incorporated small bits of Peter Blake art on their covers — I could sort of dismiss them as not really being Peter Blake covers. But there is one I can’t excuse: the cover to a 1990 U.S. 12″ promotional EP by The Fall called I’m Frank.
The track I’m Frank appeared on the Fall’s 1990 Extricate album and this 12″ includes two other tracks from the LP and a bonus track, Zandra. It was only released in the U.S. The EP isn’t included in The Fall’s discography on Rate Your Music.
The Paul Weller CD singles with Peter Blake art that I missed are: – You Do Something To Me – Digipak CD, – A French promo 2-track CD entitled Stanley Road, – Broken Stones – Digipak CD
The 4 DVD set of the Live 8 Concert from July 2nd 2005 includes a picture of Peter Blake’s poster for the event.
So now I have to add all these to my book manuscript on Peter Blake’s Record Cover Art. But, I really can’t be sure that I now have found all the covers with Peter Blake’s art. I expect more to turn up as soon as I close this post.