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.

Saul Bass – Another great designer and more on Warhol covers

Last week I was browsing in an art bookshop and stumbled across a recent tome devoted to Saul Bass’ design (Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design, by Jennifer Bass & Pat Kirkham.)

Saul Bass book cover
Saul Bass book cover

Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996) is noted for his company logos such as his double “U” for United Airlines, the bell and globe logos for AT&T and a host of others that have proved their worth by their longevity and, of course, his film titles and posters. He designed the opening and closing titles for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and the titles for the recent “Hitchcock” film were, not surprisingly, strongly reminiscent of Saul Bass’ work.
Saul Bass also designed record covers, many just using his film poster designs. I have six of his covers (St. Joan, The Man With the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder, Advise & Consent, West Side Story and Bunny Lake Is Missing.) Monocle has compiled a list of 21 of his covers (www.http://rateyourmusic.com/list/monocle/the_album_art_of_saul_bass) and the book referred to above shows a few more, icnluding Elmer Bernstein’s “Blues & Brass” and three “The Man With the Golden Arm” EPs.

I’m also a White Stripes/Dead Weather/Jack White fan. Jack White’s favourite designer is Rob Jones (www.animalrummy.com) who designed many record covers and posters for Jack White’s many incarnations. One cover that Rob Jones did not design, however, is for the single “The Hardest Button to Button”, which revamps Saul Bass’ “The Man With the Golden Arm” design.

The White Stripes "the Hardest Button to Button"
The White Stripes “the Hardest Button to Button”

 

 

 

 

And so on to more Warhol covers. I’ve decided to try to complete my collection of Warhol covers and the first one I came across was Horowitz’s recording of “Piano Music of Mendelssohn & Liszt”. Now I am only missing three of Warhol’s classic covers; “Latin Rhythms” by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops, Johann Strauss Jnrs “Waltzes” and Margarita Madrigal’s “Magic Key to Spanish”. I hope affordable copies become available in the not too distant future.

The Smithsonian Magazine has an article on Banksy

The February 2013 number of the Smithsonian Magazine has an in depth arrticle on Banksy and his art. by Will Elsworth-Jones: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Story-Behind-Banksy-187953941.html?c=y&page=1. This revealing article tells the story of Banksy’s rise to fame (and fortune) without delving into the issue of identity, though it does reveal that Robin Banks initially signed his work “Robin Banx” before shortening his signature to plain Banksy, seemingly confirming the rumour that his full name is Robin Banks. apparently many of Banksy’s outdoor works have disappeared or been removed in recent years. We really need a detailed list of cities and street addresses where his work may be found.

 

Banksy turns up on a record cover!

That's Banksy at far right, busy spraying!
That’s Banksy at far right, busy spraying!

This is Wall of Sound’s jubilee compilation album, released to celebrate the record label’s tenth anniversary in 2003. As you probably know, Banksy has had a long association with the label with designs for several Blak Twang covers in 2002 and the famous Röyksopp “Melody A.M.” promo LP cover which he sprayed himself.

Now this cover, which I had missed and was therefore not included in the exhibition of Banksy’s record cover art at Stockholm’s Konserthus this past summer and which is not included in the touring Banksy exhibition currently doing the rounds in Sweden, is probably the most significant, as it shows the artist at work. The people portrayed on the cover are most (if not all) of the artists whose records were released by Wall of Sound between 1993 and 2003.

The cover of the promo CD, which I posted recently only shows the finished graffiti on the wall without any of the artists. I had only seen a thumbnail picture of the LP and was slightly dubious as to whether or not to try to get a copy as I had not seen it recorded as a possible Banksy cover. It turns out it was £12 (including shipping) well spent! I’ve added it to my List of Banksy’s record cover art at http://www.rateyourmusic.com/list/rockdoc/banksys_record_cover_art if you want to check it out.

The “Dragonfly” promo CD

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This Paul Weller EP was released as a 3000 copy limited edition 12″ vinyl only available from Weller’s webb shop and sold out prior to its official release date. Copies appear on Ebay for 2 or 3 times the £14 original sale price. Recently copies of the promotional CD-r have also appeared on Ebay and there are currently more of these for sale than the vinyl release. The promo has the same (if slightly cropped) Peter Blake cover image. So now I have both versions.

New additions to my collections of Warhol, Banksy and Peter Blake record sleeves

Literature, an American band from Austin, Texas, released their ten track second album, “Arab Spring” in January 2012 on vinyl LP and cassette. A CD with two extra tracks was released in Japan. The LP was released, according to Discogs, in a limited edition of 500 copies; four on grey vinyl, 98 on white and 398 on black vinyl. The cassette was only produced in an edition of 25 copies. I have been lucky enough to get both the black and white vinyl versions and the cassette. The album uses Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” on the covers. The LP and CD use the classic “Flowers” image while the CD shows only a detail from the painting. Nowhere in the package is the cover image credited to Warhol. Still, “Flowers” is probably my favourite Warhol image.

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Literature_WhiteLP_400

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And so to the “new” Banksy cover. Banksy has had an association with Wall of Sound Records – witness the hand stencilled cover for Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.” Promo LP and the series of “We Love You… So Love Us” compilation albums. In 2003, Alex Gifford put together a new compilation to celebrate Wall of Sound’s tenth anniversary. The standard album shows a group in front of a whitewashed wall with a Banksy inscription just visible behind the band members, while the promo CD just shows a wall with a Banksy stencil. The cover image is credited to Banksy on the rear.

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While researching the “Off the Wall” CD I accidentally found that Paul Weller’s new album “Sonik Kicks” had been released and that he had released a six-track EP called “Dragonfly” on 17th December as a 12″ or download. The EP contained the single and 5 tracks from previous sessions and was apparently only available by mail order. The cover was by Sir Peter Blake, his second cover this year, released only 6 weeks after Madness’ “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da”. So, 2012, Sir Peter’s 80th year, is his most prolific as far as record cover design goes.

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Yet another Banksy cover and the number of records/CDs with Warhol art on the cover increases

I thought I had gotten up to date on records and CDs that bear Banksy images, but last week I saw a promo CDR for Dirty Funker’s “Future” EP that I had not seen before. Of course it was listed in Discogs, so I don’t know how I missed it. Anyway, a copy was for sale on eBay and I managed to grab it!

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Apparently, according to the copy of the newsletter that accompanied the CD, only 50 were produced, making it one of the rarest Banksy covers, so I’m glad to have found a copy.

Incidentlally, a Finnish journalist had seen the Banksy exhibition at Konserthuset via the Internet who is currently writing a book on Culture Jamming and wants to include pictures of Banksy’s/DangerMouse’s Paris Hilton spoof album as an example of hi-jinx related to the music industry and celebrities in general. he asked me for pictures which I duly sent.

What with this week seeing the release of Klaus Voormann’s 60th and Sir Peter Blake’s 20th piece of record cover art, I am amazed by the diligence of collectors of Andy Warhol’s record cover art in finding more covers that use his images. Thanks to http://www.warholcovers.com I can keep my list up to speed. The most recent covers to come to light are:

Andi SexGang*s “Blind!” from 1985, that uses Andy’s “Multiple Elvis” image.

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The following year Sonic Youth released a covers album that included a reworking of Madonna’s “Into the Groove(y) / Burnin’ Up” and this was released as a single in both 12″ and 7″ formats with a cover using Warhol’s picture of Madonna and Sean Penn’s wedding.

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The re-issue trend continues with a revamped Velvet Underground live album “The Velvet Underground Live at the Gymnasium. Originally recorded on 30th April 1967 at New York’s Gymnasium, this recording is purportedly the only live recording before John Cale left The Velvets and includes a track “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore” that is not available anywhere else. The recording was first released in 2008 and was re-issued in 2011 with a cover purported to be by Warhol.

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Last, but not least (at least at the time of writing), is a new release by a band called Literature entitled “Arab Spring” which uses Warhol’s “Flowers” image (incidentally my favourite Warhol image) on it cover. The album is a limited edition with 398 copies pressed on black vinyl, 98 copies pressed on white vinyl and 4 copies on grey vinyl (according to Discogs.) There is also a cassette with a different variation of the Flowers image released in only 25 copies.

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I have no idea whether the use of Warhol’s art on these (and other) releases has been sanctioned. I suspect, however, given the continued popularity of Warhol’s art, that these covers will not be the last to use Warhol’s images. I guess I will have reason to return to this topic in the future.

 

 

New cover art by Klaus Voormann and Sir Peter Blake

October 2012 will be a memorable month with new record cover art by two of modern record cover art’s great exponents. First the German group Fools Garden release their new CD “Who Is Jo King?” (get the pun?) with cover art highly reminiscent of Klaus’ cover for The Beatles’ 1966 album “Revolver”.

Then, on the 29th October, Madness release their first album on their new label Cooking Vinyl entitled “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da” with cover art by Sir Peter Blake. Peter Blake celebrated his 80th birthday on 25th June 2012 and I rate this cover as one of his most humorous.

Andy Warhol’s record cover art – or covers that bear Andy Warhol’s art

I started out collecting record covers that had been illustrated by or designed by Andy Warhol, which should not have been too controversial. It was relatively easy to spot designs that were obviously by him. Added to which, The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh had many of Warhol’s original designs so a basic collection of covers with art by Warhol based on these designs made collecting easy. However, it now appears that there are many covers that Warhol designed for which no record seems to exist in The Warhol’s archives. The Vladimir Horowitz “Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Liszt” is one such. The Gershwin / Grofé cover of “Rhapsody In Blue / Grand Canyon Suite” and the covers for Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish are LP covers now generally accepted as being illustrated by Warhol. In addition there are the 7″ EPs “Latin Rhythms” by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops and The Century Symphony Orchestra’s “Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr” which are also clearly Warhol illustrations. The RATFAB single from 1984 is a further example.

Covers bearing Warhol’s art which were not designed or sanctioned by him began to appear in Warhol’s lifetime, usually on bootlegs such as The Rolling Stones “Emotional Tattoo” or The Falling Spikes “Screen Test: Falling in Love With the Falling Spikes”. A couple of new examples have turned up recently. Andi Sexgang’s debut LP “Blind!” has “Multiple Elvises” on the cover and Ciccone Youth’s (Sonic Youth’s alter ego) cover of Madonna’s “Into the Groove(y) / Burnin’ Up” single appeared in 1985. These have only recently been added to the list of Warhol covers. In the 25 years since his death many others have appeared either by artists who have been painted by Warhol, such as Russell Means and Simeon of The Silver Apples. Means had had his portrait painted in Warhol’s series of Native Americans and Simeon when he was a Factory associate in 1969. There are a number of other releases that bear Warhol’s art. A reissue CD of Marilyn Monroe’s music “Happy Birthday Mr. President” has Warhol’s iconic “Blue Marilyn” on the cover. M.T.T.’s “Caught from Behind” and Cultura’s “Andy Warhol by Cultura” Double CD (this one had their use of Warhol’s art sanctioned by The Warhol Foundation.)

Then there is a third category of “Warhol” covers, those that use images made by Warhol’s Factory associates. Gerard Malanga’s photography of Loredana Berté on her “Made in Italy” LP and the single from that album and Mananga’s photograph of Edie Sedgewick that The Cult used on their 1986 “Edie Ciao Baby” single. The Smiths used stills from Warhol’s films on many of their covers (for example their debut album “The Smiths”and a portrait of Candy Darling on “Sheila Take a Bow” single) and some consider these to be “Warhol” covers, too.

One item is difficult to classify: in 1994 The Warhol Museum released a CD of recordings of Andy Warhol’s interviews called “Andy Warhol From Tapes”together with the Museum’s inaugural book. The CD was available as a stand alone CD with a detail from Warhol’s “Flowers” printed on the CD, or it was available attached to the front cover of the Museum’s book. Being released by The Warhol Museum and using Warhol’s art makes this about as near a true Warhol cover as any.

Purists, however, stick only to the covers that Warhol actually had a hand in illustrating or designing. So, where do I stand? My collection of Warhol covers is based on the covers purists agree on. I do have a few of the other items too; such as the Russel Means and the Cultura CDs and the Silver Apples “Fractal Flow” single.

More on Warhol covers

I’ve been updating my list of record covers illustrated or designed by Andy Warhol on http://www.rateyourmusic.com. There have been several additions to my list recently. I noted that I had completely forgotten to include the Mozart album ”4 Divertimenti” and Warhol’s last design, the ”MTV – High Priority” album. I have had to add some completely new covers, too. Two collectors, Frank Edwards and Kevin Kinney, have helped me by providing pictures of covers I had not previously known about, for which I am most grateful.

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One completely new cover has turned up. Valdimir Horowitz’ ”Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Liszt”, released in 1952 on the RCA label. Three of these have come up for auction on Ebay over the past few weeks.

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Then there are colour variations of previously known covers. The first of these to turn up was a reissue of a bootleg by The Velvet Underground entitled ”Screen Test: Falling in Love With the Falling Spikes”. The album was initially released in 1985 and this cover is a red variation released in 1987.

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Kevin has collected multiple copies of many of Warhol’s covers and pointed out subtle colour variations of the cover to Tennessee Williams’ recital LP entitled, ”The Glass Menagerie”. The cover has bands of colour and the variations have either three of four colour bands that vary in position on the various versions. Kevin turned up a rare variation on the “MTV – High Priority” album cover. The usual cover has the MTV logo with red shading. The version he found has yellow shading and the titles at the top of the cover are all in black.

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I hope to get good pictures of all these covers to post on the rateyourmusic list.

Banksy collection nearly complete

Record collecting can be both fun and frustrating. In the (good) old days it could take years of visiting record shops, record fairs and charity shops to find that one elusive title needed to complete a collection. Today it is often enough to log on to eBay  to find it. It makes collecting considerably easier but much more boring. I mean, you do not even have to put on your coat and go out to find that one item. Record collecting, like any other collecting, should be a social activity. Visiting record shops or fairs should enable you to make contact with like-minded people. This social aspect is lost when you sit in front of your computer and let it find the goodies for you. The thrill of the chase and the opportunity to bump into other collectors, not to mention, discussions with knowledgeable record shop staff, who might suggest where you could find what you were looking for is lost completely.

On the rare occasions when eBay lets you down, there are several other sites to search, Musicstack, GEMM are the best known.

So, what of my collection of Banksy record cover art? There are currently three items missing. Banksy designed the cover to a CD of Bristolian poetry in 2008, entitled “Monkeys With Car Keys” – the title uses Tery Fugate-Wilcox’s famous quote “Without art we are but monkeys with car keys”. Banksy has used the quote in his street art down a crack alley just off Stapleton Road, Bristol and on this CD he uses it again. The CD seems impossible to find. I’ve been in contact with Bristol’s main public  library and they checked all the local libraries in the city without success.

Then there is a sampler 4-track 12″ EP by hip-hop group One Cut, for whom Banksy designed several covers in 1999-2000. This one, the “Grand Theft Audio Sampler”, which has a Banksy image on the label and comes in a generic white card cover with a sticker with Banksy’s design. I have been looking for this for some time and may possibly have found a copy…

The third missing Banksy cover is – of course – The Capoeira Twins promo “4×3″ 12” single. I’ve seen one on eBay and know of one person who has it (but won’t part with it.) I have to be happy with the copy that I’ve made.

Currently up for grabs – providing you have the cash, asking price £1500 – is one of the original 500 Banksy/Danger Mouse bootlegs of Paris Hilton’s CD “Paris”. Banksy manipulated the cover image to show Paris apparently topless and added texts to the pictures inside the booklet. The CD contains 40 minutes of Danger Mouse’s music. I have a copy of the reissue bootleg (of which 1000 copies are said to have been made), so I don’t think I shall invest in the original, which I don’t think is worth more than, say, £400-500.

And here’s a reminder that our exhibition of Banksy’s record and CD cover art opens at Stockholm’s Konserthus on June 19th and runs until August 23rd. Every Banksy cover will be on show (except, of course, the “Monkeys with Car Keys”.) Come along and see them.