Here I go again! I regularly boast that I have complete collections of Banksy’s, Peter Blake’s and Klaus Voormann’s record covers (well, I usually admit to lacking one Klaus Voormann cover, but still) only to find out that none of these boasts is true.
I recently found the cover to an unreleased 7″ single version of DJ DangerMouse’s “Keep It Real” cover (you can read about it in an earlier blog post). Now it seems there are a couple of other Banksy covers that I had previously never heard of. I’m not going to say more at the moment, but you can be sure that I shall return to this subject in due time.
My blog posts on the latest record cover art by Peter Blake have only mentioned the various vinyl, CD and cassette versions of The Who’s latest album “WHO“. I had bought two limited edition issues of the album: the 45 rpm double LP version with extra single-sided 10” single “Sand” sold via The Who Store and the HMV “Nipper1” double LP. A mate in Liverpool popped in to see Sir Peter while on a recent visit to London and got him to sign both the 45 rpm and HMV covers for me as well as a copy of the reissued “Stanley Road” album (signed previously by Paul Weller himself.)
Then I saw an ad for Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s 2018 book and CD “The Luckiest Guy Alive” whith its cover portrait of Cooper Clarke by Peter Blake and Blake’s classic alphabet tiles for the album title and artist’s name.
So, naturally, I ordered a copy of the book and CD. I wonder if my Peter Blake collection is complete now?
Then I saw an ad for The Blues Band’s album “Itchy Feet” that stated that the cover was designed by Klaus Voormann. I immediately went through my Klaus Voormann collection only to find that I had missed this album (though I had bought the other two Blues Band albums when they came out, and even seen the band live.)
While going through the Voormann albums, I noticed that my copy of Gary Wright’s “Extractions” LP was in less than mint condition. It is a U.S. promo copy with a large cut-out hole through the top right corner of the cover, so I looked on Discogs for a better copy and saw that the U.K. original was released in a six panel poster cover that I had never seen.
So I ordered both the “Itchy Feet” and the “Extractions” records to “complete” my Klaus Voormann collection even though I’m still missing at least one of his covers. I was lucky that the “Itchy Feet” LP was one of the limited edition pressings that included the large poster of the band in action.
I have to say that I feel I’m nearer to having complete collections of these three cover artists. I’ll just have to keep a lookout to see if I find further missing covers.
Pete Townsend and Peter Blake are mates and when Pete needed cover art for The Who’s first new recording since 2004, he turned to Peter. The album, entitled WHO, was release on 6th December 2019.
This is the second album cover Peter Blake has designed for The Who. The previous one, Face Dances was released in 1981, and the cover for this latest Who album includes a reference to that album in the lower right hand corner. The layout of the cover is also reminicent of the Face Dances cover but with a five-by-five layout instead of the four-by-four layout.
The album is released by Polydor Records and they have gone to town. There are at least four different vinyl versions:
1. Standard 11-track black 33 rpm vinyl LP
2. Limited edition double 45 rpm LP with a separate 10″ vinyl with three extra tracks only available through The Who Store
3. A limited edition (5000 copies) HMV exclusive double LP with the 11-track album on black vinyl and a special cream-coloured extra LP of The Who’s greatest hits
4. Limited edition 11-track picture disc.
The Who-WHO picture disc.
And then there are possibly four different CDs:
1. Standard 11-track CD in jewel case
2. Deluxe 14-track CD including three tracks not on the standard issue. This comes in a jewel case with slipcase (see picture above)
3. 11-track CD with vinyl look autographed by Pete Townsend inside the centre spread
4. 14-track CD in special cover signed on the outside by Pete.
– limited edition music cassette.
Collecting all these variations will cost a small fortune.
I don’t know if Peter Blake and Brian Wilson are chums, but there’s little doubt that Peter Blake knows about Brian Wilson‘s music. One of Blake‘s earliest works was of the cover of The Beach Boys’ LP “Shut Down, Vol 2” in his 1964 print “The Beach Boys“.
Actually, the image wasn’t taken from the album cover. but from a music paper advertisement for the album. Blake designed the cover for Brian Wilson‘s 2004 album “Gettin’ In Over My Head“.
In 2007 Brian Wilson put together an audio presentation called “That Lucky Old Sun” and toured with it. He released the music as his eighth full length the following year. The cover for the LP and CD was designed by Martin Venezky / Appetite Engineers and the art director was Tom Reccion.
In 2009 Genesis Publications, in England, published a box set of the “That Lucky Old Sun” with a 56 page book pf interviews written by Harvey Kubernik with an introduction by Peter Blake, each book signed by both Brian Wilson and Peter Blake. The set, produced in an edition of 1000, includes twelve seriegraphs by Peter Blake each illustrating a song from the album as well as three facsimile sheets of music and a VIP pass and “one of the first pressings” of the “That Lucky Old Sun” CD .
Now to my quandry–should this set be included in a collection of Peter Blake‘s record cover art? I have included the Genesis Publications’ “Limited Edition 24 Nights” box set with it’s book of Blake drawings from Eric Clapton‘s 1980 and 1981 concerts as the cover of the “24 Nights” album was actually by Peter Blake. However, in the case of the “That Lucky Old Sun” set, the record’s cover art was NOT by Peter Blake. To put you out of your misery, I have found a set at a reduced price. So I’ll add it to my Peter Blake collection.
I have been searching for record covers designed by Peter Blake for several decades, but never come across this one before. Advertised on Ebay with a starting price of £0.99, was a CD titled “Colours” by a trio calling themselves A Stranger Shadow. Never heard of them, and apparently nor have many others as I can find no information on Internet music sites such as Allmusic, Discogs or Rateyourmusic. A Stranger Shadow are/were Paul Wilby (bass guitar, piano, vocals), Diana Jones (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Anne Harris (violin, percussion, vocals). They seem onlyto have recorded this one fourteen-track album, released in 1995. Discogs lists a 1984 7″ single by Paul Wilby titled “Nobody Needs You/Animosity Crept in” but that’s all I have found.
The booklet cover, is a sort of collage, and is signed at lower right by the artist. But how did this unknown group manage to get Peter Blake to design the cover? Was their record label — Mixed Bag Records — involved?
It would be wonderful if this album had also been released on vinyl, but I suppose record companies assumed in 1995 that vinyl was dead.
I haven’t had any reason to write about Peter Blake‘s art recently. As far as I have been able to find out, he hasn’t done any record covers since Eric Clapton‘s “I Still Do” album—which was not actually designed by Peter Blake, but Clapton chose to use one of Blake‘s 2015 portraits of him as the cover art.
At last I have something to add to my collection. I saw a print of Peter Blake‘s “Live at Leeds 2” for sale on Ebay and made an offer, which was accepted. The print was an artists’ proof (No. viii/xxv).
Some background: As everyone knows, The Who played the Leeds University Refectory on Valentine’s day 1970 and the 3-hour concert was recorded and released only 3 months later on 16th May 1970 as The Who’s “Live at Leeds” album. During preparations for The Who’s upcoming 2006 tour, Andy Kershaw, an alumnus of Leeds University—and who had had a hand in booking the band to play that historic 1970 concert managed to persuade the two remaining original band members to return to the Refectory as part of their planned 2006 tour.
In February 2005 Peter Blake opened a unique gallery dedicated to his music artwork at Leeds University’s School of Music. Among the prints on permanent loan to the gallery are ”Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Band Aid’s ”Do They Know It’s Christmas”, The ”Live Aid” poster design, Paul Weller’s ”Stanley Road” cover art, The Who’s ”Face Dances” as well as albums by Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson and Ian Dury.
I haven’t been able to work out exactly how Sir Peter Blake became involved but suspect that Pete Townsend—a long-time friend of Blake’s—might have suggested that the artist design a poster for the return concert and Blake turned to the cover art of the original “Live at Leeds” album for inspiration. The gatefold cover of the original “Live at Leeds” album was designed by Graphreaks (Wikipedia credits Beadrall Sutcliffe with the design). Blake took the cover design and added the date of the original concert (14.02.70) at the top and that of the return (17.06.06) at the bottom and a large red “2” at bottom left.
Peter Blake made a limited edition print of the design–a silk screen using 14 colours plus glaze in an the edition of 250 + 25 artist proofs–and published in 2006. Peter Blake donated a copy to Leeds University’s collection of his prints.
Back to my print. The seller in the U.K. sent the print rolled, inside a large sheet of 200 g paper and wrapped in bubble plastic all put inside a wellpapp outer. There was no poster tube to prevent crushing and—not surprisingly—the package arrived crushed with the print considerably creased. After email discussions with the seller, I was advised to lodge a ”damaged item” report with Ebay, which I did sending photos of the packaging and the damaged print. And to my total amazement, the following day Ebay refunded the total cost of the print and shipping! So the print has cost me nothing!
My collection of Peter Blake prints. The ”Live at Leeds 2” print joins my collection of Peter Blake prints started in 1968 when I bought ”Babe Rainbow” at Gear in Carnaby Street for, I think, 30/- (£1.50 to those of you who don’t remember predecimal currency). Wikipedia says it cost £1.00, but I think I paid 30/-.
I went to the Tate Gallery Peter Blake retrospective in 1983 and bought the catalogue which contained a limited edition print of the ”Owl & the Pussy Cat” print, which comes in an envelope stating ”Each reproduction has been signed by the artist”! The print was only included in the first 12,000 copies of the catalogue.
In 2009, when Jan Wimander, then director of Piteå Dansar och Ler Festival, and I decided to put on an exhibition of Peter Blake’s record cover art, called ”Peter Blake ’Pop’ Art” at Piteå Museum. We wanted to show LP covers but two of Blake’s covers–The John Peel compilation album ”Right Time, Wrong Speed, 1977-1987” and The Blockheads’ ”Staring Down the Barrel” were only available on CD so we wanted larger images for the show. We found a copy of Peter Blake’s portrait of the late John Peel that he created for Warner Brothers Music for the cover of Peel’s CD on Ebay. This was a limited edition of 45 copies–we got No. 5. I also approached The Blockheads to try to get hold of a promotional poster for their 2009 album ”Staring Down the Barrel”. I was told they didn’t have one, but referred to Peter Blake’s printers The Coriander Press and after month or so an artist proof of the cover art, signed by Peter Blake, arrived just in time for the exhibition.
In 2010, the late Daniel Brant, director of the A and D Gallery in London’s Chiltern Street, contacted me and asked if I would like to display my collection of Peter Blake’s record covers in the Gallery that would be hosting the launch of a new series of Peter Blake’s prints ”I Love London” and ”I Love Recycling”. John Wimander and I both flew over for the opening and met Sir Peter, who signed my ”Babe Rainbow” print as well as a book and the catalogue of our Piteå exhibition. We were both given prints of the ”I Love London” and ”I Love Recycling”!
So now my collection contains
– Babe Rainbow
– The Owl & the Pussycat
– John Peel
– The Blockhead’s ”Staring Down the Barrel”
– I Love London
– I Love Recycling, and (finally)
– Live at Leeds 2
A further Blake record cover art.
While researching the “Live at Leeds 2” print I came across another collaboration that I probably should have included in my collection of Peter Blake‘s record cover art. In 2007 Brian Wilson recorded his “That Lucky Old Sun” album and in 2009 Genesis Publications produced a lavish box set including a CD of the album, a book signed by both Brian Wilson and Peter Blake and 12 limited edition Peter Blake prints illustrating the songs. This deluxe production was produced in an edition of 1000 copies.
I shall have to start saving my pennies to get hold of a copy.
My collections of artists who have designed record covers seem to grow and grow. There always seems to be another cover to add to them. However, eventually I find that I have got as far as it seems possible to go and my collections just need that one elusive cover that I just cannot find.
My biggest collection is of Andy Warhol’s cover art. I have a broad view of what to include in it and have collected bootlegs, CDs and a few magazine covers, so that I currently have over 200 “Warhol covers”. However, there are still gaps that I suppose I never will fill. The main one is the NBC box set “Night Beat” – a promotional set of three EPs for a 1950s radio show – only one copy of which is known to exist. There is also a Japanese EP of Mendelssohn’s “Scherzo” with Warhol’s drawing of angels on the cover. Again, only a single copy has so far come to light. There are a couple of other albums that it may, one day, be possible to find. I’ll keep you posted on those.
I thought my collection of Peter Blake’s record covers was complete until I was tipped off about a 1983 cover for a recording of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue/An American In Paris” with a beautiful Blake painting. Luckily that was easy to find. So now I’m only waiting for him to produce his next cover.
I once had a complete collection of Damien Hirst’s record and CD cover designs. However, when I sold my main collection, I wasn’t careful enough to check what went and what stayed, with the result that the promotional booklet for The Hours’ “Ali in the Jungle” with its 3″ CD disappeared along with four of the band’s limited edition 7″ singles. At least I have been able to replace these, but the promo booklet has eluded me.
Again, my collection of Banksy records and CD covers is only missing one very rare item; the promotional 12″ single by The Capoeira Twins. A couple of copies have come up for sale recently, but way over my budget!
I thought that my collection of Klaus Voormann’s record cover art was complete with about seventy-four covers. I was mistaken. Klaus designed a cover for a jazz LP in the early sixties with artwork in the same style as his covers for the Pioneers of Jazz series of EPs on the Coral label.
Unfortunately, no one can read the title. Could it be “Wir nie im Bett Programm gemacht”? That’s the nearest I can get to deciphering it. And I have asked Klaus, but he doesn’t remember the artist or the title. I’ve shown the picture to German dealers, but none has seen a copy.
Then I have a collection of record and CD covers featuring supermodel Kate Moss. I got started on collecting Kate Moss covers as I already owned Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12″-ers (both first and second versions) and Damien Hirst’s “Use Money, Cheat Death” single sided 12″ with his portrait of Kate with half her face dissected away. Kate has a musical background having cooperated with Primal Scream on their remake of Lee Hazlewood’s “Some Velvet Morning” and there are two 12″-ers that feature Kate on the covers. And also with Babyshambles while she and Pete Doherty were a couple.
2003 – Primal Scream & Kate Moss “Some Velvet Morning”, Columbia 12″.
“Some Velvet Morning” remix 12″ with one of Jane Garner’s 1992 portraits of Kate on front and rear covers.
Bryan Ferry used Adam Whitehead’s photos of Kate on his 2010 Olympia album and on the limited edition 12″ singles and remixes taken from the album. However, one single, “Heartache by Numbers” apparently didn’t make it onto vinyl, though I didn’t know this initially and spent some considerable time searching for a copy, obviously without success.
So collectors, it seems that completing one’s collection of a particular artist is well nigh impossible. But it is the unfinished collection that still provides a challenge. Will I ever find these missing covers?
As readers of this blog will know, I collect both Andy Warhol‘s and, not by any coincidence, Peter Blake‘s record cover art.. I would list these great Pop Artists as the equals–Warhol as an exponent of American Pop Art and Blake curiously English.
Andy Warhol died on 22nd February 1987, just 30 years ago. Art lovers, it seems, love and hate him in almost in equal measures. However, Warhol‘s art still causes excitement and discussion. Peter Blake‘s art continues to evolve, now in his 85th year.
In 2009 Sir Peter Blake produced a 355 x 355 mm (14 x 14 in) print of Andy Warhol in an edition of 25, complete with diamond dust. A new, larger (510 x 510 mm) edition 0f 75 was produced in 2016.
This would make a great addition to both my collections! I’m going to start saving up tomorrow.
I dedicate this post to the memory of Daniel Brant of the A and D Gallery, who died on 19th January 2017 and who gave me many insights into Andy Warhol‘s art and gave me the opportunity to meet Sir Peter Blake at the opening of the Gallery’s show Peter Blake‘s “I Love London” in 2010. I suppose it is also an homage to Andy Warhol and Peter Blake, too.