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.
As I have said before, I have stopped saying that my collection of a particular artist’s record covers is complete, because, just as soon as I write this, someone points out a cover I have missed. I was SO sure I had all of Sir Peter Blake‘s record covers that I was prepared to boast that, in fact, my collection WAS COMPLETE, when a moderator at rateyourmusic.com, Harlou123, notified me that he had a Classics For Pleasure album from 1981 with a cover painting by Peter Blake!
Well, I had to find a copy–luckily that wasn’t too difficult as the LP wasn’t too old, and had obviously been quite popular when it was released. The album paired George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in Blue” with his “An American in Paris” and had Ferde Grofé‘s “Piano Concerto in F” as a filler.
The cover art really conjures up the feeling of Paris! Thank you Harlou123 for the tip off!
Harvey’s of Bristol, importers of sherry apparently commissioned six British artists to each illustrate a cover for a classical release on the Classics for Pleasure label. I usually associated Classics for Pleasure as a low-price label that reissued classical works at mid price. However, these six recordings were made by winners of the 1981 Leeds Piano Competition (sponsored by Harvey’s of Bristol) specially for the label and the cover art was newly commissioned for each album. Peter Blake‘s contribution was number 6 in the series. Other artists who painted the covers included Patrick Heron and David Inshaw. I have not been able to identify the remaining painters.
When Noel Gallagher was planning Oasis‘s retrospective album “Stop the Clocks” in 2006 he wanted Peter Blake to design the cover. The story that I have heard is that Peter Blake allowed Noel to select items from Peter‘s collection to fill Blake‘s Blue Cupboard–an artwork that Blake had created in 1959. Blake then placed other objects, including an antique dartboard, beside the open cupboard.
Blake designed the cover slipcase and the inner sleeves of the tripple LP set as well as using the dartboard as the cover image of the double EP also entitled “Stop the Clocks“.
What I didn’t know until very recently (June 2016) that Oasis‘s record company (Sony Music) had produced a promotional item of the dartboard with three darts with tailfeathers bearing the Oasis logo. This would be a great addition to my Peter Blake collection.
The dartboard is obviously a facsimile of Peter Blake‘s originals. This would look great displayed beside the record covers!