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.
From March 31st to September 8th, 2019, Moderna Museet in Malmö showed a major part of my collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art advertised as the first time a complete selection of Warhol’s cover art production was on show. At a forum on record cover art at the Museum on 31st August, 2019, I suggested that we do not actually know if the sixty-eight covers on show are really all the covers produced during Warhol’s lifetime. I noted that new discoveries were still being made–coincidentally, often soon after and exhibition closed. And so it has turned out again!
Warhol expert and collector extraordinary, Guy Minnebach, recently visited The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and did some further research through Warhol’s letters and invoices collected at the Museum [https://warholcoverart.com/2019/10/13/the-bossa-nova-cover-no-one-knew-was-a-warhol-paul-desmonds-take-ten/]. he turned up an order from RCA Records dated May 1st, 1962 for cover art for an album with catalogue number LPM/LSP 2598. An invoice with the same date had a July 6th written on it, suggesting that that was when it was paid.
Guy didn’t recognise this catalogue number among currently identified Warhol covers and quickly discovered that the number belonged to Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.
In the nineteen fifties Andy Warhol designed or illustrated about twenty-eight record covers. By the mid- to late fifties he was one of the highest paid commercial artists in New York, but, surprisingly, only three record sleeves were known to have been produced during the sixties; the “Giant Size $1.57 Each”, the “John Wallowitch” covers, and–of course–the famous “banana” cover for the “Velvet Underground & Nico” album. So the discovery of a further cover released in the sixties is sensational.
This appears to be a silkscreen portrait of Desmond against a coloured background. This possibly could be Warhol’s first silkscreen portrait. He only began making silkscreens in August 1962, so he probably had no idea for the cover when the order arrived. There is a sweet story as to how Warhol hit upon the idea of using silkscreens to “mechanise” his art. In 1961, he met a couple of English teenagers, David and Sarah Dalton, at party and invited them to see his art at his home. The Daltons were regular visitors to The Factory and David would in 1966 co-produce the Aspen Magazine box set together with Warhol.
David Dalton went on to a successful career as a writer. But I digress, When Warhol met the Daltons, David was 16 and his sister Sarah 14. In early 1962 Warhol was experimenting with ways to speed up the process of producing multiple images on a canvas. He tried using stampers made from various materials but found that he could only produce small images by this method. According to one story, Sarah Dalton was visiting the Factory in early 1962 and saw Andy at work and he complained about the problems of reproducing many images quickly. Sarah was attending art classes at the time and suggested to Andy that he should try silkscreening as she had tried the method in her classes. Sarah would be a regular visitor and When Andy had filmed his first major film “Sleep”, he asked Sarah to edit it. Sarah had no previous experience of film editing but took on the challenge. It was the start of her career as a film editor.
Warhol usually used photographs from which to make his drawings and silkscreens. Thus he used a publicity still from Marilyn Monroe’s film “Niagara” for his “Marilyn” portraits, and a photo of hibiscus flowers, taken by photographer Patricia Caulfield as the basis for his “Flowers” paintings and prints. I therefore suspect that he found a photo of Paul Desmond on which to base his cover portrait. I have been searching for the photo, but without success.
Warhol’s cover design was also used by RCA Italy for a slightly different Paul Desmond album called “The Artistry of Paul Desmond” also released in 1963 and containing six of the original eight tracks from “Take Ten” but substituted “The Night Has a Thouand Eyes” and “O Gato” for “El Prince” and “Samba de Orfeu” on the original US release.
So, my collection of Andy Warhol covers on show at Moderna Museet in Malmö during the summer of 2019 was incorrectly advertised as being “complete”. The finding of the Paul Desmond album barely one month after the show closed proves the collection to have been incomplete. I wonder how many more Warhol covers will turn up in the future?
A while ago I went to Wetterling Gallery,one of Stockholm’s premier galleries, to view an exhibition and saw two paintings by twin artists Mike & Doug Starn. These paintings were abstract works painted on record covers which were hung with magnets onto a metal backing plate allowing each record cover to be removed and the record contained within played! Each individual record cover still had its original album inside.
On 11th June the Wetterling Gallery held an opening reception for a repeat show of Mike & Doug Starn’s art with the artists in attendance.
There were six large works and two smaller ones in the show–all painted on record covers.
Untitled: Right in the Bed Next to Mine (on 12 record covers)
Monitor: Feed Your Head (on 70 record covers).
Black & White: And it Feels Like This! (on 12 record covers).
Little Richard (on 30 record covers)
I’m Only Five Foot One (on 70 record covers–the eleventh row at the bottom had to be left off as otherwise the painting would not have fitted on the wall!)
TOP: Ravenna: NInety Miles and Hour, Girl (1 gatefold record cover). Bottom: Untitled: Come on, Come on, Come on, Come on and Take It (1 gatefold record cover).
Untitled: Burt the Rainbow Has a Beard (on 35 record covers).
According to my count there were a total of 201 record covers used for these eight artworks. I wondered if Mike and Doug raided all the secondhand record stores to source the covers. There seemed not to be any logic in the arrangement of the covers, not in the motifs painted on them, with the exception of the “Little Richard” painting. And as the exhibition was called “Iggy and Franz”, I assumed the painting with the androgyn figure, called “I’m Only Five Foot One”, pictured Iggy Pop.
These paintings were not cheap! Prices ranged from $10,000 + VAT for the two single cover works to $195,000 + VAT for the largest ones. Somewhat out of my price range.
In a previous post I reported on British artist Peter Liversidge’s record cover art. Liversidge’s art is quite fascinating. in 2013 he arranged for children in an east London school to suggest and mount a protest on any subject–that they themselves, independently of adult suggestions–wanted to protest about. They made placards and chants to go with their protest and in 2015 staged it at Lonson’s Whitechapel Gallery. Otherwise Liversidge is known for his concept art, producing proposals for galleries to carry out. In his recent exhibition at Bonniers konsthall in Stockholm, entitled “Working Title II” he had produced 45 “Proposals”, each neatly typed on a separate A4 sheet of paper and framed on one wall of the exhibition space.
Bonniers konsthall had also published the proposals in a book:
In addition the gallery had produced Liversidge’s book “Notes on Protesting” describing his projects.
Another aspect of Liversidge’s art is his passion for collecting objects that resemble faces. One room in the gallery was devoted to this aspect of his art with carpets, rocks and masks.
Peter is a music lover (as I have found many artists to be) and friends with members of various bands for whom he has provided cover art. I had managed to find four LPs with Liversidge designs:
– Low–Ones and Sixes (2015)
– The High Plains–Cinderland (2017)
– Allred & Broderik –Find the Ways (2017)
– Low– Double Negative (2018)
On the Liversidge’s exhibitions penultimate day (February 16th, 2019), the artist attended the galley to do a book signing and I went along with my records to try to get them signed, too.
Peter was surprised (and apparently quote pleased) to see his record covers in these surroundings and was very happy to sign them. But he didn’t want to sign the front covers, preferring either to sign the inner sleeves or the backs. However, I managed to persuade him to sign the front of Low’s “Double Negative” cover–and he agreed it looked great that way.
Low’s “Double Negative” cover and inner sleeve signed by Peter Liversidge.
He also signed the other three covers:
Peter told be a couple of stories about how the album art evolved. Theinner spread of the “Ones and Sixes” album has pictures of an owl taken in British Columbia. Originally, a bald eagle was suggested as the bird to be shown, but as this is the U.S.’s national bird the suggestion was shelved and the owl substituted. On Low’s other album “Double Negative” Peter had suggested using a different mask on the cover:
Peter also told me about a record cover he had designed that I had not managed to find. This was Wires Under Tension’s 2012 album “Replicant”.
Before leaving I managed to get Peter to pose for a photo with one of his masks–and the cover of “Double Negative”.
I’ve been quite confident that I had all of Klaus Voormann’s record and CD covers bar one (the LP “Wer nie im Bett Programm Gemacht“), but a fellow rateyourmusic.com member (Warpkernbruch) showed my that there were several CD covers that I had missed by a musician named Achim Schultz and his band Achim Schultz Over Twenty. I had never heard of Achim Schultz. A Google search reveals little. He is a music producer with his own studio and record label (imaginatively called Achim Schultz) in Munich and has recorded several CDs. He must be on good terms with Klaus Voormann as Klaus has provided cover art for three CDs by Schultz and one for a German group called The Pleasure. I know nothing of them except that they have released two albums: “The Pleasure” in 2006 and “Travel Inside” in November 2008, Klaus drew the cover for the latter album.
Achim Schultz’s CDs include “Bye Bye George Harrison“, released on Achim’s own label in 2006, which includes the tribute track with the same title, a CD single “Give Peace a Chance” from 2008 and “Welcome“, from 2009 the latter two credited to Achim Schultz Over Twenty.
All four covers show Klaus Voormann’s incomparable draughtsmanship.
Klaus Voormann in his recently published book “It Started in Hamburg” provides pictures of several recent covers that I haven’t been able to trace. Klaus says some of the records for which he has designed the covers may, or may not, be released. These are Gaby Moreno’s & Van Dyke Parks’ “Spangled!“, Wukong & The Grim Shadows same titled album, and Stephen Dale Petit’s “2020 Vision“. I’ll keep an eye out for these to see if they ever surface.
Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm shows a wide variety of art exhibitions. I saw Turner Prize winner Susan Phillipz “Lost in Space” exhibition there a couple of years ago and I went to see the gallery’s latest exhibition by British artist Peter Liversidge. I hadn’t heard of him before seeing the exhibition. Liversidge’s preferred medium is providing “proposals”–he types suggestions for art happenings on A4 paper on his Olivetti portable typewriter. The proposals range from simple orders to suggestions that are complex and possibly impossible to realise. The exhibition at Bonniers konsthall has 45 of Liversidge’s “proposals” as its starting point. These 45 proposals are neatly framed A4 papers with his suggestions for projects arranged on one wall in three rows of fifteen frames.
On the floor in front of the frames is a pile of A2 papers each printed with “Let’s take a walk together”. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to take one or more of these posters home. There is a shelf on the wall opposite the framed proposals with various implements standing on it, each covered in postage stamps. Apparently Liversidge often uses the postal service to send articles to his exhibitions. Bonniers konsthall allows the postman/postwoman to arrange the item that is being delivered on the shelf. Thus the postal service acts as a sort of exhibition curator.
Peter Liversidge’s posted objects.
Close-up showing the stamps on each object.
One suspects that some objects might possibly get lost in the post. Nobody knows which, if any, don’t make to their destination, adding mystery to the exhibition.The idea of sending repeated missives through the post reminded me immediately of Japanese -American artist On Kawara (1932-2014), who throughout his career sent postcards to friends and institutions with stamped messages. One series stated “I got up at—-o’clock”, and another simply stated “I am still alive”.
The gallery shows a film of another of Liversidge’s projects. He asked a class at an east London school to make a protest about any subject they felt strongly about. It had to be the children’s project–not one suggested by teachers of adults. The film I saw was a protest about dogs fouling pavements with placards saying things like “clean up after your dog”. This protest was stages at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2014.
Another of Liversidge’s ongoing projects is collecting artifacts that look like faces and one room of the exhibition is devoted to found objects that resemble faces and masks that Liversidge has produced from such objects.
A day or two after I seen the Liversidge exhibition, I got an email about the best record cover designs of 2018 and was surprised when I saw a cover bearing one of Liversidge’s masks among the nominated covers. The album is “Double Negative” by the American band Low (released in September 2018). Liversidge has also designed the cover for the band’s 2015 album “Ones and Sixes”, and it transpires that he has designed at least two other record sleeves: one for High Plains’ album “Cinderland” (2017) and another “Find the Ways” (2017) by Allred & Broderick.
I always find it interesting when “fine” artists design record covers. There’s a long list of them ranging from Sir Peter Blake to Damien Hirst via Andy Warhol. I’m looking forward to seeing all Peter Liversidge’s record covers. I currently have two other covers (in addition to the “Double Negative” cover); Allred & Broderick’s “Find The Ways” and High Plains “Cinderland”.
Allred & Broderick’s LP “Find the Ways”. Cover by Peter Liversidge.
High Plains “Cinderland” LP. Cover by Peter Liversidge.
As anyone knows who has been following my blog, I’ve been collecting record covers by Sir Peter Blake for a long time. I’ve also been to numerous gallery shows and museum exhibition of Peter Blake’s art. I also have a number of exhibition catalogues from a various Peter Blake exhibitions. In addition I have several books on record cover art and one by graphic designer Richard Evans–who I guess is a Peter Blake fan too.
Richard Evans (born 30th March 1945 (as he states on his web page the same day as Eric Clapton) is a graphic designer, artist and photographer who has designed record covers for a great many artists including Robert Plant, Van Morrison, World Party, Pete Townsend and has been “official” designer to The Who since the mid 1970s.
Richard Evans published his book “The Art of the Record Cover” in 2010 and it is a chronological guide to record cover design and includes, at the end, a section on how to design one’s own record cover.
One of Richard Evans’s covers for a 1985 compilation album by The Who called “Who’s Missing” features tracks not previously available on LP and the cover–to another fan of Peter Blake’s art–seems inspired by Blake’s 1960-1 painting/collage “Got a Girl” (the title comes from a 1960 single by The Four Preps (Capitol 4362)).
This album was only released in America and I have been looking for a copy to keep beside my Peter Blake covers for several years, and I finally found one in my favourite Stockholm record emporium.