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.
Sometimes a record arrives that I’m really pleased to get hold of. I can’t claim to have found this rarity and I thank my friend Tasso von Haussen for finding it for me. Recognise the image?
TV-Age’s The Player EP was released in Germany as a numbered, limited edition 12″ in 2016. My copy is No. 56/100 (handwritten on the inside of the rear cover.) I know nothing about the group and have never seen the record before. The cover is a hand silkscreened image of Banksy’s Every Time I Make Love I Think of Someone Else, and is simply beautiful. The rear cover is blank. The discs are pink vinyl.
Even the B-side label has a reproduction of Banksy’s dripping heart. The images come from Banksy’s acrylic paintings from 2002. There are two versions of the paintings:
I have not seen this image on a record cover before, and to see it so beautifully reproduced is amazing.
Apparently, Jason Mraz took the title for his eighth album from a David Shrigley cartoon. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the cartoon, but I’ve found Mraz’s album and love the designs.
We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things was released in May 2008, preceeded by three limited edition CD singles, We Sing (No. 1), We Dance (No. 2) and We Steal Things (No. 3) that was only available in a bundle from Mraz’s site and is consequently rare. Initally released on CD, it was also released on limited edition double LP. The album was quickly re-released as a limited edition double CD with DVD. The first CD with two extra tracks and the second including all thwe tracks from the three limited edition singles that preceded the album’s release. And in 2011, the album was reissued on vinyl . Again as a lmited edition; the music on three sides and the fourth side engraved with Shrigley designs.
Even the record labels have been illustrated by Shrigley:
And the inner sleeves are a bit special:
One single, I’m Yours, was released as a seven-inch vinyl record.
Several others were issued on CD or CD-r. These include: two versions of Lucky, one sung in English, featuring Colbie Caillat, and a Spanish version featuring Ximena Sarina.
Other singles are the three limited editions that preceded the release of the fiull album:
The final three singles were Make it Mine, Butterfly and a digital only release of Coyotes.
I’m amazed that David Shrigley went to so much trouble to produce all this work. And kudos till Jason Mraz for commissioning it all. I will admit, though, that while I enjoy the artwork, I haven’t actually listened to the record yet.
I’m sorry that Romain Beltrame has had to close his Triphopshop — a combination record store and art gallery. Romain is a fan of hip hop, street art, and fashion, revamping tired jeans jackets by painting on them. Another of his specialties is re-imagining LP covers and I bought a couple from him last year. Now, as he is closing the gallery, I traded a couple of paintings for seven more of his re-imagined covers.
There are two David Bowie albums – Pinups and Diamond Dogs, The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun, Prince’s Parade, Grace Jones’s Living My Life, an album of religious Indian music called L’Inde and Madonna’s True Blue.
I think the Doors and L’Inde cover are the most successful, but I also like the others, too, especially the Pinups cover as it is one of my favourite Bowie ablums (I have a soft spot for cover albums.)
In 2020, just when the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting hardest my friend Romain Beltram invited me to show some of my paintings in his Triphopshop gallery in central Stockholm. He already showed some of Iron’s work and for a month from 9th September Iron was to have an exhibition of his work at restaurant Riche — one of Stockholm’s hip places. The exhibition, curated by Carl Carboni och Lars Liljendahl, was centred around Iron’s portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping as Bat Man — playing on the theory that the Covid-19 pandemic that started in Wuhan, China, might have spread from bats. Thus Iron portryed Xi Jinping as the Bat Man.
However, the exhibition was rapidly closed after complaints from the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm, objecting to the portrayal of the country’s president in this manner. Iron became an instant hero!
He has also satirised Ronald McDonald as the fast food chain has been accused of being resposible for the increase in obesity in recent decades. Iron has portrayed Ronald begging for forgiveness.
I have also a unique painting by Iron. He has reimagined the cover of John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy LP cover.
I think the cover art is really striking and puts a “punk” feeling on the design, which I like.
In Part One I mentioned that many, if not the majority, of Shrigley’s record, cassette and CD cover art has been produced as limited editions. I will present several more here.
First off, is a various artists compilation called Worried Noodles. This double CD and book is a tribute to David Shrigley’s Worried Noodles: The Empty Cover book published in 2005 and uses the same cover art. Thirty-one of the poems in the Worried Noodles book were set to music and recorded by a variety of artists ranging from the famous to the (for me) obscure: David Byrne, Franz Ferdinand, Aidan Moffat & The Best Ofs, R.Stevie Moore, Alig Fedder (who will reappear later) and Deerhoof are the artists I’ve heard of.
Next came what I understand to be a limited edition seven-inch single called White Night by a band called White Night, which consisted of David Shrigley and Glaswegian friends.
There are two more releases from 2008. First, the A Brighter Beat/Point of Light seven-inch single taken from Malcolm Middleton’s album of the same name.
The other is Jason Mraz’s Album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. Released on CD, there is a limited edition three-sided double LP with etching on side four. Even the inner sleeve is doodled by Shrigley.
There was only one Shrigley cover in 2009 — for a ten-inch mini album by the Parenthetical Girls, an experimental pop band formed in Everett, Washington, and then based in Portland, Oregon. Six of the eight tracks were written by Ivor Cuttler.
Gallerie Feiber in Berlin held an exhibition of Shrigley’s art in 2011 and releases a limited edition double seven-inch set with cover art by Shrigley and pink vinyl records. Disc one was by Forced to Speak With Others (i.e. David Shrigley) and disk two was by Thee Oh Sees. The two singles were bound together with a pink banner. The edition was limited to 200 copies initialled and numbered by Shrigley.
Shrigley also had an exhibition in 2011 at London’s Hayward Gallery and published a book called Brain Activity which included a two-track seven-inch single.
The following year (2012) Castle Face Records released a version of The Velvet Underground & Nico album with each track played by a different artist. They got David Shrigley to design the cover.
Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement fame) got together with friends in 2013-4 to rerecord Can’s breakthrough album Ege Bamyasi, which was released as a limited edition for Record Store Day in April 2014. The European version was pressed on red vinyl and the American on green vinyl, but both had the David Shrigley cover art.
Only one of the seventeen records, cassettes and CDs/CDrs released beween 2013 and 2020 isn’t part of a limited edition. That is a CD of Malcolm Middleton’s and David Shrigley’s cooperation called Music + Words. However, the couple produced a limited edition LP (1000 copies) of the work with handmade cover featuring Malcolm Middleton’s hand print on one side and David Shrigley’s on the other (don’t ask me which is which.)
David Shrigley has cooperated with Scottish guitarist and producer Iain Shaw on several releases. The first was a limited edition cassette called Awesome on which Shaw provided music to Shrigley’s lyrics. There is also a limitd edition CDr of the recording.
And in 2016 the pair released another collaboration called Listening to Slayer. This was released on a limited seven-inch EP, a limited edition cassette and a limited edition CDr.
Iain Shaw originated in Stornoway, Scotland, and currently lives in Glasgow. He has adopted the alias Lord Stornoway and used this name in his latest collaboration with David Shrigley — an album entitled Don’t Worry that was released in conjunction with Shrigley’s exhibition at the BQ Gallery in Berlin and pressed on luscious pink vinyl. Shrigley also produced a limited edition seven-inch single for the gallery called I Am an Actor.
Finally, there is a limited edition cassette single by Daphne and Celeste called A.L.T.O. with cover art by David Shrigley.
I also have a couple of promo CD-Rs of the Don’t Worry album and a couple of singles from the Listening to Slayer EP.
There is a limited edition book with an LP called Goat Music that I still haven’t been able to get, but hopefully that will turn up soon.
David Shrigley’ is very popular and his paintings, sculptures and posters are becoming highly collectible and consequently expensive. However, he is — as he has admitted — obsessed by records and these are relatively inexpensive at the moment, though many of the limited editions are already very difficult to find. Perhaps this collection of Shrigley’s record, cassette and CD art might turn out to be a sound investment.
Record cover art has become a recognised field of collecting and exhibitions of record cover art are now quite common. Some of us collect specific artists, some collect a particular type of music (heavy metal or hip hop seem popular) while others collect more generally and have collections solely based on record covers’ artistic merit. The first collector I came in contact with was Guy Minnebach, who has an amazing collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art. Through him I got to know to know Frank Edwards who at first collected Warhol’s record covers but later branched out to collect more generally, including a wide variety of covers by various artists. Frank Edwards’s collections have been exhibited at the Cranbrook Art Museum.
As a follower of Mike Goldstein’s Album Cover Hall of Fame blog I have had the opportunity to see a number of record cover art exhibitions online and Mike recently tipped me off about one he thought I should have seen — the Visual Vinyl exhibition at Schunk, Heerlen, The Netherlands, which ran from 28th November 2015 — 6th March 2016. Mike had just got hold of the exhibition catalogue. A beautiful 232 page hard cover book. The exhibition, curated by Lene ter Haar and Cynthia Jordens, showed hundreds of record covers from Jan van Toorn’s amazing collection ranging from the commonplace, like Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground & Nico Banana cover to more obscure releases by the Fluxus group. Many very rare covers were included and the book has pictures of a whole host of them. In the book’s final pages Jan van Toorn describes his collecting philosophy and then presents a discography of his collection listing 2200 covers ordered alphabetically by designer/artist. You won’t find any record industry designers — no Steinweiss, Jim Flora, Aubrey Powell, Roger Dean — but Peter Blake & Jann Haworth (Sgt. Pepper) and Richard Hamilton (The Beatles) are in. So are Banksy and Damien Hirst. Art bands like Sonic Youth get included.
Jan van Toorn lists several covers by David Shrigley in his discography, but none is pictured in the book. He also has one of Andy Warhol’s Giant Size $1.57 Each covers from the numbered limited edition of 75 copies made by Billy Klüver for German gallery owner Heiner Friedrich in 1971.
However, van Toorn doesn’t seem to know the history behind this record cover. He suggests that these 75 covers were all that Warhol produced. In fact, it was Swedish engineer turned artists’ assistant. Billy Klüver who had made the eleven interviews with the pop artists included in the Popular Image Exhibition in Washington D.C. in 1963 who asked Warhol to help make covers for the LPs of the interviews that he had had pressed for the exhibition (at the show, they were sold in envelopes designed by Jim Dine, together with the exhibition catalogue.) Klüver obviously had records over and in 1963 he and Warhol screen printed hundreds of covers, some with white backgrounds, others with green, red, orange or green spray-painted backgrounds that Billy Klüver took charge of. When Heiner Friedrich, a German gallery owner, asked for a limited edition, Klüver took 75 white covers with records and asked Warhol to sign and number them and Friedrich sold them at his gallery. Klüver later sold copies of the coloured covers, some with records, some without. And a few of the white variety were sold at Andy Warhol’s first international retrospective at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in January-February 1968.
The Visual Vinyl book is a great addition to my library.
I first saw Eve Babitz’s name on the Buffalo Springfield Again album in 1967 and again on the Retrospective: The Best of Buffalo Springfield (1969). She also took the photograph of Linda Ronstadt for the cover of Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel LP (1974). Discogs has a list of eighteen covers that Eve Babitz has either designed, illustrated or photographed (although two were in recent collections.) I had a few of them, including Heart Like a Wheel, The Byrds (Untitled) and, of course, all the Buffalo Springfield albums. There were also other covers including Noel Harrison’s 1968 album Santa Monica Pier, Earth Opera’s self-named album from 1968 and Danny O’Keefe’s album titled Danny O’Keefe from 1971. She also designed the cover for Leon Russell’s Hank Williams is Back, Vol I.
However, I knew nothing about Eve Babitz until I recently heard a radio programme on Swedish Radio that outlined her life and work (only a passing mention of her record cover design, though) focusing mainly on the resurgence of interest in her writing. Eve was born in May 1943 to Sol and Mae Babitz. Her father was a classical violinist, of Russian Jewish descent and friend of Igor Stravinsky, who became Eve’s godfather, and her mother, an artist, had cajun descent.
Through her parents, Eve met many Hollywood stars and people from the music and art worlds and she was known for having affairs with many soon-to-be famous people. But she became best known for her writing, as Wikipedia says: Her articles and short stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire magazines. She is the author of several books including Eve’s Hollywood; Slow Days, Fast Company; Sex and Rage; Two By Two; and L.A. Woman. Transitioning to her particular blend of fiction and memoir beginning with Eve’s Hollywood, Babitz’s writing of this period is indelibly marked by the cultural scene of Los Angeles during that time, with numerous references and interactions to the artists, musicians, writers, actors, and sundry other iconic figures that made up the scene in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
Babitz’s first claim to notoriety came when she crashed the 1963 opening of the exhibition Pop Art: New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum. Artists included Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp. Babitz had affair with the Gallery’s head, Walter Hopps, and Hopps had forbidden Babitz to attend as his wife would be there. Babitz was invited by a friend and asked if she would play chess with Marcel Duchamp and she agreed only appearing in an overcoat that she dropped to sit nude to play the game.
Apparently, however, Duchamp didn’t notice Babitz’s nakedness and concentrated on the game, going on to win.
Eve Babitz was severely burned in an accident in 1997. She was driving her car trying to light a cigar when she dropped a lighted match into her lap igniting her dress and causing her 30 percent third degree burns to the lower part of her body and legs. She became a recluse thereafter.
There has been a resurgence of interest in Babitz’s writing in recent years though it is her record cover design that most fascinates me. She knew Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records, who, presumably, gave her the opportunity to design covers for that label, though she also did covers for Capitol Records (Linda Ronstadt), Warner Brothers and Reprise Records (Eric Anderson, Noel Harrison), and Elektra Records (Earth Opera, Lord Buckley), Columbia records (The Byrds).
Another indication of Babitz’s fame comes from a band calling themselves Misery Loves Company which released a CD in 2006 called All About Eve Babitz, with a cover picture recreating that famous chess match! A CD I must try to get hold of.
Sticky Fingers was the Rolling Stones eighth full length U.K. album, released on April 23rd 1971. And when you ask anyone with any interest in record design what record covers did Andy Warhol design the answer will generally be: the Banana cover (The Velvet Underground & Nico) and the one with the zip.
Andy Warhol had the idea to design a record cover with a working zip. He photographed one of his associates’, Jed Johnson ‘s jeans from the waist down to the mid thighs Some say it was Joe Dallesandro, but I disagree). He also photographed someone wearing jeans from the rear. No one is exactly sure who’s rear this was. Once Warhol had designed and photographed the cover images and the underpants hidden under the front cover, Craig Brown put the package together including the inner sleeve. An additional design first was the inclusion of John Pasche’s tongue logo, the first time this appeared anywhere.
The album was released in the United Kingdom with the band’s name over the right hip pocket and the title on the right thigh. In the United States both title and band name were placed on the belt towards the right.
Some people have manged to separate the right edge of the front cover to allow it to open and reveal the underpants beneath and called this a gatefold cover. However, the only true gatefold version was produced in New Zealand in 1973, with the record being inserted from inside the gatefold as opposed to the normal top insertion on all other issues. In addition this cover had a printed, non-functioning zip.
There are variations of the zip, too. The standard zip has a small pull tag. There were a small number of early U.K. pressings with a larger pull tag, the Pan tag (as PAN is inscribed on it), and there is apparently a third variation on the U.K. version with the STAR pull tag. I’ve never seen one of those, but there’s a picture on Discogs.com.
The standard zipper on German pressings of the album had a much larger pull tag, similar in shape and size to the Pan tag.
Several reissues of the Sticky Fingers album have appeared over the years, many of which, like the New Zealand gatefold mentioned above, have had printed, non-working zips. There are a couple of special issues that are worthy of note here: in 2015 Polydor Records released an expanded version as a limited edition double LP with working zip with John Pasche’s tongue design as the zip’s pull tag. In 2020 the company reissued the original album half-speed mastered and pressed on 180g vinyl, but the cover of this album had a printed, non-functioning zip.
There a re myriads of variations of the Sticky Fingers cover released in other countries. I do not collect these but I do have all the variations described in this short post in my collection, bar the U.K. PAN zip pull version. I am not sure I need to include that as well.