I don’t like to comment on people’s appearance, but David Shrigley is about ten centimetres taller than me. He is well-known for his often comical drawings and artworks. He was born in Glasgow, studied art at the Glasgow School of Art and has had many solo shows both in the U.K. and internationally. He had an exhibition at Stockholm’s Spritmuseum from 27 September to 28 March, 2019 where he filled the exhibition space with inflatable swans. It was quite exciting to see the twenty-or-so giant swans slowly inflate and raise their heads and then slowly deflate again. Shrigley attended the opening and the closing of the exhibition and I made sure I would be on the final day.
My interest in David Shrigley’s art was peaked when I discovered that he had designed the cover to Castle Face & Friends’ rendition of the Velvet Underground & Nico’s eponymous album in 2012.
To round off the evening David Shrigley offered to design tattoos for anyone attending and many people let him draw little figures on arms, legs or anywhere they wished. Then a tattoo artist fixed the designs permanently. Somehow I didn’t manage to get a tattoo, but I did manage to get David to sign my LP cover.
Just recently I bought David Shrigley & Régis Laugier’s Play Something Awful LP with cover design by David. I realised that he’s been involved in writing lyrics as well as designing record and CD covers. He wrote lyrics for the San Francisco band Deerhoof’s Friend Opportunity LP in 2007 and even did the cover for Jason Mraz’s 2008 We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things LP/CD.
There are a few rare covers that Shrigley has designed. The one I would most like to get is Stephen Malkmus & Friends Can’s Ege Bambyasi LP released for record Store Day 2013. I’m sorry I missed it.
I’ll return to David Shrigley’s record cover art in a future post as I research his designs further.
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.
Are you a record collector? Do you search for records with record sleeves in perfect or near perfect condition? I certainly do. But I’m prepared to allow my covers to be defaced by allowing the artist or cover designer autograph my covers, and I have many covers so defaced. Recently, I heard about an exhibition in the Netherlands called Vinylize! that showed covers that many graphic artists had “re-imagined” record sleeves by creating new cover art by painting the original sleeves. The exhibition was accompanied by a book that illustrated the covers and included a potted biography of the designers who had re-imagined the original designs.
Stimulated by this exhibition, I took two of my Andy Warhol covers to artist and record shop owner Romain Beltrame to re-imagine the designs.
Even more recently, I heard about Greg Wooton’s book Marred for Life! A pictorial collection of record sleeves defaced by their owners.
Some of the record covers illustrated in the book are simply doodles while some have some artistic quality. Here are three examples from the book.
I must have come across many covers defaced by their owners and felt that the covers had lost their charm. Now I’ll have to rethink my attitude, but not so far as to start collecting defaced record sleeves! I appreciate that even my autographed sleeves are defaced.
Marred for Life! and Vinylize! find their place on my bookshelf where I keep books on record cover design.
Back way back when, I was a Van Dyke Parks fan and I had his albums Song Cycle, Discover America, Clang of the Yankee Reaper and Jump! I also picked up the single The All Golden / Sassafrass (that one because of Klause Voormann’s pastural cover painting.)
A year (or more) ago I received Klaus Voormann’s limited edition book It Started in Hamburg and therein were pictures of Klaus’ record cover designs I had never seen, among them were Jesper Munk’s Favourite Stranger and Gaby Moreno & Van Dyke Parks iSpangled! I emailed Klaus to ask whether these records actually existed or were just designs, and he replied that they were soon to be released. I found the Jesper Munk album relatively quickly but I have been looking out for the iSpangled! album for some considerable time. It was finally released on 4th October 2019, but I didn’t get my hands on a copy until 1st August 2020, when I popped into Bengans Stockholm record store and found a copy with the blue background. I knew there were two colour variations of the cover picture, The one I found with a blue background to the aeroplane and the a grey, ghost-like figure on the left and a cover with a purple backgound for the plane and a beige figure on th eleft who looked less like a ghost. However, the salesperson at Bengans couldn’t order a copy of the purple cover for me.
I saw copies of the purple cover on Ebay and emailed a record store in England whether their copies were blue or purple but never received an answer. I finally tracked one down from Chalkys_UK and it arrived in pristine condition on 29th October 2020, a little more than a year after its release.
There are a couple of Klaus Voormann record covers that seem impossible to find. The first is his cover for The Typhoons’ 1964 single Walk…Don’t Run–a cover of the Ventures’ hit–and the second is a 1979 bootleg with the (at least for me) tongue-twisting title Wir nie im Bett Programm gemacht. I once saw a copy of the Typhoons single for sale on Ebay (without the record) that sold for a whopping €110! The record is quite easy to find without the cover and can be bought for abut €5-10. So I bought the record.
Then decided to make my own cover and found the design on Klaus Voormann’s site. So that was easy!
Finding a good quality picture of the Wir nie cover wasn’t so easy. And I had to photoshop the pictures I finally found to make a reasonable facsimile.
I’m sure there ar still more klaus Voormann covers waiting to be discovered. The man himself doesn’t have a list of all the covers he has designed, so I’ll just have to keep looking to see if any new ones turn up.
There are currently 68 known record covers with designs or illustrations by Andy Warhol (not counting colour variations or variations in format — LP or 7″) produced in his lifetime–the exact number is unknown as new covers with his illustrations/designs seem to turn up with monotonous regularity as soon as there has been an exhibition purporting to show his complete oeuvre. A case in point being the discovery of Paul Desmond’s 1963 Take Ten LP found in 2019 just as the Warhol 1968 exhibition at Moderna Museet in Malmö, closed, where a “complete” collection of Warhol’s covers was shown.
In addition, there are countless record and CD covers that use Warhol’s art released since his death. There are also designs for at least six record sleeves that Warhol made that were never released. These are: – Progressive Piano — a Various Artists compilation — planned for release by RCA Records, both as a 10″ LP and as 7″ EP (probably a double EP) as RCA allocated catalogue numbers for both formats. Lithographs of these covers are in the collection of The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
– Four designs for a Billie Holiday four-track EP entitled Volume 3, probably aimed at Columbia Records, as the songs were recorded for that company’s subsidiaries. The song titles were written on the covers of two of the designs. There are four songs on one and seven on the second. The songs are: – Did I Remember? – I’ll Never Be the Same – They Say – Georgia on My Mind – I’m in a Low Down Groove – Romance in the Dark – Night and Day – No Regret We do not know if these designs were actually commissioned or were simply Warhol’s own idea. No single record with these titles seems to have been released.
I first read about the four designs for the Billie Holiday covers in 2015 in Guy Minnebach’s excellent Andy Earhole blog. You can read his post here. And I’ve been thinking about trying to recreate them on record covers.
All these designs must be from the early 1950s. The Progressive Piano collection was probably as early as 1952 and the Billie Holiday designs I would guess were made around 1953 or 1954 as they are somewhat in the style of the drawings Warhol made for Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish and that appeared on the record covers to the two albums of pronunciation exercises that accompanied the book, published in 1953.
I made reproductions of the Progressive Piano LP and double 7″ EP several years ago and these have been included in exhibitions of Andy Warhol’s record cover art; most recently at Moderna Museet in Malmö, in 2019.
Recreating the Billie Holiday covers is much more difficult. Redrawing Warhol’s sketches means finding pens that can imitate Warhol’s lines. Then painting the colours round his drawings. So far I have attempted three of the covers:
There is a lot more work need to make them even remotely like Warhol’s originals. I hope I’ll be able to post more polished results sometime in the future.
I recently bought a couple of promo CDs of Blur’s Think Tank album from Paul Coombs, who it turns out is a dedicated Banksy expert hailing from Banksy’s home town of Bristol. We began corresponding and Paul told me about a Bristolian ska band calling itself Mother Samosa. The band had released a CD called Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown in 1993. He told me that the band had originally released two cassettes, the second called The Fairground of Fear) that had become extremely rare. In actual fact the CD is also very difficult to find–I have yet to find a copy of any of them.
What is interesting for a collector of Banksy’s record cover art is the fact that the design of the cassette inlays is credited to one Robin Gunningham. Once upon a time, the Daily Mail tried to find out Banksy’s true identity and suggested that he was none other than a Bristolian named Robin Gunningham, said to have been born in 1974. The paper even approached Gunningham’s parents, who true to form, refused to admit anything.
A while ago music fan Raimund Floeck sent me a link to a podcast about the Vibronics, a dub group from Leicester. U.K. The podcast was an interview with Vibronics frontman, Steve Gibbs (a k a Steve Vibronics) who told a story about how in the mid to late 1990s an artist called Robin designed the Vibronics logo, and that this same Robin turned out to be the guy who became the famous artist Banksy. So I had to establish that Banksy had actually been in Leicester around that time. Two things could be established: 1. that there was a DJ couple in Leicester atthat time called Tom & Banksy and 2. Paul Coombs told me about a festival in Leicester in the mid 90s that many Bristol artists visited, probably including Banksy.
So, let’s try to create a possible timeline. If Banksy was born in 1974 (or 1975 as some others have suggested) he would have been 19 or 20 in 1993 when the Mother Samosa cassettes were released and he would have been perhaps 24 or 25 when the Vibronics logo was designed. Now, if this Robin is a fan of ska and dub music, it would seem to be a possible link between doing designs for a Bristol ska band (Mother Samosa) and a Leicester dub collective (The Vibronics.) What is known is that Banksy moved to London together with Hombre Records boss Jamie Eastman in 1998 or 1999 and designed the covers for hip hop artists One Cut (or OneCut.) He later became associated with Wall of Sound Records and designed a string of covers for artists on that label and its subsidiary Ultimate Dilemma. By the early 2000s he was back in Bristol.
As I reported in a previous post, Ed Cartwright, who sold me a copy of Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. promo, once worked for Wall of Sound records and was there in 2001 or 2002 when an artist called Robin (Ed never heard his surname) spray painted the covers to the Melody A.M. promo.
Banksy’s first came to widespread media attention in the U.K. in 2006 when he redesigned Paris Hilton’s CD booklet to reveal her topless and instead of the Paris CD included a CD-rom of music by DJ Danger Mouse. 500 copies were secretly placed in HMV stores all over the British Isles.
Wouldn’t it be cool if my timeline was correct and Robin Gunningham is Banksy’s real name? But I’m only guessing, and I cannot, as yet, guarantee that the Mother Samosa cassette and CD covers or the Vibronics logo are actually early examples of Banksy’s art. But I’d like to think that they are.
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.
You may have read my recent post on Anonymouse’s installation of a miniature record store in Lund, Sweden, displaying tiny record covers that parody well known covers, giving them a murine slant.
I seem to remember seeing bubblegum packed in miniature record sleeves in the late sixties or seventies but I only recently saw the ones manufactured by Amural Products Company and called Chu Bops in the 1980s. I have seen more than seventy different covers: – The Beatles (16 covers) – Rolling Stones (ten covers) – Elvis Presley (eight covers) and diverse covers by: Abba, Air Supply, Allman Brothers, ARS, Pat Benatar, Blondie (two covers), Blue Öyster Cult, David Bowie, Brothers Johnson, Charlie Daniels Band, Commodores, Crystal, Neil Diamond, ELO, Foghat, Heart, Isley Brothers, Billy Joel (two covers), Jefferson Starship, Judas Priest (two covers), The Kinks, The Knack (two covers), Little River Band, Loverboy, Meat Loaf, Willie Nelson, Juice Newton, Gary Numan, Robert Palmer, Teddy Pendergrass, Rush, Santana, John Schneider, Rex Smith, Southside Johnny & The Ashbury Dukes, Spinners, James Taylor, Pat Travers Band, Stevie Winwood,
Each cover is three inches (9 cms) square and contains a pink bubblegum disc made to resemble a record.
There are even shop displays with Beatles or Rolling Stones covers and LP-sized collectors covers into which you could save your bubblegum records.
The Chu Bop Rolling Stones collection includes both Sticky Fingers and Love You Live covers that would fit in my collection of Andy Warhol covers and The Beatles collection includes the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover that would be a nice addition to my Peter Blake cover collection. The completist in me says that I should add them to my album cover collection. Peter Blake:
I think these covers make an interesting addition to my collection. As far as I can see Chu Bops don’t seem to have produced any other covers by cover artists I collect.
There’s a creative group in the town of Lund in Southern Sweden called Anonymous, that makes miniature shops that suddenly appear on the streets and attract the attention of passers-by. They seem to appear magically by night. There has been an Indian restaurant, a detective bureau, a pharmacy and a jazz club, a barbers shop, and, most recently, a record shop called Ricotta Records.
There are fourteen record covers in the shop window.
The shop is packed with record sleeves, and rock posters, all in miniature format. People have gone to amazing lengths to recreate actual record covers but given them a murine twist.
The Anonymouse Instagram post attracted followers to design their own mouse-associated covers.
I’d love to do some miniature covers of my own, but I seem to lack the inspiration to mousify any of my favourites. But all cred to Anonymous for making this great addition to the streets of Lund.