During the past few days, I have scoured record sites and found two Banksy covers that I previously had missed; one by UK hip hop artist Blak Twang called “So Rotton” (yes, that is how ‘rotton’ is spelt) and a promo of Danger Mouse’s “Keep It Real/Laugh Now” 12″ single. Hopefully, they will soon be winging thier way to my collection. Then via a chance Ebay search, I came across an LP by the Les Humphries Singers from 1972 with cover art by Klaus Voormann and a CD by R.A.M. Pietsch of Beatles’ songs entitled “Norwegian Wood”, neither of which I knew about. Nor are either on Klaus Voormann’s own list of his record covers!
Jan W, my exhibition producer, organised a photo shoot last week to have my Banksy and Klaus Voormann cover professionally photographed. Jan also scanned a picture of the cover of The Capoeira Twins’ promo single “four (4×3). The exercise photographing the covers went welL, but when I got home I found I had forgotten at least one Voormann cover and now I have four more covers that will need to be photographed.
So far I have identified 46 covers that use either authorised or unauthorised Banksy art. The first cover by Banksy apeeared in 1998 and was hand stencilled by Banksy himself. The record was by Bristolian dance duo The Capoeira Twins (4×3). Banksy worked in the same building as Blowpop Records and used one of his stencils to decorate a promotional version of the record. One hundred copies were stencilled and these were distributed to DJs.
As the artists were unknown, it is not certain that many of the original hundred copies have survived. There was also a promotional box made that had the stencilled design. There were probably only a few of these made and I have never seen one.
Hiphop gruppen One Cut had Banksy design the cover for their first releases “Cut Commander”, “Mr. X” and “Underground Terror Tactics” together with their first album “Grand Theft Audio”.
Banksy made a second hand stencilled cover for a promotional release of Norwegian duo Röyksopp’s first LP “Melody A.M.” in 2002. One hundred numbered copies were made.
In 2003, Blur had Banksy design the cover for their album “Think Tank” together with the covers for three of the four singles culled from the album.
Since then only a few covers have used Banksy’s art officially. These include Benjamin Zephaniah’s “Naked”, Talib Kweli’s “Madlib Liberation” and a “Peace Not War” compilation released in February 2004 together with the magazine The Big Issue.
DJs Danger Mouse and Dirty Funker have used Banksy’s images on record covers unsanctioned. These have usually been released as limited editions. Dirty Funker’s reworking of The Knack’s hit “My Sharona” called “Let’s Talk Dirty” used Banksy’s famous Kate Moss portrait. This record was first issued with the unadulterated portrait on the cover’s front and rear. A second pressing had the record’s title on a banner of the model’s eyes. The original cover has become very rare. Other titles by DJ Danger Mouse have been issued as limited editions on his own label, including “From Man to Mouse” and “Keep It Real”, which was released with four different cover colours. Dirty Funker’s “Future” single was released with five colour variations on the cover.
Banksy’s stencils were used by the hiphop group One Cut for their singles “Cut Commander”, “Mr. X” and “Underground Terror Tactics” as well as on their LP “Grand Theft Audio” released 1998–2000. Other authorised releases include a C D my Monk & Canatella entitled “Do Community Service”, a CD by Benjamin Zachariah called “Naked” with several Banksy images in the booklet and three compilations entitled “We Love You… So Love Us”. The first of these was released as a limited edition LP while the other two were only available as CDs.
In 2003 Blur had Banksy design the cover for their “Think Tank” album and three of the four singles taken from it. A Promo CD had a cover design logo handstamped on the cover and a promo 12″ had the same images on its label. The Observer newspaper gave away a promotional CD advertising the “Think Tank” album that also used a Banksy image (the same images was used on the reverse of DJ Danger Mouse’s “From Man to Mouse” cover.)
A further rare CD with official Banksy art was the “Peace Not War” CD given away with the February 2004 number of the magazine “The Big Issue”. It seems that few of these compilation CDs have survived.
The plan is to present as many covers as possible in an exhibition this summer and possibly write an article about Banksy’s record cover art. I have managed to collect the majority of the record covers that use Banksy’s art. The biggest thrill was obtaining a copy of Röyksopp’s handstencilled “Melody A.M.” cover. My collection is almost complete with only the Capoeira Twin’s “Four” promo missing.
No matter what one collects, there will almost always be one item missing from one’s collection. I’ve been lucky for the most part. I did collect complete sets of The Beatles’ picture disc singles and their limited edition CD boxes, although I almost didn’t manage the latter. I missed the first box of four CDs and the very limited “Yellow Submarine” box but managed to find the former unexpectedly in a Stockholm record shop and the latter at Vinyl Experience in Hanway Street in London.
It took me a while to collect all six cover variations to Led Zeppelin’s “In Through the Out Door” album, but eventually I managed it. My collection of Andy Warhol’s record covers will, I realise, never be complete. There are a couple of covers that are ridiculously rare and even one that only exists as a test lithograph (the record appears never to have been released.) I am happy to anyway have a couple of really rare covers.
My current interests are collecting record covers that use Banksy’s street art and covers with Klaus Voormann’s art. Finding Banksy’s covers has not been difficult. I have managed to obtain all but two – his first cover (which is ridiculously rare) – and a CD of poetry that was only released locally in Bristol.
Klaus Voormann’s covers have been relatively easy to find, too, despite his career spanning fifty years. So far I lack his very first cover for a German band called The Typhoons and his latest cover for a band called The Dogs of Bali, which thus far has only been released as a download. I was pipped at the post for a copy of the The Typhoon’s cover last night when one was sold in Ebay. Someone managed to top my bid!
It really is about time I decided what to do with my record collection. It’s just too big to move around and sometime in the future I’m going to have to move to somewhere smaller. So, I’ve decided to concentrate on a few designers and get rid of all the other stuff. Currently, I’m interested in Klaus Voormann’s and Banksy’s record cover art.
I will keep those and my Ron Jones, Neville Brody, Andy Warhol and Peter Blake covers. I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with all my 4AD stuff — records, books, magazines and posters, but I’m sort of moving towards getting rid of them. I don’t know, though, how collectible they are nowadays.
This week has seen the arrival of an new set of Banksy covers — Dirty Funker’s “Future” single. And I’ve added a few of Blur’s 2003 releases with Banksy covers; “Crazy Beat” in a variety of cover variants. I still lack “Think Tank” vinyl and the “Out of Time” single. I’ve learned a lot about Banksy’s cover art recently. There are many more covers that he has produced than I realised. There are two real rarities; The Capoeira Twins’ “Four (3×4)” promo single on the Blowpop label and Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.” promo double LP, both with covers handstencilled by Banksy himself. One Röyksopp LP sold recently on Ebay for £2,500! Amazing!
I have also improved my collection of Klaus Voormann covers, too. I got the three Trio records that Klaus claims to have designed. Two are quite uncharacteristic and the “Bum, Bum” cover qualifies for inclusion in any list of the worst covers of all time! I struck lucky on a series of his early covers. In 1960, the young Voormann designed the covers for a series jazz EPs entitled “Pioneers of Jazz”. I picked up nine on Ebay for a pittance and found four more in Stocholm for little money, so I now have 13! I’m waiting for Jackie Lomax’s and Edwards Hand’s LPs.
I have sold a few records recently. I hope this continues.
I’ve been looking for more record covers designed by Banksy and via Ebay found a guy who has really collected a lot of Banksy related stuff. I succumbed (again) to temptation and bought both versions of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12″ single – the one with the Kate Moss portrait cover. There are two versions: the first pressing just had Kate’s portrait on front and rear with no titles or tracklisting, while the second pressing had a title banner placed over Kate’s eyes on front and rear.
Banksy has designed covers for other Dirty Funker records, including “Future” with five colour variations of Radar Rat on the covers.
I’m also interested in Klaus Voormann’s record cover art. His covers span over 50 years from his first cover for the German band The Typhons (or should it be Typhoons?) in 1960. Through his friendship with The Beatles he was introduced to the Liverpool music scene and in about 1965 joined the Liverpool band The Eyes and drew the cover to their single “She” b/w “Peanut Butter”, released in Germany in 1966. He was straight from art school in Hamburg when he made The Typhons‘ cover and was commissioned by Coral Records to design the covers for a series of twenty EPs of jazz pioneers. These covers show great sophistication and are reminiscent of some 50s record cover designers. Individual copies come up for sale on Ebay quite regularly, but finding all 20 will not be easy. But collecting Voormann’s cover art ought not to be expensive. Most records only cost about what an album costs today.
I have not been buying many records lately. I’ve been trying to make an exhaustive list of street artist Banksy’s record cover art. I usually do this sort of research by checking what is on offer on Ebay. Yesterday was bingo! I bought a promo copy of Benjamin Zephaniah’s ‘Naked’ CD which has several Banksy images in the booklet. And another vendor had seven Banksy covers for sale, including the elusive Dirty Funkers’ “Let’s Get Dirty” single with Banksy’s (in)famous portrait of Kate Moss done in a sort of Andy Warhol style. There are two pressings of this 12″ single; the rare first pressing had the portrait in different colours on the cover’s front and rear with no title. The, not so rare, second pressing had the same images but with a title band across Kate’s eyes making her unidentifiable.
This vendor was offering both covers on a ‘Buy it Now’ basis, together with a couple of other 12″s and three CD compilations with classic Banksy images. I had managed to sell a few duplicate records and had some extra funds, so I fell for temptation and bought the lot! I think (hope?) the rarer Banksy covers will appreciate in value – particularly the Kate Moss cover. Speaking of which, Damien Hirst put out a limited edition 12″ single in 2009 using the cover image of a dissected Kate Moss that he had used on the cover of TAR magazine. This was a one-sided white vinyl record issued in 666 copies with what sounds like Kate Moss talking on the telephone for about 30 seconds and then some noise before Hirst expounds on the subject of it being okay for artists to earn money.
I’m not sure of the artistic quality of this cover, but it fits with Damien Hirst’s interest in death.
Anyway, now I’ve added a lot more Banksy covers to my collection.