Tag Archives: Art books

Alex Steinweiss – The Inventor of the Illustrated Record Cover.

I have been collecting record cover art since the 1980s. First designers including Vaughan Oliver and his collaborations with Nigel Grierson as 23 Envelope and, later, as V23 with Chris Bigg.  Neville Brody ,with his covers (mainly) for the Fetish label, was another designer I collected. Then, when I moved to Sweden, I started collecting covers by Martin Kann, who is responsible for the cover art for Swedish rockers bob hund. Most of the record covers I had by these designers disappeared when I had to sell my record collection and I had to decide which designers’ covers to keep.

I thought I knew the history of record cover design, but to my eternal shame, I only found out that one individual, Alex Steinweiss (1917-2011), had started the whole field of record cover design in about 2005 when I read Nick de Ville‘s great book on record cover design “Album-Style & Image in Sleeve Design” from 2003.But I HAD for years seen some of Steinweiss‘s work at my parents’ home! They had a condo i Sarasota, Florida, for many years. Sarasota was Steinweiss‘s retirement home and he produced posters for the celebrated Sarasota Jazz Festival and my father had bought three of these posters, which hung on a bedroom wall at home, but I had no idea Steinweiss had designed record covers! Once I had seen de Ville‘s book, I started looking for some Steinweiss covers. They were not easy to find as few Internet sellers recognised Steinweiss‘s work and sold records only by their artist/title. Then, in 2006, I bought Jennifer McKnight-Trontz’s “For the Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss, Inventor of the Album Cover“. A great place to start researching Steinweiss‘s production of over 2500 record covers.

lifeworks-of-as
Jennifer McKnight-Trontz’s “For the Record-The Life and Works of Alex Steinweiss

Steinweiss may not have been the first to illustrate record covers–here the purists argue–but he was the first to convince a record company that pictures on covers could actually sell records. In 1939, at the tender age of 22, he was hired by Columbia Records as art director for the company’s recorded music division, principally to be responsible for advertising material.

Few dedicated record shops existed in the 1930’s. Music was mainly sold as sheet music and records were usually sold in general stores, electrical appliance stores and i a few record shops. Records were only available as 78 r.p.m shellac discs, ten or twelve inches in diameter. Single discs were generally packaged in brown envelopes with or without a central hole that showed the record label with the title and artist on the record. Longer works, such as classical recordings had to be split onto several discs and were packaged in book-like albums that contained any number of records from two to ten. The front covers were generally plain perhaps with record company, the record’s catalogue number and the record title. They were affectionately known as “tombstone covers”!

tombstone-cover
A “Tombstone cover” as albums were sold prior to Steinweiss deciding to add pictures to covers.

The album’s spine showed the title and artist and the record’s catalogue number. These albums were generally stored like books in a library, with only the spines visible.

Steinweiss, during his artistic studies,  had seen the power of pictures in selling and suggested to his superiors that adding a picture to illustrate the music might actually increase sales of these albums. Despite initial scepsis the directors allowed Steinweiss to produce a limited number of pictorial covers and the first “Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart” appeared in 1940 (Jennifer McKnight-Trontz says 1939).

steinweiss-smash-hits
Alex Steinweiss’s first picture cover for Columbia Records “Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart” from 1940.

I collected about fifty Steinweiss covers and was lucky enough to find a copy of the “Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart” in really good condition early on. This album seems extremely rare as I have been on a fruitless search for a second copy ever since. It seems important for anyone particularly interested in record sleeve design to have this seminal design, so I kept it when my other Steinweiss covers vanished.

Of course, Steinweiss‘s new picture covers increased the sales of Columbia Records’ Albums and he was allowed to continue producing sleeve art. When, in 1948, Columbia introduced the microgroove LP, it fell to Steinweiss to design a suitable packaging and he came up with the LP record sleeve with a design on the front, text on the rear and on the spine. Many of the designs he produced for the 78 r.p.m albums were transferred when a work was reissued in the new format. But Steinweiss‘s burden of designing new covers meant that he couldn’t do them all himself. He enlisted other talented designers to work for Columbia, including Jim Flora and a commercial artist named Andrew Warhola, just arrived in New York from Pittsburgh.

steinweiss-photo4
Steinweiss (in dark suit) with other Columbia employees including Jim Flora (With the striped tie standing behind Steinweiss).

Steinweiss left Columbia in 1949 and went freelance. He subsequently designed covers for several other record companies including Everest, Decca and London and RCA.

in 2009, Kevin Reagan and Steven Heller convinced Taschen to publish a luxurious book simply entitled “Steinweiss”  with the subtitle “The Inventor of the Modern Record Cover“. I addition to a standard edition Taschen produced an art edition; one hundred copies numbered 1-100 contained a print of Steinweiss‘s design for Decca Records’ recording of Igor Stravinsky‘s “The Firebird“, the second time Steinweiss had designed a cover for that work.

steinweiss-taschen-print_fr
The lithograph of Steinweiss’s design for Decca Records’ recording of Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite”.

There were also a further one hundred art copies, numbered 101-200, that did not contain the print. Steinweiss, aged 92, was involved in the production of the book and the art editions were all signed by him as were the prints included in the first one hundred copies. My copy is No. 96.

The book contains full-sized pictures of over two hundred of Steinweiss‘s cover designs as well as pictures of posters and books and ceramics that he made. A worthy tribute to the man without whom I probably wouldn’t be collecting record cover art.

 

Record collecting – a love affair or an addiction?

Okay, as you probably have gathered if you read my blog, I live in Sweden. This is not a very important piece of information, but it explains why this post was inspired (probably not the right word) by a recent book and a magazine number. The book, by Olle Johansson, is called “En skivsamlares memoarer” (ISBN 9789163776618, Rabarber förlag, Stockholm, 2015), which translates to “A Record Collector’s Memoirs” and the magazine is the Spring 2016 number of the Swedish music magazine Sonic–a 116 page special number entitled “Alla talar om skivsamlande“, again in translation “Everyone is talking about record collecting“.

Most people would not see any difference between a record collector and a music collector, but there is huge difference and these two publications illustrate it perfectly. Olle Johansson is a MUSIC collector. He is not interested in the format the recording is presented on. He does not care about record labels, catalogue numbers, or the cover art. He wants the music, and it doesn’t matter if it is a reissued CD or vinyl. He doesn’t search for original pressings or special editions. He just wants the music or the artist.

A record collector, however, cares about all, or at least some, of these things. There are those who collect a particular artist–and must have EVERYTHING released by that artist, including unofficial (bootleg) releases. Alternatively, the collector may collect a particular record label, quite independently of the type of music released (though the label will probably have released music that suits the collector’s taste). Then there are collectors who will collect a particular format– say 1960s EPs, or picture discs; the options are endless. And there are strange types, like me, who collect record cover art. Even here there are subdivisions; record cover art by a particular artist, cover art by any famous artist, or cover art that uses a particular design feature or a certain typography.

There are loads of books on record cover art and others on greater or lesser celebrities’ record collections. One recent, almost encyclopaedic one is Eilon Paz‘s “Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting“. Paz visited record collectors and photographed them with their hoards of vinyl–everything from rare 78s to the world’s largest collection of coloured vinyl records. Sonic magazine interviewed musicians, DJs, record collectors and record buyers at record stores. I used to have a library of books about record cover art. I have only kept a few that I really treasure. These include Nick de Ville‘s “Album: Classic Sleeve Design: Style and Image in Sleeve Design“, Richard Evans‘ “The Art of the Record Cover“, Paul Maréchal‘s “The Complete Commissioned Record Covers“, Jennifer McKnight-Trontz’ & Alex Steinweiss’For the Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss, Inventor of the Album Cover” and the catalogue from Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum’s 1981-2 exhibition “Ytans innehåll: utställning av skivomslag” [“The Surface’s Contents: An Exhibition of Record Covers“].

Where did my collection begin? Born in the mid forties, I was raised on vinyl records. My father loved music and had a few hundred LPs and a few 78s. In my late teens I had a friend, Chris,  who worked on Saturdays at The Chelsea Record Centre, a shop on The King’s Road, Chelsea. We used to go to pubs and listen to R ‘n’ B and, when I went to University we started going regularly to the 100 Club on Oxford Street. We could see The Pretty Things, The Graham Bond Organisation or The Artwoods. One night–I suppose in 1964 or 1965– we went to see Bo Diddley and his famous band (who I had at that time only heard of through some Buddy Holly recordings.) Well, to call that concert mindblowing was an understatement.

The first records I bought were LPs–Eddie Cochran‘s “Memorial Album“, “The Buddy Holly Story” and John Lee Hooker‘s “Don’t Turn Me From Your Door“. One evening in late November 1963 my friend Chris came home with a copy of “With the Beatles” and we spent an evening just playing and replaying the album. And almost a year later on the 24th October 1964, Chris and I went to the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn to see The Beatles–I can’t say we heard them because of all the screaming. I still have the “Four Aces” programme from the concert! I started buying records and became a regular at two of London’s independent record shops that imported American albums; One Stop Records in South Moulton Street and Musicland in Berwick Street.

In early 1967, My brother, who had been living in America, returned to England and presented me with a bundle of records including Big Brother & The Holding Company‘s eponymous first album (on the Mainstream label), Country Joe & The Fish‘s “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die“, The Jefferson Airplane‘s “Takes Off” and “Surrealistic Pillow“. I  bought The Doors‘ first album, which was one of the greatest albums of 1967, at One Stop, and they recommended an album by The Velvet Underground & Nico, which I bought but didn’t really get into. I liked the cover, though. Then I discovered bluebeat, ska and reggae and for the first time bought singles. Prince Buster, The Ethiopians and Desmond Dekker before finding Phil Spector and then soul music in the form of Doo Wop with Clyde McPhatter & the Dominoes, The Coasters, The Drifters, Don Covay, Joe Tex and, of course, Otis Redding. Thus far, I was still a music collector.

Then in April 1971, I bought The Rolling Stones‘ “Sticky Fingers” with its Andy Warhol designed cover. I already had The Velvet Underground & Nico, so this was my second Andy Warhol cover. I also had two covers by Peter Blake: “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and The Pentangle‘s “Sweet Child“. So I had the beginnings of two cover art collections. In the early 1980s I stumbled across an album by The Cocteau Twins and soon started collecting albums on the 4AD label designed by Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson (as 23 Envelope) and Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg (as v23). I also found Fetish Record‘s “Final Testament” and collected every cover I could find with Neville Brody‘s art.I also had all three of Joy Division‘s albums but didn’t start collecting Peter Saville‘s record covers in any systematic way, though a few did find their way into my collection. In the early 2000s I fell for Rob Jones‘ work–both as a poster artist for the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and Dead Weather–and for his record cover art. I also collected Swedish designer Martin Kann‘s covers for the band bob hund. All the while my collection of covers by Warhol and Blake grew. I also found that I had many covers by Klaus Voormann and then Damien Hirst produced a few record covers that found their way into my collection. In about 2008  I picked up a couple of albums with cover art by the artist known as Banksy and managed over the course of two years to collect almost all the covers bearing his art.

When I retired in 2010 it was apparent that my wife and I would have to move to a flat and that I would not be able to take my collection of records, posters and CDs with me. I had to downsize. I decided only to keep my collections of record cover art. I said “good bye” to my 4AD, Martin Kann, and Rob Jones records and kept only my Banksy, Blake, Hirst, Voormann and Warhol collections. So now I am a RECORD collector rather than a music collector. The music is secondary to the cover art.

 

 

Andy Warhol – The Complete Commissioned Record Covers 1949-1987

Collectors of Andy Warhol’s record cover art  – and there are quite a few of them – have been waiting for this second edition of Paul Maréchal’s seminal work for quite some time. It was hoped that it would be launched during the “Warhol on Vinyl” exhibition at The Cranbrook Art Museum, but this was not to be. Anyway, it dropped into my lap yesterday. Paul Maréchal is an expert on Andy Warhol’s printed commercial works and has published “The Complete Commissioned Posters, 1964-1987” and “The Complete Commissioned Magazine Work” in addition to his seminal “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers, 1949-1987 – Catalogue Raisonné”, which was published in 2008 to coincide with the “Warhol Live” exhibition in Montreal.

It is amazing to think that not too much was known about Warhol as a designer of record sleeves prior to the arrival of Maréchal’s book and many people have become collectors because of it. Consequently, prices of the rare covers have escalated quite dramatically since it was published. Another result of the publication is the recognition that there may be more, as yet “undiscovered” record sleeves to be found and, so has proved the case. So it seems timely that a new edition of the book should appear.

So, who is this book for? Well, it will look great on the coffee table of any aficionado of vinyl record art. It is also a useful reference for potential sellers on Ebay and other online auction sites. But it doesn’t work for dedicated collectors of Warhol’s record cover art.

I regard myself as a fairly knowledgeable collector of Andy Warhol’s record cover art. I am a sort of purist in that I do not collect parodies of Warhol’s art on record or CD covers, but I do admit bootlegs and records and CDs released after 1987 (and there have been a considerable number). To date, I have over 120 individual covers in my collection. And “The Complete Record Covers, 1949-1987” comes as a disappointment to me. “The Complete Record Covers, 1949-1987” is in effect a reprinting of the first edition with the addition of twenty-one pages describing six “new discoveries”. Unfortunately the main part of the book has not been updated in any major way. I feel sure that Mr Maréchal has managed to find better examples of the covers pictured in the seven years since the first edition. He has not corrected some obvious errors and I shall bore you all by listing what I have found in the twenty-four hours since I got my copy home.

I will go through some issues that I have:
Cover No. 1: “A Program of Mexican Music”: There is a (rarer) blue version of this cover, which is not mentioned.
Cover No. 2:Alexander Nevsky“: Pictured here is the green version of the cover, which along with a pink and orange version is a late 50s-early 60s reissue. The original 1949 cover was blue. We know that the green, pink and orange covers contained reissues as the record labels are the so called “six-eye” design rather than the dark blue Masterworks labels used in the late 1940s. Further his description of the standard format of early LP covers on the Columbia label omits the fact that it was the Company’s legendary art director Alex Steinweiss, who designed the basic format for these early covers with bold blocks of colour.
Cover No. 6:Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish”: This description should have been totally rewritten. We know now that there were only two volumes of records, not the “at least five records” that are mentioned in the book. In addition, I am convinced that Maréchal or one of his collector associates could have found a better looking copy to photograph for the book.
Cover No. 7: “William Tell / Semiramide Overtures“. The book mentions that there is a double 7-inch EP set of this recording in addition to the 10-inch LP version pictured. But there are, in fact, at least two printings of the EP’s cover with differing rear covers. I would have like to see both variations pictured.
Cover No. 13: “Chopin Nocturnes” played by Jan Smeterlin: Pictured is volume II of a two record set. The “Complete Nocturnes” in a slip case is mentioned but I feel that pictures of all three would warrant a place.
Cover No. 16: The Joe Newman Octet – “I’m Still Swinging“: The various 45 RPM EPs are mentioned. They differ from the pictured LP in that the title is in blue rather than red. Picturing these would be a bonus for collectors. However, I don’t think adding pictures of the EPs from LP Cover No. 17 would add extra information, though they could be shown for completeness. Cover No. 22: “The Story of Moondog“: I confess I like the worn and dogeared picture of this cover shown in the book. The album is very rare and I imagine finding a better copy would be difficult, so I wouldn’t change it. Mention might, however, be made of the reissues of this LP (and this applies to the Archie Shaw as well).
Covers Nos 20, 21, 23 and 24: Kenny Burrell “Kenny Burrell“, Johnny Griffin “The Congregation” and Kenny Burrell “Blue Lights, Volumes 1 and 2“: There have been numerous reissues of these covers that could be mentioned. There are colour variations of the last two that perhaps could have been pictured.
Cover No. 24: “Tennessee Williams Reading from The Glass Menagerie…” A number of colour variations of this cover have appeared since the first edition of the book and some have the record’s catalogue number at bottom right rather that at the top.
Cover No. 25: I love this cover! So much so that I recreated it in 2013 for my own collection to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its production. Maréchal own one of the original 75 signed and numbered copies on a white background. This work was created by Warhol together with Billy Klüver and produced these by spray-painting record sleeves and then silkscreening the text – which was obviously borrowed from a newspaper advert or a supermarket sign – onto the coloured cover. As Maréchal notes in the book – there are five colour variations. White, red, green, yellow and orange. And I have never seen a picture of the orange cover. Maréchal speculates that the white defects on his cover are caused by the ink being applied too thickly and later peeling off. Having silkscreened this design myself I can inform him that the defects occur naturally as the paint is pulled over the screen. A set of my reproduced “Giant Size $1.57 Each” resided in The Cranbrook Art Museum as part of its collection of Warhol vinyl records.
Cover No. 27: The East Village Other “Electric Newspaper – Hiroshima Day – USA Vs Underground“: Maréchal motivates the inclusion of this album because of the Warhol’s contribution to the record – a track called “Silence“. Maréchal credits Warhol as the composer, stating he composed it in 1932. Which he notes as being highly unlikely. Possibly this short track is a homage to John Cale’s 4:33 a record of silence. Anyway, the cover has nothing to do with Warhol or The Factory and, in my opinion, has no place in this book.
Cover No. 29: “The Velvet Underground & Nico“: This is possibly Warhol’s most important and famous record cover. The record certainly is one of the most important records in popular music. The story behind the cover is more complicated than is stated in the book. The cover is remarkable for a number of reasons not mentioned. First, gatefold covers were unusual in 1967 and generally reserved for double albums. The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” released after “The Velvet Underground & Nico” was another exception. The original rear cover of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” showed a photo of the band in concert with a light show showing the actor Eric Emerson, who had not been consulted in advance. When Emerson saw the cover he demanded payment. Rather than pay Verve Records, who released the album, recalled as many copies as they could find and stuck a large black label over the photograph. The photograph was airbrushed to remove Emerson on later printings. I feel this could have been mentioned and, as this is such an important recording, even pictures of the various printings included. Interestingly, recent reissues of this LP have included Emerson’s portrait.
Cover No. 32: The Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers“: Along with “The Velvet Undergound & Nico” this is another of Warhol’s most important and best-known covers. There are subtle differences between the US and European releases of this album with the band’s name and the record title placed over the model’s right thigh on the European version and placed over the belt on the US version. Further there are other records that use the same design; a Mexican single (“Azucar Morena“) and EP and the European “Brown Sugar” single used the album’s rear cover design on the rear of the single’s picture cover. There was even a shaped picture disc that used the same design. The cover’s zipper originally had a large handle (if that is the right word) but this had to be changed to the smaller handle pictured in the book as it damaged covers packed together with them.
Cover No. 34: Ultra Violet “Ultra Violet“. Ultra Violet is quoted in the book as saying that this album was never released. It certainly is rare and only about twenty copies have appeared on Ebay. Almost half of these have the hole cut at the cover’s top right – a sign that the album is a “cut out” and therefore could be sold in record sales for a lower price than the recommended standard price. This suggest to me that the record was actually released, although Capitol Records could have pressed up a number of copies and then just decided to put them out on sale. There is a film of Warhol’s involvement in the making of this cover in The Warhol Museum.
Cover No. 36: The Rolling Stones “Love You Live“: Most original copies of this double album have coloured inner sleeves. There are promo copies with black and white inner sleeves (with the same design as the standard ones) and some later reissues also have these black and white inner sleeves (that actually look like silver – a colour Warhol loved). What is missing from Maréchal’s book is a mention of the promotional EP for this record, simply called “The Rolling Stones“. The cover shows four of the Polaroid pictures used in the cover design and on the plastic tablecloth pictured in the book. There is even a picture disc of the promo EP, which Guy Minnebach suspects is a bootleg.
Cover No. 40: Loredana Berté “Made in Italy“: According to Maréchal, Berté met Warhol in New York and cooked him Italian dishes. Christopher Makos took the photograph used on the cover and on a couple of singles (not mentioned in the book). I’m not one hundred percent convinced that Warhol was “commissioned” to do this cover and I am in two minds as to whether or not it should be included. Okay, it is a Factory product, so it’s in.
Cover No. 43: Original Soundtrack “Querelle“: No mention here of the single “Every Man Kills the Thing He Loves” taken from the album with the same cover picture.
Cover No. 44: The Rolling Stones “Emotional Tattoo“: This bootleg album first appeared in 1983. There were two versions (in identical covers) one on black vinyl and one on orange vinyl. This album is the only bootleg with Warhol art that is pictured in the book, although mention is made in the album’s description of three other bootlegs; Debbie Harry’s picture disc which is called “French Kissin‘” (in fact it is an LP entitled “Picture This!“), a Velvet Underground bootleg entitled “More Bermuda Than Pizza” (available as both a black vinyl LP and a picture disc) with artwork credited to Warhol – but it doesn’t look like Warhol’s work. And The Falling Spikes “Screen Test: Falling in Love With the Falling Spikes” which uses a detail from Warhol’s “Flowers” print. There are three cover variations of this last bootleg. I feel that if “Emotional Tattoo” is included, then several more bootlegs should be too. I’ll return to some other important ones later.
Cover No. 45: Miguel Bosé “Made in Madrid” and “Milano-Madrid“: The “Fuego ” single is mentioned but not the “Non Siamo Soli” single. There is even a 12-inch version of “Fuego“.
Cover No. 47: “The Smiths“: It is stretching it to include this cover as Warhol was certainly not commissioned to do this one. Cover No. 50: Debbie Harry “Rockbird“: This cover is a Stephen Sprouse design. He obtained Warhol’s permission to use the Camouflage painting as a backdrop to the portrait of Debbie Harry taken by “Guzman”. Guzman is the Canadian duo Constance Hansen & Russell Peacock and I think they should be named in the book. Warhol was certainly not commissioned to do this cover! But it is very much in a Warholian style with four colour variations.
Cover No. 51: MTV “High Priority“. Warhol’s last cover not completed before his death in February 1987. Since the first edition of the book, a second variation of this cover has been found with the shading to the “M” of MTV logo in yellow rather than the commoner red. Also, the yellow version has the song titles on the front cover in black and does not have a barcode on the rear suggesting to me that it may have been a promo.

Now onto theNew Discoveries“.
Covers Nos. 54 and 55: RCA Victor Bluebird releases. Byron Janis and Erica Morini. These LPs, probably released in 1957, are generally accepted as having illustrations by Warhol. There is, however, a third LP in the series – excerpts from “Porgy and Bess” coupled with Grieg’s “Symphonic Dances” (LBC 1059) that has an illustration suspiciously like a Warhol drawing. This one is not included. I wonder why.
Cover No. 56: Walter Steding “Secret Spy“: Interesting that this cover is included. It has pictures from Warhol’s music video. But there is another cover with similar provenace – Curiosity Killed the Cat’s video for their “Misfit” single. Warhol even appears in this video. Why isn’t this single included? The Swedish band Enola Gay released a single “Döda djur” in 1981 with Warhol’s picture “The Kiss” featuring Bela Lugosi. Should his be included? And why not include The Silver Apples’ “Fractal Flow” single with its Warhol portrait of band member, and former Factory associate, Simeon. Should Lou Reed & John Cale’s “Songs for Drella” and the single “Nobody but You” also be included?

So, now what about those bootlegs and later recordings? In his essay on Cover No. 29 (“The Velvet Underground & Nico“), Maréchal mentions Warhol’s film “Symphony of Sound” (1966). Stills from this film have been used on at least two album covers; “The Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed” – an official release on the Mercury label – and on a bootleg. Then there are at least three other Velvet Underground bootlegs: “Paris 1990“,which features a fluorescent Warhol flower on the cover,  “NYC” and “Orange Disaster” – both with prints from Warhol’s “Deaths and Disasters” series. Another Rolling Stones bootleg “Lonely at the Top” appeared in late 2014, probably too late for a mention in this volume, which reused one of Warhol’s Mick Jagger portraits on its cover. And while on the subject of The Rolling Stones and Warhol’s Jagger portraits, there is a black and white version of the same portrait as used on the “Emotional Tattoo” and “Lonely at the Top” albums on the rear cover of Suntory D R Y Beer’s bootleg “Mick Jagger in Japan” (1988).

And on to CDs.
Maréchal does not mention any CDs. But here is just a list of some of the ones I know about.

1. Cultura by Cultura (2004)
2. Tobias Picker/Marc Bliztstein – “Keys to the City/Piano Concerto” (1988)
3. Christopher Galitas – “The Mystery of Do-Re-Mi” (2008)
4. Russell Means – “Electric Warrior” (1993)
5. “Andy Warhol from Tapes” – book with CD from the inaugural show at The Warhol Museum (1994)
6. Paul Anka -“Amigos” (1996)
7. Paul Anka & Ricky Martin – “Diana” (1996)
8. Paul Anka & Anthea Anka – “Yo Te Amo” (1996)
9. Karl-Aage Rasmussen – “Three Friends” (1998),
the list goes on and on… (I have compiled a better list in another Recordart post. Check that out if you are interested.

My final conclusion
Serious collectors of Andy Warhol’s record cover art were certainly hoping for great things from this second edition of Paul Maréchal’s seminal book. However, I think Prestel must have pressured Paul Maréchal to keep the new edition cheap by reusing all the pages from the first edition and only allowing the addition of the “New Discoveries”. I am sorry for him that this opportunity to make a really superb second edition was thwarted. I am sure he would have liked to have been able to do a better job. Maybe he will do it some day.

Andy Warhol’s record covers in books and magazines.

Books in my library which reference Andy Warhol’s record cover art (not in the order I acquired them):

  • 1940 – Weinstock, Herbert & Chavez, Carlos (introduction) – “Mexican Music”. Museum of Modern Art, New York. pp 32.
  • 1981 – Boström, Hans-Olof & Sörensen Jens-Erik (eds) “Skivomslag” – Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. pp 133.
  • 1989 – Warhol, Andy – “Play Book of You S Bruce From 2:30 – 4:00. Editions Auerbach. pp 50.
  • 2003 – de Ville, Nick – “Album – Style and Image in Sleeve Design”, Mitchell Beazley, 2003, pp 256.
  • 2006 – Bluttal, Steven; Goldsmith, Kenneth – “Andy Warhol – Giant Size”, Phaidon Press, 2006, pp 624.
  • 2007 – Hermann, Eva-Meyer – “Andy Warhol: A Guide to 706 Items in 2 Hours 56 Minutes” – Moderna Museet, Stockholm. pp 256.
  • 2007 – Rose, Aaron; Deho, Valerio; Husslein, Uwe; de Luca, Fabio. – “Sound Zero” – Damiani. pp 200.
  • 2008 – Forrest, Richard -“Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol” – Exhibition catalogue . Piteå Museum.
  • 2008 – Maréchal, Paul – “Andy Warhol: The Record Covers, 1949-1987. Catalogue Raisonné” –  Prestel. pp 236.
  • 2008 – Forrest, Richard – “His Art on His Sleeve” – Record Collector, December 2008.
  • 2011 – Martinelli, Bianca – “Andy Warhol Music Show”. Castelvecchi, pp 256 (in Italian).

There were two record shops selling albums imported from America in central London from the late sixties on; One Stop Records in South Moulton Street and Musicland in Berwick Street. Well, it all started for me in the summer of ’67 when I went into One Stop Records – behind HMV’s Oxford Street store. I was a regular visitor there but never did learn the names of the extremely knowledgeable guys who worked there. They sort of knew me as a regular customer, and one summer’s day showed me an album with a banana on the cover. The album was by a band I’d never heard of apparently (according to the record cover) called Andy Warhol. I was corrected that the band was The Velvet Underground & Nico and that the record was something completely psychedelic. So I bought it. My copy was, I was to find out much later, a second pressing – with Eric Emerson’s features on the rear cover airbrushed out. I really did not enjoy the music at first, it was way too jangly and difficult and I was definitely not enamoured of the druggy sound. The next year I was given a US import copy of The Velvet’s album “White Light/White Heat” with the skull cover.

Fast forward four years to April 1971. The pre-release hype for The Rolling Stones’ new album, Sticky Fingers – the first to be released on their own Rolling Stones label – made me dash down to Musicland in Berwick Street to buy a copy in the first week after it was released. The cover, with its working zip, was revolutionary. So, I had three records with cover art by Andy Warhol. In 1971 the Tate Gallery (now The Tate Britain) had an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s art. My particular memory of this retrospective is the Flowers paintings, which I fell in love with.

SkivOmslag_katalog_fr

I moved to Sweden in the autumn of 1971. Ten years later in October 1981, Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum hosted an exhibition of record cover art, entitled simply “Skivomslag” (Record Covers). The exhibition had been put together by Aarhus kunstmuseum and included (assuming I have counted correctly) 717 covers. In the exhibition catalogue, Bo Nilsson wrote what I read as the first description of Warhol’s record cover art and his essay included pictures of seven covers; two by Kenny Burrell, Johnny Griffin’s “The Congregation”, The Velvet Underground & Nico (in colour) and The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live”. Nilsson also mentions “The Nation’s Nightmare” and the Count Basie album, which he says was entitled “Portrait”. Those were, apparently, all the covers known to be by Warhol at that time. There is an alternative catalogue entitled “Ytans innehåll” (approximately: The surface’s content), with a similar “banana” cover but with the banana’s stem peeled bact to reveal the top of the pink banana beneath. I have the exhibition poster beautifully autographed by Warhol.

On Father’s Day (in Sweden, celebrated in November) the following year (1982) I was given a copy of Diana Ross’ LP “Silk Electric” with it’s Warhol cover. My fourth Warhol cover. Now I had a collection! From then on I decided I would collect every record cover with Andy Warhol’s art. After all, I did not think it would be too difficult – there could not be too many – or so I thought.

There were several more records with cover art by Andy Warhol released in the 1980s, Paul Anka’s “The Painter”, Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha”, John Lennon’s “Menlove Ave” and it was easy to collect these. I even managed to collect all four colour variations of Debbie Harry’s “Rockbird” album, thinking that it had been designed by Warhol. I assumed that the photo of Debbie was one of those Warhol had taken for his Interview magazine. It was only much later that I found out the photo was by Canadian couple “Guzman” (Constance Hansen & Russell Peacock) and that the cover was really designed by Stephen Sprouse.

The advent of the Internet made searching for record covers easy: no more dragging round secondhand record shops in the hope of finding the odd cover I needed. I soon found out that there were many covers designed or illustrated by Warhol from before The Velvet Underground & Nico album. By about 2005 I had found the Kenny Burrell and Johnny Griffin albums with Warhol’s drawings as well as the “Cool Gabriels” LP. Somehow I got to know Guy Minnebach via the ‘Net. He tipped me off on a number of covers such as the Smetterling recording of Chopin’s Nocturnes, Carlos Chavez’s “A Program of Mexican Music”, “Alexander Nevsky” and even sold me his duplicates of “The Nation’s Nightmare”, “WIlliam Tell Overture” 10″ LP. Guy also told me about Klaus Gier’s 2001 German thesis entitled “Andy Warhol’s Record- und Cover Design. I managed to get a copy in May 2008. The covers pictured in the thesis came from collector Klaus Knop’s collection, which included a copy of “Giant Size $1.57 Each” numbered 21/75 pictured on the book’s front and rear cover.

The next book I bought was the giant 320 x 420 x 55 mm “Andy Warhol: Giant Size” published by Phaidon in January 2006. This was the first book that I had come across that included some record covers in a review of Warhol’s art. The book’s title, while confirming the original editions huge dimensions, it also alludes to Warhol’s famous 1963 record cover “Giant Size $1.57 Each”. There was, of course, a picture of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” and also Nico’s “Chelsea Girl” cover and the Count Basie cover.

Andy Warhol's Giant Size, published in a giant format.
Andy Warhol’s Giant Size, published in a giant format.

Though originally published in 2003, I did not buy Nick de Ville’s beautifully researched, large format book “Album – Style and Image in Sleeve Design” until February 2007. Nick de Ville is, of course, a famous cover designer having been involved in designing many of Roxy Music’s covers. His is one of the best books to document great record cover design in a chronological manner, from the beginnings of record production via Alex Steinweiss and his protegé Jim Flora up to the 1990s with a double spread devoted to Andy Warhol. The Left hand page shows “The Velvet Underground & Nico” almost full size while smaller pictures on the right hand page show Kenny Burrell’s “Kenny Burrell”, John Lennon’s “Menlove Ave”, The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” and Diana Ross’ “Silk Electric”. De Ville also mentions Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha, Paul Anka’s “The Painter” and the Stones’ “Love You Live” but seems unaware of Warhol’s record covers from before the “The Velvet Underground & Nico” cover.

The catalogue from Moderna Museet's exhibition "Andy Warhol: 706 Items in 2 Hours 56 Minutes".
The catalogue from Moderna Museet’s exhibition “Andy Warhol: 706 Items in 2 Hours 56 Minutes”.

Stockholm’s Moderna Museet hosted the Warhol retrospective that I had seen at The Haywood Gallery in London in May 2008 and I bought the catalogue “Andy Warhol – A Guide to 706 Items in 2 Hours 56 Minutes”. If I remember correctly, there were 26 album covers shown at the exhibition and the catalogue shows twelve of them. By that time I already had more than twenty six in my collection!

From 1999, I had been associated with the Piteå Dansar & Ler city festival held on the last weekend of July each year. Jan Wimander, for a time the festival’s CEO, and I had discussed putting on an “art exhibition” to broaden the festival’s appeal. Jan knew about my collection of Warhol covers and we discussed showing them at Piteå’s museum, which happened to be just outside the festival area. So, we planned to put on the exhibition to coincide with 2008’s festival. There were several important covers that I did not have to make the list of covers complete and I explained the project to Guy. He was reticent at first, as he had been told of the upcoming “Warhol Live!” exhibition to open in Montreal, Canada, in October 2008. But he agreed to help Jan and me and sent several rare covers to me to be photographed for inclusion in our exhibition. I wrote a catalogue text and catalogues were printed. The exhibition was to run from 23rd July to 31st August 2008. Andy Warhol’s birthday was 6th August and in 2008 he would have been 80, so the exhibition was called “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” Guy Minnebach not only lent me the missing covers, but came to help with the hanging of the covers and to be at the exhibition’s opening.

After the festival I rewrote the catalogue and submitted an article to Record Collector Magazine which was to be published in the December number. However, a month after the “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition closed, a friend told me about a Swedish band called RATFAB (Roland and the Flying Albatross Band) that had had a single released with cover art by Andy Warhol! A sensation! I found two copies quite quickly and sent one to Guy as a “thank you” for his help with the exhibition. I managed to add the cover to the Record Collector article – and the news was out. Early in 2009 I managed to find a third copy but the price had already escalated. This I donated to The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Later, Matt Wrbican, Chief Archivist at the museum wanted a copy of the “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition catalogue, which I also sent.

Paul Maréchal had published his catalogue raisonné of Andy Warhol’s record covers to coincide with the “Warhol Live!” exhibiiton at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts which ran from 25th September 2008 to 18th January 2009.

Paul Maréchal's book "Andy Warhol - The Record Covers"
Paul Maréchal’s book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers”

Maréchal’s book was a watershed. Although I had a good overview of Warhol’s known record covers, Maréchal had discovered at least one that no one else had seen. He included the promotional box set “Night Beat” – a recording of a pilot radio show about the nighttime activities of a fictitious Chicago reporter. But the RATFAB cover was not included as I had not found out about it until after the book was published. So, there were obviously more Warhol covers yet to be identified.

About this time I found another book that pictured twenty six of Andy Warhol’s record covers. This was Valerio Deho’s “Sound Zero”, from 2007, which had a 3-D picture of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” cover on its front. View the book full on and you see the cover picture with the banana skin on; hold it at an angle and you see the peeled banana! This book was the catalogue of an exhibition held in Merano, Italy, between 9th September 2006 and 7th January 2007 entitled “Art and Music from Pop to Street Art”. The exhibition included Klaus Knop’s collection of Warhol covers (the same collection that Klaus Gier had access to when writing his thesis) as well as a great selection of psychedelic posters from San Fransisco and some street art (though no Banksy).

Sometime around 2006 I bought a copy of a recording of a “Program of Mexican Music” on a 10 inch LP from 1949 illustrated by Andy Warhol. Fellow Warhol Cover Collectors Club member Niklas Lindberg had found a booklet published by the Museum of Modern Art in New York where the concert  was held to coincide with an exhibition of “Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art”. The booklet provided an introduction to the works played at the concerts and, surprisingly when considering that it was published in 1940, was easy to find on Amazon and very cheap. So I decided to buy a copy. On page thirteen, was a picture of Aztec musicians playing traditional instruments that had been drawn in the Spanish conquistadors’ Codex Florentinus. Warhol must have used this picture as the basis for his record cover illustration.

Fellow Warhol Cover Collectors Club members Niklas Lindberg and Guy Minnebach tipped me off about an Italian book purporting to be “La prima “discografia” illustrata dedicata al genio della Pop Art” (the first illustrated discography of dedicated to the genius of Pop Art, my translation) by Bianca Martinelli. This book contains photos of Warhol’s covers, many of which are take from Paul Maréchal’s book. It also contains many errors. How does The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” come to be included. I suppose one could excuse the inclusion of Grant Green’s “Matador” cover, as it DOES look like a Warhol blotted line drawing, but it is by Japanese artists Tanaka and Fujiyama. And Martinelli thinks the “Night Beat” box is by Sam Cooke (admittedly, Sam Cooke DID release an album called “Night Beat”, but it WAS NOT this one)! She also suggests that “The Nation’s Nightmare” came in two colour variations, one brown and one grey. The grey cover is probably only a bleached version of the original brown.

The Museum of Modern Art's booklet "Mexican Music" published to accompany the concerts held there in May 1940.
The Museum of Modern Art’s booklet “Mexican Music” published to accompany the concerts held there in May 1940.

The most recent Warhol cover that I picked up is an unusual CD released in Japan in 1996. It is a double CD with two Mozart recordings on one CD and Mahler’s 5th Symphony on the other. The cover illustration, also printed on each CD, is of an ear, several arrows pointing to the ear and the single word “ear” in Warhol’s handstyle. Guy Minnebach immediately recognised the drawing as coming from a book drawn by Warhol in the 1950s entitled “Play Book of You S Bruce 2:30 – 4:00”. This was a drawing block which Warhol drew at Steven Bruce’s cafe/restaurant Serendipity III in New York, which Warhol often visited. One afternoon he filled his drawing block with portraits of Bruce, the iceman who happened to make a delivery while Andy was there and various features of Bruce’s anatomy, including one ear. The drawing lock had been sold at Sotheby’s for £111000 in 2008 and the drawings had been shown in an exhibition in Germany in 1989 and a book published with all the drawings to accompany the exhibition.

"Play Book of You S Bruce 2:30 to 4:00". Edition Auerbach 1989.
“Play Book of You S Bruce 2:30 – 4:00”. Edition Auerbach 1989.
Drawing of Steven Bruce's ear in "Play Book of You S Bruce 2:30 -  4:00".
Drawing of Steven Bruce’s ear in “Play Book of You S Bruce 2:30 – 4:00”.

Rainer Crone’s Warhol Catalogue Raisonné – If I were a rich man, diddle diddle dum dum…

I’m not the jealous type. I really don’t need any more stuff. But sometimes when I’m doing some Ebay searches I come across something that arouses desire within my normally cool and collected breast. This time I was looking through some books by the art critic Rainer Crone as a friend had expressed an interest in his book of Andy Warhol’s  early art, entitled “A Picture Show by the Artist – Early Works 1942-1962”.

There are several copies for sale (for example http://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-EARLY-WORK-1942-1962-of-Andy-Warhol-1987-1st-1st-HCDJ-Rainer-Crone-/301174098703?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item461f600b0f) for not too outrageous prices, but what caught my eye was a copy of Crone’s other Andy Warhol book “Andy Warhol – Catalogue Raisonné” from 1970 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/SIGNED-ANDY-WARHOL-RAINER-CRONE-CATALOGUE-RAISONNE-1970-1ST-ENGLISH-ED-/201050857021?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item2ecf909e3d) with a price tag of $4,500. Now I’ve seen nice copies of this book go for some hundreds of dollars, and I think I bought a copy (without its dust jacket) for around $50, but I’ve never seen one at that price. So, obviously, further investigation was called for. Then I noticed the “signed” in the listing title and I wanted to see what the signature looked like – I mean there are loads of fake autographs out there.

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Imagine my surprise – and excitement – to see that the book was not only signed but dedicated – and to ME! Well, not actually to ME but to my namesake. “Thou shalt not covet…” says the Commandment. But, i’m sorry ti have to admit that I do. I wonder if the seller would accept an offer of $45.00?