Tag Archives: design

Vaughan Oliver and Wes Wilson–an Appreciation.

Two record cover and poster designers that have inspired me both in my art and in my collecting have died recently. Vaughan Oliver, famous for his record covers, primarily for 4AD, and posters died on 29th December, 2019 just 62 years old.

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Vaughan Oliver 1957-2019.

And less than a month later on 24th January, 2020, Wes Wilson, legendary San Francisco poster artist died aged 82.

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Wes Wilson 1937-2020.

Flashback–It’s 1967-8 and I’m a medical student at Guy’s Hospital in London. On Saturdays I would walk along Kings Road in Chelsea visiting hip boutiques and girl watching. Somewhere along there I bought some Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom handbills and in a record shop at World’s End bought “The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators” and the band’s second album “Easter Everywhere” (with the lyric sheet included). The handbills cost two shillings to half a crown in those days, which was quite a lot of money (10p/15p in modern parlance by with considerably greater buying power). Eventually I had collected more than forty by the likes of Victor Moscoso (ten), Stanley Mouse (four), Rick Griffin (four) and, of course, Wes Wilson (fourteen).

I was on the entertainments committee (not actually a committee, just some students who wanted to organise parties) at the hospital’s Student’s Union and together with fellow medical student Andrew Batch, painted posters for rave-ups that we called Inflam. My posters were heavily influenced by the psychedelic posters I had found on the Kings Road. We painted four copies of each poster to hang on the various notice boards around the Hospital and they attracted quite a lot of attention. I offered one to the shop Gear on Carnaby Street, which they we willing to buy for £25, but I thought that was too cheap, so I (idiot) refused the offer.

I still have my handbills, all 41 of them.

I did actually qualify despite my partying and actually practiced as a doctor doing my various junior posts in London and Norwich, all the while collecting records and posters. many of which I ripped from walls around London. Records with great cover art predominated even if there were many soul records. I had first editions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Their Satanic Majesties Request, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Country Joe & The Fish, Doors and Neil Young records and even bought Velvet Underground & Nico and White Light/White Heat.

Fast forward to the eighties. I discovered Victorialand, a Cocteau Twins album with cover art by 23 Envelope and thereby discovered 4AD records and began an almost obsessional race to collect album covers by Vaughan Oliver and 23 Envelope (Oliver‘s cooperation with Nigel Grierson) and v23 (his collaboration with Chris Bigg and others). I collected posters, calenders, 4AD catalogues and even had a little brass 4AD pin (I wonder what happened to that?) In the end my Vaughan Oliver collection included all the 4AD rarities, including the wooden box version of Lonely Is an Eyesore. My 4AD records went when I had to sell my collection, but I still have the first cover Vaughan designed for the company — the  of Modern English‘s Gathering Dust seven-inch single.

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Vaughan Oliver’s first cover design for 4AD records. Modern English Gathering Dust.

I bought a folder of fifteen 23 Envelope posters for £9.99 that I still have and also bought the softback This Rimy River (which went with my record collection), however I still have the limited edition of This Rimy River (No 65 of 400) which I took with me to v23‘s office/studio in November 2001 and got Vaughan to autograph it for me. He also signed Rick Poyner‘s book Vaughan Oliver: Visceral Pleasures, and the lid of of my Lonely Is an Eyesore box I arrived at v23 at around 11 a.m. and introduced myself and started chatting about my collection. Suddenly it was lunchtime and Vaughan and Chris Bigg suddenly remembered they had an appointment at 4AD to re-negotiate their contract. So the suggested I look through their poster archive and then pop round the corner for some lunch and they’d come back after their meeting. Vaughan let me take a selection of posters from the archive as a souvenir of my visit.

 

 

 

I am deeply grateful to both these artists for the inspiration their work has given me.

Banksy, Blake, Voormann Additions to My Collection.

Here I go again! I regularly boast that I have complete collections of Banksy’s, Peter Blake’s and Klaus Voormann’s record covers (well, I usually admit to lacking one Klaus Voormann cover, but still) only to find out that none of these boasts is true.

I recently found the cover to an unreleased 7″ single version of DJ DangerMouse’s “Keep It Real” cover (you can read about it in an earlier blog post). Now it seems there are a couple of other Banksy covers that I had previously never heard of. I’m not going to say more at the moment, but you can be sure that I shall return to this subject in due time.

My blog posts on the latest record cover art by Peter Blake have only mentioned the various vinyl, CD and cassette versions of The Who’s latest album “WHO“. I had bought two limited edition issues of the album: the 45 rpm double LP version with extra single-sided 10” single “Sand” sold via The Who Store and the HMV “Nipper1” double LP. A mate in Liverpool popped in to see Sir Peter while on a recent visit to London and got him to sign both the 45 rpm and HMV covers for me as well as a copy of the reissued “Stanley Road” album (signed previously by Paul Weller himself.)

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Then I saw an ad for Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s 2018 book and CD “The Luckiest Guy Alive” whith its cover portrait of Cooper Clarke by Peter Blake and Blake’s classic alphabet tiles for the album title and artist’s name.

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The cover of John Cooper Clarke’s CD “The Luckiest Guy Alive”.

So, naturally, I ordered a copy of the book and CD. I wonder if my Peter Blake collection is complete now?

Then I saw an ad for The Blues Band’s album “Itchy Feet” that stated that the cover was designed by Klaus Voormann. I immediately went through my Klaus Voormann collection only to find that I had missed this album (though I had bought the other two Blues Band albums when they came out, and even seen the band live.)

fullsizeoutput_6569While going through the Voormann albums, I noticed that my copy of Gary Wright’s “Extractions” LP was in less than mint condition. It is a U.S. promo copy with a large cut-out hole through the top right corner of the cover, so I looked on Discogs for a better copy and saw that the U.K. original was released in a six panel poster cover that I had never seen.

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The six-panel poster cover for Gary Wright’s “Extractions” LP.

So I ordered both the “Itchy Feet” and the “Extractions” records to “complete” my Klaus Voormann collection even though I’m still missing at least one of his covers. I was lucky that the “Itchy Feet” LP was one of the limited edition pressings that included the large poster of the band in action.

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The poster from the “Itchy Feet” album.

I have to say that I feel I’m nearer to having complete collections of these three cover artists. I’ll just have to keep a lookout to see if I find further missing covers.

 

A New Andy Warhol Record Cover

From March 31st to September 8th, 2019, Moderna Museet in Malmö showed a major part of my collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art advertised as the first time a complete selection of Warhol’s cover art production was on show. At a forum on record cover art at the Museum on 31st August, 2019, I suggested that we do not actually know if the sixty-eight covers on show are really all the covers produced during Warhol’s lifetime. I noted that new discoveries were still being made–coincidentally, often soon after and exhibition closed. And so it has turned out again!

Warhol expert and collector extraordinary, Guy Minnebach, recently visited The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and did some further research through Warhol’s letters and invoices collected at the Museum [https://warholcoverart.com/2019/10/13/the-bossa-nova-cover-no-one-knew-was-a-warhol-paul-desmonds-take-ten/]. he turned up an order from RCA Records dated May 1st, 1962 for cover art for an album with catalogue number LPM/LSP 2598. An invoice with the same date had a July 6th written on it, suggesting that that was when it was paid.

Guy didn’t recognise this catalogue number among currently identified Warhol covers and quickly discovered that the number belonged to Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.

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The cover of Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.

In the nineteen fifties Andy Warhol designed or illustrated about twenty-eight record covers. By the mid- to late fifties he was one of the highest paid commercial artists in New York, but, surprisingly, only three record sleeves were known to have been produced during the sixties; the “Giant Size $1.57 Each”, the “John Wallowitch” covers, and–of course–the famous “banana” cover for the “Velvet Underground & Nico” album. So the discovery of a further cover released in the sixties is sensational.

This appears to be a silkscreen portrait of Desmond against a coloured background. This possibly could be Warhol’s first silkscreen portrait. He only began making silkscreens in August 1962, so he probably had no idea for the cover when the order arrived. There is a sweet story as to how Warhol hit upon the idea of using silkscreens to “mechanise” his art. In 1961, he met a couple of English teenagers, David and Sarah Dalton, at party and invited them to see his art at his home. The Daltons were regular visitors to The Factory and David would in 1966 co-produce the Aspen Magazine box set together with Warhol.

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The pop art edition of Aspen Magazine produced by David Dalton and Andy Warhol in December 1966.

David Dalton went on to a successful career as a writer. But I digress, When Warhol met the Daltons, David was 16 and his sister Sarah 14. In early 1962 Warhol was experimenting with ways to speed up the process of producing multiple images on a canvas. He tried using stampers made from various materials but found that he could only produce small images by this method. According to one story, Sarah Dalton was visiting the Factory in early 1962 and saw Andy at work and he complained about the problems of reproducing many images quickly. Sarah was attending art classes at the time and suggested to Andy that he should try silkscreening as she had tried the method in her classes. Sarah would be a regular visitor and When Andy had filmed his first major film “Sleep”, he asked Sarah to edit it. Sarah had no previous experience of film editing but took on the challenge. It was the start of her career as a film editor.

Warhol usually used photographs from which to make his drawings and silkscreens. Thus he used a publicity still from Marilyn Monroe’s film “Niagara” for his “Marilyn” portraits, and a photo of hibiscus flowers, taken by photographer Patricia Caulfield as the basis for his “Flowers” paintings and prints. I therefore suspect that he found a photo of Paul Desmond on which to base his cover portrait. I have been searching for the photo, but without success.

Warhol’s cover design was also used by RCA Italy for a slightly different Paul Desmond album called “The Artistry of Paul Desmond” also released in 1963 and containing six of the original eight tracks from “Take Ten” but substituted “The Night Has a Thouand Eyes” and “O Gato” for “El Prince” and “Samba de Orfeu” on the original US release.

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The cover of “The Artistry of Paul Desmond” album.

So, my collection of Andy Warhol covers on show at Moderna Museet in Malmö during the summer of 2019 was incorrectly advertised as being “complete”. The finding of the Paul Desmond album barely one month after the show closed proves the collection to have been incomplete. I wonder how many more Warhol covers will turn up in the future?

 

Cover art for Madonna by Mr. Brainwash.

Street art has become mainstream. Street artists are increasingly in demand as commercial artists and recording artists are turning to these readily identifiable painters for cover art for their recordings. In America, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and  designed record covers in the eighties, and Shepard Fairey, Robert del Naja (aka 3D) and Banksy (the latter two in the UK) produced covers mainly from the nineties onwards.

Covers by Basquiat and Fairey‘s art covers are very collectible and many are currently very expensive as they were produced in limited editions. Vinyl covers with Banksy designs are also rare and command high prices. I was lucky enough to start collecting Banksy’s record cover art relatively early and have managed to collect what I consider to be a complete collection of his record cover art. Thierry Guetta–better known as Mr. Brainwash–is a more recent street artist to design record sleeves. So far I have only been able to identify three such covers; all for Madonna. He designed the cover for her 2009 compilation “Celebration” which was released on vinyl as a 4 LP set in a gatefold cover.

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“Celebration” 4LP cover.
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Rear cover of “Celebration” 4 LP set.

There is also a 12″ EP of “Celebration” remixes.

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The cover of the 12″ EP with remixes.

Then there are a variety of CD releases. The standard double CD uses the same Mr. Brainwash image as the LP set, but there is a slightly different (more anemic) variation also.

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Alternative CD cover art.

And the 12″ picture disc and CD singles hare the same artwork:

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12″ picture disc with Celebration remixes.
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The CD single of “Celebration”

A couple of other records turned up when I searched http://www.discogs.com for other cover art by Mr. Brainwash and I fell for one that I thought probably was by him–Travis Barker‘s “Give the Drummer Some“:

Unfortunately, this cover is NOT by Mr. Brainwash but is by Pushead (aka Brian Schroeder, who, according to Wikipedia, is a graphic designer and record label owner.) More of his designs may be seen here. Skulls seem to be his speciality!

Five Record Covers Signed By Andy Warhol.

I enjoy visiting the A & D Gallery in Chiltern Street, London, on my regular visits to spend time with my aged mother. I enjoyed the banter with my friends, the late Daniel Brant and Helen Clarkson (who now runs the gallery). I learnt a whole lot about pop art, and in particular about Andy Warhol’s art, from these experts. Daniel had sold a couple of signed copies of the Rolling Stones’ “Love You Live” album in previous years and I had told him hat I would be interested in a copy should he ever find another. Three or four years ago he mailed me that he had included copies of “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live” in an auction and I was lucky to be able to by them.

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My signed “Sticky Fingers” LP.

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Late in 2018, I met John Peter Nilsson, from Moderna Museet, in Stockholm during the Warhol 1968 exhibition at the museum in Stockholm. I pointed out that one of the eight Andy Warhol designed record covers on display (by The East Village Other) was NOT designed or illustrated by Warhol. And I mentioned that I had a complete set of Warhol covers. John Peter suggested that, when the exhibition moves to Moderna in Malmö in March 2019, so we agreed on my lending records to the exhibition.

Just prior to collecting the records I came across an autographed copy of Paul Anka’s 1976 album “The Painter” signed by both Andy Warhol and Paul Anka. Apparently, Warhol signed the cover outside The Factory in December 1986, just two moths before he died, and Paul Anka signed it later.
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Most recently I found a copy of Billy Squier’s “Emotions in Motion” album signed by Andy Warhol. Unusually, this is an Italian pressing. The provenance is from a gallery in Rome that bought the album from Anita Pallenberg.

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Billy Squier’s “Emotions in Motion” signed by Andy Warhol.

Apparently, this was signed in for Anita at The Factory in 1985. I’m a little suspicious, however.The signature soesn’t look 100% and I wonder how Anita Pallenberg happened to have her Italian copy of the album with her in New York… Perhaps I’m being too suspicious, though.

But the signed album any Warhol collector really wants is, of course, a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico!

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“The Velvet Underground & Nico” signed by the band and Andy Warhol.

My friend and fellow collector of record cover art, Stefan Thull, decided in October to sell part of his amazing collection and among the records he was prepared to part with was his signed copy of Rats and Star’s “Soul Vacation” album that he sold to me.

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“Soul Vacation” by Rats and Star signed in 1983 in Japan when Andy Warhol met the band.

Peter Liversidge–Exhibition and Record Cover Art.

Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm shows a wide variety of art exhibitions. I saw Turner Prize winner Susan Phillipz “Lost in Space” exhibition there a couple of years ago and I went to see the gallery’s latest exhibition by British artist Peter Liversidge. I hadn’t heard of him before seeing the exhibition. Liversidge’s preferred medium is providing “proposals”–he types suggestions for art happenings on A4 paper on his Olivetti portable typewriter. The proposals range from simple orders to suggestions that are complex and possibly impossible to realise. The exhibition at Bonniers konsthall has 45 of Liversidge’s “proposals” as its starting point. These 45 proposals are neatly framed A4 papers with his suggestions for projects arranged on one wall in three rows of fifteen frames.

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Peter Liversidge’s 45 proposals.

On the floor in front of the frames is a pile of A2 papers each printed with “Let’s take a walk together”. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to take one or more of these posters home. There  is a shelf on the wall opposite the framed proposals with various implements standing on it, each covered in postage stamps. Apparently Liversidge often uses the postal service to send articles to his exhibitions. Bonniers konsthall allows the postman/postwoman to arrange the item that is being delivered on the shelf. Thus the postal service acts as a sort of exhibition curator.

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Peter Liversidge’s posted objects.

One suspects that some objects might possibly get lost in the post. Nobody knows which, if any, don’t make to their destination, adding mystery to the exhibition.The idea of sending repeated missives through the post reminded me immediately of Japanese -American artist On Kawara (1932-2014), who throughout his career sent postcards to friends and institutions with stamped messages. One series stated “I got up at—-o’clock”, and another simply stated “I am still alive”.

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One of On Kawara’s postcards from the “I got up at…” series.

The gallery shows a film of another of Liversidge’s projects. He asked a class at an east London school to make a protest about any subject they felt strongly about. It had to be the children’s project–not one suggested by teachers of adults. The film I saw was a protest about dogs fouling pavements with placards saying things like “clean up after your dog”. This protest was stages at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2014.

Another of Liversidge’s ongoing projects is collecting artifacts that look like faces and one room of the exhibition is devoted to found objects that resemble faces and masks that Liversidge has produced from such objects.

A day or two after I seen the Liversidge exhibition, I got an email about the best record cover designs of 2018 and was surprised when I saw a cover bearing one of Liversidge’s masks among the nominated covers. The album is “Double Negative” by the American band Low (released in September 2018). Liversidge has also designed the cover for the band’s 2015 album “Ones and Sixes”, and it transpires that he has designed at least two other record sleeves: one for High Plains’ album “Cinderland” (2017) and another “Find the Ways” (2017) by Allred & Broderick.

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Low’s “Double Negative” with cover art by Peter Liversidge.

I always find it interesting when “fine” artists design record covers. There’s a long list of them ranging from Sir Peter Blake to Damien Hirst via Andy Warhol. I’m looking forward to seeing all Peter Liversidge’s record covers. I currently have two other covers (in addition to the “Double Negative” cover); Allred & Broderick’s “Find The Ways” and High Plains “Cinderland”.

Additions to My record Cover Art Collection in 2017 – Part Three.

I have already posted the several versions of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” album. I have fallen for the temptation to include albums with cover art that is a pastiche of Warhol’s banana design or designs that influenced Warhol’s designs.

I found six pastiches of the banana cover, including several with removable stickers in various designs.
1. Crue-L Grand Orchestra – Family – 12″ EP – MayDay MayDay Records – 1999.
2. Various Artists – The Velvet Underground & Nico – 12″ LP – Castle Face Records – 2012.
3. Fauré Quartet – Popsongs – 2 x 12″ LP – Deutsche Grammophon – 2009.
4. Bud Benderbe – Slice Slowly & See – 12″ LP – Boo-Hooray Records – 2013.
5. Abwärts – Sonderzug zur endstation – 7″ EP – Virgin – 1990.
6. All You Can Eat / Hickey – Banana Split – Split 7″ EP – Monitor Records – 1995.
The last two of these simply had a printed banana on the covers.

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The Cru-el Grand Orchestra’s 12″ single “Family” with its obviously Warhol-inspired banana ice lolly.
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Castle Face & Friends play the Velvet Underground & Nico album with David Shrigley’s cover art.
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Bud Benderbe’s cover album.

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Abwärts “Sonderzug zur endstation” 7″ single.

Another Warhol pastiche, this time with soup cans:
1. Mindswings – Spiritual High – 12″ EP – Arista – 1990.

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Mindswings “Spiritual High” 12″ EP.

And a cover obviously used by Andy as for the design of the “Progressive Piano” design:
1. Jan August – Plays Songs to Remember – 12″ LP – Mercury – 1955.

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Jan August “Plays Songs to Remember” LP cover.

On the subject of pastiches, I also picked up a wonderful “Sgt Pepper” pastiche by Jun Fukamachi with cover painted by Fumio Tamabuchi:
1. Jun Fukamachi – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 12″ LP – Toshiba – 1977.

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The cover of Jun Fukamachi’s “Sgt. Pepper” album painted by Fumio Tamabuchi.

A while ago I started searching for musicians among winners of the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize and turned up an astonishing number of artists who were also musicians and had released records with their own art on the covers. In 2017 I could include record cover by two of them–Suzan Philipsz and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Susan Philipsz:
Susan Philipsz – Ziggy Stardust – Limited edition Digipak CD (500 copies)
Susan Philipsz – Stay With Me – Book / catalogue with CD
Susan Philipsz – Lost in Space –  Limited edition picture disc LP in box set (300 copies)
Susan Philipsz – There Is Nothing Left Here – Limited edition LP

In February I had the good fortune to meet Susan Philipsz at the opening of her “Lost in Space” exhibition at the Bonnier Gallery in Stockholm. She kindly signed the copy of her “Ziggy Stardust” CD and the book/catalogue from her “Stay With Me” exhibition from Malmö’s Konsthall. There was a catalogue introducing the “Lost in Space” exhibition and a limited edition box set of 300 copies that includes a 12″ picture disc of the performance. However, the box set was not available until a couple of months after the opening, so I didn’t get that signed… After considerable searching, I found the catalogue and LP from Philipsz’s 2008 “There Is Nothing Left Here” exhibition at the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporaneo in San Sebastian de Compostela.

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Susan Philipsz’ “Ziggy Stardust” CD autographed by her.

Wolfgang Tillmans was another Turner Prize winner who’s records I found:
1. Wolfgang Tillmans – Here We Are – 12″ EP –  Fragile – 2016.
2. Wolfgang Tillmans – 2016–1986 EP – 12″ EP –  Fragile – 2016.
3. Wolfgang Tillmans – Device Control – 12″ EP –  Fragile – 2016.

There were diverse other covers: A limited edition LP by Gilbert & George, entitled “The Thoughts of Gilbert & George” released by MoMa:

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“The Thoughts of Gilbert & George” LP cover.

A Record Store Day soundtrack double LP release called “Ciao! Manhattan” with a cover drawing of Edie Sedgwick:

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Soundtrack LP “Edie Sedgwick: Ciao! Manhattan” has the same image as The Cult’s single “Ciao Edie”.

Having lived in Luleå, in the north of Sweden for more years than I can remember, I am acquainted with Karin “Mamma” Andersson’s art. Mattias Alkberg, poet and rocker, used her art on a 7″ single and a limite edition 12″ EP and I discovered that Beck had used her paintings to illustrate three limited edition 12″ singles, available only through his website.
1. Beck – Gimme – 2 x 12″ EP – Fonograf records – 2013.
1. Beck – Defriended – 12″ EP – Fonograf records – 2013.
1. Beck – I Won’t Be Long – 12″ EP – Fonograf records – 2013.

In my music festival days, I got to know singer Henrik Berggren, formerly front man of the now defunct Broder Daniel. Henrik released his first solo album “Wolf’s Heart” after many year’s absence from the music scene. The standard album was released on black vinyl, but six record stores each had limited editions of 300 copies on coloured vinyl. There were yellow, light blue, violet, red, clear and pink vinyl issues. Being totally obsessive I bought copies in each colour.

Well, that sums 2017 up. A record year and the last time I will be publishing a list like this, My collections are so near complete as I can make them. So I feel it’s time to stop. I will try to keep the collections up to date if, and when, any of the artists I collect release new cover art.