I had heard of Robert del Naja in my research into the roots of Banksy‘s art and learnt that del Naja–alias 3D–was a leading figure in Bristolian street art long before Banksy started decorating Bristol’s streets. Banksy has acknowledged 3D as a major influence. I knew also that del Naja was a member of Massive Attack. Del Naja has even been suspected of actually being Banksy. despite Banksy‘s ex-agent Steve Lazarides stating that he had seen Banksy at a Massive Attack gig.
I got hold of Robert del Naja‘s book “3D and the Art of Massive Attack” last autumn and wrote a post about it last October. A couple of months ago I bought a copy of Massive Attack‘s “Heligoland”–the limited edition version from The Vinyl Factory, with its spangly cover.
I then saw a copy of The Vinyl Factory’s limited edition (1000 copies) of Massive Attack‘s “Atlas Air” 12″ offered together with a copy of Very Nearly Almost (VNA) magazine No. 26 which featured an article on 3D for the amazing sum of £300! And the VNA magazine was the regular version, not the limited edition one. I picked up a copy of VNA no. 26 for the princely sum of £15!
and decided that I would try to get the “Atlas Air” and “Splitting the Atom” 12″-ers too. I was lucky enough to find a seller in Germany who could supply both! They arrived a couple of days ago and I’m really pleased I got them. The cover art is magnificent.
The limited edition of “Atlas Air”. My copy is No. 085/1000.
The limited edition of “Splitting the Atom”. My copy is No. 576/1000.
I decided that I would buy the limited edition of “3D and the Art of Massive Attack“, too. Said and done! My copy was number 149/350 and includes a print by 3D (from a run of 1325 copies, an expanded version of the ordinary book called “Protection” and, not least a single sided 12″ entitled “Vermona“–which is only available in this box set.
The cover of the book of 3D‘s art and the print (on hardboard) and the “Vermona” single sided 12″ with 3D‘s etching on the reverse.
I’m waiting for the remastered reissue of “Mezzanine“, Massive Attack‘s magnificent 1998 album. A special 3 LP version with coloured vinyl will be released in late January 2019 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The stag beetle cover photo is by Nick Knight and the remastered vinyl package will come in a heat-sensitive box with more photos by Knight and 3D.
You already know that I am inordinately proud of my collection of records and CDs with cover art by the artist known as Banksy. Many of the vinyl releases with Banksy‘s cover art, particularly the “unofficial” ones, were released as limited editions. Dirty Funker (just one of DJ Paul Glancy‘s aliases) released two remixes as 12-inch singles with cover art by Banksy: “Let’s Get Dirty“, from 2006, appropriated Banksy‘s famous Kate Moss portrait, and “Future“, released in 2008, featured Banksy‘s “Radar Rat” design (in five different limited edition covers, probably each of 1000 copies).
a. Front of first pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
b. Back of first pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
There were two editions of the “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-incher, both limited–the first edition, which showed only Banksy‘s Kate Moss portrait with no artist, title or tracklisting, or even a barcode. The front image showed Kate‘s head against a red background, while on the rear cover she had a pale green background. This edition must have been significantly more limited than the second edition which showed Kate‘s portrait with a Dymo strip over her eyes on the front cover giving the artist and record’s title. On the rear the strip was placed over Kate‘s mouth giving the tracklisting.
a. Front of second pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
b. back of second pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
This week a printer’s proof of the first edition “Let’s Get Dirty” cover was advertised on Ebay. The seller had bought it in 2007 and now was sadly selling it. He thought there might have been about ten copies printed in 2006 (the print is dated 18th January 2006) and makes an interesting addition to both my Banksy and my collection of record and CD covers featuring Kate Moss.
I have an almost complete collection of records and CDs with cover art by the enigmatic Banksy. I started collecting Banksy cover in 2008, when prices were usually very reasonable–with many records costing as little as £6.99. A few rarer items cost up to £100. The only exceptions were the two covers ostensibly sprayed by Banksy himself. These are the 1999 12″ promotional single “Four (4 x 3)” by the Capoiera Twins and the promotional double LP “Melody A.M.” by Röyksopp. In July 2010 I was contacted by a DJ who was getting married and offered me his copy of the Röyksopp album, which I, naturally, snapped up. By 2016 I had almost all the records and CDs with Banksy cover art with the exception of the original Paris Hilton CD (the one with the sticker on the outside of the front of the jewel case), and the Capoeira Twins 12″.
When, in April 2016, I was invited to show my collection in the major Banksy retrospective “War, Capitalism & Liberty” at Rome’s Palazzo Cipolla, these missing covers irked me. I had made a limited edition copy of the Capoiera Twins cover–almost indistinguishable from the real thing–and that would fill one of the gaps. Suddenly two copies of the first pressing of the Paris Hilton CD appeared on Ebay and I was lucky enough to get one in time for it to travel to Rome with the rest of my collection.
I have been looking for a copy of the Capoiera Twins’ 12″ ever since I first heard about it in 2008 without success. I missed a couple of copies early on, but then no further copies seemed to turn up other than in art galleries at inflated prices, until August 2017.
The stencil used for the cover art was also used on a wall in Bristol–I presume after it had been used for the record covers–at Portland Square (post code BS2 8SA).
According to a seller of a copy of the record, Banksy gave 25 copies of the white label promotional record to friends and supporters, while the remaining 75 copies were sent to DJs and reviewers with no indication of the band name or the record title on the cover or record but with an A4 letter that Blowpop asked to be returned a couple of weeks prior to the release date. The record was a trip hop single that failed to garner much attention when it came out. I suppose the DJs who received copies played them a couple of times and filed them away or–as was common in the nineties and early 00s–sold them to secondhand record shops (one owner owned up to selling his copy in the early 2000s £1,99), or simply chucked them away. And–had it not been for the Banksy cover–would probably never have been heard of again.
A couple came up for sale on Ebay in around 2008 and, if I remember correctly, sold for £400-600. In the last couple of years the prices of vinyl records with Banksy art covers has increased dramatically and suddenly four or five copies of the Capoeira Twins “4 x 3” have been auctioned off for amazing prices of £5000-6000! Another sold in October for a bargain £4223.23. A further two copies appeared in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in November and I snatched one of them, the other selling for £6,500.
There is another hand sprayed Banksy cover that has also increased dramatically in price recently. I refer to Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.” promotional double LP.
Just as I was about to buy my copy of the Capoiera Twins record, a new record with Bnaksy art appeared. This was another white label 12″ single “Funk tha Police” by a band called Boys in Blue that had Banksy’s “Rude Copper” as its cover art. This is said to be a limited edition of 100 copies, so I duly invested.
Thus, as of November 2017, my collection of records and CDs with Banksy art is complete. I’ll have to keep watch for newer covers, of course, but it feels like my job is done here.
It has been my ambition to collect all record covers with Andy Warhol‘s art. Most of the seventies and eighties covers are relatively easy to find and shouldn’t cost the earth (an exception is Ultra Violet‘s eponymous LP from 1973), but the earlier ones, particularly the fifties covers have become increasingly expensive. And the original “Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967) along with many of it’s reissues are becoming increasingly expensive.
I have long searched for decent copies of Moondog‘s “The Story of Moondog“. While copies of the Moondog album do pop up relatively frequently on Ebay, most are in pretty poor condition with severely discoloured covers, but I had the great good fortune to find a near mint copy on Discogs which I bought as a Christmas present to myself.
The other major hole in my collection was John Wallowitch‘s second album for Serenus Records called “This Is (The Other Side of) John Wallowitch“. This album doesn’t come up for sale very often and bidding goes crazy on good copies. A reasonable copy popped up on Ebay in late January and despite having depleted my funds the previous month for the Moondog album, I managed to win it with a not too outrageous bid.
Front and rear covers of “This Is (The Other Side of) John Wallowitch”, 1965.
As can be seen, Wallowitch chose as the rear cover picture to reuse the “photo booth” photos taken by Warhol that were on the front cover of his previous Serenus Records release “This Is John Wallowitch“. It’s sort of ironic that the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, as stated on the front cover, is portrayed on the rear from the chin downwards, so one cannot see any of the thousand faces (actually, there are only 56 photos, or parts of photos on the cover, not thousands).
So now there are two of Warhol’s original covers and one bootleg that I need to complete my collection of Warhol’s record covers. These are the pink version of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky, Cantata Op 78” and the unobtainable “Night Beat” promotional box set that Guy Minnebach wrote about in his Andy Earhole blog (https://warholcoverart.com/2017/03/25/night-beat-rarest-of-the-rare/). Though I do have the facsimile box of the latter.
The remaining bootleg I am still looking for is the limited edition of Keith Richards‘ “Unknown Dreams” (Outsider Bird Records, OBR 93009).
Sergei Prokofiev‘s cantata “Alexander Nevsky, Opus 78” was written in 1938 as the soundtrack to Sergei Eisentein’s film of the same name. “Alexander Nevsky” was Prokofiev’s third film score; the others being “Lieutenant Kije” (1934) and “The Queen of Spades” (1936).
The first American performance took place on 7 March 1943 in an NBC Radio broadcast with Leopold Stokowski conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra and Jennie Tourel (mezzosoprano) as soloist. Eugene Ormandy gave the first concert performance of “Alexander Nevsky” a fortnight later, on 23rd March 1943 with the with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Westminster Choir , and Rosalind Nadell as soloist and in 1945 recorded the work in English for Columbia records with Jennie Tourel as soloist. The recording was forst released as a a 78 RPM album with cover art by Alex Steinweiss.
When Columbia Records introduced the 33 1/3 RPM long playing album in 1948 many of the old 78 RPM recordings were released in the new format. Alex Steinweiss, Art Director at Columbia, had not only designed the cover structure for the LP . The very first Columbia LP covers used a generic design based on the simplified capital of a Corinthian column.
Steinweiss‘ next development was a new basic design layout with space for an illustration.
Then his layout evolved with large blocks of colour on the front over which the record’s title and other information were printed. He also provided space for an illustration. These covers were introduced in 1949 and Steinweiss, who by this time was inundated with work, commissioned outside artists to provide the illustrations. These included the young Andrew Warhol as well as Jim Flora, and less well known artists such as Darryll Connoly. The 1949 re-issue of Ormandy‘s recording of “Alexander Nevsky” used this cover variation.
Andrew Warhola had graduated from the Pittsburgh College of Art and moved to New York to start work as a commercial artist. He contacted record companies trying to get commissions. Columbia Records was one he contacted. Steinweiss gave the young artist three commissions. The “Alexander Nevsky” was the second after Warhol‘s illustration for the re-issue of Columbia’s record “A Program of Mexican Music” by Carlos Chavez. Ten years had passed since Eisenstein‘s film was made but it was probable that Warhol saw the film at some stage. Guy Minnebach suggests that the his drawing was probably made from a film still.
The first pressing–identifiable by the dark blue label “Columbia Masterworks” labels on the record itself and the fact that the front cover slick was pasted onto the front of the cover, that folded over onto the rear and included the information on the spine.
this first issue’s cover appeared in two shades of blue: the most common is a shade of pale
blue, but there is also a darker turquoise variation.
Sometime later, in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Columbia re-released this album.By this time the method of manufacturing LP covers had changed and the rear slick was pasted on first and overlapped the edges of the front cover and the spine text was now printed on the rear slick. Front slicks were then pasted onto the front, leaving a small margin of visible rear slick.
At least three different colour variations of This re-issue’s records had the modernised Columbia Records labels, known as the “six-eye” label because of the six Columbia logos at three and nine o’clock.
Three colour variations of the front cover art were produced over the years. I don’t know if this was intentional or due to the printers’ own decisions. There were green, orange and pink covers.
I had hoped to be able to picture my own pink copy, but I haven’t managed to find one yet. This picture is from a recent Ebay sale that I bid on, but failed to win.
I only found my copy of the turquoise cover in early January 2017 and thought at first sight that it was one of the later green covers, though with the record with the dark blue label. I had to compare them to see the difference.
The picture shows the green cover on the left and the turquoise cover on the right. The difference is obvious, even without being able to see the difference in the way the covers are constructed.
I don’t know anything about the band called Skyline, but they released a 12″, 5-track bootleg album in 1978 on the Four Stars label (catalogue No. FS001) with a cover picture of Manhattan. On the rear of the cover the photo was credited to “A. Warhol.”
The album had totally impossible credits beside the “Warhol” cover credit. The musicians were listed as Johnny Thunders (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Lonnie Davis (Keyboards), Peter Ford (Drums, Percussion) and Charles La Croix (Bass, Keyboards, Vocals). However, the album became a kind of underground disco hit and was re-issued with a different cover.
A few years ago Guy Minnebach, who has an encyclopaedic memory about Andy Warhol‘s art, and Raimund Flöck recognised the cover photo of Susanne de Maria as being from one of Andy Warhol‘s 1964 screen tests and is published in a book of them. And since then this version of the record has been in demand not only by fans of the disco music but now also by collectors of Andy Warhol‘s record cover art. Interestingly, the original bootleg lacked the photo credit to A. Warhol on the rear. I have been looking for a copy for my collection and saw one recently on Ebay on which I bid unsuccessfully. However, I noticed in the photos on Ebay that the cover had the “Photo by A. Warhol” credit on the rear cover and also included a photo of Susanna de Maria (note the correct spelling of Susanna), which sparked my curiosity..
About a month later the seller contacted be via a second chance offer and told me he had another copy for sale, and a deal was done. The record duly arrived and I realised this must be a reprint of the original 12″. It is on a different label–Paint the Case Productions–and has no obvious catalogue number. Included in my copy were two photos of Susanna de Maria; one with “No 49” on the rear and the other with “No 49 out of 50” on the back. Could it be that this repressing was limited edition of just 50 copies?
As anyone can see, the image is much less sharp than on the original 1978 pressing (no, it’s not due camera shake). Even the included photos of Susanna are not 100% focused.
Anyway, the album is a nice addition to my collection of Andy Warhol covers. But I suspect I’ll still look for one of the original 1978 pressings.* After a discussion with Guy Minnebach who originally recognised the photo as being from one of Andy Warhol‘s screentests, I conclude that this must be a bootleg of a bootleg! Guy pointed out that bootlegs have previously always been about making music recently an LP version of Paul Anka‘s “Amigos” album appeared. This album was only officially released on CD so the vinyl version seems to be a bootleg only produced for it Warholian cover art. This seems to be the reason for the new pressing of the Skyline album.
*I finally found a copy on 8th August 2017. Hooray!
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.
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”!
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).
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 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.
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.