The idea for this post came a couple of days ago when I discovered a “new” (well, new to me, anyway) cover for the Strokes’ 2020 album The New Abnormal (RCA Records), designed by Tina Ibanez that uses part of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1981 painting Bird on Money.
Here’s the complete painting: a tribute to Charlie “Bird” Parker.
Now I have a couple of record covers designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat — hos famous Beat Bop for Rammelzee vs K-Rob and the Offs First Record, and these were actually designed by Basquiat. I also have a 2020 reissue of Beat Bop and this is still a “genuine” Basquiat cover. However, can I accept Tina Ibanez’s use of the Bird on Money detail as a Basquiat cover? After all, there’s no offical acknowledgement that Basquiat’s estate had sanctioned the use of the painting.
Looking through my cover art collection these are other covers that are of doubtful provenance. There are a lot of covers on vinyl records and CDs that use Banksy’s art without the artist’s authorization — perhaps more than are actually approved! The last record cover with approved Banksy artwork appears to have been released as long ago as 2007 was Danger Mouse’s From Man to Mouse LP (not on label) that I assume was authorised as the artwork is credited on the back cover to Banksy.
There is also one Peter Blake cover that I’m not sure Peter Blake even knows about. I’ve tried to ask him a couple times but without success. It’s the cover to the Fall’s I’m Frank promotional 12″ (Fontana Records).
This was released in 1990 when Blake’s painting Nadia was in private ago. It was donated to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995 and no one currently at the School knows of it being used on this cover. It’s my guess that Peter Blake doesn’t know either.
In 1986, Debbie Harry released her second album, Rockbird (Geffen Records, 1986), and the cover is generally ascribed to Andy Warhol. However, he didn’t design it; Stephen Sprouse was responsible. The photogrpah of Debbie Harry was taken by the Canadian photographer couple Guzman, not Warhol. However, Sprouse asked Warhol for permission to use his Camouflage pattern as the backdrop. There are four colour variations of the Rockbird cover.
Another cover often included among Warhol’s sleeves is the East Village Other’s Electric Newspaper (ESP Records, 1966). This cover was not by Warhol and his only involvement is the inclusion of his track Silence on the record itself. Other trsck were by Warhol associates Gerard Malanga and Ingrid Superstar but the cover was by East Village Other founder Walter Bowart.
Andy Warhol’s input on the design of Moondog’s The Story of Moondog album (Presige Records, 1957) was limited. The design calligraphy was dione by his mother Julia and Andy only clipped the text to fit the cover frame.
The cover of Thelonious Monk’s 1957 album Monk (Presige Records) was designed by Reid Miles with calligraphy again by Julia Warhola, but the cover is still considered a “Warhol cover”.
The fourth “Warhol cover” not designed by Warhol is the Ultra Violet LP from 1973 (Capitol Records). The front cver photo of Superstar Ultra VIolet (real name Isabelle Collin Dufresne) was taken by photographer Lee Kraft but she icluded a picture of a Polaroid portrait taken by and autographed by Warhol.
And finally there is Loredana Berté’s album Made in Italy CDG Records, 1981). Berté became friends with Warhol and is said to have made him spaghetti dinners while she lived in New York to learn English. He intended to design the cover for this album but it never happened and Christopher Makos took the cover photo and the cover is cretidited to the “Warhol Studio.” Makos also took Berté’s portrait for her next album Jazz but that doesn’t seem to qualify as a “Warhol cover”.
I’m sure there must be other covers in my collection that are incorrectly attributed to a specific designer but I can’t come up with any others just now.