Thursday, December 27, 2012

PERTH COUNTY CONSPIRACY - Breakout To Berlin


Artist: Perth County Conspiracy
Album: Breakout To Berlin
Label: Rumour
Catalog: KC 1015
Year: 1977
Designer: Abie Sussman and Bob Defrin
Photographer: not applicable
Design artist: Noel
Grade: *** star

 
 
I'm at somewhat of a loss to explain why I like this one - the bright color; the Brandenburg Gate cover?   The weird story behind the album - hippy Canadian band records an album in East Germany ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DENNIS COFFEY - Back Home


Artist: Dennis Coffey
Album: Back Home
Label: Westbound
Catalog: WB 300
Year: 1977
Designer: Abie Sussman and Bob Defrin
Photographer:
Design artist: Bruce Evans
Grade: * star (miserable)



Hum, I guess you could blame the artistic concept on the era - after all it was the mid-1970s when smoking was still considered to be a normal social activity ...  how many of you can remember ashtrays on restaurant tables?   Does't matter - it's still a hideous album cover.  Simply awful.   Makes me want to go rinse with mouthwash. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BAMBOO - Grandpa was way cool in '69



Artist: Bamboo
Album: Bamboo
Label: Elektra
Catalog: EKS-74048
Year: 1969
Designer:
Photographer:
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ** stars



I shouldn't point a finger at anyone since there are some hideous photos of earlier style mistakes I've made - stay away from my high school yearbook unless you want to see the plad prom suit ...  Regardless, you have to admit that Dave Ray and Will Donicht  may have set the standard with their '60s hippy threads !!!  Way cool there guys and I bet the grandkids are impressed as all. About the only things missing are the love beads and a Nehru jacket.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - Springsteen's coolest package - Greetings from Asbury Park


Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Greetings from Ashbury Park
Label: Columbia
Catalog: KC 31903
Year: 1975
Designer: John Berg
Photographer: Tichnor Brothers
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars



 
I love the beach; been going there since I was a young child (Alabama and Delaware rather than the Jersey shore), which might partially explain why I think this is such a cool cover. The tacky, detachable, oversized beach postcard is just a classic.   

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LES SINNERS - Perhaps the cover had something to do with why this was Les Sinners last studio LP


Artist: Les Sinners
Album: Le Chemin de Croix de Jos Roy
Label: CBS
Catalog: PFS 90383
Year: 1976
Designer: Daniel Poulin
Photographer: Daniel Poulin
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: * star (disturbing)




I'm a big fan of the Canadian band Les Sinners, but have to admit this 1976 release was a surprise to me.  I found it at a yard sale and originally wasn't even sure it was by the same band.  The strange title which seemingly translates as "The Way of the Cross for Jis Roy", coupled with bizarre, semi-religious artwork (a hand seemingly rising from the grave), didn't exactly make for an inviting package.  I'll let you be the judge.   By the way, anyone out there know what the plotline was on the album ?   The lyrics are in French and I've never been able to find a review that explains the story line.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

DELBERT MCCLINTON - what's that in your wallet guy ?


Artist: Delbert McClinton
Album: Genuine Cowhide
Label: ABC
Catalog: ABCD-959
Year: 1976
Designer: Tom Wilkes
Photographer: Ron Slenzak
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ****



Unforturnately this is one of those covers that doesn't lend itself to a flat screen presentation.  To get the full effect you need to hold the embossed cover in your hand.  And yes, the cover reflects a worn wallet with an equally worn condom showing through.  Original copies of the LP were embossed so that the condom was even more obvious.  You had to wonder how in the world ABC executives were ever convinced to go along with this one ...

CURTIS MAYFIELD and Ernie Barnes


Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: And Here's Soemthing To Believe In
Label: RSO
Catalog: RS-1-3077
Year: 1980
Designer: Glenn Ross
Photographer: not applicable
Design artist: Ernie Barnes
Grade: **** stars




1980's "And Here's Something To Believe In" is one of those Curtis Mayfield albums that seems to have skirted by without a lot of notice.  Shame, since the album includes several classic tunes (Tripping Out'').  

That said, the late Ernie Barnes cool cover painting is what initially caught my attention.  Barnes has had his work featured on a number of albums (Donald Byrd's "125th Street NYC", B.B. King's "Making Love Is Good for You", Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" Faith Hope and Charity's self titled LP), but this is the cover that I find the most mesmerizing.  There's just something mesmerizing in Barnes painting of a female DJ.  I've spent hours looking at the work's details.   I think the painting was titled "Late Night DJ", but I'm not certain.  Anyone out there know ?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

THE ROLLING STONES - Their Satanic Majesties Request


Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: London
Catalog: NPS-2
Year: 1967
Designer: Michael Cooper
Photographer: Michael Cooper
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ***** stars (classic)





I'm a big Stones fan, but will readily admit that the packaging for "Their Satanic Majesties Request" beats most of the songs.  

There's apparently an entire cottage industry built around this album - with a little bit of effort you can find more about it that you ever wanted to know.  

Initially entitled "Cosmic Christmas", The Stones played around with a cover concept that would have shown a naked Mick Jagger splayed on a cross.   I'm thinking that might not have been the way to go.  

Michael Cooper was responsible for the concept and took the famous photograph which was produced with a cool, holographic effect.  The Stones apparently envisioned releasing the album with a holographic cover for the entire front panel, but the costs proved prohibitive and they settled for a smaller 8" x 8" panel that was glued on to the front panel.  Even the reduced size 3D panel proved expensive (Decca and London reportedly lost money pressing the gimmick cover) and later releases dropped the 3-D cover in favor of a conventional photograph.  

The resulting 'concept' seems to have just sort of evolved out of an existing vacuum with nobody really in charge.  Keith Richards talked a bit about the cover in 2003:  "I can remember virtually nothing of those sessions. It's a total blank. We were pretty much the way we look on the cover!  The thing I remember most about making [the album] is that cover. We went to New York with Michael Cooper and met a Japanese guy who had a camera that could produce a 3-D effect. We built the set on acid, went all round New York getting the flowers and the rest of the props; we were painting it, spraying it. We were just loony, and after the Beatles had done Sgt. Pepper, it was like, Let's get even more ridiculous."   And on that note, they succeeded.  Whereas the Sgt. Pepper looked groundbreaking, "Satanic Majesties" looked imitative, or perhaps just plain silly.   .

Dressed up in goody costumes and looking quite stoned, when the image was tilted Watts, Richards, Wyman and Jones appeared to swivel their heads as if they were looking at one another, while Jagger's hands appeared to cross.  Elsewhere, supposedly a response to The Beatles having included a nod to The Stones on "Sgt Pepper" (look for the doll that says "welcome the Rolling Stones", the cover included embedded pictures of the Fab Four.  It takes a little effort, but if you tilt the panel in the right direction you can find them:

- McCartney is found on the left side, about two inches under the sunflowers.
- Harrison can be found on Charlie Watts sleeve.
- Lennon's the hardest to see - he's slightly below and to the right of the yellow star trails on Brian Jones' clothing
- Ringo's about an inch to the right of the yellow star on Jones' clothing.



BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD - Last Time Around


Artist: The Buffalo Springfield
Album: The Last Time Around
Label: ATCO
Catalog: SD 33-256
Year: 1968
Designer: Jimini Productions
Photographer: not listed
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars


As I was reminded by a friend, group cover shots are a dime-a-dozen.  As an example, the band Afterglow released an album a full year before this one that featured a group cover shot.  (I'll have to add that one to the list).  Regardless, while it may not be the first, this one's a true classic, if for no other reason than the sight of a young Neil Young already showing his rebellious nature.  While the rest of the band's looking forward, a slightly disinterested Young is shown looking over his shoulder.

Friday, December 7, 2012

JOHN KEATING - Space Experience


Artist: John Keating
Album: Space Experience
Label: Columbia
Catalog: CQ 32382
Year: 1972
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Artist: not listed
Grade: *** stars


Musically this album is a good example of uber-lounge; John Keating using a Electronic Music Studi. VCS3 synthesizer to stomp through a mixture of then-popular hits and his own atmospheric compositions.  The album is certainly listenable; you can see a review at: http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/KEATINGjohn.htm), but the album cover showcasing an uncredited NASA photo, is simply spectacular.  



Anyone know which space flight it captured and who the astronaut was ?




Thursday, December 6, 2012

JUICY LUCY and fruit abuse

UK original pressing Vertigo catalog VO 2/847 901
Artist: Juicy Lucy
Album: Juicy Lucy
Label: ATCO
Catalog: SD 33-325
Year: 1969
Designer: Peter Smith
Photographer: Peter Smith
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: *** stars



Ah, let's talk about the infamous cover on Juicy Lucy's self titled album ...  The original UK cover featured a somewhat haggard looking exotic dance by the name of Zelda Plum artlessly spread out on a bed of fruit.  The funny thing is that what was clearly intended as an erotic cover came off as anything but ... 

 
US pressing
Clearly concerned about American consumer sensibilities (we Americans still subscribe to those Puritan ethics), ATCO management elected to give the album's US release a somewhat toned down cover.  Basically photo shopping additional fruit on Plum's body so that all that was left was her head, the US cover was certainly racy for the late-1960s, though nowhere near as attention drawing as the UK version.  

Personally I've always felt bad for the fruit.  Seemed like a massive waste of good produce.  Really about all you can say is shame on the band for exhibiting such poor tastes and hopefully Ms. Plum went on to more rewarding experiences.


Artist: not applicable

Sunday, December 2, 2012

SANDY DENNY - "Sandy"


Artist: Sandy Denny
Album: Sandy
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-4371
Year: 1972
Designer: not applicable
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars




For the most part, when it comes to picking album art for the blog, I've shied away from selecting anything that's blatantly violent, sexist, or offensive (yeah, there goes a sizable portion of the album cover population).  Anyhow, I'll make an exception for this album ...  


The late Sandy Denny isn't particularly well known in the States.  That's a crime since the woman had an amazing voice and recorded some of the world's best English folk-rock as a solo artist and as a member of Fairport Convention. 

The cleverly-titled "Sandy" was her second solo album. The cover art wasn't particularly original, or inventive, but at least to my eyes David Bailey's photo was stunning.  He literally captured the prettiest photo of Denny I've ever seen.  No idea how he did it, but for a woman who frequently looked like her hair was made of straw, he somehow managed to capture her true beauty and that determined inner strength.  Those eyes are amazing ...


Photographer: Davd Bailey

Thursday, November 22, 2012

COLDWATER STONE (aka Freddy Briggs) "Defrost Me"


Artist: Coldwater Stone
Album: Defrost Me
Label: GSF
Catalog: GSF-S-1010
Year: 1973
Designer: Barney/Van
Photographer: not applicable
Design artist: Barney/Van
Grading: ** stars



So, I'll highlight any album art work that attracts my attention - the good, the bad, and the ugly ...   And today's entry is prime fodder for the latter category. 

The late Freddy Briigs is well know to soul fans as a writer, producer, and performer (under the name Coldwater Stone).  He was also supposedly married to soul singer Kimberley Briggs.  Anyhow, in 1973 Briggs stepped out with a solo album on Lloyd Price's New York-based GSF.  The album's actually quote good, showcasing Briggs gruff Swamp Dogg-styled voice.  Unfortunately you can't say the same thing about the Barney/Van designed album cover.  I have no idea who Barney/Van were, but I somehow doubt their bizarre concept showing a block of ice with a human heart superimposed over a set of crouching fishnet stocking clad female legs, did a lot to spur on album sales.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TRANQUILITY and Bob Schulenberg


Artist: Tranquility
Album: Silver
Label: Epic
Catalog: KE31 989
Year: 1973
Designer: Teresa Alfieri
Photographer: not applicable
Design artist: Bob Schulenberg
Grade: **** stars
 

I'm a big art nouveau fan which readily explains why I was so attracted to Bob Schulenberg's wonderful Alphonse Muncha inspired cover illustration.  Actually, I'm guessing Schulenberg was inspired by the famous Czech-born poster artist.   


As for Schulenberg's connection with the band; the only thing I've been able to track down is a brief  October 2009 entry on a Tranquility-related website from Schulenberg himself: "I painted the album cover; it's nice to see this group appreciated after so many years!"



Monday, November 12, 2012

NRBQ - RC Cola and a Moon Pie


Artist: NRBQ
Album: RC Cola and a Moon Pie
Label: Red Rooster
Catalog: 3090-1
Year: 1986
Designer: Scott Billington
Photographer: Mike Saporito
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars


Mike Saporito's cover photo isn't a partcularly high minded, or complex concept - basically nothing more than a 12 ounce bottle of Royal Crown Cola and Moon Pie, but I have a deep fondness for the cover.  I'm guessing it has something to do with my Southern heritage (born and partially raised in Fairhope, Alabama), or perhaps the fact I'm old enough to have clear memories of indulging in RC and a Moon Pie lunches.  Life seemed to much simpler in those days ...

Singer/keyboardist Terry Adams was apparently the band's RC fan (I'm guessing Moon Pies were also part of this upbringing).




Sunday, November 11, 2012

SAVOY BROWN - Raw Sienna

Artist: Savoy Brown
Album: Raw Sienna
Label: Parrot
Catalog: PAS 71036
Year: 1969
Designer: Ignatz
Artist: Ignatz
Photographer not applicable
Grade: *** stars



Yeah, this one is definitely an acquired taste.  The colors are muted; the concept is simplistic; almost childish ...  But there's something infintely appealing about the cover to Savoy Brown's "Raw Sienna".   Credited to the artist Ignatz (he's a complete mystery to me), the work's puffy, pseudo-psychedelic feel has always reminded me a bit of the work of Peter Max.  



Well, I like it and that's good enough to get it on my blog.



 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

CURTIS MAYFIELD - Back To the World

Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: Back To the World
Label: Curtom
Catalog: CRS 8015
Year: 1973
Designer: Glen Christensen
Artist: Gary Wolhowitz
Photographer: unknown
Grade: **** stars



I've been a big Curtis Mayfield fan since I was a child and probably would have bought 1973's "Back To the World"  simply for the stunning Gary Wolhowitz silk screen cover.  (The fact it's a classic Mayfield release with some of his most appealing songs was simply icing on the cake.)  Anyhow, back to the cover - I've seldom seen anything that screams '70s with such vibrancy as Wolhowitz's collage cover.  The bright colors; the super-imposed images of young African American children; military veterans, weapons systems, and political symbols all made for a stunning showcase of the country's promise and shortcomings.  Taken as a whole, you could literally spend hours absorbing the cover.  Forty years later and so much has changed and yes so little has changed ...

I'd love to know how the Mayfield-Wolhowitz collaboration came to be ...


: not applicable

Friday, November 9, 2012

SPOONER OLDHAM - Pot Luck

Artist: Spooner Oldham
Album: Pot Luck
Label: Family
Catalog: FPS 2703
Year: 1972
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Artist: not listed
Grade:  * star (disturbing)




Wow, not sure what to say about this one, other than the cover photo on Spooner Oldham's "Pot Luck" has to be one of the most arresting, yet disturbing covers in my 35,000 LP collection.  In case you can't tell what the images is - you're looking at a pair of chicken feet sticking out of a big cooking pot set on top of a stove.  

There are no art, or photo credits on the liner notes, but then I'm not sure anyone in their right mind would have wanted their name associated with the cover ... 


 
Photographer: not listed

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Traffic "On the Road"

I'm not entirely sure why, but Traffic's "On the Road" was one of the first album covers to make a major impact on me. It may have something to do with the fact I was 14 when the album was released and just beginning to grasp just how big and diverse the rock and roll universe was (a concept I'm still working on forty years laster). It might also be due to the fact one of my older neighborhood friends had a copy of the album, so I was familiar with it.
  
The album itself isn't all that great - original a single live album set, then expanded to a double, set that takes some of Traffic's duller compositions and stretches them out to almost mind-numbing lengths. Does anyone really need a 15:10 version of 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys'?   How about a 10:45 versuib if Jim Capaldi's 'Light Up Or Leave Me Alone'?  I like the songs, but seriously, these live versions just went on and on and on ...   All of those criticisms aside,the album boasted Ann Borthwick's uber-'70s artwork. 

Nothing more than speculation on my part, but I'm guessing Borthwick's modernist images of a freeway were a nod to the fact the album had been recorded during a 1972 German tour.  Common sense tells you Stevie Winwood and company probably spent more than their share of time on a bus traveling the German autobahns, so the album image may have had some resonance with the band.  

As mentioned, the cover art has a distinctive '70s feel - very linear; all sharp angles and bright primary colors showing a collage of a seemingly empty and endless freeway.  Its easy to picture this adorning some Krautrock jazz-rock fusion album.

And what about artist Borthwick?  Well, in spite of having spent hours trying to find out 
something about the artist, she remains a complete mystery to me.  I've checked Traffic related website, art oriented websites, etc.  I literally haven't been able to find a single reference to her.  Perhaps that wasn't her real name?  I'm sure someone out there has the story ... drop me a line.


Artist: Traffic
Album: On the Road
Label: Island
Catalog: SW 9336
Year: 1973
Designer: Ann Borthwick
Artist: An Borthwick
Photographer: not applicable