Saturday, December 28, 2013

STEALERS WHEEL - SELF TITLED 1973 LP



Artist: Stealers Wheel
Album: Stealers Wheel
Label: A&M

Catalog: SP 4377
Year: 1973

Art Designer: Patrick Byrne
Photography: not applicable

Grade: **** stars


 
I've always found the late Scottish painter John Patrick Bryne's primitive paintings fascinating.  I'm apparently not the only person to feel that way.   He's created work for The Beatles (who contemplated putting one of his works on the cover of what became "The White Album"), Donovan, The Humblebums, a slew of Gerry Rafferty LPs, and a couple of Stealers Wheels collections.  Anyhow, rather than reinvent the wheel, courtesy of the Vinyl Revolution Blog, here's a link to a short, sweet, and informative overview of Byrne's career:

http://blog.vinylrevolutions.co.uk/2012/04/18/john-patrick-byrne/

 

Friday, December 6, 2013

DAVY AND THE BADMEN - WANTED!



Artist: Davy and the Badmen
Album: Wanted!
Label: Gothic

Catalog: WA 063-64
Year: 1963

Art Designer: unknown
Photography: unknown

Grade: ** stars


 
My ten year old saw this one and said he could design a better cover.  I believe him. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

RICHARD ALEXANDER - JESUS IS MY BATTLESHIP


Artist: Richard Alexander
Album: Jesus Is My Battleship

Label: Alex

Catalog: RA 101 A/B
Year: 19??

Art Designer: unknown
Photography: unknown

Grade: ***** stars


 

There's just something fascinating about a Gospel/soul album featuring a cover that reflects one of the most efficient killing machines known to mankind.  I'm sure Alexander was trying to underscore the strength of his belief.   I certainly can't criticize that.  On the other thand I'm not sure how Jesus would feel having his name slapped on the side of an American battleship, though I suspect he wouldn't see it as an honor.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

OUTSIDERS (DUTCH) - WONDER WHAT THE LIABILITY ISSUES ARE ...


Artist: Outsiders
Album: Outsiders

Label: Relax
Catalog: 30.007
Year: 1967

Art Designer: unknown
Photography: unknown

Grade: **** stars


 

C'mon, you've got to admit this was a pretty cool idea ... let's put the band in a large wooden crate and hang them from a massive crane over an Amsterdam harbor loading pier.   Oh, tell the band to look like they're having a good time, or we'll drop their sorry butts into the water.   By the way, Wally Tax and the band delivery a classic '60s R&B and beat band album.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

FOCUS - DUTCH MASTERS



Artist: Focus
Album: Dutch Masters

Label: Sire
Catalog: SSAD 7505
Year: 1975
Art Designer: Fred Marcellino
Painting: David Byrd Artists Associates
Grade: **** stars


 

I'm old enough that I can remember cigarette and cigar advertisements being run on television (geez that seems so long ago).   Anyhow, this 1975 Focus "greatest hits" package had a hysterical cover concept based on an old Dutch Masters cigar boxes.   Maybe it's a reflection of my age, but I thought it was funny (and no, I don't smoke cigars, or cigarettes).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SPENCER BAREFOOT - UGLY FEET



Artist: Spencer Barefoot
Album: Spencer Barefoot

Label: Magna Glide

Catalog: MGS 323116
Year: 1977
Art Designer: Stephen Soban
Photographer: Sarah Longacre
Grade: * star





In spite of the artist name, this album apparently featured a series of demos recorded by a guy by the name of Spencer Tracy.   Released by bubblegum pop masters Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz on their Magna Glide label, about all you can say is the cover concept was somewhat lacking.  No idea who PEO was, but the man had some of the ugliest feet I've ever seen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MUSIC TO MASSAGE YOUR MATE BY

 

Artist: Robert Wortherspoon
Album: Music To Massage Your Mate By

Label: ALA

Catalog: ALA004
Year: 1976
Art Designer: Robert Wortherspoon
Photographer: Robert Wortherspoon
Grade: **** stars





My wife gets credit for bringing this one to my attention.    So this one gets high marks for the creepiness factor - the guy just looks like a child molester.   Released by the Los Angeles-based ALA label, the record was marketed as an instructional item, complete with a detailed and rather explicit instructional manual insert ...   The music was credited to Deny McReynolds and Rue Barclay (hopefully that wasn't them on the cover).  Geez, it's enough to make you think about looking into becoming celibate.

TIMEBOX - "THE ORIGINAL MOOSE ON THE LOOSE"




Artist: Timebox
Album: The Original Moose On the Loose

Label: Peters International

Catalog: CCLPS 9016
Year: 1977
Art Designer: Don Munz
Photographer: Don Munz
Grade: **** stars





Featuring the talents of the late Ollie Halsall and Mike Patto, Timebox were always quirky. As an example, how many bands do you know of that recorded and released a single about a Martian invasion of Earth ('Baked Jam Roll In Your Eye')?   In this case the album title and Don Munz designed cover do a good job of capturing the band's weird sense of humor.  Personally I love it ...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SANDY DENNY - SANDY




Artist: Sandy Denny
Album: Sandy

Label: A&M

Catalog: SP 4371
Year: 1972
Art Designer: not listed
Photographer: David Bailey
Grade: **** stars





I'll readily admit I'm not a gigantic fan of English folk-rock, but I make an exception for the late Sandy Denny.  There's just something special in her voice - not to sound hyper-sensitive, or anything, but the woman could sing a phonebook listing and make you sit up and take notice.   From what little I've read about her life, Denny was a tough, if highly troubled woman.  I've seen photos of her where she looks like she could take care of herself in any brawl.   And maybe that's one of the things that makes the David Bailey album cover so stunning.   Not only did Bailey managed to capture a stunning picture of Denny (she really does look gorgeous), but she looks peaceful, relaxed, and comfortable on the album cover.    

For anyone interested, the British National Portrait Gallery will sell you an unframed copy for about $20: 

http://www.npgprints.com/image/675484/david-bailey-sandy-denny

Saturday, August 31, 2013

HIGH LLAMAS - TALAHOMI WAY



Artist: The High Llamas
Album: Talahomi Way

Label: Drag City

Catalog: DC 469
Year: 2011
Art Designer: Jeremy Glogan
Photographer: not applicable
Grade: **** stars





As a big fan of modernist architecture (yes I subscribe to Atomic Ranch), Jeremy Glogan's cover drawing featuring a '60s-styled house was pretty stunning ...  wide glass walls; curved flat roof; kind of a dream house for folks who love the style.

Friday, August 30, 2013

THE MOVE - LOOKING IN




Artist: The Move
Album: Looking In

Label: Capitol

Catalog: ST 658
Year: 1970
Art Designer: Graphicreaks
Photographer: not listed
Grade: **** stars





So as a guy who suffers from male pattern balding, I've always found this cover somewhat disconcerting.   It's a perspective I prefer not to think about - not that there's anything wrong with it; not that there's anything I can do about it.   Naturally Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood (co-leaders of The Move), had more hair than they knew what to do with ...   Personal feelings aside, it is a cool looking over.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

RY COODER SELF TITLED DEBUT




Artist: Ry Cooder
Album: Ry Cooder

Label: Reprise

Catalog: MS 6402
Year: 1970
Art Designer: Ed Thrasher
Photographer: Franz Bez
Grade: **** stars




I remember laughing when I read the liner notes and saw that Cooder had thanked Airstream for use of a 1937 trailer ...   Parked on what I'm guessing where the Utah salt flats, Ed Thrasher's photo wasn't the most sophisticated thing you've ever seen, but the cool angle and the rising sun on the horizon did make forone eye catching cover ... 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

THE METERS - TRICK BAG



Artist: The Meters
Album: Trick Bag

Label: Reprise

Catalog: MS 0698
Year: 1976
Designer: Lockhart
Photographer: Johanna Van Zanwyk
Grade: **** stars




I'll readily admit that I bought this album as a dazed and confused 16 year old ...  I'd never heard of The Meters, but when I saw the large promotional poster in my local Penguin Feather record seller, I immediately located a copy of the LP (it was on sale - think it was $4.98).  I was all too happy to add this one to my growing collection of vinyl. I can remember spending way to much time staring at the cover (as did many of my friends). The fact it was a great set of New Orleans influenced funk only made it better.

STAPLE SINGERS - WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN ?



Artist: The Staple Singers
Album: Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Label: Vee Jay

Catalog: LP 5008
Year: 1969
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Grade: **** stars





By some odd coincidence I bought this album at a yard sale the same week Pops Staples died.  Not sure what that means in the overall scheme of things, but I've always thought it made for an interesting factoid.   Anyhow, I grew up with early/mid-'70s Staple Singers so anytime I stumble across something from their earlier catalog, I grab it. 

Clearly intended as a political and social statement, you certainly had to admit the shackle cover was arresting.  Hard to imagine anyone having the courage to slap something as controversial on an album cover in this politically correct environment.

TYRONE DAVIS' GREATEST HITS - '70s DESIGN CHEESY AND WONDERFUL



Artist: Tyrone Davis
Album: Tyrone Davis' Greatest Hits

Label: Dakar

Catalog: DK 76902
Year: 1972
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Grade: **** stars





In the early 1970s the Brunswick/Dakar family of labels was encountering major financial difficulties and in an apparent effort to generate some quick cash, released a string of "Greatest Hits" packages, including this set by Tyrone Davis.   Brunswick/Dakar clearly didn't bother to spend much money on the artistic side of the enterprise given all of the albums featured the same basic design - a slew of "gold" records  splayed against a black backdrop with some very '70s font stylings.  I have to admit the anonymous design is so bad it actually grabs your attention ...

And for anyone interested, the album itself is quite good, collecting a slew of Davis' late-'60s and early-'70s hits and non-hits.   The guy certainly had a fantastic soul voice and I dare you to sit still through something as good as 'Turn Back the Hands of Time', or 'Can I Change My Mind'.

Friday, August 16, 2013

BAN THOSE GOLDEN BISQUITS



Artist: Three Dog Night
Album: Golden Bisquits

Label: Dunhill

Catalog: DSD-50098
Year: 1971
Designer: Peter Whorf
Photographer: Ed Caraeff
Grade: **** stars





So here's another one that makes you shake your head in wonder.  Released in 1971, "Golden Bisquits" was Three Dog Night's sixth album and their first "best of" compilation.   Supposedly the band was originally interested in releasing the set under the title "Dog Style", but ABC/Dunhill management were less than thrilled by the risqué title, opting for the more conventional "Golden Bisquits".   Ironically the original cover art proved equally problematic.   Featuring a photo taken by Ed Caraeff for the band's "It Ain't Easy" album, the original cover art featured the band in a relaxed, easy-going poise.   The only problem was the photo featured the band naked.  True, the soft focus and orange tint meant you couldn't really see anything, but it was pretty obvious Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and the rest of the band were enjoying a bit of nature.  Apparently afraid the cover would limit sales, ABC/Dunhill marketing management quickly rushed out a bland, repackaged version of the set.  And if you want to see what the replacement art looks like ...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

INSIDE THE ASYLUM CHOIR - THE BANNED COVER



Artist: Asylum Choir
Album: Smash

Catalog: SRS 67107
Year: 1968
Designer: Lou Kimzey
Photographer: not applicable
Grade: **** stars

 
 

So the thing about this cover is the fact it was banned ...  Yeah, in 1968 American merchandisers apparently saw the toilet paper image as a major threat to the buying public, hence the refused to stock the LP.  Smash management found themselves having to quickly design an alternative (far blander) cover.  You can see a copy of the replacement cover to the left.   Today you have to laugh about it  ...  Boy were times different back then.  Come to think of it, the busy tile work on the wall was probably more offensive than the toilet paper (wonder if it was double ply?). 


 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

JOHN LENNON AND THE PLASTIC ONO BAND

Artist: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Album: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

Label: Apple
Catalog: SW 3372
Year: 1970
Designer: not listed
Photographer: Dan Richter
Grade: **** stars

 
 
In contrast to the pastoral cover photo which captured John Lennon and Yoko Ono lazing about in New York's Central Park, his first post-Beatles LP is a pretty challenging listening experience.  Later known as an actor, Dan Richter, then working as an assistant to Lennon and Ono, took the photo with a throw-away instamatic camera.   And I guess that's what makes it so appealing to me - the photo is gorgeous and you'd never know it captured two of the most famous people on the planet ... 

HOTGUN - GUINNESS TAX SCAM RELEASE

Artist: Hotgun
Album: Hotgun

Label: Guinness
Catalog: GNS 36014
Year: 1977
Designer: not listed
Artist: not listed
Grade: **** stars
 
 
Most releases on the Guinness tax scam label didn't carry design credits (or even performance credits) and this 1977 release is no exception.  So first let me say I'm not some kind of gun nut.  I don't have a gigantic collection in my home, nor do I worship at the feet of the NRA. In fact, as the parent of two young sons, the subject matter is a bit troubling.  That said, the cover has a distinctive '70s feel that's always reminded me of something Ray Lichtenstein might have done which gives it a certain "wow" factor.  Guinness certainly didn't spend a lot of money on the cover art and in many respects the artwork is better than the music.  









Tuesday, July 23, 2013

GEOFF MULDAUR AND AMOS GARRETT

Artist: Geoff Muldaur and Amos Garrett
Album: Geoff Muldaur and Amos Garrett
Label: Flying Fish
Catalog: FF 063
Year: 1978
Designer: Laura Karp
Artist: Yasu Yogi
Grade: **** stars
 
 
Folk art ?  American primitive ?   Beats me and frankly I don't really care since Yasu Yogi's cover art is simply stunning.  Great concept (the fact they were signed to the Flying Fish label made it even funnier); great colors ...   a classic cover. 






Tuesday, May 21, 2013

FLEETWOOD MAC - HEROES ARE HARD TO FIND



 
Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Album: Heroes Are Hard To Find
Label: Reprise
Catalog: MS 2196
Year: 1974
Designer: Des Strobel
Photographer: Herbert Worthington
Grade: * star

 





 

This is one of those covers where you have to wonder what the record company was thinking about. Hum, let's slap a cover of a young Mick Fleetwood prominently showing
off his rib cage to the audience - that'll excite the buying public. I'm thinking not.  Admittedly the kid at Fleetwood's feet was cute (I'm guessing it was one of his offspring).  Still, if you were going for the cute concept, wouldn't you have wanted to slap a cover of the young Christine McVie on the cover - personally I would much rather have seen her ribs that Fleetwood's ...

So as an out of shape guy in my mid-'50s I'm in no position to point a finger at anyone. On the other hand I know I'm an out of shape guy in my '50s and I would never dream of  subjecting folks to this kind of a display ...  nobody needs to see a Scott B. on display like this !!!

That said, the album did hit the top-40 in the States and Fleetwood did have an affair with the young Stevie Nicks so what do I know about rock and roll ...

 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

HENDRIX - WAR HERO


Artist: Jimi Hendrix
Album: War Hero
Label: Reprise
Catalog: MS 2103
Year: 1972
Designer: Paul Jansen
Photographer: not applicable
Grade: **** stars



 
This is one of those covers where the appeal is hard for me to articulate.  It's certainly not the most clever, or innovative concept I've ever seen - jjust a close up drawing of Jimi Hendrix's face.  That said, there's something remarkable in Paul Jansen's cover art work.  I never met Hendrix and I'm not even a giant fan, but the close-up just seems to nail the essence of the man.  Plus I think I could grow a moustach that's at least as good as what Hendrix was sporting.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SCAFFOLD - FRESH LIVER


Artist: Scaffold
Album: Fresh Liver
Label: Island
Catalog: ILPS 9234
Year: 1973
Designer: Tetsunari Yoshimura
Photographer: Fin Costello
Grade: * star



 
Wow, not a lot to say here, other than Scaffold managed to come up with one of the ugliest cover concepts imaginable. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

MUD AS A MARKETING CONCEPT - LA REVOLUTION FRANCAISE


Artist: La Revolution Francaise
Album: C Cool
Label: CANUSA
Catalog: CLJ 33-112
Year: 1968
Designer: Robert Barbeau
Photographer: Serge Leblanc
Grade: ** star




I'm not exactly movie star material myself, but I have to wonder about a marketing concept that would take four pale, slightly geeky looking French-Canadians; strip them down and then cover them in mud ...   Not exactly the marketing campaign of the year. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

SKIN ALLEY - TWO QUID DEAL


Artist: Skin Alley
Album: Two Quid Deal
Label: Stax
Catalog: STS 3012
Year: 1973
Designer: Ron Gordon and the Grafe
Photographer: not applicable
Design J. Edward Barker
Grade: ** star



Overlooking how this British blues-rock outfit ever got signed to Stax (as if a soul label would have a clue in terms of how to market the band), the J. Edward Barker cover illustration probably didn't help non-existent sales.  Mickey Mouse's deviant brother offering the buyer a tab of LSD soaked cheese ?   I've always found the grinning mouse kind of disconcerting.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

BOOT - "BOOT" ON GUINNESS



 

Artist: Boot
Album: Turn the Other Cheek
Label: Guinness
Catalog: GNS 36002
Year: 1977
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Design not listed
Grade: **** star




SInce this one was released on a known taxscam label (Guinnesss), it shouldn't come as a major surprise that there were no credits for the album artwork.  That said, the cartoonish cover looked an awful lot like something R. Crumb might have done.  Maybe that's the cover's appeal to my eye.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

LES MCCANN - Live at the Bohemian Caverns


Artist: Les McCann
Album: Live at the Bohemian Caverns Washington D.C.
Label: Limelight
Catalog: LM 82046 (mono) LS 82046 (stereo)
Year: 1963
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Design not listed
Grade: **** star



C'mon, even if you're not a beebop fan, you've got to admit the cover art is clever.  Great color scheme and a wonderful concept.