Thursday, November 22, 2012


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


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


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


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 very 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


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 ...

Friday, November 9, 2012


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 ... 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Artist: Traffic
Album: On the RoadLabel: IslandCatalog: SW 9336Year: 1973Designer: Ann BorthwickArtist: Ann Borthwick
Photographer: not applicable

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 later). 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 ...   

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.

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.

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