Friday, May 08, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special You Can't Judge a Book, But... Non-Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental on-call strumpet Gal Friday Fah Lo Suee and I will be joining Bristol Palin on her whistlestop Abstinence Now (Except For Levi) media tour. We'll be stopping in to see pretty much every mid-market drive-time AM shock jock in the South, so we should be really getting the message across.

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best Post-Elvis Album Cover(s)!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, so no arbitrary rules, except go easy on the Blue Notes, okay? Also, I do think it's interesting that only one of my picks was done after the end of the LP era, and that one happens to be an homage. Just saying.

Anyway, here's my totally top of my head Top Seven.

7. The Yardbirds -- For Your Love

Greatest band logo ever, and every one of those band photos is iconic. As is Jeff Beck's striped shirt.

6. Sleater-Kinney -- Dig Me Out

Not a fan, but the fact that this is based on the brilliant design of an old Kinks album cover never issued in the States back in the day just knocks me out.

5. Talking Heads -- Remain in Light

A very cool graphic, I think you'll admit, and the fact it's the work of my then girlfriend has absolutely nothing to do with why it's on my list.

Incidentally, she preferred the back cover design, originally intended for the front...

...but nixed by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz because they thought it "glorified war." Who knew those two were DFHs?

4. The Beatles -- Beatles For Sale

Photo by the great Robert Freeman, and pretty much my single favorite shot of any rock band's Morning After ever. Look at those faces -- so young, and yet they've already seen so much...

3. Led Zeppelin -- Presence

Design by the famous graphic arts collective Hipgnosis, and just a wonderful piece of pop surrealism. Who said Zep didn't have a sense of humor?

2. The Rolling Stones -- The Rolling Stones

Photo by the great David Bailey, who had a front row seat at the 60s party, and an absolutely perfect pop portrait -- 45 years later the look is still utterly outside of time, and it will be equally evocative and otherworldly 45 years hence. Incidentally, in England, that WAS the cover -- no title, no record company logo, no lettering of any kind, just that incredible picture of the band staring destiny in the face. And yes, it was a conceptual masterstroke on the part of manager Andrew Loog Oldham that was without precendent in 1964.

And the number one coolest album cover, and it's not even a gatefold so you couldn't clean your dope on it, nonetheless obviously is ----

1. The Mothers of Invention -- Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Painting by artist Neon Park, based on a lurid 50s men's magazine cover that Zappa had filed for future use years earlier. Again, not a fan of the band, but the first time I saw that cover in 1970 I laughed my fricking ass off.

Awrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best film's with characters from real life -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could take a moment to go over there and say something pithy, that would keep me in good with management. Thanks!]


John Fowler said...

Well, these are ones I like…

Number 1:
Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend - Obviously.

Two Athens GA groups with covers that capture the essence of their debut full-length albums:
The B-52’s - day-glo, fun
R.E.M. – Murmur – mysterious, almost claustrophobic

Devo – Freedom of Choice – love the hats!

Colors and perspective:
Los Lobos – Kiko

Spent too much time scrutinizing in college:
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Arresting photos of the artists:
New York Dolls
P.J. Harvey – To Bring You My Love
Television – Marquee Moon

Arresting photo, period:
Nirvana - Nevermind

Weird, but interesting:
Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones

Weirder still, also interesting:
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Too early to be sure, but with possible staying power:
Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

My list is mostly more recent than Steve’s, about half from the LP era, half after…

NYMary said...

Hmmmm, interesting.

One definite choice is The Vapors' Magnets. Done by Martin Handford, who would later go on to do the Where's Waldo? series, this pic answers that question: clearly, Waldo has been assassinated.

Other standouts of the period include The Undertone's Positive Touch, which a pic can never do justice to: It's a white-on-white 3D thing. But cool.

I adored---because I am a geek--XTC's Go 2 cover. Had never seen anything like it. (And if we like tribute covers, then you could do a lot worse than the Dukes of the Stratosphear's dead-on-balls accurate homage to Disraeli Gears: the cover of 25 O'Clock.)

And of course my beloved Shoes, Present Tense. I gather they're not fond of it, but it had a great effect on me in the day, what with the clear debate going on just under the surface of all 4: whether to fuck or punch the person on the other side of the camera.

Can we mention worsts, too? Because the slew of 80's albums with covers drawn by porn cartoonists (I'm looking at YOU, Candy-O and Rio) was a dismaying thing. And while it didn't bug me at the time, the wave of mid90's albums with pics of the artists as ironic 70s kids have not aged well (I'm thinking 100% Fun and stuff like that.)

(And steve, don't be too dismayed by The Woods--there's lots of Sleater Kinney out there that's decent: try "You're No Rock and Roll Fun," for example.

steve simels said...

Ooh -- I'd forgotten that Undertones cover. Good call,

Actually, there's a lot of great stuff from the early punk/New Wave period. The Sex Pistols, obviously, and Elvis Costello's My Aim is True come to mind immediately.

steve simels said...

And Marquee Moon, obviously. Mappelthorpe....

Gummo said...

I'd have to go with Rubber Soul for the Beatles and Sticky Fingers for the Stones.

Who else was so famous and so effortlessly cool that they didn't even have to put the group's name on the cover? There was no word for that kind of hip arrogance at the time.

And Sticky Fingers? Pretentious (Warhol, fer crissakes!), childish & smutty, all at the same time. Not to mention that stupid cool zipper which was sure to ruin any album put next to it.

The Grateful Dead's Skull & Roses (aka The Grateful Dead aka Skullfuck). Another memorable icon from Kelley/Mouse that soon started appearing everywhere, with or without the Dead connection.

Tommy by the Who. One of the strangest album covers I had seen in my young life and a perfect complement to the strange music within.

The White Album. Wiping the slate clean after 2 years of psychedelic cover art overkill.

The first Patti Smith album. That b&w androgynous Sinatra tribute from Smith & Mapplethorpe also quickly became iconic in its own right.

And steve, you're right, I am hardpressed to come up with a memorable CD cover. Or even a memorable longbox -- remember them?

Anonymous said...

in case anyone would like to see the original 'man's life' cover that was the inspiration for the 'weasels ripped my flesh' cover, here 'tis. vintage stuff.

Anonymous said...


Gummo said...

in case anyone would like to see the original 'man's life' cover that was the inspiration for the 'weasels ripped my flesh' cover, here 'tis. vintage stuff.Love it, thanks!

Noam Sane said...

Three words:

Trout Mask Replica.

Libby Spencer said...

As usual, the ones that stand out in my memory are kind of dorky.

Loved the 3-D cover of Rolling Stones - Her Satanic Majesties Request.

Liked the Moody Blues covers - The Present and Every Good Boy Deserves Favors

Howlin' Wolf - The London Sessions appealled to me for some reason.

Loved the Andy Warhol banana on the Velvet Underground.

Seems to me Peter Max did a cover for someone that I liked but I can't remember who it was.

And the Herb Alpert - Whipped Cream and Other Delights fascinated me as a youngster. I'm sure it was an innocent attraction to the mountain of whipped cream since I was too young and naive to get any sexual reference from it.

And if we're adding ones we hated, King Crimson - The Court of the Crimson King always gave me the creeps.

Mike said...

Get Happy!! - Elvis Costello & The Attractions

One Step Beyond... - Madness

Going To A Go-Go - Smokey Robinson And The Miracles

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan

The Who Sell Out - The Who

John Fowler said...


thanks for the Vapors and XTC listings - I had never seen the Vapors cover, and it had been years since I had seen the Go 2 - ended up having to read the whole dadgum thing...

and Steve, sorry, I don't get what's going on in the Led Zep 'Presence' cover - can someone fill me in?

David said...

I think the obelisk in Presence was designed to be inscrutable, but it is memorable and intriguing. But if we're talking about Zeppelin covers, I'd have to go with Physical Graffiti. The building is still there on East 8th Street, which always stops me in my tracks. Apparently, the record's release was held up by the complications of putting the package together, and when asked what was delaying the LP, Percy Plant would respond, "We're working on our windows."

Also worth noting is the original cover for Spinal Tap's "Smell the Glove," which we never get to see, but which is succinctly described by Polymer Records PR flak Bobbi Flekman....Hey, what's wrong with being sexy?

Unknown said...

Music From Big Pink - Dylan's painting is primitive as all get out, but it also perfectly captures the music as well as the personalities of the musicians. Richard needing help to play the piano upside-down still breaks my heart.

Neon Park did a lot of great covers for Little Feat, favorite being the cake-on-a-swing-with-blue-boy-and-viking for "Sailing Shoes."

steve simels said...

Actually, I can't believe I left out the Madness cover. Sheer genius...

Brooklyn Girl said...

Stones: "Let It Bleed" ... it seemed so decadent at the time.

Beatles: "Abbey Road" (endless hours were spent pondering why Paul was barefoot) and "Revolver" - Klaus Voorman's delicate ink drawing and photo collage were a breakthrough ... unfortunately, a lot of the detail gets lost when it's shrunk down. Of course, "Sgt. Pepper" suffers even more.

R. Crumb's cover for Big Brother's "Cheap Thrills"

Velvet Underground & Nico: that banana!

Mark Ryden's cover for Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" is beyond incredible.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Oh, and the Yardbirds' "Having a Rave-Up" ... an improvisational blues-rock band with a jazz aesthetic.

ms. rosa said...

Such great ones listed! Marquee Moon and Patti Smith. Just amazing portraits and I'd go with Costello's 'This Years Model' because it has a beautiful Hasselblad on it.

Pennie Smith's photo on London Calling with the colored lettering is about as iconic as you can get, as is Roberta Bayley's Ramone's portrait on their first record.

And I also love and appreciate Dr. Feelgood's 'Down By the Jetty' and Alice Cooper's 'Pretties for You' which I consider ahead of their time graphically. And kind of menacing in their own way.

davepitt said...

Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here

Clash London Calling

Mothers of Invention We're Only In It For The Money

Stones Some Girls

NYMary said...

Wow, Oswego! Thanks!

Kid Charlemagne said...

Pssst...You know Pittsey that the Clash record was a ripoff of the first Elvis record right? And that the Mothers record was a ripoff of Sgt Pepper?

Cos otherwise your choices don't make any sense!

NYMary said...

No baiting, Kid C!

(shakes finger in manner of nun)

MBowen said...

I've always been very fond of the cover of the album "In The Heart of the Heart Country" by Fire Town. This is a lousy reproduction; on the original album sleeve the colors are slightly different, which makes a big difference. The simplicity and elegance just pops.

For another striking cover taken from a magazine cover, there's always Weird Tales by Golden Smog.

I always thought the cover of Born To Run was pretty iconic, and I love this parody.

MBowen said...

Oh, and NYMary, thanks for pointing out that Magnets was drawn by the Where's Waldo guy. I would have never thought about it, but seeing them in my mind now it's obvious.

Kid Charlemagne said...

You are right Sister Mary Ignatius!

Unknown said...

2 tonio k covers come to mind (actually I bought Life in the Foodchain only because of the cover)

La Bomba, laughed out loud in the record store


I've always loved that Yardbirds cover

I also liked all those weird Roger Dean drawings on Yessongs and Asia.

davepitt said...

1) No I had no idea of the original covers. My goodness thank you so much for pointing that out to me.

2) Making fun of someone's last name? Really? Is 6th grade already out for the summer?

3) Man you sure are tolerant of someone who disagreed with you on 1 album. Since I don't want to stoop to your level I'm done responding to you after this. If you feel the need to argue with a brick wall be my guest

Noam Sane said...

Pink Floyd's "Animals". It was a kick to see it come alive in the film "Children of Men".

The Kenosha Kid said...

Besides the ones already mentioned ( :mad: Libby), these ones:

The Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime (or maybe I just love the album so much)

Joy Division - Unknown PleasuresThe Doors - Strange Days

dan mcenroe said...

Have you guys ever seen this site? It's where I found this gem.

cthulhu said...

"Who's Next" captures the post-Woodstock letdown pretty well. But I have a soft spot for "Who Are You": sadly ironic that Keith Moon, who died shortly after the disc's release, is squatting on a chair which is stenciled "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY."

And I loved the spaceship on ELO's "Out of the Blue" - great '70s excess.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I'm with Gummo re Rubber Soul. The clever album title, the 4 guys looking down, unsmiling ... “WTF? This is the Beatles?” In Chronicles, Dylan says something to the effect of, he always admired musicians who looked and carried themselves in a way that made you feel like they knew something you didn’t. And that’s what the Rubber Soul Beatles made me feel like. Plus, my parents absolutely hated this record on sight and unheard, another plus.

Libby Spencer said...

I realized I was the only one not to link to the covers, so I dug out the graphics to go with my last comment.

Herb Alpert.

This site has all the Moody Blues covers, including the liner notes. Looking at it I realized all of them were great really but the two I mentioned above are my favorites.

Howlin Wolf.

Satanic Majesties Request.

Libby Spencer said...

I love this category. One of the things I miss most about vinyl LPs is the album art. It's just not the same all shrunk down on a CD. So I thought of a few more I liked.

This Rolling Stones Black and Blue had the best head shots of them I think.

Cream - Royal Albert Hall has held up well. I would still put this on my wall today.

The art on this Procol Harum cover was a style that was really popular among all the artists in my little social circle.

And I ran across this site with the weirdest album covers. Hours of fun here if you like this stuff. Some good art. Some classic albums like Mr. Magoo sings and KFC's Colonel Saunders Christmas Album. Some hysterical obscure albums. I loved this Moth in a Gray Flannel Suit, an album by the very *famous* Bob Peck.

And this one made me laughVance Greek - He Touched Me. It has GOP theme song written all over it.

Libby Spencer said...

Sorry. Appear to have linked to Mr. Magoo instead of Vance Greek.

Gummo said...

I second the Cheap Thrills cover. R. Crumb's drawings conveyed a wildness & sexuality that was thrilling & scary at the same time. It was another one of those "I've never seen anything like THIS before!"

Ditto the Doors' Strange Days cover. One of the best marriages of illustration to the music within during the rock era.

steve simels said...

I actually think the first Doors cover is one of the most iconic images of the 60s. And I don't even particularly like the record...

Libby Spencer said...

I'd agree on the Doors cover.

I also thought of one CD cover that I love. Out of the Darkness.

Anonymous said...

Steve -

Friend of mine's late dad did a lot of the art direction on 60s Elektra albums - Doors, Incredible String Band like that... (Almost fell out of my chair while reading "Please Kill Me," and realising that he was the same guy who got The Stooges kicked off the label...)
- bill buckner

cosmic tumbler said...

Why do I have the sense of f déjà vu?