Saturday, June 11, 2011

The art of the album

I often lament over the demise of album art when vinyl LP's became, for the most part, a part of history. Sure there is artwork for CD album covers and sometimes those covers even rise to a higher level of design and art. There was always that little something extra though, that magical aura about a well designed vinyl album cover when you saw it in the racks that just screamed at you to be noticed. When you bought a vinyl album you always felt like you got a little more for your hard-earned money because the cover art was so cool you could frame it.
Molly Hatchet's self-titled first album
As a teenager I always loved to drive by Peaches Records & Tapes, a chain of music stores that opened in the mid 70's, but went belly-up in 1985 supposedly because the company didn't believe the future of music was in compact discs. Plastered around the facade of most Peaches stores would be a dozen or so enlarged (four or five foot square) versions of some of the days hottest selling albums - usually rock albums but also pop and country too. These album billboards only served to feed my craving to go into the store, browse and buy the albums. I still get a thrill thinking about seeing Molly Hatchet's first album cover featuring the artwork of Frank Frazetta hanging outside the store bigger than life.
The Car's - Candy-O
With the advent of CD technology the vinyl album industry all but disappeared and the wonderfully designed cover art genre with it. But it isn't forgotten. I've taken to rummaging thrift stores, yard sales, used record stores and even friends "boxed up and forgotten" album collections in pursuit of albums which represent either music I grew up with or the masterful artwork of the covers I so love. Art supply stores such as Michael's sell vinyl album display frames that allow me to put the entire album cover in it and hang on my walls as decor. They even sell a smaller display specifically designed for compact disc covers which I use to display the CD albums of some of my music friends. I suppose one of my all-time favorite album covers I own would have to be the Cars 1979 classic Candy-O which features a painting by famed pin-up artist Vargas of a woman (the real models name was actually Candy) stretched back on the hood of a Ferrari. Other favorites I have include Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Heart's Little Queen, the Beatles Introducing the Beatles and left coast rockers the Blaster's self-titled album.
I'm also on the hunt for a few albums as well. Two of Humble Pie's albums - As Safe As Yesterday Is and On To Victory, the iconic Eagles album Hotel California, Frank Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Face, three Rolling Stones albums - Beggar's Banquet, Some Girls and Sticky Fingers, Roxy Music's Country Life, Supertramp's Breakfast in America, Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell, the previously mentioned Molly Hatchet album and two additional Beatles albums - both are my Holy Grail's of sorts - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the butcher cover version of Yesterday and Today. There are others, of course, on my wish list which will likely never be fulfilled but then the search is part of the fun.

The Beatles
Yesterday and Today
(The butcher cover)
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts
Club Band
Frank Zappa
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
Bat Out Of Hell
Humble Pie
On to Victory
Humble Pie
As Safe As Yesterday Is
The Rolling Stones
Beggars Banquet
The Rolling Stones
Some Girls

Roxy Music
Country Life

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