When I was in elementary school, I was the kid with the ugly plaid lunchbox. It wasn’t that I was a nerd. I simply didn’t think that The Partridge Family or any of the other TV characters that appeared on lunchboxes during my school days were something I could commit to carrying around every day.
Lunchboxes.com has given cool kids (and adults) of today a selection of lunchboxes that far exceeds what can be found at the local Walmart. The designs available on the website include many classic album covers, such as The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, and The Rolling Stones Tattoo You.
This is a great way to utilize classic album cover art. I wish these had been available when I was a kid. I think I would have carried the one that has the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? Can you imagine how that would go over with other 3rd graders? Yeah, I was a weird kid.
In my ongoing effort to give equal attention to the various genres of popular music, I am going to feature an album by a thrash metal band today. Massive Aggressive by Municipal Waste is a good example of why I don’t often blog about heavy metal and its many subgenres.
These album covers almost always feature skulls, rotting corpes, zombies and freaky typography. It is a basic formula. The cover of Massive Aggressive doesn’t have a single original element.
However, the same cannot be said of the band’s recent music video for Wrong Answer. It is a unique combination of The Price Is Right and a slasher film. It is funny stuff — if you like fake blood and cheap horror movie effects.
Guy Webster has taken album cover photographs for some of the greatest artists of the rock era. His work includes photographs of The Doors (right), The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas, Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel, The Who and dozens of others.
Browsing though Webster’s online portfolio at http://guywebster.com, it is amazing to see how many iconic rock images have come from his lens.
I grew up in Ventura and I highly recommend it as a pleasant place to visit for those of you who are within driving distance (Ventura is a short drive north from Los Angeles). At $10 admission, those interested in album cover photography and rock history in general really can’t go wrong.
What: Focus on the Masters presents “An Evening With Guy Webster.”
When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 1
Where: The Technology Development Center, 5200 Valentine Drive, Ventura, CA
Details: Webster plans to show more than 50 shots from his long photography career, as well as offer insights from it.
Cost: $10 general admission; $5 for students and seniors; and free for Focus on the Masters members, the recently unemployed and children under 18.
The cover for the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack has finally appeared online. The album is scheduled to be released on October 13. Like most soundtrack albums these days, the cover is based entirely on the movie poster. So, there aren’t any surprises here.
Adam Goldstein, who performed as DJ AM, was found dead today in his Manhattan apartment. Goldstein was popular at clubs frequented by trendy celebrities and had many close friends in the music and entertainment industries.
Prior to his success as a DJ, Goldstein was a member of the alternative rock band Crazy Town, who are known for their 2001 hit Butterfly. Butterfly was number one on the Billboard chart for two weeks.
It was reported that Goldstein had just finished taping a reality TV show about drug interventions for MTV. He was a popular user of Twitter and many celebrities have been posting tweets about his passing. He was only 36.
On September 3, 1983, Eurythmics single Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) hit the top spot on the Billboard chart. The song remained at number one for just one week. However, it has endured as a classic of the 1980s and pop music.
The success of the single (from the album of the same name shown at right) was obviously due to the remarkable talents of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. However, the music video was somewhat of a sensation and helped bring the duo to public attention.
Annie Lennox shocked viewers with her bright orange crew cut and men’s clothing. She challenged the stereotypical image of the female pop star.
The cover for the single was very difficult to acquire. I create the composite below using several poor scans that I found online. I used to own this one on vinyl and I’m very sorry that I traded it in for used CDs years ago.
The cover for R&B singer/actor Mario’s forthcoming album D.N.A. was revealed online today. The cover features the artist standing on a city rooftop. I don’t know how many of you remember the poster and the cover of the soundtrack for the 1989 motion picture Rooftops (it featured music by Eurythmics, Grace Jones, Jeffrey Osborne and others). That is what immediately popped into my head when I saw the cover for D.N.A.
I don’t really see a connection between the rooftop scene and D.N.A. That’s not even the last thing that I think about when I look at it. However, it a a very nice album cover. Perhap it is good that they didn’t go with something cliche like test tubes and genetics.
The latest single from DJ Felix Da Housecat’s new album He Was King is called We All Wanna Be Prince. The music video features cameos by several celebrities and is (as one would expect) a tribute to Prince.
The album coveer for He Was King features a photograph of the artist on what appears to be a digital display. If you look into his glasses, you will see the image of woman. I can’t image why such a pretty lady would provoke a reaction like that.
The Hot Rats are a British duo formed by half of alternative rock band Supergrass. Apparently, they do a lot of cover songs during their performances. I recently found their version of The Beatles Drive My Car on YouTube and really enjoyed it. It is a difficult song to cover without sounding like the cast of Beatlemania.
The cover for the single is simply hideous. They would have been much better off using a screenshot from the video (right). The illustration is about as bad as it could be. It looks as if it has been traced from a photograph. Bright oranges and pinks are the worst colors to use for a digital image. Compression always results in lots of damage.
The video has a lot of interesting images. I like the scenes featuring the baby. One thing that made me chuckle were the number of comments on YouTube from people who are obviously unaware that Drive My Car is a classic by The Beatles. They must be young folks.
AAX user audio20 has suggested another album cover for the WTF?! feature and this one is a doozy! Dark Meat is a band collective from Athens, Georgia. The cover of their latest EP, When The Shelter Came, looks like a still from a ’80s porno movie with a strategically placed donut. I was amazed to discover that Amazon.com has not censored this cover.
There doesn’t appear to be any music videos by this group. I was able to find some live performances on YouTube. None were worth the trouble to post here. Yeech!
I did find an interesting article about Dark Meat crashing a performance by Simian Mobile Disco. They sound like a bunch of jerks (as if the album cover wasn’t a tip off).
During SMD’s headlining set, members of an earlier act, Athens, Ga. collective Dark Meat, crashed the stage, complete with face paint and live marching band instruments — including a trumpet and trombone — much to the surprise of the both the Jelly staff and the headliners. Confusion was relieved once the guys were removed a few minutes in. The tuba player, meanwhile, never made it on stage, but ended up walking into the audience of thousands and crowd surfing while playing his rainbow colored instrument.
The cover for British pop singer-songewriter Jamie Cullum’s forthcoming album The Pursuit was revealed via Twitter today. The cover features Cullum standing in front of an exploding piano. I think this is a very cool concept and it has been executed quite well.
The Pursuit is Cullum’s fourth studio album. It is expected to be released in November.
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Prestige Records, Concord Music Group has partnered with Rare Cool Stuff to create Prestige Records: The Album Cover Collection. The deluxe, limited-edition hardbound volume is the companion piece to a new 2-CD anthology, The Very Best of Prestige Records.
Containing rare LP covers produced over the long history of the record label, the collection also features an introduction by famed jazz documentarian Ira Gitler, who wrote liner notes for many of Prestige’s earliest and most well-known records. In addition, the book also contains an exclusive bonus CD featuring music from the Prestige vault.
The book will be released on October 20 and can be preordered through Amazon.com.
American folk band Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons have a very unique twangy blues sound. Their upcoming album Death Won’t Send A Letter is scheduled for release on September 29. The album cover has not yet been revealed.
The first single from the album is Born Again. It was released last month and the music video was posted on the band’s YouTube channel on August 7. The cover for the single is interesting and in sync with the look of the video. I anxious to see the album cover.
Many people are going to look at the cover of Trey Songz upcoming album Ready and assume that it is a rap album. The R&B singer appears on the cover shirtless and covered with tattoos. It is a beautiful B&W portrait. However, it does not give those who are unfamiliar with the artist any idea of the kind of music he performs. Songz needs to put on a nice silk shirt in order to appeal to the right audience.
Watch the music video for his single I Need A Girl and you’ll probably be surprised to hear a very good R&B love song. Ready is scheduled to be released on August 31.
What is reported to be the cover for Eminem’s forthcoming album Relapse 2 has been popping up on blogs and websites this week. The U.K. Amazon store has been taking preorders for the album November 16 listed as the release date. The date that appears on the album cover is 11/17/09. The artist’s manager has been reported to have denied that the release date is correct. In spite of the denial, my spidey sense tells me that this could a legitimate cover.
The cover for Bob Dylan’s forthcoming Christmas album was revealed today via a press release. Christmas In The Heart is scheduled for release in the U.S. on October 13. The album cover features an illustration reminiscent of a vintage greeting card.
If you want to participate in the AAX Album Cover Mash Up, all you have to do is follow these rules:
The album covers must be part of the AAX gallery.
All of the elements in the mash up cover must be present in one of the two originals. However, you do not have to use the original images. For example, if there is a black car in one of the original covers, you can use a black car from a stock photo instead of the one on the cover.
Submit your mash up along with the AAX links to the original cover images via e-mail to email@example.com. You must also include your name or AAX forum username.
I will publish mash ups as I receive them. I will not guarantee that your mash up will be published (but I’m not going to be too picky).
The first single from former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee's upcoming album Unbroken was released today. Had It All sounds like a country song to me. However, it is being marketed under the pop genre. You can listen to the song below.
McPhee made a publicity splash a few weeks ago when she appeared with her long brown hair cut short and dyed platinum blonde. It appears to me that she's trying for some kind of neo-Madonna look, with lots of bracelets and black nail polish.
Also, what is reported to be the cover Unbroken appeared on several websites and blogs today (right). I have not confirmed that this is the real deal.
The cover for the single looks kind of cheap. The cartoon scrawl typeface in hot pink doesn't thrill me. However, the photo of McPhee eating a cherry is very cute.
This week’s Pollpigeon poll for best album cover has been posted. I have preselected six notable covers from today’s new releases. Please vote on which one you think is the best — whether it is the best graphically, from a marketing perspective, etc.
Zoot Woman is a British electronic band that made a splash in 2007 with an innovative music video and a free download on RCRD LBL for their single We Won’t Break. The single is included on their third album Things Are What They Used To Be, which was released on August 21.
The album cover for Things Are What They Used To Be features a photograph of a floating red and white wax bust. It really grabs my attention. This is the type of album art that becomes instantly connected to the recording artist. There’s really nothing quite like it.
According to our Pollpigeon poll, the best album cover for the week of August 18 is Ursa Major by Third Eye Blind. There was a three-way tie for second place between Imperial Blaze by Sean Paul, Smash The Control Machine by Otep, and Armistice by Mutemath. Reba McEntire’s Keep On Loving You came in third.
Our poll for the best cover released this week will be posted this evening. Be sure to check back and vote for your favorite album cover. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain that your cover didn’t win.
Taking Woodstock, director Ang Lee’s comedy about the 1969 music festival, will be released in theaters tomorrow. The original motion picture soundtrack is already available. It includes original music from Danny Elfman’s score as well as songs by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead and other Woodstock headliners.
Danny Elfman’s original score for the film is being released on September 22. There may be some confusion between these two releases. The album covers are very similar. Just keep in mind that if you want the album with the original artists, buy the one that does not have Danny Elfman’s name on the cover.
Hobo, the first studio album by British singer-songwriter Charlie Winston, is scheduled to be released as an import in the U.S. on October 13. The music video for the single Like A Hobo has received almost 2.7 million views on YouTube since December.
The album cover that appears on Amazon.com is slightly different from the one I’ve posted below. It has a typical B&W look rather than the sepia tone (right). I think I prefer the sepia version. It has a richer look and I think it works better with the hobo theme. It is interesting that they would make a small change like that.
Winston is one of those talented British performers who probably won’t catch on in the U.S. However, I think he’s worth a listen. 2.7 million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong.
The cover for Whitney Houston’s new single Million Dollar Bill is the latest to give me that feeling of déjà vu. The cover features not one, not two, but three images of Whitney. That’s pretty much the same as the cover for Mariah Carey’s upcoming album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. I really don’t get the concept. I guess they figure that if one photo of the star is good, three is thrice as nice.
Both Mariah and Whitney look pretty loony in their poses on these covers. It looks as if they’re both having a lot of fun with their Photoshop clones. At least Whitney is wearing a nice dress rather than a stretched out man’s wife beater undershirt.
Since the death of Michael Jackson, there have been a few new albums released under his name. Most of them have had very tasteful album covers and a couple are actually worth owning. The Stripped Mixes is a good example. The album is a Motown collection of Jackson hits that have been stripped down to the original vocals and studio instrumentation. The cover features a photograph that is relatively unknown to Jackson fans.
Today, I just came across one of the first albums I have seen that appears to exploit Michael Jackson’s name. This album can probably be described as a “rip off” based simply on the way it is listed for sale on Amazon.com.
In Memory Of Michael Jackson: 1958-2009 does not appear to be an authorized release of music performed by Michael Jackson. The listing on Amazon.com does not include a track list nor the names of the artists who perform them. However, the artist is listed as Michael Jackson.
The album cover is not what one would expect from a label that is authorized to release Michael Jackson’s original material. It is also clearly marked “The Tribute Compilation”, which indicates that this album is more likely a tribute to Jackson by other artists.
Unfortunately, many consumers are likely to purchase this album thinking that it contains music performed by Michael Jackson. Over the next few months, we can anticipate that more albums bearing the name Michael Jackson and his likeness will pop up online and in record stores. Be very careful when purchasing these items. You may not be getting what is advertised.
Russian pop singer Irene Nelson’s music video for her single Sunrise is topping YouTube charts all over the world — except in the United States. The single has been remixed by Jason Nevins and there’s a version featuring Lil Wayne. Personally, I like the original version. The video features some stunning panoramic photography of Iceland.
I watched the first episode of Glee and the thing that I didn’t like about it is that young actors in their early to mid-twenties are playing high school students. Most of the actors don’t look much younger than those who are playing their teachers.
Recently, the Glee producers released a single performed by an actress who literally grew up on the Broadway stage while performing in Les Misérables. Lea Michele has been in several Broadway shows and can best be described as a veteran Broadway performer.
That’s why the way Glee and the music from the show is being promoted is a real WTF?! The cover art for the single On My Own shows Michele dressed in her high school girl costume. From many of the online comments that I’ve read, many people believe she is 16, rather than a 23-year-old woman who has actually performed in the Broadway production in which On My Own appears.
Michele’s version of On My Own is quite good — as it should be coming from a member of the Broadway cast. But, I think that it would be honest to present this single under the name Lea Michele, rather than as something performed by a fictional high school girl.
Personally, I don’t think Michele comes close to matching Frances Ruffelle’s 1985 original London cast recording (Ruffelle also recorded the 1987 original Broadway cast version). You can judge for yourself by listening to the clip posted below.
On August 25, 1979, My Sharona by The Knack hit #1 on the Billboard chart and stayed in position for six weeks. The L.A. rock quartet was an overnight sensation and were compared to The Beatles — much to the horror of many classic rock fans. Because of their retro style, the band was characterized as New Wave. However, the band was a fairly typical rock foursome with no electronic influences.
One of the most common criticisms of the band was that the sound of their songs seemed very repetative. Even though their debut album Get The Knack went double platinum, only My Sharona charted past top ten in the U.S. The second single, Good Girls Don’t was on the Billboard chart for 11 weeks and peaked at #11.
The cover for Get The Knack was very basic, featuring a B&W portrait of the band and the album title in bold block type. The album cover contributed to comparisions to The Beatles due to the obvious similarity to Meet The Beatles.
When the band’s popularity evaporated, it was common to see Get The Knack being sold at flea markets and yard sales. It seemed that no one wanted to keep the album in his or her record collection. The Knack had become uncool as quickly as My Sharona had climbed the charts. The Knack appears frequently on “one hit wonder” lists.
Contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Derek Webb’s new album Stockholm Syndrome is scheduled for release on August 31. The first single from the album What Matters More is stirring up controversy for both strong language and lyrics that condemn Christians for focusing on homosexuality rather than world suffering.
In the music video for What Matters More and on the album cover, Webb wears behind his wedding band a symbolic black eye given to Christians by those who don’t practice Christian values. Many Christian music fans are calling this a publicity stunt. I think it is a powerful message from a man who has had six #1 Christian radio hits.
The latest album cover news bite is that the cover for Arctic Monkey’s latest album Humbug only cost one dollar. However, the story can best be described using the album title — humbug.
The story indicates that the camera used to take the photograph used on the cover was purchased for one dollar. However, that doesn’t mean that the cover only cost a buck. It still had to be turned into an album cover by a graphic designer. The last time I checked, design professionals don’t work for free. The work was probably done under the supervision of an art director and went through the typical production queue. This is how urban legends about album covers get started.
The cover photo for U2’s The Joshua Tree was taken by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn. Corbijn has been quoted as saying, “This is the most serious set of shots I have taken of U2 and they became my most well-known photographs at the time. It was taken with a panoramic camera to take more of the landscapes in which was the main idea of the shoot: man and environment, the Irish in America.”
I’m just saying that you get what you pay for. If you take an amateur photograph with a $1 camera, you end up with the cover of Humbug. If you hire a professional photographer, you get the cover of The Joshua Tree and the entire Joshua Tree motiff that is associated with the album.
Of course, much of the success of U2’s The Joshua Tree has to do with the music. However, it is obvious that U2’s artistic vision extended beyond the music. They produced a quality product that included the album cover and a series of impressive images. Those images have served the band well for over 23 years. Yes, you certainly do get what you pay for.
The Guild is a Web series about online gamers that is in its third season. This week, they released a music video that has gone viral. (Do YouWant To Date My) Avatar is a very funny video that features the cast dressed up as their virtual selves.
Both the video and the single are currently available on iTunes and Amazon.com.
It looks as if the AAX gallery will reach the milestone 50,000 covers at some time today. I previously predicted that the gallery would reach that mark early next month. However, AAX users have been very busy uploading new album art.
As I’m writing this blog entry, the gallery is at 49,971 covers. That’s just 29 more covers to go.
AAX doesn’t do contests to encourage users to upload covers like a few other album cover sites. Doing that only results in lots of poorly scanned covers that are often ripped off from other album cover websites.
Works Progress Administration is a new musical ensemble that is comprised of Luke Bulla (Lyle Lovett), Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), and Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket) and additional members Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Greg Leisz (Bill Frisell, Joni Mitchell), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Imposters), and Davey Faragher (Cracker, the Imposters).
The group’s website says that the image posted at right is the official cover for their debut album. However, the cover that is being used by online retailers is quite different. I really like the retro cover. The brief article on website says the cover was designed by Alphabet Arm in Boston.
Glen Phillips has been a favorite singer since I used to go see Toad The Wet Sprocket perform in Santa Barbara. Sean and Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek are amazingly talented as well. Watch the promotional video and let me know what you think of WPA.
The cover of German DJ Shir Khan’s upcoming album Exploited is a candidate for the WTF of the year award. It features a collage of plastic vampire teeth and a fake (I hope) hairy crotch displayed in a funhouse mirror effect.
Exploited is scheduled for U.S. release on September 15. I’ve posted promotional video that I found on YouTube.
AAX blog reader audio20 tipped me to today’s WTF album cover. It is for a compilation album put out by a French record label called Sisters or Sister Phunk. I don’t read French, so I’m not really certain about the name.
When I first saw the cover for 18 Airs du Temps, I was immediately reminded of Windowlicker, the 1997 EP by Aphex Twin (right). Windowlicker features a busty woman in a bikini with the head of Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James Photoshopped onto her body. The effect is intended to be comical and it worked. The cover for Windowlicker is often included on “worst ever” lists.
Like Windowlicker, the cover of 18 Airs du Temps features a woman in a bikini. Her head has been covered with a sepia tone photograph of a man with a moustache. Unlike Windowlicker, this collage seems artless and doesn’t have the same humorous effect. If you’re going to imitate something without looking cheep, it is probably a good idea to do it better than the original.
I was able to find a bit of information about Thomes Lélu, the artist who designed this cover. Apparently, he is selling prints of it as pop art posters.
The compilation reflects its cover designed by Thomas Lélu, artist, writer and graphic artist who comes back with a flourish to his first love with Sisters to a collage with 6 new in-your-face posters.
Good luck with that Mr. Lélu. Some of the artist’s other works include Farah Fawcett’s famous red swimsuit poster with the head cropped off and diagonal lines drawn across it. I guess I’m a philistine for not being able appreciate something like that as pop art.
The album actually has some decent tracks on it. It features artists like Yes Giantess, Passion Pit, and Frankmusic.
The cover for the upcoming album by Selena Gomez & The Scene was revealed today on Gomez’s MySpace page. Kiss & Tell is scheduled to be released on September 29.
The cover features the young pop star with pink gems in the shape of a heart Photoshopped on to her lips. In my opinion, the effect is kind of creepy. I can’t help thinking what it would feel like to have rough, hard things pasted on my lips. Imagine what it would be like to actually kiss someone with stuff like that on her mouth — not a pleasant idea. This is a cute concept, but it fails on execution.
Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright is currently on tour with nine performance remaining for 2009. He also has a live album called Milwaukee At last!!! coming out on September 22. I saw Wainwright live in Monterey, California and it was a memorable performance. I found an amateur video of him performing in Lyons, Colorado on August 14 on YouTube this morning. It will give you a good idea of what his performances are like.
I really like the cover for the deluxe version of Wainwright’s album. He is putting on a diamond earring and pretending to be a diva. Those familiar with Wainwright get the joke. He is far from a diva on stage. He is very down-to-earth and approachable. The retro font used quite effectively on this cover.
The only rules are: Use the Basshunter logo Include the album title, ‘Bass Generation’ in your design Include the release date, 28.09.09
The rest is up to you. To enter, right click here and ‘save as’ to download the logo, then upload your design to Basshunter’s Bebo Photo Stream! If you don’t have photoshop, you can download the logo as a jpeg below!
The winner will receive their artwork signed, framed and presented to them by Basshunter at the Bass Generation tour! Get your designs in by 2nd September. Please note that this will not be the official artwork for the album, it is just for fun!
In related news, Basshunter has just released a new music video for his upcoming single Every Morning. There isn’t any cover art for this single yet. But, it is worth watching because it is one of the strangest music videos I’ve seen in a very long time.
When you strat watching it, it seems like a typical youth-centric dance music video. But, the end will leave you asking “WTF?!” It is perhaps the stupidest ending for a music video of this kind imaginable.
Check this out. Experimental electronic recording artist Moldover has created album art out of a circuit board. Not only that, the electronics actually work — making the cover insert function as a musical instrument! Just watch the YouTube video to learn all about it and see a demonstration.
On August 27, 1988, George Michael’s single Monkey made it to number one on the Billboard chart. Monkey was the fourth consecutive #1 hit from Michael’s Faith album. Perhaps Michael’s label, Epic, had simply run out of ideas. Monkey has one of the least creative covers of any #1 hit single in recent momory. When it hit the stores, many people where surprised that the cover was simply the word “monkey” on a plain white background. The word is followed by a period and a gray line appears above the letter “e” — for no apparent reason. Was it supposed to be pronounced “monkeeeeee”? No one knew.
With Johnny Marr on guitar, the first single from The Cribs new album Ignore The Ignorant has a very Smiths sound to it. Cheat On Me has not yet been released in the U.S., but you can listen to it now by watching the music video that was posted on YouTube. Ignore The Ignorant will be available in the U.K. on September 7. The album may not be released in the U.S. until next year.
This is why it is a good idea to have a U.K. iTunes account. If you’re lucky enough to have a British friend who will set one up for you, it gives you access to lots of music that is withheld from the U.S. market.
The cover art for the single and the album are both collages. I like this medium for album covers. It is something that we’ve seen as far back as The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper album, which used a collage of cardboard cutouts, wax figures and numerous objects. Of course, these collages are not that elaborate.
If you like early Depeche Mode, it is likely that you will enjoy the latest single from electronic duo Infected Mushroom. Smashing The Opponent is the first single from the upcoming album Legend Of The Black Shawarma. Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis provides guest vocals for Smashing The Opponent, which was released as a free download in June.
The cover for both the album and the single features trolls or gnomes (I don’t really know the difference). It is a rather odd choice for the electronic music genre. However, the illustrations are very creative. They look like something from a children’s storybook.
Legend Of The Black Shawarma is scheduled for U.S. release on September 15.
I found this album cover photo on Flickr this evening. Remember the band Surf Punks?
Surf Punks were formed in 1976 by Dennis Dragon, the son of the Symphony conductor Carmen Dragon, and brother of Captain & Tennille’s Daryl Dragon, and Drew Steele.
I grew up in Ventura, California and owned the band’s first two albums Surf Punks and My Beach, which were released in 1979 and 1980. Surf Punks can best be described as a novelty act. They were fun to listen to and were played on my favorite radio station KROQ.
Currently, there are no Surf Punks covers in the AAX gallery.
The latest single from British alternative band Bloc Party was released last week. One More Chance is now one of 12 songs that have been released with that title over the years — by artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys and will.i.am.
The cover art for this single is a photograph of a window. It looks like stock photography you can find through Corbis (right). Perhaps that is what they did. In any case, I don’t think it really does much to promote the song. I don’t think too many people are going to look at a stock photo of a window and think, “Hum, that looks like an interesting song.”
I know that most covers for singles are done on the cheap these days. But, they could at least make an effort to have some kind of tie-in with the song. As is so often the case, there are lots of great images in the video.
Motown legend Smokey Robinson has a wonderful single out right now. Don’t Know Why was written and recorded by Jesse Harris in 1999. It won three Grammy awards for Norah Jones in 2003, including Song of the Year.
Robinson’s version is delightful. His voice is still great at 69 years young. I’m not so crazy about the cover for the single. Robinson looks a bit bewildered and doe-eyed to me. I think a still from the video of him singing the song would have been more appropriate. I like the recording studio setting.
The Pollpigeon poll for the best album cover released this week is up and running. Click the link below to vote for your favorite cover from the six I have preselected as notable from among this week’s new releases. (BTW, I know “which” is grammatically correct.)
Last Friday, Canadian rock band Three Days Grace revealed the cover for their upcoming album Life Starts Now via the band’s blog. The album is set for release on September 22.
Going by the comments left by fans on the blog entry, the cover is a hit. Personally, I find the illustration to be evocative of revolution against pop culture. It seems to support the message of the album’s title. Free spirits are bursting from the wasteland of reality TV and sitcoms.
The album cover for the soundtrack of the 2009 version of Fame is holding true to the original. Back in 1980, everyone I knew had the LP with the bright red Fame logo on the cover. It was a simple design that immediately became iconic.
The new Fame logo is very similar to the original. It is minus a couple of flourishes and has been put up in gold lights, but it is essentially the same.
Undoubtedly, there will be big difference between the music that was on the first soundtrack and this new one. From watching the trailer, it is obvious that the production is designed to appeal to the young audience of today.
Will the new Fame mean as much to creative young people as the 1980 version meant to my generation? That remains to be seen. I do not have a release date for this album. The film will be released on September 25.
This goes to show that there’s really nothing that can compete with a pretty face. The runner up was Hot Mess by Cobra Starship. Stupid Love by Mindy Smith and the Slaughterhouse album tied for third place.
The poll for the best album cover for the week of August 18 will be posted here on the AAX blog tomorrow morning.
How many times have you seen a camel featured on an album cover? During the span of just a few weeks, I have seen two albums that have camels. First, there was the new album by Wilco that has a camel wearing a birthday hat. Then, I had a definite déjà vu moment a couple of days ago when I saw the cover of Stu by an artist called Waines.
I imagine there will be a lot of teenagers who will say, “It is the album with the camel on it” when describing what they want for Christmas this year. Boy, will they be disappointed.
I just stumbled upon a very cool music video promotion on YouTube. Mercury Records U.K. has posted several videos for the single The Day I Died by singer-songwriter Just Jack (aka Jack Allsopp). When you get near the end of the video, you’re given a choice between two links. You click the link and are taken to another video that continues the main character’s journey.
The Day I Died is the second single from the album All Night Cinema. I like the intense portrait on the cover of this album. The eyes have a lot of impact. All Night Cinema is available as an import. I do not have a U.S. release date.
A video for the single See Me Now by South African-born U.K. pop singer MPHO was posted on YouTube today. The single is from the upcoming album Pop Art. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of this album. There is no release date scheduled at this time.
I’m not sure if this is the final album art. It may change by the time the album is released. My spidey sense tells me this young woman is going to be a big star.
Creative Review published a blog article today about a French artist who uses Rubik’s Cubes to recreate classic album covers.
We’ve already seen people doing something similar with a Swedish bead art called pärlplattor. Basically, these designs reduce the original image to pixels and can deliver some impressive results. Our brains fill in the missing information and we can easily see the face of Jim Morrison or Michael Jackson.
Obviously, it would be much easier and far less expensive to use the pärlplattor beads than to take hundreds of Rubik’s Cubes apart. The end result is very much the same. Perhaps someone should let this French artist know about pärlplattor.
Many of our readers will be aware of the work of French artist Invader, who has made a name for himself in recent years by creating mini mosaics of space invaders out of coloured tiles and installing them in street locations in cities around the world.
Cerrone 3: Supernature by French singer-songwriter and percussionist Cerrone was one of the most interesting disco albums of 1977. Not only is the album cover one of the strangest ever created, the title song Supernature is about genetically mutated creatures that are accidentally created by experiments to end world hunger — very ahead of its time. It was co-written by Lena Lovich.
Everyone I knew bought this album because of the unusual cover. However, the great music ensured that we weren’t disappointed. The bizarre promotional film was played for laughs in clubs and video bars for years. The song was covered by Erasure in 1989 (see image above). The Erasure single is extremely rare. It came packaged in a plastic envelope with a velcro closure and snowflake cutout.
British R&B singer Livvi Franc’s debut single is set to be released in the U.S. on September 1. I’m That Bitch features Pitbull doing the rap segments. I’ve heard that there is a censored version called “I’m That Chick” that has gotten some U.K. radio play.
There is no music video for this single. The song has been posted to YouTube several times. I’ve included it below.
Rock band SOil revealed the cover for their upcoming album Picture Perfect via several website’s today. The cover features a young blonde with mascara-stained tears rolling down her face as she looks at herself in a mirror. For some reason, it makes me think of Carrie Prejean having a bad hair day. Sorry.
I know, I know. This album seems like something you’d find over at Famous Album Covers. I swear it isn’t a joke. There really is a band called Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. I don’t think the name is as funny as my fictional punk band Richard’s Gerbil. It is pretty darn close, though.
Over the past few days, I’ve noticed that a significant number of visitors to the AAX blog came here via a Google search for singer-songwriter Kate Earl. I’m not sure what has sparked the sudden interest in this talented performer, but I’m happy to give my readers what they’re looking for.
Earl recently announced on her blog that her single Melody is going to be the free download of the week on iTunes beginning August 18.
My single “Melody” will be available as a free download, it is Itunes single of the week starting August 18th. The entire album will release that day! Woo hoo!
I already own her EP Introducing Kate Earl. It came out a couple of months ago. The covers for both the EP and the album have been uploaded to the AAX gallery. I have also posted a video that features Earl performing Melody live.
Since this is a blog about album cover art, I have to put in my two cents about the covers for the EP and the album. Kate Earl is uncommonly beautiful. If I were designing covers for this artist, I would only use the best headshots money can buy. Forget about multi-colored special effects and staged bedroom locations. This artist’s face could easily sell a million albums (see my recent article about Madonna). Her label needs to recognize that.
Today is Madonna’s 51st birthday. Whether you love her or hate her, there is no denying that her 1983 debut album was an overnight sensation. The portrait of the young pop singer wearing dozens of braclets, a dog chain around her neck, and platinum blonde hair helped make the album a huge success.
From a marketing perspective, this is what I consider to be one of the most perfect album covers of all time. It was quite sensational 26 years ago and it is still a compelling image. The most significant thing about it is that it sold millions of albums for an unknown artist.
On a more personal note, I will never forget the first time I saw this album cover. I was shopping in a mall with a woman I was dating. I stopped and picked up the LP from a bin as we passed a Wherehouse records store. My date grabbed me forcefully by the arm and snapped, “Do you LIKE her?! She looks like a slut to me!” I went back and bought it the next day. That says just about everything there is to know about the impact of Madonna and this cover.
The debut album by L.A. rock band Crash Kings was released back in May. The video for the single Mountain Man was posted on YouTube and has received about 3,000 views — certainly not a viral hit. However, I think this band deserves a listen.
The album art is a sketch of what I assume to be a Flamenco dancer. I really don’t know if that’s the best choice for a rock band called Crash Kings — epecially for their debut. Frankly, the cover seems kind of fey and is disconnected from the band’s name and style of music. Why name your band “Crash Kings” and not hit the scene with images of a demolition derby? This album cover would be more appropriate for a band called “Flamenco Faeries” or something.
With her new album Keep On Loving You coming out on Tuesday, dedicated Reba fans are eagerly anticipating a string of hits for the veteran country star. The first single from the album is Strange. The music video was released about three months ago.
Unfortunately, Strange has one of the strangest covers I have seen in a very long time. Along with a cute photo of Reba, the cover features a rose, some Scrabble tiles, and a room with checker board floor tiles. None of these things have anything to do with the song. Sometimes I think they just put anything at random on these covers.
Watch the music video and you’ll see that a box of chocolates figures prominently in the song. If I were designing a cover for this single, I would show Reba holding a box of chocolates. Every piece of chocolate would have a bite taken out of it and Reba would have a very naughty look on her face (maybe even a little smear of chocolate on her cheek). That would tell you everything you need to know about the song. I couldn’t resist doing a mock up of my idea. What do you think?
A release date for the original motion picture soundtrack for District 9 has not yet been announced. That’s probably not great timing since the film is getting great reviews and could be one of the most popular science fiction films of the year.
Like most motion picture soundtracks, the album cover is based on the poster. I like the “no humans allowed” sign. It is a very smart graphic that we’re sure to see on t-shirts very soon.
There have been news stories across the globe featuring the couple who appeared on the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack album. They are still together 40 years after they were photographed at the music festival, cuddling under a muddy duvet.
It is great to read that true love can survive a hippie music festival. And it is obvious why this story is being repeated all over the Internet.
However, this story isn’t complete. I want to know what happened to the naked toddlers who were photographed playing with the instruments on stage at Woodstock. Their photograph appeared on the second Woodstock soundtrack, Woodstock Two.
The Love and Rockets tribute album New Tales To Tell will be released on August 18. As I wrote previously, the album cover was created by Shepard Fairey, the artist who became famous for his iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
The cover for New Tales To Tell is a skilled interpretation of the designs that appeared on Love and Rockets album covers such as Express and Love and Rockets. While the cover is instantly recognizable as a Love and Rockets album, it also shows the unique stylings of Fairey’s work.
Fairey’s work has not been without controversy. He has been accused of copyright infringement for his Obama poster and has faced criminal charges of vandalism for his displays of public art.
Some of the artists appearing on the tribute album are Black Francis, The Flaming Lips, Dandy Warhols, Better Than Ezra, and Puscifer.
The soundtrack for the second season of the TV series Mad Men will be released on August 18. The third season of the award-winning program will debut tomorrow evening on AMC.
Everything about Mad Men is done to perfection. That includes the cover art for the season two soundtrack. It features the main character Don Draper standing still in flurry of Madison Avenue workers. The image is an excellent representation of what the show is all about. If you haven’t seen Mad Men, tune in tomorrow and see what you’ve been missing.
Apparently, the album Fuckfest by San Francisco avant-garde band Oxbow is a reissue of a album originally released in 1989. When I first examined the cover, it reminded me of some of the batik fabric designs I did for an art class in college.
Then, I looked closer and realized that the design is really a sexual anatomy lesson. The wiki for Oxbow describes their music as “a blend of Noise rock, Avant-garde jazz, Musique concrète (AMG), and Blues, creating soundscapes caustic, or plangent, with overtones of paranoia, revulsion, exaltation.”
The Flaming Lips revealed the cover of their upcoming album Embryonic on Wednesday. AAX user has anetode added it to the gallery. There is no release date set for the album. A digital EP featuring tracks from Embryonic is currently being sold by Amazon.com and iTunes (show at right).
The album cover is somewhat disturbing. I’m not really comfortable with images of women being brutalized. I’m hoping that there is some kind of context for this cover.
Generally, I don’t rate album covers on this blog. If I had to give this one a thumbs up or a thumbs down, I think I’d be moving in the downward direction.
Jasen Kaplan “celebrity makeup artist” twittered all day Thursday from the location of Adam Lambert’s album cover shoot. You’ve got the location, possibly the outfits, the accessories and some eye wear and of course, the jacket.
On August 18, 1979, the American R&B band Chic hit number one on the Billboard chart with their disco single Good Times. Formed in 1976 by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Chic had a string of hits such as Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), Everybody Dance and Le Freak. This year, Chic was nominated for induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
The cover for both the album Risqué and the single of Good Times featured the same photograph of the band positioned around a piano in an old study and dressed in vintage costumes. I was not able to find an image of the single. However, I created a composite of the album cover using several images I found online.
I found a nice surprise in my inbox today. ITunes is giving away 10 dance tracks from the Kompakt label. If you subscribe to iTunes new music newsletter, you will get an redeem code via e-mail.
“Since 1998, the German Kompakt family of labels has delivered electronic music fans ambient, microhouse, pop, trance, and minimal techno albums that display the organization’s inherent love of melody and diversity. Kompakt has recently welcomed a wide range of labels into its family. Hear music from some of those members on this free ten-track sampler.”
The tracks are pretty good. Obviously, they could have done a better job on the album cover. The image iTunes provides is this ugly 550 x 550 pixel thing. Ugh!
Blogs are buzzing about a “new” Thriller 25th anniversary album. The cover being shown on the blogs writing about this rumor is that of the deluxe casebook edition that was released in February 2008.
Sorry, folks. This is not a new album. It is simply a deluxe edition of the Thriller 25 album that came out last year — several months after the 25th anniversary of Thriller. The cover was added to the AAX gallery in December 2008.
It is a great version of the album with extra tracks and Amazon.com has it in stock. It is on sale for $20.99. Just click the “buy now” button and you’ll be taken to Amazon.com.
It is likely that the unusual cover featuring Jackson surrounded by zombies from the Thriller video is what started the rumor. Not very many people are familiar with this particular cover. Sorry to disappoint those who thought this was a new release.
I am not sure whether or not this is actually the cover for Dutch DJ Tiësto’s upcoming album Kaleidoscope. I do believe it is a likely candidate. The image has been floating around the Internet for several day now as the promotional graphic for the artist’s upcoming tour. It certainly looks like a Tiësto album cover and it is likely that the album art is being used to promote the tour.
Also, the video for the first single from the album I Will Be Here was posted on YouTube last week. It features one of my favorite bands, Sneaky Sound System. Check out the guy with the giant speaker on his back.
Kaleidoscope is scheduled for release on October 6.
Probably one of the most iconic album covers of the early ’90s is for Nivana’s Nevermind. The cover features a photograph of a baby swimming after a dollar bill on a hook. The cover has been the subject of a number of parodies, including one by Weird Al Yankovic (shown at right).
However, the use of swimming pools as a theme for album covers was not new when Nevermind was released. Recording artists have been photographed in and around pools quite frequently. I browsed through the AAX gallery and selected a few covers that caught my eye, including one by Howie Day that is yet to be released.
Twenty years ago, I worked in a bookstore in Los Angeles and was given a booklet by the late Charles Bukowski. It is called Bring Me Your Love and was illustrated by R. Crumb. The booklet (at 15 pages it can’t really be called a book) has been a prized possession ever since.
Bring Me Your Love is a short story about a woman named Gloria who is institutionalized. The R. Crumb illustrations are unforgettable. One that is etched in my memory is of Gloria punching herself in the face (right).
In addition to books and comics, R. Crumb has illustrated the covers of several notable album covers, such as Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & the Holding Company (Janis Joplin) in 1967.
Today, I was browsing through the AAX gallery and saw a very familiar image. AAX user flickeringlight had uploaded an album cover for an artist that I’d never heard of before.
From online research, I have been able to discover that Moderat is a collaboration between electronic groups Apparat and Modeselektor. Their album was released in April 2009. I’ve listened to a few samples on various websites and I really like their single Rusty Nails.
I don’t know if there is a connection between the illustration for this album cover and the one done by R. Crumb. It could very well be just a coincidence that the two are so very similar. What do you think?
While browsing online today, I came across the following question about the Eagles’ Hotel California on a message board:
On the cover of The Eagles album Hotel California, there is a picture of an abandoned hotel with someone in the doorway. When they took the picture there was no one in the hotel, and when they developed the picture it seemed as if there was no one there. But on the album cover there appeared someone in the doorway. The story is that a person died in the hotel before it became abandoned and then appeared in the photo. Is this real or just nonsense?
I’ve heard variations of this urban legend for years. Sometimes, it involves the inside cover image which is supposed to be of the hotel’s lobby. This time, the writer specifically mentions the cover. So, let’s take a look at it.
As you can see, there’s no one standing in the doorway. Also, the hotel in the photograph can hardly be called “abandoned” since it is the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel. The hotel is old. However, it is not abandoned. It is a Southern California landmark. The photo at right was taken in 1925. You can clearly see the two towers shown on the Hotel California cover.
A variation on this myth involves the inside cover lobby photo. That photograph was taken at a hotel in Hollywood that has since been converted into an apartment building.
The lobby photograph includes the band and the entire room is full of people. There’s not a ghost in sight. There’s nothing especially creepy about the lobby. It just looks like a normal location.
I guess the song Hotel California lends itself to these kinds of rumors. The lyrics are kind of spooky — if you take them literally.
Perhaps people who are not from the Western United States view the mission revival architecture of the Beverly Hills Hotel to be somewhat exotic. I suppose the album cover could have an eerie look to people who aren’t familiar with the location. But, the photograph was taken on prime real estate in the heart of Beverly Hills.
So, I hope I’ve help put this urban legend to rest. There is no ghost on the cover of Hotel California — unless it is the ghost of 1970s rock.
American rapper Kid Cudi revealed the artwork for his upcoming album Man On The Moon: End Of Day on his blog today. The art for both the CD and the deluxe DVD versions were posted without the title typography and parental advisory label.
Both versions are scheduled to be released on September 15. The blog entry does not give any information on who designed the covers. (It would be noce if recording artists gave a nod to the designers more often.)
After several days of ho hum covers, it is great to finally see some album art that has some artistic merit. The illustrations for these covers are excellent. The first cover posted below is for the CD. The second is the deluxe DVD version.
The cover for Tim McGraw’s upcoming album was revealed on the artist’s website yesterday. Southern Voice will be released on October 20. The first single from the album is It’s A Business Doing Pleasure With You.
There’s nothing particularly interesting about this cover. It is a nice portrait of the artist, in his tradmark black cowboy hat and t-shirt. The image on the website is not high quality and therefore has not been added to the AAX gallery. Please check the gallery in the near future for this cover.
The soundtrack album for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is scheduled to be released on August 18. Tarantino is known for his unusual soundtracks and this one is no different. It is difficult to imagine a film about Nazis featuring David Bowie’s Cat People and several tracks by Ennio Morricone.
I am somewhat disappointed with the album art. It certainly doesn’t compare to Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. It has a kind of Raiders of the Lost Ark look to it. Perhaps that is intentional. The film seems to be a typical depiction of cartoonish evil Nazis and cornball G.I.s. Obviously, the trailer doesn’t impress me very much either. I won’t be surprised if the Nazis open a golden box and their faces melt off.
Every now and then, I see a music video and wonder why the album cover doesn’t feature the same great art direction. The cover for the upcoming Simian Mobile Disco album Temporary Pleasures and the video for one of the tracks called Audacity of Huge is a very good example.
The album cover features some kind of fish eye lens bubble effect that we’ve all seen a hundred times. It is about as interesting as 90% of the amateur photography you can see on Flickr every day. The music video for Audacity of Huge is another story. It is packed with interesting and unexpected images — and ROBOTS! Who doesn’t love robots?
The truth is, I’ve had this album cover on my desktop for several days and had very little interest in posting it to the AAX gallery until after I saw the video. If I were the record label, I would change this album cover using the same art director who made Audacity of Huge. At least put some robots on the cover. Temporary Pleasures is scheduled to be released on August 31.
On August 12, 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. His device used a cylinder to record and playback sound. The disc record (gramophone record) was invented over 10 years later by Emile Berliner, a German-born American inventor.
So, for some strange reason, August 12 has been declared Vinyl Record Day by a nonprofit organization — even though Edison did not invent the vinyl record. Personally, I think Berliner’s May 20 birthday would be a more appropriate choice. But, I guess Thomas Edison has more appeal to Americans than the man who actually invented the record as we know it today. (I apologize for my German-American pride coming through here.)
Anyway, the mission of the organization is noble enough:
Vinyl Record Day hopes to increase awareness that economics prevent record companies from transferring everything recorded to compact disc. Educating the public on why and how to care for a record collection is seen as an important step toward preservation. Responsibility for preservation rests with the public, not record companies. It’s up to you and me to preserve and care for our record collections. We’ve kept them because they represent an important part of us and now with time we have become the custodians of our recorded heritage. It is up to us to assure future generations will not lose an important link to recorded history.
Emile Berliner with gramophone. Image via Wikipedia
I still regret that day that I took my crates of vinyl to Wherehouse and traded them in for a handful of CDs. At the time, I believed news reports that eventually everything recorded on vinyl would be available on CD.
Sadly, there were a lot of records in my collection that will probably never be made available. I had quite a few rare 12” singles, such as Billy Idol’s White Wedding on white vinyl and most of The Smiths early singles. I would love to have them today.
The Vinyl Record Day website also includes a list of what poll results determined to be the top ten album covers of all time. Not surprisingly, all ten covers can be found in the AAX gallery.
This is the first of a new weekly feature here on the AlbumArtExchange blog. Early each Wednesday, I will publish a poll asking readers to select the best album cover from the new releases I feel are the most notable.
Most of the new releases I choose to feature will be U.S. releases. However, I will on occassion include U.K. releases — particularly if they are interesting.
What was the last album that you purchased that you listened to from beginning to end over and over again? When I was a teenager, there were many albums like Pink Floyd’s The Wall that you just couldn’t pick and choose individual tracks to play. We put the LP on the turntable, donned our headphones, and listened to both sides. It was an experience.
An article posted at Wired magazine’s Epicenter blog details the upcoming “battle” between Apple and major recording labels over the development of new digital music formats. Both Apple’s Project Cocktail and CMX, which is being developed by Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI, are supposed to add cover art, liner notes, and interactive features to digital albums.
By Eliot Van Buskirk August 11, 2009 | 6:18 pm | Categories: Media
Apple and the major labels are squaring off for a major battle this fall with competing formats for delivering the latest innovation in digitial music. Full albums will come with a cornucopia of digital extras — at least that’s the way much of the tech press is setting the scene for a clash between Apple’s Project Cocktail and the major labels’ CMX format.
Both wrap songs, videos, images, lyrics, ringtones and other digital doodads into a comprehensive package that the industry hopes will bring back the long lost, profitable days of full album sales, which gave way to listeners buying single songs.
The common goal is supposed to be the resurrection of the album, which has long been the staple of the recording industry. With online customers choosing to download individual tracks rather than entire albums, it is believed that special features that come only with an album will help boost sales.
One thing that most of the news articles about these new formats seem to overlook is how they will impact recording artists. The digital music format was not developed by the record industry. The MP3 was something that was forced upon them. In addition, the technology that is used to produce an MP3 is not proprietary to the recording industry.
This means that independent recording artists and small record labels can easily produce their own product and distribute it for sale through online stores. This will not be the case with Apple’s Cocktail and CMX. These formats will be owned by the record industry and artists who wish to use them to promote their albums will undoubtedly have to make deals with the major labels.
If these formats end up being something that consumers like (and that’s probably not likely), it will be a step back for independent recording artists and small labels. They will almost certainly be locked out of the game by the big boys.
As I’ve written before, the only thing that will bring back the album is for record labels to produce albums that people want to buy — those with 8 to 12 good tracks and very little filler. People don’t really buy albums for the cover art and liner notes.
In the early days of the LP, albums were just that — collections of singles that the artist had previously released. Then, recording artists began to utilize the expanded recording time to create longer works. The albums were often recorded to be listened to all at once, like an opera or similar composition.
A return to creating long-playing performances rather than a collection of individual tracks is the best way to get consumers interested in purchasing albums. That interest is something that “digital doodads” such as ringtones and computer wallpapers won’t accomplish.
It appears that Twitter and Twitpic is quickly becoming the cool way for recording artists to reveal their album covers. Today, American boy band Honor Society revealed the cover for their upcoming album Fashionably Late — the title of the album is “Fashionably Late” not that they were late in revealing the cover — via Twitter.
For recording artists and PR folks who may be reading this, Honor Society did everything right. The tweet included the terms “album” and “cover”, the title of the album and the release date. The art that was uploaded to Twitpic is print resolution 1500 x 1500 pixels (800 x 800 is suitable for digital distribution). This allows blogs, fans, and online journalists to spread the word about the upcoming release.
I just discovered a service called POLLpigeon that allows users to conduct polls via Twitter. The poll stumbled on this afternoon asks people to choose the best album cover from a selection of five.
Unfortunately, none of the album covers were not what I would consider to be particularly notable. However, this has unspired me to do an AAX poll every Wednesday (new music is released on Tuesdays) to allow people to vote on the best cover of the week.
When I first saw the album cover for American alternative band Cobra Starship’s album Hot Mess, I thought about posting it in our WTF category. It is simply repulsive. The band’s logo looks as if it were drawn in magic markers. It is definitely not impressive.
Now, the band’s single Good Girls Go Bad featuring Leighton Meester is climbing up the charts, assisted by a music video that’s getting attention on YouTube. The cover for the single is also deliberately crude, featuring a woman sitting on a toilet while she draws on the face of man who is passed out with a Sharpy.
It isn’t that I don’t like shocking and controversial album covers. Cobra Starship is simply trying too hard. Both covers are too contrived and leave me cold. Perhaps I’ve seen to many of these kinds of photos on photo sharing sites like Webshots and Flickr.
Heddon Street, the seedy-looking location seen on cover of the 1972 David Bowie album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, has recently undergone a major renovation. According to an article in the London Daily Standard, it is now the home of nine restaurants with sidewalk dining.
The back-alley street made famous by a David Bowie album cover has undergone a £1.5 million revamp.
Heddon Street, which featured on the cover of Bowie’s landmark 1972 album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, is barely recognisable after a multi-million-pound revamp to improve the Regent Street area.
Over the years, I’ve seen album covers used in many creative ways. However, this YouTube video is the first time I’ve seen someone use an album cover as inspiration for eye makeup. The young woman in the video uses the color scheme of Benny Benassi“s Rock ‘n’ Rave album cover for a very unique how to.
The cover for an album reported to be the first demo that Tupac Shakur recorded when he was going under the name MC New York has been revealed online. The album has been titled Shakurspeare and features a painting of the late rapper dressed up in Victorian lace. Not very gangsta if you ask me.
The album is slated to be released on September 13 on Born Busy Records. If you’re interested, you can listen to a clip at http://www.shakurspeare.com. Unfortunately, is not very good quality — lots of noise. I’m sure die hard Tupac Shakur fans won’t mind the imperfections.
Here’s what the website has to say about the album cover:
Shakurspeare with its album cover also derived from the oil painting titled “Shakurspeare” also created by Bastfield depicts the young Shakur in likeness to the famous Playwright, Shakespeare. The concept was based on the 17 year old Tupac Shakur sharing with Bastfield his dream and desire to one day become an accomplished Shakespearean actor as told in Chapter 13 of Back in the Day:My life and times with Tupac Shakur. Bastfield will be releasing “Shakurspeare” the painting as a Limited Edition along with the 13 Spiritual Vibrations that he received from Shakurspeare that were edited out of the book on the Born Busy Records website.
Along with an interview with designer Michael Doret, it was announced that the cover for the upcoming KISS album will be revealed soon on the band’s website. Doret is the designer of the cover for KISS’s 1976 album Rock And Roll Over.
Here are some excerpts from a recent Deuce News interview with Michael Doret, designer of the classic “Rock N Roll Over” album cover. Michael’s latest design, the brand new KISS Album cover, will be premiered soon on KISSONLINE!
(DN) I am perfectly aware that such definition is way beyond complete as You are among the best designers around and that your art can be seen everywhere, but…you know, we are so next to the D-Day to see the new KISS album title and cover revealed that…
(Michael) I would like more than anything right now to share with you what I did for the new cover. I am very excited about it because I think it is among the very best of my work. But an agreement is an agreement: I gave my word to Paul that I would not reveal anything before the “official” release of information, and I am a man of my word.
Girl In A Coma is an alternative rock trio from San Antonio who record on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records. Their latest music video El Monte was shot in their hometown and features outstanding vocals by Nina Diaz.
The band’s album Trio B.C. was released in June and the album cover has what can best be described as a “homespun” look to it. It is obvious from both the cover and the music video that Girl In A Coma isn’t being backed by a major marketing campaign.
However, I really like the sound of both El Monte and that of their previous video for a song called Static Mind. I think that this is a young trio that could sell some records with the proper marketing. Unfortunately, that kind of support is too often wasted on former Disney kids and reality show personalities.
I often try to feature talented artists who are out of the mainstream and could benefit from a cool album cover and a the vision of an art director. This is definitely one of those bands.
In August 1979, the single Pop Muzik by British electronic band M. was released in the United States. By November, it had climbed to number one on the Billboard chart.
Pop Muzik was definitely ahead of its time. Both the song and the promotional video still seem fresh today. There have been a few covers over the years, including one by 3rd Party which appeared on the Night At The Roxbury soundtrack The song is also performed in Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Pop Musik, a new collection of remixes will be released in September. It is priced at a hefty $19.98 on Amazon.com.
The cover for the single is especially difficult to find. I was able to locate several very poor scans and photographs online and created the composite below.
A graphic that is reported to be the cover for R. Kelly’s upcoming untitled album appeared online a few days ago. However, it looks like it was pieced together using the graphics from the artist’s webpage. I suppose it is possible. But, this one looks like a hoax to me.
The AlbumArtExchange gallery is quickly approaching an important milestone. As of today, there are over 48,000 covers in the gallery. This includes both high quality covers and those that need editing. This means that the gallery will soon reach 50,000 covers.
Thanks to all of the AAX users who have scanned and uploaded their covers to share with others. You have helped make AlbumArtExchange the best resource for quality album cover art in the world.
One of the reasons I became an AlbumArtExchange user was that I appreciated that others had shared their efforts and made it easier for me to add cover art to the music that I’d ripped from my own CD collection. It saved me hours of work.
Also, I was unhappy with the quality of the cover art that came with many of my digital downloads. AlbumArtExchange makes it easier to replace poorly scanned and low resolution art that often comes with files from services like iTunes, Amazon.com and Rhapsody.
I predict that the gallery will hit the 50,000 mark by the second week of September. Keep up the good work!
If you like Talking Heads and David Byrne, you’ll love True Stories by Norwegian electronic duo Datarock. In fact, when I first heard True Stories, I thought it was Talking Heads. The song was part of a sales promotion for the Sims 3 computer game.
The duo were transformed into Sims characters and the song was used as a YouTube video promotion. Those who preordered the game got the track as a free download from the Sims 3 website.
Today, I discovered the actual music video for True Stories and it is definitely a Talking Heads tribute. Those of you who are Talking Heads fans will be impressed.
The album cover for Red is a simple design that looks like an iTunes ad. However, it is a strong graphic and works well with the red tracksuits that seem to be the trademark for Datarock.
I’m posting the cover for Peter Doherty’s single Broken Love Song because I feel it has artistic merit. The music video is somewhat bland and I’m not particulary impressed with Doherty’s singing ability. However, this particular cover is a cut above average and shows his talents as a fine artist. It is uncommon for recording artists to create their own album covers. Often when they do, the result is not particularly good.
I have been waiting for someone to upload the cover for the upcoming album by Danish alternative rock band Mew to the AAX gallery. In addition to having very unusual cover art, the title of the album could be one of the longest ever. The face superimposed over a butterfly reminds me of one of those novelty toys with eyes that pop out when it is squeezed.
The title of the album is No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I’m Tired Let’s Wash Away — No More Stories for short on Amazon.com.
On August 8, 1987, the number one single on the Billboard chart was I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2. The song is the second track on the band’s The Joshua Tree album and the second single.
The cover for the original motion picture soundtrack for the thriller Orphan is very impactful. I would venture to say that the image of the murderous child used on the album and the movie poster will become iconic. It is that creepy.
I’ve contributed another cover to Famous Album Covers. This one was inspired by the recent conspiracy theories surrounding Obama’s healthcare proposal.
Washington D.C. alternative rock band Kill Granny has just released their latest album Medicate Me. Having recently been fired by their label, U.S.A. Productions, the album was self-produced on a very limited budget and recorded in a small studio in the D.C. area.
Sadly, Kill Granny’s limited resources are quite evident on this album. The tracks are cliche and transparent. The music is uninspired and seems to have been borrowed from previous recordings.
It seems that Kill Granny’s stock in trade of attempting to shock their audience has become far too predictable. This is an album that nobody is buying.
The third single from The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die will be released on September 1. The music video was posted on YouTube yesterday. It doesn’t have the high budget special effects or animation of the previous videos, but Take Me To The Hospital is definitely worth a look. It features on heck of an ambulance ride.
The cover art for this single doesn’t impress me as much as the covers for the previous singles. The bright pink and orange colors don’t really sync with the band’s image or the video. I think it is supposed to be the back door of an ambulance.
NOOOOOOO! I just heard one of my favorite R.E.M. songs butchered by gay porn star turned pop singer Colton Ford. I don’t know what I hate more, the sound of an alternative rock classic put to a synthetic disco beat or Ford’s absurd costumes (when he’s even wearing one in the video).
This is a serious WTF moment for me. I love R.E.M. and it is difficult to imagine anyone being able to cover one of their songs. Ford doesn’t have a very strong voice to begin with — and very little abilty to convey the emotion necessary for the song. For him to try to tackle Losing My Religion is more than a stretch. I don’t understand the costume he’s wearing on the cover either. It looks like something from the movie Tron. What does that have to do with the song?
AAX admin Music Hog suggested that I feature the upcoming Switchfoot album Hello Hurricane as one of our New and Notable selections. The album is scheduled for release in October or November and the band was recently caught on video performing the title track at the Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto.
I like the album cover for Hello Hurricane. It reminds me of the Russell Munson photos in Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull. You can almost imagine that each bird has a unique personality.
Director John Hughes died of a heart attack in New York today. In addition to creating dozens of memorable films, Hughes is also responsible for several notable soundtrack albums, such as Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, and Weird Science.
Just about everyone my age owned The Breakfast Club soundtrack, which included Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds. The Weird Science soundtrack was the first to be produced by Danny Elfman, who of course has gone on to make music for dozens of hit films.
Along with the 40th anniversary of The Beatles Abbey Road and the release of the remastered album next month, has come a new mythology. Many journalists are writing articles claiming that Abbey Road is “the most imitated album cover of all time” and a few report that there are 40 covers that pay tribute to Abbey Road. Sadly, there is no evidence to support these claims.
I’ve tried to count the number of album covers that imitate Abbey Road and there are quite a few. However, I don’t think there are enough of them to make the claim that Abbey Road is the most imitated album cover. Other famous covers have been imitated repeatedly. For example, there have been numerous imitations of Elvis Presley’s 1956 album Elvis Presley, the most notable of which is London Calling by The Clash.
Another famous album cover that has been imitated time and time again is The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers. I can’t begin to guess how many album covers have featured a close up of a crotch covered in denim since the Andy Warhol concept was released in 1971. There are too many to count — especially if you look at albums by little known artists. The most notable imitation is probably 1974’s Tom Scott And The L.A. Express (shown right).
I have even seen Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 Born In The U.S.A. described as the “flip side” of Sticky Fingers because it shows the artist’s backside clad in blue jeans. A connection is not that unlikely. Art directors and graphic designers build on what has been successful in the past. If the crotch of a pair of jeans sells albums, it isn’t that much of a stretch to assume the rear would get attention as well.
The fact is, famous album covers are imitated quite frequently. If you browse through the AlbumArtExchange gallery, you will see countless examples of covers that were inspired by previous works.
Abbey Road is a classic album. People like to visit the location and take photographs that pay tribute to The Beatles. However, there are not 40 album covers that imitate Abbey Road. That is simply an urban legend in the making. I think it is safe to say that Abbey Road is one of the most imitated albums. But, it is impossible to say that it is the most imitated.
I have just discovered Paloma Faith and I’m mesmerized. I haven’t seen a beehive hairdo like that since the B-52’s girls and this woman can sing. The cover art for her upcoming album Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? and the singles New York and Stone Cold Sober are just amazing works of art. I usually don’t post all of the covers at once, but these are quite exceptional.
I have also included the music video for New York. The single is scheduled to be released on September 13. The album is set to drop on the 25th.
I was browsing through the upcoming releases on Amazon.com and spotted the upcoming Pixies box set, Minotaur. I was kind of surprised to see what looks like a penis on the cover of the booklet. I guess it could be a rocket. Naw…it is definitely a penis. It looks like something Perez Hilton would draw on a celebrity photo.
R&B singer Marques Houston revealed his new album cover via Twitter this afternoon. The cover was uploaded to Twitpic. This is becoming a welcome trend in the way album covers are revealed by artists to their fans. It certainly is a better approach than scavenger hunts and other games that make fans jump through hoops to get a preview of an upcoming album.
Now, we just have to get Houston to stop writing in all caps.
Lucas Silviera, the singer for alternative rock band The Cliks, answered questions about transistioning from female to male and the meaning behind the group’s latest album cover in an interview on The New Gay blog today.
LS: I hate to dwell too much on your album art, but I thought the cover image was very brave. Was exposing your chest scars your decision?
TNG: Completely my decision. The publicist was very adamant about it; they were very wary of the situation. Even my band members were wary and thought that it was not the best idea, but when people tell me not to do something that’s when I want to do it even more. It’s not that the label wasn’t supportive. They were worried. I’d have to fight a lot, I think that a lot of people didn’t understand what I was trying to express in doing that. People read into stuff about me trying to be a big trans poster boy. To me it was about exposing myself as a human being, and I thought that that was the best format to do it. In my opinion, an album cover shouldn’t just be a band standing there with fucking guitars looking stupid. The purpose of creating music is to connect to people and create art. If you can’t evoke emotion with the cover, no one will go into it. It’s like a book. It’s such a valuable medium to have this visual attached to something that is sonic. The death of the album cover is sad. I remember looking through the cover of [Pink Floyd’s] The Wall, and being so connected to the imagery through the music. I’m glad i fought for it. Now it’s not just an album cover, it’s a beautiful piece of art.
Thirty years ago next month, Gary Numan released The Pleasure Principle, an album that help launch the New Wave era. On September 22, a special two-disc 30th anniversary edition of The Pleasure Principle will be available.
The second CD of the set includes demo versions and out-takes, and remastered versions of the tracks that appear on the original album.
The album cover for The Pleasure Principle is notable because it featured Numan in a conservative business suit and wearing eye make up and an earring. It is difficult to imagine that this was controversial at the time.
The upcoming album by Andrew W.K. is called 55 Cadillac. Appropriately, the album cover features the artist cruising by in a black vintage Caddie. I like this kind of album cover. The concept is simple. The execution is excellent.
The album is something different for the artist. It is a collection of piano solos. I’ve posted the promo for the album that appears on the artist’s YouTube page. If you watch the video, you’ll see the entire length of the Cadillac on the cover.
This is going to be a big month for comic/actor Patton Oswalt. On the 25th, his latest comedy album My Weakness Is Strong will be released. Three days later, Oswalt will be coming to theaters across the country as the star of Big Fan, a film that has received critical acclaim at film festivals.
The cover for My Weakness Is Strong feature retro cartoons (which seems to be a recurring trend) and a bold layout. You can simply look at this cover and have an idea as to what it is about. Oswalt is known for playing a nerdy underdog and this cover definitely speaks to that.
I don’t have any samples from the album, so I’ve posted the trailer for Big Fan. It looks like a very good film. I’m sure the film will spark interest in the album.
TMBG is scheduled to release a new childrens CD/DVD called Here Comes Science on September 1. I Am A Palentologist is a song from the new album featuring Danny Weinkauf on lead vocal. Several videos of them performing it live are up on YouTube. In the video I’ve posted below, they say it was the first time they’d performed it for an audience of adults.
The cover art is perfect for a kids’ album. It has a great retro look to it that reminds me of the cartoons I watched when I was a child.
Yesterday, AAX user ABC9 uploaded a boatload of album covers for The Kinks. While browsing through them, I realized that The Kinks would be a great band to profile in a slideshow. They certainly have been prolific during their long recording career.
Even though I’ve seen tens of thousands of album covers over the years, I can’t say that I’ve seen them all. Yesterday, I discovered one of the most repulsive album covers of all time. A Pound of Flesh by Cain is a release of an album recorded in 1975. It is scheduled to be available for sale on August 25.
Apparently, this album was also reissued back in 2003. However, I’ve never heard of the band and I’m certain I’ve never seen this cover before. It really is unforgettable. I am adding it to my list of the worst album covers ever. Yeeeeeech!
The upcoming album by metal band Otep is called Smash the Control Machine and it has one of the most interesting covers I’ve seen in weeks. It is like one of those “what’s wrong with this picture” games. I just want to know what Opie is going to do with that hammer.
According to news reports, Pope Benedict XVI has made a deal with Geffen Records to record an album of Catholic chants and prayers. This will not be the first time a pontiff has recorded an album. In 1979, the inaugural blessing of Pope John Paul II was recorded by the Vatican and distributed as an LP. In 1995, the recording was released on CD along with the hymns Ave Maria and Mozart’s Magnificat.
Amazon.com lists 16 albums by Pope John Paul II and one by Pope Paul VI. I am certain that there are many other recording of popes throughout recording history. This may, however, be the first time that a pope has sung on an album.
There is no information on whether or not Pope Benedict will appear on the album cover. However, it is very likely that will be the case.
A few weeks ago, I did an informal poll about the cover for the Funny People soundtrack album. I asked people to look at the album cover and guess what the movie is about. Most people thought it was about a love triangle, with Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann competing for Adam Sandler’s affections. I guess I can see that. It is a very odd pose — especially for Rogen.
The trailer for Funny People can’t be embedded, so I can’t share here. I will instead post a clip containg the acoustic version of John Lennon’s Watchin’ The Wheels, which is the last track on the album.
The cover for Jay-Z’s upcoming album The Blueprint 3 was revealed on the artist’s webite today. The cover featured a modern sculpture constructed from white musical instruments and three red hash marks. I think the cover is very cool, with a retro Jazz look to it. The Blueprint 3 is scheduled to be released on September 11.
Pärlplattor appears to be a Swedish form of bead art that involves placing tube-shaped beads on white plastic trays of pegs. Kits are sold in crafts and toy stores and generally marketed toward children. It seems like a very practical alternative to crayons.
As we’ve seen with Legos, adults just can’t keep their hands off of these kinds of things. I recently ran across a website that features dozens of allbum covers recreated in pärlplattor.
The beads reduce the image to basic colored pixels. It is a very interesting effect.
There is an obvious language barrier that prevents me from giving more details about this art form. I don’t read Swedish and their aren’t any English translations on the website. But, the album covers are instantly recognizable.
In May, pop singer Jimmy Somerville released a new album. Suddenly Last Summer is a collection of covers of songs made famous by other artists, such as Walking After Midnight, Hangin’ On The Telephone, and Where Have All The Flowers Gone? — a very ecclectic mix of material.
The video for Where Have All The Flowers Gone? was posted on YouTube last month and it is just now getting much deserved attention on the blogosphere.
Written by folk singer Pete Seeger, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? has been covered hundreds of times by artists ranging from Peter, Paul & Mary, and Joan Baez to less folk-y takes by Earth Wind & Fire and Johnny Rivers. I’ve always loved Marlene Dietrich’s version, but this one by Sommerville is gorgeous.
Unfortunately, the album art for Suddenly Last Summer can best be described as dull. I think it is a photograph of a wicker beach cabana. It certainly is not am image that would compel me to buy the album. The video for Where Have All The Flowers Gone? is another story.
The AlbumArtExchange blog would not exist without all of the users who upload their scanned and edited covers to the gallery. As a tribute to those dedicated individuals, I am making the Sunday Gallery Spotlight a regular feature.
Each week, I will browse through the most recent uploads and choose the ones that catch my eye. The covers I select could be rare items that are an overdue addition to the gallery, or simply something that catches my eye.
This week, I chosen covers of albums by Pink Floyd, Courtney Love, Go West, Deftones and a couple of bands I’d never heard of before. Thanks to everyone who worked on these and the many other covers uploaded last week.
Recently, Joe Jonas performed on stage dressed as Elvis Presley — complete with wig and rhinestone-covered white jumpsuit.
Twenty-five years ago, the great Annie Lennox did the same thing at the 1984 Grammy Awards. Lennox shocked the crowd when she appeared on stage to perform Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) with her partner Dave Stewart, dressed in Elvis drag.
The verdict from the “timeless moments in pop music” jury? Joe Jonas = Clown. Annie Lennox = Immortal Goddess of Rock!
Here is the album cover and track listing for the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack. The cover is sure to catch the attention of Megan Fox fans. You may have overlooked the hand that is coming out of the desk she’s sitting on. This is very tongue-in-cheek. There are a few funny lines in the trailer, too.
The cover for the upcoming album by metal band Skeletonwitch was revealed on the artist’s blog yesterday. Illustrator Andrei Bouzikov revealed the cover he designed for Breathing the Fire along with two concept sketches.
I suppose it should not be a surprise that a band called Skeletonwitch would feature a skeleton breathing fire on their album entitled Breathing the Fire. I hate being such a cynic.
American ska/rock band No Doubt is wrapping up their tour this month. The band has not released an album since 2004’s Everything In Time (B-sides, Rarities, Remixes). A few months back, I ran across a video on YouTube of No Doubt fans lip syncing to Just A Girl. It is simply hilarious.
Queer Music Heritage is both an entertaining and informative website and a radio program produced and hosted by JD Doyle. The program is part of Queer Voices on KPFT 90.1 in Houston. The website has archives going back to 2000 with lots of photographs and transcripts from the radio program.
There are also quite a few cover scans of albums by gay and lesbian recording artists, artist spotlights, and many other features.
Almost nothing is known about the mysterious 60’s record label Camp Records. They released an album and 10 45 rpm records of gay parody songs, most done with effeminate voices.
The artists singing most of the songs were uncredited, or with names obviously made up, like Byrd E. Bath and B. Bubba, but one name stands out, Rodney Dangerfield. That name credited on one of the songs, and possibly another. This would have been very early in Dangerfield’s career, as his website bio says he decided to devote his career to comedy at age 40, which would have been in 1961. But I don’t think it was the comedian we know; just a prop name used for the release. Dangerfield disclaims any knowledge of it…
In addition to historical information, the Camp Records section includes scans of the various album and 45 covers and digital music files that can be downloaded.
It is important to keep in mind that these records were marketed to a gay audience through specialty magazines of the era, such as Vagabond and Drum. They were not intended to be hateful nor disparaging toward gay men.
Ads for Camp Records recordings appeared along with books, movies, magazines and novelty products. The company ran both full-page ads and smaller ones like the one shown in the example below.
It seems that ads for Camp Records disappeared from these publications after running for only a few of months in 1965. At the same time, distributors of erotic books and magazines began to sell items that were much more explicit. It could have been that the magazines used the sale of these records to establish that they sold items that had a “redeeming social value” and thereby hoped to avoid obscenity charges. Once obscenity laws began to change, the novelty products were no longer needed — and took up space for more profitable x-rated items. Or, perhaps Camp Records simply went out of business.
Regardless of my speculation, these records are certainly unique and have a place in recording history. It is admirable that JD Doyle has taken the time to document them on his website.