January 2010 Archives
The forthcoming Valleys of Neptune single and album by the late Jimi Hendrix features an original watercolor painted by the rock guitar legend in 1957. According to an article on musicradar.com, the single (right) uses the actual watercolor and album art combines the watercolor with a photograph by the late Linda McCartney.
The single will be released as a vinyl 45 on February 9. The album will be released as both a vinyl LP and CD on March 9.
According to the article, the watercolor is one of over 100 that Hendrix did while he was in high school. It is an impressive work of art from a young student. It is interesting to know that Hendrix was multi-talented.
Valleys of Neptune is a collection of unreleased tracks, most of which were recorded between February and May 1969.
One of my favorite blogs is Famous Album Covers. It is a collaborative blog that posts album covers for fictional bands, often with fictional stories. I have contributed my own creations several times.
The recent cover for Delphic's Acolyte (right) reminded me of several photographs I took of jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium a couple of years ago. The viscous trails behind the human figures floating in water look quite a bit like the beautiful tendrils of the jellies.
That inspired me to create a fictional album cover for Famous Album Covers using one of my photographs. I also chose to parody the recent trend in rock music of bands covering entire albums by other artists.
I really like the way my "famous" album cover turned out. I think that this image would make an excellent album cover for the right project.
The forthcoming album from British rock guitarist Jeff Beck is called Emotion & Commotion. Yesterday, Kyle Ryan wrote the following at The A.V. Club Blog:
I know we're barely three weeks into the new year, but I'm pretty sure Jeff Beck's Emotion & Commotion will vanquish all others when it comes to the title for the Year's Worst Album Cover. And by "worst," it's also kinda the best--an image that would work as well air-brushed to the side of a bitchin' van as it would tattooed on some chode's bicep.
I have to agree with Ryan. When I saw this album cover, it was an instant WTF?! moment. It reminds me of the eagle that screeches around Steven Colbert during the opening of the Colbert Report. Certainly, this album cover isn't meant to be taken seriously. You tell me.
There has been a lot of buzz for the forthcoming movie about female rock band The Runaways. The film stars Dakota Fanning as Cherie Curry, the band’s lead vocalist and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. I haven’t seen anything about a soundtrack being offered for the film, but I have posted two of the band’s album covers below.
The first is The Runaways’ self-titled debut album that features a photo of Curry (I think Fanning is the perfect choice to play her). The second is Waitin’ for the Night, which marked Joan Jett’s debut as lead singer after Curry’s departure from the band. The film is scheduled to open on March 19, 2010.
It is wonderful that so many recording artists have donated their time and talents to benefit the earthquake victims in Haiti. Two charity albums have recently been released and I was surprised to see that the album art for both is very similar. (Okay, I’m not really surprised. I just want an excuse to provide links that people can use to get the albums and donate to a very worthy cause.)
Various Artists - Hope for Haiti Now
Posted by: Music Hog
In February 1986, British rock band Public Image Ltd (PIL) released their fifth studio album. The album cover concept was inspired by the labels of generic or “no name” products that began being sold in grocery stores in the late 1970s.
The concept had been used four years earlier by San Francisco punk band Flipper. The Flipper album (right) used the “yellow label” generic product label and featured a barcode. The Flipper album cover doesn’t really work because it did not hold true to the standards of the generic product label. Rather than simply placing the word “album” on the yellow cover, the word “generic” and the band’s name was also included. The inclusion of the band’s name and pointing out the obvious by actually putting “generic” on the cover results in an epic fail.
Later in 1986, Flipper released a live album called Public Flipper Limited: Live 1980-1985 (right) in retaliation for PIL’s use of the generic brand concept. Unfortunately, the cover for that album also fails as a parody. No attempt was made to imitate the distictive PIL logo or a previous PIL album cover (many of which have notable designs). If Flipper had parodied PIL’s Metal Box album in some way, the effort would have been worthy of applause.
The PIL cover used the more familiar white label with a blue band. The three release formats were labeled accordingly — album, compact disc, and cassette. The music video for Rise opens with a generic screen that reads “video” to coninue the concept through to that medium as well.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from this week’s new releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for noteworthy design. Please vote for the album cover that you feel is the best of the bunch.
|Beach House - Teen Dream||Celtic Woman - Songs from the Heart|
|Lady Antebellum - Need You Now||Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring|
|Patty Griffin - Downtown Church||Retribution Gospel Choir - 2|
4TROOPS is a new vocal group comprised of four United States combat veterans who each served on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan. The album is a collection of patriotic songs with Country and Christian music influences.
According to the group’s website, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the album will benefit charities that support American veterans. The album is scheduled to be released on May 25, 2010.
The cover for the forthcoming Iron Man 2 soundtrack by AC/DC was revealed via news release today. The album is scheduled to be released on April 19. Shoot to Thrill, the first music video from the album was released today.
The album will include 15 classic AC/DC songs, including Let There Be Rock, Thunderstruck, and War Machine. The film is scheduled to open on May 7.
According to our AlbumArtExchange poll, the best album cover for the week of January 19, 2010 is 2010 Grammy Nominees compilation. This one surprises me. It is a very nice design, combining illustration and typography. However, I did not anticipate that it would get the most votes.
My Dinosaur Life by Motion City Soundtrack came in second. Astro Coast by Surfer Blood was third. My favorite, Transference by Spoon, came in last.
I will post this week’s poll for the best album cover later this evening. Come back and vote for your favorite from among this week’s notable new releases.
It has been a while since I last wrote about a new dance single. Today, I discovered a new music video by an artist on the Ultra Records label. When I went to iTunes to check out the single, I was happy to find that the cover art has been designed to go with the video. That is something that is becoming rare these days.
I like the song and the various remixes on the single. The remix by Alex Gaudino and Jason Rooney is probably going to be the most popular. However, I prefer the Jump Smokers version. It is refreshing to hear a new dance song by an artist who can sing as well as Vassy (and without Autotune).
The soundtrack for the movie Crazy Heart was released this week. It is available as a standard CD and a deluxe version with extra tracks. When I saw the album cover, the first thing that popped into my mind was “When did Jeff Bridges turn into Kris Kristofferson?” He looks exactly like Kristofferson (right) with that gray beard and long hair.
The film is about a down-and-out country singer, played by Bridges. It has gotten great reviews and even Oscar buzz. The soundtrack includes several original songs performed by Bridges and tracks by Buck Owens, George Jones, Lucinda Williams, and several other notable artists.
It has been several weeks since my last WTF?! moment. However, I came across an album cover on Amazon.com yesterday that appeared to have been censored. The cover of the 2008 album Forfeit/Fortune by Crooked Fingers has what looks like a black sticker over the naughty parts of a pair of nude models (right).
So, I did a Google search and found the uncensored cover. The absence of sticker doesn’t really make the cover any less strange. The models are both wearing rubber masks — one is a pig and the other is an elephant.
As an art photograph, I think the image is very interesting. I can imagine it hanging in an urban gallery. Does it make me want to buy the album? I’m not so sure. I was curious enough to listen to samples and look for a music video. You can check out the video for yourself (and let me know what you think of the guy in the black shroud and hook for a hand).
Various Artists - Short Music for Short People (1999)
Posted by: uberchemist
I don’t write about the cover art for mixtapes very often. However, there are some mixtape covers that put those for albums by major artists to shame. Today, I read an article on Chart Rigger about American rapper Nicki Minaj. She has just released a new mixtape called Barbie World (right) featuring a track that samples Annie Lennox’s No More I Love You’s.
I was intrigued and visited Minaj’s MySpace page. There I found an amazing cover for a mixtape that she released last year. The cover for Beam Me Up Scotty features and photograph of Minaj dressed as Wonder Woman and posing in front of a Star Trek backgound. I don’t know what Wonder Woman has to do with the Starship Enterprise, but the artwork is crazy — in a very good way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.
The cover of Minaj’s latest mixtape features her as a Barbie doll. It is also very creative, but I like the cover for Beam Me Up Scotty more.
American rock band Linkin Park and several other recording artists including Alanis Morissette, All-American Rejects, Dave Matthews Band, Enrique Iglesias, Hoobastank and Peter Gabriel have formed an organization called Music for Relief to provide aid to Haiti.
Those who visit the website can enter an email address and receive a free album. The link to the download also includes a Paypal donation form. The concept is somewhat unique in that a donation is not required to download the album. However, it is difficult to imagine that most people will not donate to this cause.
The organization put together the album and the arttwork for the cover and website in what has to be record time. And, the design quality is really quite good. The graphic artist deserves major kudos.
Animated “virtual band” Gorillaz revealed the cover art for their third studio album this week. Plastic Beach is scheduled to be released on March 9, 2010. The album will feature guest performances by Snoop Dogg, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Kano, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, De La Soul, Lou Reed, Mick Jones and several other notable recording artists.
Being a band comprised of animated characters, it is not surprising that the album art is a cartoon illustration. However, the artwork is much more impressive that that used on the band’s two previous albums. The cover features a futuristic building that looks like The Jetsons meets Waterworld.
The B-52s’ Fred Schneider is in a new band called The Superions. They have a self-titled EP (right) coming out on February 23 and have released two singles, Totally Nude Beach and Who Threw That Ham At Me.
Apparently, Who Threw That Ham At Me is based on an urban legend about a shoplifter who tries to smuggle a ham out of a grocery store and shouts the phrase whem the item falls out of her coat.
The song sounds very much like a crazy tune from The B-52s and fans are certain to like it. I am not impressed with the cover art for the EP and the two singles. The band certainly didn’t splurge for a top art dirtector for this project.
I don’t have a sample of the song. However, Fred and the band has been answering questions from fans on YouTube.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from new releases for the week of January 19, 2010 (new music weeks begin on Tuesdays). The covers have been chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for the notabilty of the design. Please vorte for the cover that you believe is the best.
|Aziz Ansari - Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening||Various Artists - Crazy Heart Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life||Spoon - Transference|
|Surfer Blood - Astro Coast||Various Artists - Grammy Nominees 2010|
I stumbled on an interesting website today that promotes a “Belle & Sebastian Night” at a Chicago club with an online application that allows users to create their own version of the band’s album covers. The website uses a webcam photo as the background for the image. Users can choose various album titles and background colors.
I chose the 1996 album If You’re Feeling Sinister to create my graphic (right). It is actually a decent approximation of the real cover. I suppose I could have posed in bed with a book on my pillow to get a better result. It is certainly a unique way to promote an event.
According to those who participated in our weekly poll, Rock Into Rivers by alternaive rock band Seabird has the best album cover of the week. The Road soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis tied for second place with Vampire Weekend’s Contra. Cesaria Evora’s Nha Sentimento placed third.
Come back this evening to vote for the best album cover from among those preselected from this week’s new releases. There will be a couple of albums that may surprise you this week.
Aziz Ansari - Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (2010)
Posted by: zeefritz
Noted composer Michael Giacchino won the Golden Globe award in the Best Original Score yesterday for his score for the Disney and Pixar animated film Up. Giacchino has scored many films including 2009’s Star Trek, and the animated features Ratatouille, Speed Racer, and The Incredibles.
The cover art for the Up score features a brilliantly colored display of balloons against a blue sky. It is an original variation of the movie poster, rather than a cropped or squared version of the identical artwork.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For those of you who want to remember King on this national holiday, a good way to do it is to listen to some downloads of his speeches. The album featured below offers three speeches, including the famous “I Have a Dream” speech when it was first heard in Detroit in 1963 and at the March to Washington later that year. The third speech is “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” delivered in Memphis in 1968.
The entire album is priced at less than four bucks on Amazon.com. It also includes King’s eulogy given by Robert Kennedy (mistakenly labeled as the eulogy for Kennedy).
I have cleaned up the cover art for this album. The image that comes with the MP3 downloads is very poor quality.
In 1985, the new wave band Baltimora had a smash dance hit with the single Tarzan Boy. The song was the first single from the album Living In The Background (right). Tarzan Boy made it to #13 on the U.S. chart and #3 in the U.K. The album charted at #49 in the U.S.
Both the single and the album have at least three different sets of cover art. The one that many people may be more familiar with features comic book characters. They are similar to the art direction of the music video for Tarzan Boy.
Tarzan Boy is often featured on ’80s retrospectives as an example of New Wave dance music. The music video has had over 7 million views on YouTube. The song is often mistakenly attributed to Limahl.
The Guaranteed Ugly - It’s An Ugly! Ugly! World! (1997)
Posted by: zeefritz
The album features a photograph of the band floating in what looks like the tentacles of a jellyfish. The cover of the single is a detail of the strange viscous effect. I do not have any information on the photographer or art director for this project.
The band’s song This Momentary was featured as the free download of the week on the U.K. iTunes store this week. I was pleasantly surprised. The song reminds me of New Order’s Crystal.
Posted by: zeefritz
The Mothers of Invention - We’re Only In It For The Money (1968)
Posted by: drewk
On January 31, 1981, American rock group Blondie hit the number one spot on the Billboard chart with The Tide Is High. The song had been released as a single in October of 1980 and appears on the band’s fith studio album Autoamerican (right).
The cover art for The Tide Is High is somewhat unique. It is one of the few cases in which a detail of the album art has been used for the cover of a single. The album reached the number seven spot on the U.S. chart and the second single Rapture also became a number one hit.
The painting that appears on the cover was done by Martin Hoffman. I do not have any additional information about him.
I don’t know very much about the band Neon Trees. There is a bio on the Mercury Records that is very short on substance. What intrigued me about the band was coming across a limited edition color vinyl version of their forthcoming single Animal on Amazon.com.
I find it surprising that a limited edition single like this would be used to market a new artist. I can imagine people buying something like this for U2 or David Bowie — established artists with fans who are eager to buy collectors items. It would be interesting to find out how many of these get sold. The single is scheduled to be released on February 9, 2010.
According to a recent news release, a custom Ford Mustang has been created for rapper Nelly and will featured on the cover of his forthcoming album. Let’s Get It is currently slated for released in February or March.
I can’t give an unbiased opinion regarding this particular concept. I drive a Mustang GT (right) and I would love to see that stunning car appear on an album cover.
The cover art for Madonna’s Sweet & Sticky live tour performance was revealed via news release yesterday. The album will be released on Blu-Ray, DVD and CD on March 30, 2010.
The cover features an empty stage with three large images of Madonna as a video backdrop. It is an interesting cover for a live performance album.
Good Shoes is a London indie pop band that has a potential viral music video on YouTube. The video for their single Under Control features female bodybuilders doing their stage routines.
Under Control is the band’s first single from the forthcoming album No Hope, No Future. The single was released in the U.K. on Monday. I do not have a U.S. release date.
The 70,000th cover has been uploaded to AlbumArtExchange gallery! It was uploaded by AAX user Gulickson this evening at 9:23 PST. I am always somewhat disappointed when these milestone covers aren’t something really cool, like a classic that is impossible to find. However, I will certainly settle for the Jonas Brothers.
Thanks to all of the AAX users who have helped us reach this amazing number of scanned and edited covers in such a short amount of time.
Our 70,000th Cover!
Posted by: Gulickson
I was browsing through my album cover-related news stories this evening and saw an item from Malaysia about an album cover that has a government official in that country steamed. It seems that the cover features the image of Hindu deity Lord Murugan and it may be considered offensive.
“The cover with the picture of Lord Murugan is not only offensive to the Hindu religion but is also a cheap and degrading sales gimmick,” said the state association social and welfare sub-committee chairman P. Murugiah.
He said album producers and marketing agents were using pictures of Hindu deities for commercial gains; and this humiliated the community especially with the Thaipusam festival just around the corner.
Source: thestar online
The album is Eternity by a band called Datura. I had never heard of them, so I did a quick Google search and discovered that the album in question was released in 1994. Normally, I am very sympathetic to these kinds of things. But, this album is creeping up on its second decade.
A recent story on CNN.com (linked below) reports that churches in Malaysia are being firebombed. Apparently, Musilms are offended that other religions in the country use the same word they do for God. Maybe it is just me, but that should probably be of more concern than an album cover from the ’90s.
Below are six album covers that have been preselected from the new releases for the week of January 12, 2010. The album covers were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and the quality or notability of the design.
Please vote for the album cover that you believe is the best of the bunch. The results will be posted next Tuesday.
|Cesaria Evora - Nha Sentimento||Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - The Road|
|OK Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky||Ringo Starr - Y Not|
|Seabird - Rocks Into Rivers||Vampire Weekend - Contra|
Thank you to everyone who has become a fan of AlbumArtExchange on Facebook. As of today, over 300 people have joined our growing group of album art fanatics.
Those who become Facebook fans can post links and photos to the wall and share album art news and information with the entire group.
According to our AlbumArtExchange blog poll, the best album cover of the week is The American Dream by Sugaree. Sugaree is the daughter of American musician and songwriter Leon Russell. The album cover is very interesting, but I was surprised that it won by such a huge margin — 48% of the vote.
Findlay Brown’s Love will find you came in a distant second, followed by Katherine McPhee’s Unbroken.
I will post this week’s poll this evening. Check back and vote for your favorite cover from this week’s new releases.
The self-titled debut album by Scottish alternative rock band Codeine Velvet Club (right) was released on December 29 and was voted as having the best album cover for the week in our AlbumArtExchange poll.
The band was formed by singer and songwriter Lou Hickey and Jon Lawler (of The Fratellis) and has a cool retro 1950s Cold War vibe going on. The cover of the album and the two singles released so far feature a blonde dressed up in some kind of spy vs. spy disguise. At the very least, it is something different.
The music video for the Hollywood, which was released on a double single with I Am The Resurrection, is consistent with the theme. I’m just not too sure how far they can go with this concept.
I should have written about American indie rock band White Rabbits last September when I came across an interesting video on YouTube about the making of the music video for their single Percussion Gun. I am very impressed with the art direction for the video and the covers for the album (below) and the single (right).
The band’s website is also very nicely done. The photograph of the drum used on the cover of the Percussion Gun single is used on the website’s homepage.
Unfortunately, the website does not credit designer. The photographer responsible for the images that appear on the website is also uncredited. I always find that disappointing.
There are some things that I like about the art direction for Rihanna’s latest album Rated R and others that I do not. The “R” logo that was designed for use on the album cover (right) and related singles is very nice.
The logo resembles a crude sword that has been bent into the shape of the letter. It works very well rendered as a metallic 3D object. When I saw it being used as a placeholder for Rated R on Amazon.com, I hoped that it would be used for the final cover.
Unfortunately, the metallic “R” just doesn’t seem to work with the photography and styling used on the covers that have been released. The cover for Rihanna’s latest single Rude Boy is no exception.
The sharp angles of the logo combined with Rihanna’s stance and the cardboard sign she is holding make for a very busy composition. On top of that, what looks like a stock graphic border has been applied to the image. The result is somewhat of a mess. (And someone should tell Rihanna that cigarettes are so 20th century.)
Youth in Revolt is a film starring Michael Cera as — guess what — a nerdy teenager. This film can best be described as Porky’s meets Fight Club, with Cera battling with an evil duel personality. Everything about this movie screams “seen that” and that includes the art direction for the movie poster and soundtrack album cover.
Graphic designers should be put on notice. Ransom note typography has been done far too many times. The only thing worse than ransom note is the font that looks like a Dymo label. And guess what! They used the Dymo lable font for the cover of the audio book (right).
These typographic treatments were overused by 1990. Don’t we have any talented graphic designers who can come up with something original? Why are do many album covers look as if they were designed using free fonts downloaded from the Internet?
Many viewing the trailer will be disappointed to learn that Rebel Rebel is not on the soundtrack. You will find songs by Fun Boy Three, Jo Stafford, and Fruit Bats. There is also a 39 second clip of Michael Cera unintentionally using a guitar as an instrument of torture.
The AlbumArtExchange (AAX) gallery is quickly approaching another milestone. In the next few days, the number of album covers submitted will exceed 70,000. The gallery has experienced amazing growth over the last few months.
Thank you to all of the AAX users who have submitted their scanned and edited covers. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Irish singer and songwriter Róisín Murphy has revealed the cover for her forthcoming single Momma’s Place. The artist is known for her avant garde costumes and the cover for the new single is no exception. What is unusual is that Murphy appears on the cover pregnant with her first child.
Murphy confirmed the pregnancy last July and gave birth to a baby girl on December 18. The child is named Clodagh. Who says pregnancy can’t be glamorous? Momma’s Place is scheduled for release on January 18.
There aren’t very many album covers that feature a woman sitting on the toilet. So, seeing the cover for Old No. 2 by Eddie Spaghetti resulted in an instant déjà vu moment. I don’t know whether or not it was inspired by the cover for Millie Jackson’s Back to the S**t!, but there are obvious (and disgusting) similarities.
Eddie Spaghetti - Old No. 2 (2005)
Posted by: zeefritz Millie Jackson - Back to the S**t! (1989)
Posted by: zeefritz
Hans Zimmer has composed the scores for over 100 films. Many of them have been blockbuster hits, due in part to his ability to create some of the best movie music ever recorded. Zimmer has won seven Oscars, seven Grammy awards and nine Golden Globes. The soundtracks for the films he scores are always worth buying.
When I saw the trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey, Jr., I immediately thought that it would be a sticker. Sherlock Holmes as an action hero? Really? Then, I saw that Hans Zimmer had done the score and considered the remote possibility that it could be a decent movie.
The cover for the album appears to be a square version of the movie poster (right). However, closer inspection reveals that the face of Robert Downey, Jr. has been changed for the album. I’m not sure why they did this. I think the face on the poster is much better. There is something off about Downey’s face on the cover of the soundtrack. Perhaps the lighting is wrong. The perspective of the hair doesn’t seem to match the rest of the head. I’m not really sure why I find it strange.
Divine - The Originals and The Remixes (1998)
Posted by: zeefritz
This is our first Best Album Cover for the Week poll for 2010. The covers below have been preselected based on online sales rank and for having interesting designs. Please vote for the album cover that you feel is the best of the bunch.
|Badly Drawn Boy - Is There Nothing We…||Findlay Brown - Love Will Find You|
|Ke$ha - Animal||Katharine McPhee - Unbroken|
|The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus||Sugaree - The American Dream|
Alternative rock band Vampire Weekend is streaming their new album Contra online as a promotion for its release on January 12.
According to our AlbumArtExchange poll, the best album cover for the week of December 29, 2009 is the self titled album by Codeine Velvet Club. Dan Black’s UN and The Flaming Lips’ The Dark Side of the Moon tied for a distant second and Eminem’s Relapse: Refill came in third.
Check back this evening to vote on your favorite album cover from this week’s set of new releases. There will be some interesting album covers from which to choose.
Now that the decade has officially come to an end, it is time to publish my lists of the best album covers of the decade, 2000 to 2009. I know that many websites begin publishing their “best of” lists in December, but I wanted to wait until after New Year’s Day. Otherwise, people just keep publishing their lists earlier and earlier — kind of like putting up Christmas decorations in October.
An honorable mention goes to Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. The optical illusion is created by a unique combination of art and science, thanks to Japanese Psychology professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka.
Honorable Mention: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
Posted by: Music Hog
Number five on my list of the best album cover illustrations is Beastie Boys To the 5 Boroughs. The album cover features an amazing illustration of the New York City skyline. The design was nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2005.
#5 Beastie Boys - To the 5 Boroughs (2004)
Posted by: davtal
Number four on my list is the cover of 10,000 Days by Tool. It is a very unusual painting done in black and silver tones. I believe it is one of the first album covers that really looks best on a high resolution computer monitor. Shifting your gaze brings out more detail. The design won the Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2007.
#4 Tool - 10,000 Days (2006)
In third place is the self-titled album from Dirty Vegas. This album cover was nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2003.
#3 Dirty Vegas - Dirty Vegas (2002)
In second place is The Fogotten Arm by Amie Mann. This retro illustration of a boxing match won the Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2006. The cover is designed to look like that of a pulp fiction novel.
#2 Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm (2005)
My choice for the best album cover illustration is of the entire decade is Attics to Eden by Madina Lake. The fantasy painting by fine artist/illustrator Lynden St. Victor is one of the few that I would like to frame and hang on my wall.
#1 Madina Lake - Attic to Eden (2009)
I know that there were many other great album cover illustrations created during the decade. Like most “best of” lists for the decade, several of my favorites are from this year — that’s due as much to changing tastes and styles as lack of memory. If I’ve left out one of your favorites, let me know by posting a comment.
Recently, American experimental rock band Dirty Projectors released a special version of their latest album Bitte Orca on cassette tape (below). Coincidentally, this happened at the same time I finally broke down and tossed out all of my old cassettes. I hadn’t played any of them for years and didn’t feel like hauling them all the way from California to Arizona when I moved.
Issuing a cassette as a “special limited edition” is obviously a marketing gimmick. I imagine that releasing an album on CD will soon be just as unusual in the near very near future. In a couple of the articles I read about the Bitte Orca cassette, the writers mentioned that they don’t even own a cassette player. I have to admit that I don’t either.
Before I tossed my old cassettes, I scanned a few of the covers and made digital copies of the tapes that can’t be purchased on CD (Tom Tom Club’s Close To The Bone and a few others). Then, AlbumArtExchange owner Scott posted a request for cassette covers in the AAX forum.
It was then that I realized just how difficult good scans of cassettes are to find. Most people just don’t scans their cassettes and use the art for their music collections. I believe that this is because the art is 1) not square; 2) is often of very poor print quality; and, 3) the covers are often destroyed due to the portable nature of the format.
Cassettes were designed to be as inexpensive as possible. They were an affordable alternative to CDs and meant to be carried around with a portable tape player — often in a backpack or purse. Anyone who ever collected cassettes knows that they had a very limited lifespan. They would get eaten by your Walkman or decompose in the heat of your car.
So far, there are only about 18 cassette covers posted to the AAX gallery. I have about 60 more that I will be posting over the next few days (mostly Morrissey and The Smiths). If you have any interesting cassettes, please scan them and post them to the gallery. Scans of rare cassettes will especially be appreciated.
Here is a small sampling of the cassettes and cassette singles (cassingles) that have already been added to the gallery:
For those of you who haven’t seen the music video from Muppets Studio of The Muppets and Queen performing Bohemian Rhapsody, here it is along with the cover art for the single. The video has received almost 12 million views on YouTube.
The cover features a Muppet parody of the famous video image of Queen performing the song. The image appeared on one of several singles produced over the years (right). The cover features Muppet character Gonzo and his chicken girlfriends.
The Queen and The Muppets version can be purchased as a digital download from various online stores.
I thought I would be appropriate to have a New Years Day theme for my first blog post of 2010. So, I created a composite of the cover for U2’s 1983 single New Year’s Day. The song is the third track on the band’s album War (right) and was the lead single.
The cover art for War and the previous album Boy have always creeped me out a bit. There seems to be a weird pedophilia vibe going on that I just don’t get. The cover art for New Year’s Day also has a photograph of a semi-nude boy. (U2 fans, please don’t jump down my throat.)
New Year’s Day has been named by Rolling Stone as one of the top 500 songs of all time. It was written in support of the Polish Solidarity movement.