AlbumArtExchange Blog: December 2010 Archives

December 2010 Archives

New Year's Eve is the first single from the forthcoming eleventh studio album by rapper Snoop Dogg. The album, Doggumentary Music, is scheduled to be released on March 8, 2011. The single features singer Marty James and was released as a digital single on November 5, 2010.

Posted by: Aequi
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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Woofers & Tweeters Ensemble - Beatle Barkers (1983)

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Below are six album covers that were preselected from among this week's new music releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for their noteworthy album cover designs. Please vote for the cover that you think is the best of the bunch.

Alfie Boe - Bring Him Home aboe-bringh_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Alexandra Burke - Overcome aburke-overco_10.jpg buy_now_240.gif
David Guetta - One More Love dguett-onemor_04.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Flame - Captured flame-captur.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Hardcore Superstar - Split Your Lip hardco-splity_02.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Mr. Big - What If... mrbig-whatif_02.jpg buy_now_240.gif
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According to our weekly poll, the best album cover for the week of Deecember 21, 2010 is Couleurs sur Paris by French electronic music collective Nouvelle Vague. The cover won by a landslide with 46% of the vote. Death of a Pop Star by David Banner & 9th Wonder was second with 27%. Keri Hilson's No Boys Allowed was a distant third with 15%.

Unfortunately, I do not know French and I was unable to find English language credits for the album. So, I am not able to name the art director and illustrator for this cover. It is a very unique image and I am not surprised that it was so popular.

Posted by: anetode
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Later this evening, I will post the final poll of the year. When the results are in, we will have a list of the best 52 album cover for 2010 and the Top Ten Best Album Covers.

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Remembering Teena Marie

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teenam-congos_03.jpgA few days ago, I was browsing through old LPs at the nearby Goodwill and I spotted a few by R&B singer Teena Marie. Unfortunately, I passed them up in favor of several Linda Ronstadt albums that I knew would be good additions to the AAX gallery. My decision to buy the Ronstadt LPs can be compared to the way many music fans often overlook Teena Marie when they think about important female vocalists.

Like Ronstadt, Teena Marie had a long career in the music business. She recorded 13 studio albums, the most recent 2009's Congo Square (above right). However, she never achieved the status deserved by an artist of her considerable talents.

Born Mary Christine Brockert, Teena Marie began her career as a protégée of the late Rick James. She is one of only a few white performers to achieve success in the R&B genre and the first white performer to be signed to Motown. She wrote, produced, sang and arranged her own music.

My favorite Teena Marie album cover is for her 1983 album, Robbery. The cover has a classic early '80s look. I was not able to find credits for the cover design and photography. The album was reissued with three additional tracks in 2005. The cover below is for the reissued version.

Posted by: zeefritz
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bcrosb-whitec_08.jpgIt is safe to say that Merry Christmas by Bing Crosby is the grandfather of Christmas albums. Originally released in 1945, the album has been in release in various formats for 65 years. The album has sold over 15 million copies, and is the second best-selling Christmas album of all-time behind Elvis Presley's 1957 holiday album Elvis' Christmas Album.

The current version of the album is titled White Christmas. The title was changed in 1986 by Universal Music Group. However, the the contents of the album was not changed. A remastered mono version was released in 1992 and reissued in 1995. The 1995 version (above right) is the one that is currently in distribution.

Along with the title change, falling snowflakes were added to the classic album art. The cover below is the 1973 version that was released after merged their labels. It is an original scan of the album that was played in my home when I was a child. I believe we had an earlier Decca version that wore out after years of play.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Déjà Vu: Sofia Talvik vs. Beyoncé

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Here's an unusual déjà vu moment. It isn't every day that you see someone walking an alligator on a leash. In 2006, Beyoncé appeared on the cover for her single Ring the Alarm holding two alligators on leashes. At the time, I thought it was one of the more bizarre covers I've seen.

This year, Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik used a similar image for the cover of her album Florida. Talvik's cover features what appears to be an albino alligator. An unleashed gator can be seen popping out of the water.

Beyoncé - Ring the Alarm (2006)

Posted by: zeefritz
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Sofia Talvik - Florida (2010)

Posted by: Aequi
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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Beady Eye - Different Gear Still Speeding (2011)

Posted by: zeefritz
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New and Notable: Duran Duran

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durand-allyou.jpgThe music video for the title single from Duran Duran's new album All You Need Is Now was posted on YouTube yesterday. The single (right) was released as a free download on iTunes last week. The album is available in digital format only beginning today. A CD release is scheduled for early next year.

The album went straight to the top on the download charts in the UK, US, and Canada earlier today. The album is currently in the #2 spot on the U.S. iTunes album chart.

The artwork for the album cover carries through to the All You Need Is Now music video. Many are comparing the song to the band's 1982 hit Rio.

Posted by: fourplay
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Below are six album cover that were preselected from among this week's new music releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for their noteworthy album cover designs. Please vote for the cover that you believe is the best of the bunch.

David Banner & 9th Wonder - Death of a... davidb-deatho_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Ghostface Killah - Apollo Kids ghostf-apollo_06.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Jamie Foxx - Best Night of My Life jfoxx-bestni_06.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Keyshia Cole - Calling All Hearts kcole-callin_08.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Keri Hilson - No Boys Allowed khilso-noboys_07.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Nouvelle Vague - Couleurs sur Paris nouvel-couleu_02.jpg buy_now_240.gif
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soundt-delfma-timbur_06.jpgTim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a 1993 stop motion animation film co-written and produced by Tim Burton. The film is a unique blending of Halloween and Christmas theme, about a Halloween character named Jack Skellington who stumbles upon a portal to a world inhabited by Christmas characters.

Danny Elfman wrote the score for the film, including the lyrics and music for the musical numbers. Elfman was the singing voice of Jack and several other characters.

In 2006, the film was re-released in 3-D. To accompany the film, a special edition of the soundtrack (above right) was reissued, featuring a bonus disc containing covers of five of the film's songs by Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Marilyn Manson, Fiona Apple and She Wants Revenge. Six original demo tracks by Elfman were also included on the disc.

The artwork for the original soundtrack (below) is a square version of the movie poster. In spite of the cult-like popularity of the movie, a decent version of the album art has been somewhat difficult to locate. The cover for my own CD is very low quality printing and I have never been able to achieve the kind of quality image I think this album deserves.

Posted by: zeefritz
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It is no surprise that the posthumous Michael Jackson album, Michael, was voted best album cover for the week of December 14, 2010 in our AlbumArtExchange Blog poll. The album received 33% of the vote. Farmer's Daughter by Crystal Bowersox was second with 21%. Basic Instinct by Ciara was a close third with 17%.

The album cover and painting by artist Kadir Nelson, which was reported to have been commissioned by Jackson shortly before his death, has generated quite a bit of media attention. It has been reported that both Oprah and Prince objected to being represented on the cover.

The cover works because it is so complex, containing hundreds of images that can be viewed as either cryptic symbolism or simply a tribute to Jackson's career in music. In either case, it is a professionally executed and effective album cover.

Posted by: zeefritz
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As usual, check back this evening to vote on the best album cover from among this week's new music releases. The year is winding down and we only have two polls left in 2010.  

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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Primus - Singles: They Can't All Be Zingers (2006)

Posted by: alexvdl
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The AAX Blog Worst Album Covers of 2010

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It is the time of year when websites and blogs begin posting their annual "worst" and "best" lists. I will wait until 2010 is actually over and our final poll has concluded to publish the AAX Blog Best Album Covers of 2010 list.

Since I don't ask readers to vote on the worst album covers every week, I think it is okay to let the world know what the worst ones are and why. Below are the ten worst album covers of 2010. They were chosen based on poor design, inept execution, questionable taste, or all three.

#10 Vampire Weekend - Contra

Release Date: January 12, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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The cover for Vampire Weekend's Contra made headlines when the model who posed for the photograph filed suit on the grounds that she had not given permission for its use. Beyond the controversy, the album cover deserves to be one of the worst of 2010 simply because it is designed to look like an amateur Polaroid that someone pulled out of a shoebox. The result is imitation authenticity. It is the Milli Vanilli of album art.

#9 CocoRosie - Grey Oceans

Release Date: May 11, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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CocoRosie's Grey Oceans was released with different covers for the CD and LP versions. Unfortunately, both featured the duo wearing what looks like what would happen if you covered yourself with glue and ran through a crafts store. At best, the costumes look like they spent a few bucks at their local Michaels.

#8 Christina Aguilera - Bionic

Release Date: June 8, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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Christina Aguilera's Bionic is an example of what can happen when a very good photograph of a beautiful woman is given to a "outsider artist" along with a lame concept. Everything about this album cover is wrong, from the blood streaming typography to the Rocky Horror lips.

#7 Lordi - Babez for Breakfast

Release Date: September 14, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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Usually, covers for metal albums get a pass when it comes to being gross. The cover for Lordi's Babez for Breakfast is an exception. Believe it or not, there is a line and this cover crosses it with the image of a demon infant drawing blood from a breast. Yuck.

#6 MGMT - Congratulations

Release Date: April 13, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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The cover for MGMT's Congratulations is another example of outsider art that is supposed to be artistically significant in some way. I suppose I would be more forgiving of this particular cover if it had better execution. There are several flaws in the image that look as if they are the result of an unskilled hand rather than inspiration.

#5 Reba - All the Women I Am

Release Date: November 9, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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When I wrote about the cover for Reba McEntire's All the Women I Am a few months ago, I actually got hate mail from enraged Reba fans. For them, the country legend can do no wrong. In my book, that makes her tacky album cover even more objectionable. The background is made out of aluminum foil! Kitchen wrap!

#4 Revolting Cocks - Got Cock?

Release Date: April 13, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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It is a joke. I get it. However, the cover for Got Cock? by Revolting Cocks is just too over-the-top. It is like a stand up comic who tries to hard and is just a bit too crude. The best thing about the cover is that the album title wasn't actually tattooed on the model's lips.

#3 Sheek Louch - Donnie G: Don Gorilla

Release Date: December 14, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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It is one thing to publish an album cover with a controversial, race-baiting concept. It is another to steal a controversial, race-baiting concept from another recording artist. The cover for rapper Sheek Louch's Donnie G: Don Gorilla appears to meet both requirements that qualify it as one of the worst album covers of the year.

#2 A Plea for Purging - The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Release Date: July 6, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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The cover art for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by A Plea for Purging is bloody and mutilated head of a wolf. The animal has been decapitated and several extracted teeth appear in a puddle of blood beside a pair of pliers. AAAAAAAGH!

#1 General Eclectics - Soul Center

Release Date: September 14, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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I don't think I have to explain why Soul Center by General Eclectics was chosen to be the Worst Album Cover of 2010. I really don't want to know anything about the artist or why such a disgusting image was placed on the cover of their album. A close up of a stream of urine coming out of a horse. Really?

Dishonorable Mention

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Release Date: November 22, 2010

Posted by: zeefritz
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Prior to its release, Kanye West revealed through Twitter that the cover for his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had been "banned" due to sexual content. The artwork by painter George Condo is supposed to be a representation of West being straddled by what he described as a phoenix. Of course, a phoenix is a mythical bird. The creature on the cover looks more like a griffin. In any case, the cover came close to making it to the top 10 worst of 2010.

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Music photographer George Pickow dies at 88

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jritch-mounta_03.jpgAccording to the New York Times, photographer George Pickow died on December 10 in Roslyn, New York. He was 88. The cause of death was respiratory failure.

Pickow took album cover photographs of folk, jazz and pop artists for Elektra Records and other labels during the 1950s and '60s. His subjects included Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Judy Collins, Pete Seger, Tony Bennett and his wife, folk musician Jean Ritchie (right).

During the years Pickow was working for the major labels, album cover photography was rarely credited on the sleeves or liner notes. Therefore, that history has been all but lost during the Internet age. Sadly, it is not possible to provide a list of specific of Pickow's album covers without doing a great deal of offline research.

The article in the NY Times describes a long marriage and an interesting life in the world of music, which included a family business that crafted authentic Appalachian dulcimers.

In 1948 in New York, Mr. Pickow met Ms. Ritchie, who was not yet widely known, at a square dance at the Henry Street Settlement, where she was a social worker. The next day, for their first date, he took her along on a photo shoot at the Fulton Fish Market. The result -- Ms. Ritchie perched on the hood of a truck, holding a rather large lobster -- was published in a trucking-industry magazine.

Perhaps more impressive to Ms. Ritchie was the Appalachian dulcimer Mr. Pickow made for her, a copy of the traditional one she had brought from Kentucky. It proved so successful that for about a decade, starting in the early 1960s, he ran a small family dulcimer-making business, located on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge and presided over by his uncle, a millwright and cabinetmaker.

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mjacks-michae_11.jpgWatch this USA Today video of Jackie Jackson and illustrator Kadir Nelson discussing the painting King of Pop, in order to appreciate the scale and detail of the original image. The painting was used as the cover art for Michael Jackson's posthumous release, Michael (right).

The cover art has been getting lots of media attention. I think I have seen more in the new about the painting than the music on the album. There have been couple of stories about celebrities asking to have references to them removed from the cover. Some fans feel the need to "decode" the symbols used in the painting.

I was not surprised to see it being displayed in a rather garish gold frame. It would have looked right at home hanging in Jackson's Neverland Ranch home.


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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Various Artists - Santa's Swingin' Sack (1998)

Posted by: Scott
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Andy Williams Christmas Album sleeveface

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This is a great Christmas-themed sleeveface. The wreath is a nice touch. More like this can be seen at www.sleeveface.com.

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Free Christmas single download from Paul Simon

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Paul Simon is giving away a free download of his new Christmas song, Getting Ready for Christmas Day, on his official website. The song is from his forthcoming album So Beautiful Or So What which will be released in Sping 2011.

You can get the single by entering your email address at PaulSimon.com, or you can use the widget provided below.

Posted by: zeefritz
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black.jpgWhile writing about Jack Black's forthcoming movie Gulliver's Travels this morning, I stumbled on an article about a new holiday recording and animated video by Black and Jason Segel. The song is a parody of the classic TV special duet of Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. The video is featured on the website CollegeHumor.com and the website's YouTube channel.

The animation is very well done and creative. I liked the song and decided to download it from iTunes. What I discovered there was an unexpected horror (at least for an album art lover). The cover art that is being distributed with the digital download (right) is about the worst imaginable.

Not only is the image ugly, it is over compressed. To top it off, it doesn't even have the correct title of the song!

I am always unhappy to see poor-quality artwork used for recordings. When there is a video or other elements of the project that have great illustrations or photography, it is even more upsetting.

I can't imagine why an image from the cartoon was not used for the cover art. Perhaps there was a dispute over paying the animator a fee. Whatever the reason, the result is an inferior product.

In any event, I decided to use this as an opportunity to play creative director and create my own version of the cover for  Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy. It only took about an hour to create an image that will look much better in my iTunes cover flow.

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I decided to make my version of the cover look like an aged 7" single sleeve. I used a screen grab from the video for the illustration and some cool retro fonts from Font Diner. Just imagine what could be done using actual images from the original animation.


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At the Movies: Gulliver's Travels

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The latest comedy starring Jack Black is Gulliver's Travels. Based on the classic 18th-century novel by Jonathan Swift, the film takes place in the modern era and features Black in the title role. Catherine Tate stars as Queen of Lilliput. It is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day 2010.

The soundtrack album will be released on December 21. Henry Jackman, who worked on Black's 2008 animated feature Kung Fu Panda, is credited as the composer. The trailer features music by KISS. However, the soundtrack appears to be a score with no additional tracks by artists featured in the movie.

Posted by: zeefritz
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epresl-vivael_06.jpgViva Elvis is a Las Vegas show by Cirque du Soleil that features dance, acrobatics and live music as a tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley. The show is currently running at the ARIA Resort and Casino.

An album of the show's musical numbers (right) is available as a standard CD, special limited edition CD and a vinyl LP.

I single featuring remixes of the Presley classic Suspicious Minds has also been released. It includes four tracks and as of this date and time is available on Amazon.com for the discounted price of $1.99. At 50 cents a track, it is a bargain.

A music video for the single was posted on YouTube last month. It is basically a light show with sillouetted characters portraying Elvis and female dancers.

Posted by: zeefritz
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variou-christ_18.jpgA Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records is an album of Christmas songs, produced by Phil Spector, and originally released on Spector's Philles Records label 1963. The LP is familiar to many people as the 1972 reissue that was renamed Phil Spector's Christmas.

The album has been reissued several times over the years on numerous labels. A remastered CD version was released in 1989 with the title A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, the orginal artwork, and restored mono recording.

In 2009, Sony Music acquired the distribution rights to the Philles Records catalog and reissued the remastered mono album (right) on the Legacy Recordings as a holiday release that same year. A vinyl LP was also reissued on the Sundazed label.

A promotional clip for a documentary I found on YouTube features several who were involved in the making of the original album, including Cher. I was surprised to hear that Spector spent about 10 times the average production costs at the time in making the album.

The original album is one of only twelve LPs released on the Philles Records label. It peaked at number 13 on Billboard Christmas Albums sales chart the year it was released. Original pressings are now considered to be valuable collectors' items. In 2003, the album was ranked number 142 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Thanks to AAX user Da Guy, the gallery has an excellect high-resolution scan of the original LP cover. It bears the Philles Records catalog number PHLP 4005 and has been perfectly restored.

Posted by: Da Guy
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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo (2011)

Posted by: zeefritz
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New and Notable: Frankmusik

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The new single by British electropop musician Frankmusik (a.k.a. Frank Turner) is The Fear Inside. It was released yesterday and is available for download from Amazon.com and iTunes.

The cover art for the single features a black and white photograph of the artist in a scene from the music video, which debuted earlier this month. The cover art is an excellent representation of the theme of the song and the video. Regular readers know that I am always pleased to see creative coordination between the various elements of a project. This is an excellent example.

Posted by: zeefritz
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For the past few weeks, iTunes has been featuring holiday songs as the iTunes Free Single of the Week. This week, the single is Christmas This Year by contemporary Christian music artist tobyMac. The upbeat Christmas song also features Leigh Nash.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Meanwhile, the UK iTunes store is offering the single All I Want for Christmas is New Years Day by the electronic music duo Hurts.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Apple iTunes
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Below are six album cover that were preselected from among this week's new music releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for their noteworthy album cover designs. Please vote for the cover that you believe is the best of the bunch.

Crystal Bowersox - Farmer's Daughter cbower-farmer_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Ciara - Basic Instinct ciara-basici_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Michael Jackson - Michael mjacks-michae_11.jpg buy_now_240.gif   R. Kelly - Love Letter rkelly-lovele_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Diddy-Dirty Money - Last Train to Paris sdiddy-lasttr_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Tank - Now or Never tank-noworn.jpg buy_now_240.gif
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Cover art for Ricky Martin's new album revealed

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The cover for pop singer Ricky Martin's forthcoming album was revealed on the artist's official website yesterday. Musica+Alma+Sexo (Music+Soul+Sex) is scheduled to be released on February 1, 2011 and is currently available for preorder on Amazon.com. It is Martin's first new studio album in six years.

The cover features a black and white photograph of Martin in a dance pose and removing his jacket. The website credits neither the photographer nor the art director for the project. While the typography looks defective, it is part of the design.

Posted by: zeefritz
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According to our AlbumArtExchange Blog poll, the best album cover for the week of December 7, 2010 is Endlessly by Duffy. The cover won with 37% of the votes cast. Wonder of the Younger by Plain White T's came in second with 19%. There was a tie for third place between Flyleaf's Remember to Live and Hinder's All American Nightmare, which both received 11%.

I am not surprised that the Duffy album won by such a wide margin. The photograph was taken by New York fashion and portrait photographer Lachlan Baily. In reviewing Baily's online portfolio, it is obvious that he excels in photographing young, fresh-faced models. Having him photograph Duffy for this project was a perfect pairing. I hope that we see more of Baily's work on album covers in the future.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Check back later this evening to vote for the best album cover from among this week's new music releases. There will be five covers going up against the posthumous release by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Do they stand a chance?

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IMG_0187.jpgBraswell Auction Galleries has announced that the white two-piece suit (right) the late John Lennon wore for the cover of The Beatles' 1969 Abbey Road album is set to be auctioned during their 26th annual New Years Day sale. The suit will be featured along with the blazer Lennon wore in the 1971 documentary Imagine, and a Chrysler station wagon from the NYC Lennon-Ono household.

According to the auction house's website, Lennon had the suit especially designed for the Abbey Road photoshoot by Ted Lapidus Haute Couture Division in Paris. It has been authenticated by several sources, including Yoko Ono.

Braswell Galleries Antiques and Estate Center is located in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening + video

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Various Artists - Stripperland Motion Picture Soundtrack (2011)

Posted by: zeefritz
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New and Notable: Human Life

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Album Art Exchange user Aequi recommended the single Wherever We Are by Southern California electronic music trio Human Life for our latest New and Notable feature. The single is the group's second. It was released on November 15, 2010.

The cover art is interesting because it features a couple walking arm-in-arm on a beach at sunset. However, the music video for the song is something entirely different. The video is a romance between two attractive young women. They are shown falling in love, breaking up, and getting back together again and kissing at the end.

While my desrciption may seem a bit tawdry to some, the music video is far from a cheap porn fantasy. It is very tastefully done. It makes me wish that a still from the video had been used as the cover for the single. The image of the characters from the video are certainly more memorable than the couple in the water at sunset.

Posted by: Aequihumanl-wherev_03.jpgBuy Now

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USPS offers follow-up to 2009 holiday CD

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variou-letter_02.jpgAs a follow-up to last year's Letters to Santa (right), the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and Concord Music Group has released a second holiday-themed collection called Let It Snow.

The compilation album will be displayed at select USPS outlets throughout the season. The 11-track CD includes holiday favorites by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles with Betty Carter, Jason Mraz, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chris Isaak, Mel Tormé, Rosemary Clooney, Vince Guaraldi, Paul McCartney, and the Jackson 5.

The point-of-purchase CD comes pre-packaged in a gift box for easy shipping. It is also available thought the USPS online store at a discounted price.

Letters to Santa climbed to the top of the Billboard Seasonal Holiday Chart last November and stayed there for more than six weeks. To date, the release has sold more than 130,000 copies.

Part of the success of the 2009 CD had to be the illustration of a vintage Santa Claus that appeared on the cover. It will be interesting to see if the new CD does as well with a more modern graphic that features snowflakes. I wonder why they didn't go with a "Letters to Santa" series (Letters to Santa 2, etc.) The image of Santa reading his mail seems to be such a great fit for the Post Office. The new album art leave me kind of cold.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Count Your Blessings - The Top of the Naughty List (2010)

Posted by: randysrodeo
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Album Art Flashback: A Very Special Christmas

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variou-verysp_03.jpgA Very Special Christmas is the first in a series of Christmas music compilation albums that benefit Special Olympics. The first of what is now seven albums was released in 1987 and featured songs by Madonna, Sting, U2, Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen, and ten additional famous recording artists.

The series was envisioned by music producer Jimmy Iovine his wife Vicki, who worked as a volunteer for the Special Olympics organization. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, the founders of A&M Records, and activist Robert Sargent "Bobby" Shriver III, launched the first album. So far, the series has raised over $100 million for Special Olympics.

The cover for the album was designed by the late pop artist Keith Haring. It features a radiant figure holding a child. Many people mistake the image for a madonna and child. However, a "halo" is not seen above the head of the child. The concept is that the person who is caring for the child is the sainted one.

In 1992, the Haring artwork was used for the second album in the series A Very Special Christmas 2 (above right) and for four of the next five albums in the series. It appeared as a small inset on 2003's A Very Special Acoustic Christmas.

Haring died from AIDS complications in 1990. Also, his artwork was used for the cover of the 1992 HIV/AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Dance. Because of this, people sometimes mistakenly assume that the A Very Special Christmas series is a benefit for HIV/AIDS charities.

The video posted below is a promotion for the album that ran on MTV. It features Sting and several children dressed as angels. I think they would have done better with Eurthymics' Annie Lennox singing Winter Wonderland (my favorite song on the album).

Posted by: zeefritz
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Free Duran Duran download from iTunes

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The new Duran Duran single All You Need is Now is currently available on iTunes as a free download. The single is the title track from the band's forthcoming album, which is scheduled to be released in digital format on December 21, 2010.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Dawn_Treader_Special_Edition_Soundtrack.jpgA couple of people have contacted me to let me know that the cover art for the new Narnia soundtrack album was changed and that the image in the gallery should be updated. After doing a little online research, I discovered that there is a cover for a deluxe edition (right) floating around the Internet. However, I have not been able to verify the authenicity of this cover through official sources.

A fan website reported that the official cover had been changed. I am fairly confident that is not the case. The cover being distributed by Sony Music is the one shown below.

The soundtrack was released on December 7, 2010. The film opens in U.S. theaters today. The score was composed by David Arnold.

There are several versions of the soundtrack being released internationally, with singles performed by different artists. The U.S. iTunes store is selling the song There's a Place for Us by Carrie Underwood. In the U.K. the singles There's a Place for Us and Someone Wake Me Up by Joe McElderry are being sold in connection with the film. The result of this marketing scheme is proving to be very confusing for consumers.

The official cover for the soundtrack features a close up image of the face of the lion character, Aslan. The image was also used for the cover art for the Carrie Underwood single.

Posted by: zeefritz
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erasur-little_10.jpgHere is the music video for the new Erasure charity single that I wrote about a few days ago. A Little Respect (HMI Redux) was released last week.

Proceeds from the single are being donated to The Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) and the True Colors Fund. Home of the Harvey Milk School, the Hetrick-Martin Institute is the nation's oldest and largest LGBTQ youth service organization, providing a safe and supportive environment to all young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity so that they can achieve their full potential. The True Colors Fund was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper to advance LGBT equality and to raise awareness about and bring an end to LGBT youth homelessness.

The single features a youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute who also appear in the music video, which was directed by filmmaker Jason Stein.


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New and Notable: Michael Jackson and Akon

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The music video for the Michael Jackson and Akon duet Hold My Hand was released yesterday. The single was released on November 18, 2010. It is from the forthcoming posthumous Michael Jackson album, which is scheduled to be released next Tuesday.

Posted by: zeefritz
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sarahm-lawsof_02.jpgThe cover for singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne's fourth studio album, Goodbye Lullaby, was revealed today. The album is set to be released by RCA Records on March 8, 2011. Lavigne will debut the album's first single What the Hell on New Years Eve during Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve.

The cover features a photograph of Lavigne in a antique dress and sitting on top of a grand piano. It is definitely a more sophisticated look for the young artist. It reminds me of something Sarah McLachlan would do. And perhaps that is because McLachlan did do it earlier this year for the cover of her album Laws of Illusion (right).

I do not have credits for art direction and photography for Goodbye Lullaby. I think that McLachlan pulled off the "barefoot in a vintage gown" look a bit better than Lavigne manages to do.

Posted by: Skydancer
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Below are six album covers that were preselected from among this week's new music releases. They were chosen based on Amazon.com sales rank and for their noteworthy album cover designs. Please vote for the album cover that you believe to be the best of the bunch.

Duffy - Endlessly duffy-endles.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Flyleaf - Remember to Live flylea-rememb_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Hinder - All American Nightmare hinder-allame_04.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Juanes - P.A.R.C.E. juanes-parce_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Plain White T's - Wonder of the Younger plainw-wonder_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif   T.I. - No Mercy ti-nomerc_06.jpg buy_now_240.gif
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New and Notable: Erasure

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Pop duo Erasure has released of a new version of their 1988 single A Little Respect as part of an anti-bullying campaign. A Little Respect (HMI Redux) was released on December 3, 2010. It features a youth chorus from Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) in New York City.

A music video for the single was shot in New York City and features Erasure lead singer Andy Bell, youth from HMI and others. It was directed by filmmaker Jason Stein.

Posted by: zeefritz
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placeb-meds_06.jpgAccording to our AlbumArtExchange Blog poll, the best album cover for the week of November 30, 2010 is for Progress by Take That. The cover received 33% of the vote. The Beginning by The Black Eyed Peas was a close second with 29%. The Burlesque soundtrack was a distant third with 17%.

The photograph for the winning cover was taken by London photographer Nadav Kander. Kander may be familiar to many album art collectors for his work that appears as the cover for Meds by Placebo (right). The Take That cover features a similar motion blur effect of a nude figure.

In 2009, Kander did a series of portraits for The New York Times Magazine that included Barack Obama, Joe Biden and other members of the Obama administration. The same issue featured a series of Washington DC cityscapes also photographed by Kander. Kander's online portfolio is definitely worth a look.

Posted by: zeefritz
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As usual, the covers preselected from this week's new music releases will be posted this evening. Check back to see which albums made the cut.

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Christmas album art 2010

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With Christmas less than three weeks away, I thought it would be a good idea to give everyone a look at some of the most notable holiday albums of 2010. There doesn't seem to be a specific theme that dominates this year. The album covers range from cute to sentimental.

Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia alenno-christ_02.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Pink Martini - Joy to the World pinkma-joytot_04.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Celtic Thunder - Christmas celtic-christ_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Dave Barnes - Very Merry Christmas dbarne-veryme_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Glee The Music The Christmas Album gleeca-gleeth_06.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Jessica Simpson - Happy Christmas... jsimps-happyc_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Mariah Carey - Merry Christmas II You mcarey-merryc_10.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Olivia Newton-John - Christmas Collection onewto-christ_07.jpg buy_now_240.gif
The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Christmas Comes Alive! brians-christ_05.jpg buy_now_240.gif   The Puppini Sisters - Christmas with The Puppini Sisters puppin-christ_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Susan Boyle - The Gift sboyle-gift_04.jpg buy_now_240.gif   The Superions - Destination Christmas superi-destin_03.jpg buy_now_240.gif
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The Unconventionals have released the video for their holiday single, Long Distance Christmas. The song is currently available from iTunes and Amazon.com as a digital download.

The cover art for the single features the singing group in a cartoon winter wonderland. The music video includes clips of fans and a couple of surprise cameos by celebrities.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Buy Easy Rock Collection - Only at MusicSpace.com!
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Déjà Vu: The Memorials vs. OneRepublic

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This déjà vu moment is brought to you by spattered paint. The self-titled album by The Memorials is scheduled to be released on January 18, 2011.

The Memorials - S/T (2011)

Posted by: zeefritz
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OneRepublic - Waking Up Deluxe Edition (2009)

Posted by: sirauron
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Banned in the USA: La Femme

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la-femme-mosiac.jpgI recently stumbled on a review of a forthcoming EP by a French surf music band called La Femme. The cover for Le Podium #1 (below) features a nude woman with a large black square covering her exposed genitals. Text on the square reads, "This is not La Femme actaul cover because it got censured."

I assumed that this was a clever publicity stunt. Then, I did a little online research and found the uncensored cover for the EP. It was located on the band's Bandcamp page as the cover art for one of the four tracks available for download. I assume that the cover was not replaced with the censored version in error.

I have written about nudity being censored on album covers several times. This is the first time that I actually agree that a cover needed to be censored. Who would use a graphic close up photograph of a vagina as cover art for an EP of retro surf music? I could imagine it being appropriate for an album of protest songs or something a bit more serious.

I think many people will like the band's sound. I have posted the first track, Sur La Planche, below. It reminds me of some of the early New Wave bands from the late 1970s. The EP is scheduled to be released on December 13, 2010 and can be purchased now from Bandcamp.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Album Cones: Moby's Play

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moby-play.jpgReleased in May 1999, Play (right) is the fifth studio album by electronic music artist Moby. Play has been called the best-selling electronic album of all time, with nine hit singles in the UK and over 10 million copies sold worldwide.

The photograph for the cover was taken by the late fashion and fine art photographer Corinne Day. Day died of cancer in August at the age of 45. She achieved fame primarily for her photographs of model Kate Moss that started what became known as the "grunge" look in the 1990s.

The object being held against the wall in the bottom left corner of the photo is a photographer's flash meter. In our latest Album Cones version, the flash meter has been replaced by a tasty frozen treat. It looks as if Moby is unhappy with vanilla.

moby-cone.jpg

If you want to participate in the AAX Album Cones meme, submit your 1000 x 1000 pixel image along with the AAX links to the original cover image in the AAX gallery (if possible) via e-mail to blog@albumartexchange.com. You must also include your name or AAX forum username. You can also upload your images to Flickr and submit them to the Album Cones Flickr Group.

I will publish Album Cones as I receive them. I will not guarantee that your image will be published (but I'm not going to be too picky).

The Beatles Box of Vision
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At the Movies: Tron Legacy

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Disney's 3D sequel to Tron, Tron: Legacy, is scheduled to be released on December 17, 2010. The soundtrack was compsed by electronic music duo Daft Punk. It is set to hit stores on Tuesday.

There are quite a few fake and fan-made cover for the soundtrack floating around online. The cover below is the official one. It is a simple design that reminds me more of a neon sign from a 1950s diner than a blockbuster 3D movie. I can see why fans are busy creating their own versions.

A teaser trailer was created for the Daft Punk soundtrack that features the track Derezzed. You can check it out below.

Posted by: zeefritz
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Wacky Album Cover of the Evening

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Kompost 3 - S/T (2010)

Posted by: BugsBunny
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K.D. Lang "Reintarnation"
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53rd Annual Grammy nominees announced today

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The 53rd Annual Grammy nominees were announced today. The nominees for Best Recording Package and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package were a bit surprising. Two of the nominated recording packages are clever typography designs. Two are retro looks. I must admit that I am a bit underwhelmed by the selections.

Best Recording Package

The Black Keys - Brothers
Michael Carney, art director
Nonesuch

blackk-brothe.jpg Buy Now Oh No Ono - Eggs
Malene Mathiasson, Malthe Fischer, Kristoffer Rom,
Nis Svoldgård & Aske Zidore, art directors
Friendly Fire Recordings

ohnoon-eggs_03.jpg Buy Now Anaïs Mitchell - Hadestown
Brian Grunert, art director
Righteous Babe Records

amitch-hadest_03.jpg Buy Now Devendra Banhart - What Will We Be
Devendra Banhart & Jon Beasley, art directors
Warner Bros.

dbanha-whatwi_05.jpg Buy Now Chip Taylor - Yonkers NY
Andrew Taray, art director
Train Wreck Records

ctaylo-yonker_05.jpg Buy Now Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package

Various Artists - Light: On The South Side
Tom Lunt, Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, art directors
The Numero Group

Light_On_The_South_Side.jpg Buy Now Pixies - Minotaur (Deluxe Edition)
Jeff Anderson & Vaughan Oliver, art directors
Artist in Residence

Minotaur_Deluxe_Edition.jpg Buy Now

Voormann & Friends - A Sideman's Journey
(Limited Collector's Super Deluxe Box Set)
Daniel Reiss & Klaus Voormann, art directors
UMe/USM/Mercury

A_Sidemans_Journey.jpg Buy Now Cincin Lee - Story Island
Qing-Yang Xiao, art director
Wind Music

Story_Island.jpg Buy Now The White Stripes - Under Great White Northern Lights
(Limited Edition Box Set)
Rob Jones & Jack White III, art directors
Third Man/Warner Bros.

Under_Great_WhiteNorther_Lights_UK_Box_Set.jpg Buy Now
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For the last couple of weeks, iTunes has been offering holiday music as their Free Single of the Week. This week's single is Wish List by Neon Trees.

The cover for the single features Christmas ornaments decorated with images of the band. It is an interesting concept that works well for a holiday song.

Posted by: zeefritz
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New and Notable: Boots by The Killers

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Robbie Daw at Chart Rigger tips us to the premiere of video for The Killers' fifth annual holiday Product RED campaign charity single Boots -- which was directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). The video is available exclusively on the Starbucks website as part of their 12 Days of Sharing holiday campaign.

For every viewing of this exclusive performance by The Killers on Dec. 1, 2010 Starbucks will contribute 5¢ U.S. to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa. So pass this gift along to your friends and loved ones this holiday season, and see just how good it feels to give.

Visit the Starbucks Website
starbucks-giving.jpg

Posted by: zeefritz
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A Red Hot way to fight AIDS

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26931_406142628155_288903473155_5061468_3767111_n.jpgFounded in 1990, Red Hot Organization (RHO) is a not-for-profit, 501(c) 3, international organization dedicated to AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues through pop culture. The charity has produced 20 albums and dedicated more than 10 million dollars to worthy organizations, causes and pro-social projects around the world.

Red Hot + Blue was the first in a series of compilation albums in the Red Hot Benefit Series. It featured popular pop artists reinterpreting songs that were composed by Cole Porter. The title of the album comes from Cole Porter's musical, Red, Hot and Blue. Released in 1990, it sold over a million copies worldwide and is considered one of the first major AIDS benefits in the music business.

Below is an astonishing gallery of album covers produced by RHO over the last 20 years. If you do not have these albums in your collection, please check them out online. There are several covers that have not yet been added to the AAX gallery.

Red Hot + Blue (1990)

variou-redhot_03.jpg Buy Now
Red Hot + Dance (1992) Dance.jpg buy_now_240.gif   No Alternative (1993) NoAlt.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Red Hot + Country (1994) Country.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool (1994) StolenMoments.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Red Hot + Bothered (1995) Bothered.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip (1996) Offbeat.jpg buy_now_240.gif
America is Dying Slowly (1996) America.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Red Hot + Rio (1996) Rio.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Red Hot + Latin: Silencio = Muerte (1997) Latin.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Onda Sonora: Red Hot + Lisbon (1998) Lisbon.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Red Hot + Rhapsody (1998) Rhapsody.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Red Hot + Indigo (2000) INDIGO.jpg buy_now_240.gif
Red Hot + Riot (2002) RIOT.jpg buy_now_240.gif   Dark Was the Night (2009) DWTN.jpg buy_now_240.gif

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2010 is the previous archive.

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