Saturday, November 9, 2019

#57 - The Best of the Doors: The Doors (1985)

Let’s face it. The Doors were basically Jim Morrison. 

Yeah, they had some great songs (mostly written by Robby Krieger, by the way), but it was really all about this guy. He was handsome, charismatic, a decent poet, and something of a modern day Rimbaud. 

Hence, any Doors album cover worth its salt is going to feature The Lizard King front and center. This one was the most effective, by far. In fact, this one is actually pretty terrible.

Interestingly, both were done by Joel Brodsky. 

Overall, Brodsky did an incredible 450-some album covers. With numbers like that, it’s not surprising that he did work for acts as diverse as Isaac Hayes, KISS, The Ohio Players, Country Joe & the Fish, Percy Sledge, and The Stooges.

And then there's this:

The Doors were extremely popular, selling over 100 million albums. They were quite creative, and covered a lot of ground – art-rock, jazz-influenced pop, blues …

It really was all about Jim though. I highly recommend the bio No One Here Gets Out Alive (hmm, does that pic look familiar?).

Here's the whole band - John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, and that other guy:

And here’s a nice parody by John C. Reilly (AKA Dewey Cox)

And some more, from this pretty funny Muppets site:

And this pretty silly Bored Panda post:

Saturday, November 2, 2019

#58 - Horses: Patti Smith (1975)

It’s super simple, but super effective. And that’s probably because the photographer was no less than Robert Mapplethorpe. He and Patti just so happened to be roommates, meeting for the first time on Patti’s first day in NYC.

Another thing I like about this cover is the punk theme – the black & white, the minimal titles, the skinny tie … There are interesting – and pretty sophisticated – themes of androgyny and confidence/reticence going on too. It was actually done on a Polaroid, in natural light, at a friend’s apartment.

Surprisingly, Mapplethorpe actually did no less than 43 covers, with several more of Patti’s, as well as ones for Joan Armatrading, Phillip Glass, and Peter Gabriel. 

He is, of course, mostly known for his very transgressive and controversial homosexual – well, let’s call it what it is – pornography (I won’t be showing any of that here).

How to describe Patti Smith? She’s kind of one of those artists who no one listens to, but everyone acknowledges their importance. Indeed, she was more of a poet than a musician (and a little famous for being famous to boot). All that said, she is in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and made it onto Rolling Stone’s Top 100 … but also won a National Book Award and received a medal from the French.

Horses was Patti’s first album, and probably her best. Critics loved it, and it has been cited by acts such as The Smiths, REM, Courtney Love, and PJ Harvey.

Patti doesn’t really have any other great covers - most were just other portraits:

Here, though, are that are not. I rather like the first one, and have always been fascinated the second:

That’s her dad, by the way.

Hard to believe, but even Patti gets a send up:

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Friday, October 25, 2019

#59 - In Utero: Nirvana (1993)

Hard to believe, but this won’t be Nirvana’s only album cover here. Stay tuned, m’kay?

This one’s actually pretty simple. It’s basically one of those weird anatomical models little boys would see in a museum and giggle over, plus some wings. Heck, you could probably add wings to anything and make it look a little like the Victory of Samothrace, right?

That image (from In Utero, not the Victory of Samothrace) has inspired a lot of tattoos and merchandise, and even some parodies and crafts as well.

The art director was Robert Fisher, who simply ran with some ideas from Kurt Cobain.

Fisher was responsible for a lot of Nirvana’s stuff, and has no fewer than 126 credits to his, uh, credit. In addition to Nirvana, he’s also done a fair amount of stuff for Beck, Blondie, and No Doubt.

The back cover was basically some crazy shit that Kurt came up with on his own. 

Before and after art direction

The photographer was Charles Peterson, basically the court portraitist of Grunge.

The original title of this album was I Hate Myself and I Want to Die, but the lawyers talked ‘em out of it. Too bad – it’s kinda catchy.

In Utero was the band’s last studio album. The goal was to create the anti Nevermind, going for a much more unpolished, genuine sound (!?!?). It sold 15 million copies.

Do I really need to say anything about these guys? One word then … Grunge.

Kurt, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl

The one (?!?!) parody I could find out there:

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Friday, October 18, 2019

#60 - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols: Sex Pistols (1977)

What’s this doing here then? It almost seems like anti-art.

And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Punk was all about cutting through the crap and getting back to basics.

Kinda like this cover. Fonts and bright colors (actually, a ransom note’s worth of the former). Literal cut and paste. And that’s it! It reminds me so much of all those old punk zines (except, of course, for the colors).

Jamie Reid, an artist and activist very closely associated with the Punk movement, was behind this one.

He did a number of other things for the Pistols, and has 50 credits total.

That title is wonderful as well. Interestingly, there actually was a band called the Bollocks. Now, they were from Malaysia and seemed to have been formed long after Johnny Rotten’s demise … 

Hard to believe, but NMTBHTSP was the Pistols’ only album. It did, however, introduce punk to the world. It also went to #1. The two songs anyone remembers are probably “God Save the Queen” and “Anarchy in the UK.”

I actually don’t know many people who own, or listen to, this album. I’m a huge fan of punk, but – personally – would probably much prefer to just queue up The Clash.

Honestly, I think the Sex Pistols were more about an idea than actual music. That said, they were elected to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall o’ Fame. Fittingly, they refused to show, calling the Museum a “piss stain.” Attaway, boys!

Mr. Rotten, Mr. Cook, Mr. Vicious, Mr. Jones

As you can imagine, this one’s a pretty easy one to parody. I’ll spare you those and close with these commercial ironies:

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