Here’s a beauty that came to me via a friend and fellow 45 collector—an Alex Steinweiss cover for a box of Morton Gould 7-inch records on Columbia. Here’s the wonderful Steinweiss script we’ve come to love contrasted against some microscopic Futura type amid some rather basic geometric line art. Simple and beautiful and a great example of Steinweiss’ thin-line, slightly jittery, script lettering. Enjoy!
I found these two Alex Steinweiss-designed and illustrated album covers gathering dust in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in South Austin. None of his beautiful, signature, curly script, but still fun nonetheless. They’re still there, so go grab ’em!
Behold this recently acquired stash of Bell Records 45 RPM and 78 RPM 7-inch vinyl records, which were distributed by Pocket Books and featured cover versions or “sound-alike” versions of popular tunes of the time. Sound-alike versions were cheap to produce and, beyond the flat rate the musicians were paid, cost the record company only publishing royalties on top of manufacturing and distribution. A nickel and dime game perhaps, but there was certainly profit to be made if enough unsuspecting customers bought the sound-alikes instead of the real McCoys. Some of the songs featured in this collection are Jackie Wilson’s That’s Why, here performed by otherwise-lost-to-history act, “The Muses” and the Kingston Trio’s hit, Tom Dooley, performed by the equally anonymous “The Four Dreams.”
I like Radiohead. I’ve always liked them. From the earnest songwriting of their youth to the rejection and gradual acceptance of their own fame to their continued exploration of what “music” is. I also appreciate the attention they have always paid to the visual component of their works having hired numerous designers, animators, illustrators, filmmakers and artists to create their albums’ packaging, videos, posters, websites, t-shirts and more. And that is precisely why I was a bit perplexed to see the masthead on the website for their new album, The King Of Limbs.
How quickly time passes when you’re busy. Here we are again, one year later, observing Record Store Day, this time in Austin, TX–truly the “live music capital of the world.” In fact, I stopped in to a great Austin record store (one of many), End of an Ear, to pick up some vinyl and happened to catch the last four songs by BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet before they headed back to southwest Louisiana. They were in town playing at the Old Settler’s Music Festival (one of a gazillion fests here this time of year) and were gracious enough to give us a free show in the parking lot. Oh, and I scored this UK pressing of Pete Kelly’s Blues featuring the silky-smooth voice of Peggy Lee and sporting some great typography to boot.
Though I’m still mourning the loss of Final Vinyl in the East Village, that won’t stop me from seeking out and patronizing my local record store this Saturday, April 19th, on Record Store Day. Get out there and support your local music retailer–more specifically, the ones selling vinyl!
While I do own a lot of the 45s in this collection, NONE of my singles have their original picture sleeves. This is where my jealousy of Michael, Erwin & Alex begins. These guys are the proprietors of Demon Fuzz Records, what appears from their photos to be quite the vinyl record store located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I’ve never been there in person (unless it was unknowingly in 1991), but I have been on their website, which sports such wonderful record cover and picture sleeve galleries as “Mysterious Ladies” (Ritual), “Products” (Steinski), and “Singles Bar” (Nina Simmone) among others. Join me as I gaze in the greenest of envies at the seven-inch picture sleeves of Ray Barretto’s Soul Drummer or Willie Henderson’s Funky Chicken…
If you’ve ever been crate-digging and stumbled upon an LP or 7-inch with Jim Flora’s cover art, you most likely bought it regardless of the music the record contained. At least, that’s been my experience. These covers are truly works of art and often outshine the music therein. Long the stuff of record geeks’ collections, Flora’s art has managed to slowly infiltrate the public’s consciousness largely by the efforts of one man. Irwin Chusid, a long-time WFMU DJ and Jim Flora archivist coined the term “Outsider Music” and was responsible for bringing to light such important, but previously overlooked artists as Esquivel, The Langley Schools Music Project and Raymond Scott just to name a few. The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora is the second book on the artist by Chusid, who is by now considered the authority on the subject and even co-maintains the official Jim Flora blog. As the title suggests, Flora’s normally playful graphic style is taken for a more sinister ride in the works featured in this book, which also includes several unpublished sketches and paintings. The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora is an absolute must-have for both music and art lovers, fine or otherwise. And if you are going to be in the Seattle area now through October 24th, be sure to catch the exhibition of the same name currently on view at the Fantagraphics Book Store to see many of these works first hand.
I’ve now received as gifts both the paperback and hardcover versions of 45 RPM: A Visual History of the Seven-Inch Record, an interesting and amusing survey of 45 RPM record sleeves from the 1950s through the 1990s. And while my preference is (obviously) for label art, I can’t help but to pull these books out from time to time and flip through the actual-size reproductions of such visually interesting covers as the Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance” donning a photo of one of Yoko Ono’s installations or a Jackie Gleason “Lonesome Echo” single with a custom Salvador Dali painting on the cover or the Rat Fink-inspired Man… or Astro-Man? seven-inch. Quite possibly the main selling point for me is the index in the back of the book that lists all of the meta data on each record including, whenever possible, designer and illustrator. Turns out I have a couple of Burt Goldblatts in my collection.
Join “black crack” addicts worldwide on August 12th as we celebrate Vinyl Record Day commemorating the anniversary of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison. Go crate-digging at yard sales, flea markets and thrift shops, support your local vinyl record store, shop for new and used vinyl online at such great stores as Dusty Groove and Gemm, or finally get a replacement stylus for that used turntable you bought off Craig’s List.