Monday, March 28, 2011

Album Artwork for Pale Saints

The Pale Saints were a short-lived but brilliant band from the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Their album sleeves and singles were designed by the people who have done masterful work for the record label 4AD.

These singles and covers are exactly how things were done on 4AD.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Steve Kilbey This Asphalt Eden Single Cover

A brilliant solo offering from Steve Kilbey, who is without peer in his field of study, and that field is the field of music, love, culture, and the universe.

This single was so special, I grabbed two of them, just in case. To my knowledge, this has never been reissued on CD in its entirety, but I would imagine it appears somewhere. I did find "Shell" on the Steve Kilbey box set. The rest is history, I suppose.

The design, the art, and the imagery are all masterful here. The Steve Kilbey website lists a slightly different looking version.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

XTC Go2 and Go+ Covers

XTC's Go 2 album and the "extra" EP factored in as well. XTC were a prolific band, always laden with great songs and never at a loss for tracks or brilliance.

After Barry Andrews left the band, they carried on with Dave Gregory.


UK LP: V 2108

Side A
1."Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)"  2:36
2."Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"  4:37
3."Buzzcity Talking"  Colin Moulding2:41
4."Crowded Room"  Moulding2:53
5."The Rhythm"  Moulding3:00
6."Red"  3:02
Side B
1."Beatown"  4:37
2."Life Is Good in the Greenhouse"  4:41
3."Jumping In Gomorrah"  2:04
4."My Weapon"  Barry Andrews2:20
5."Super-Tuff"  Andrews4:27
6."I Am the Audience"  Moulding3:48

[edit]2001 Remastered CD: CDVX2108

1."Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go!)"  2:36
2."Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"  4:37
3."Buzzcity Talking"  Colin Moulding2:41
4."Crowded Room"  Moulding2:53
5."The Rhythm"  Moulding3:00
6."Red"  3:02
7."Beatown"  4:37
8."Life Is Good in the Greenhouse"  4:41
9."Jumping In Gomorrah"  2:04
10."My Weapon"  Barry Andrews2:20
11."Super-Tuff"  Andrews4:27
12."I Am the Audience"  Moulding3:48
13."Are You Receiving Me?"  3:06

[edit]Go+ (Bonus disc included on initial pressing)

  1. "Dance With Me, Germany" [dub version of "Meccanic Dancing (Oh We Go!)"] – 3:17
  2. "Beat the Bible" [dub version of "Jumping in Gomorrah"] – 2:06
  3. "A Dictionary of Modern Marriage" [dub version of "Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)"] – 2:27
  4. "Clap Clap Clap" [dub version of "I am the Audience"] (Moulding) – 2:17
  5. "We Kill The Beast" [dub version of "The Rhythm"] (Moulding) – 2:05
And there you have it. White text on a black background, courier type, but very much a send-up of the marketing of music and bands. By the late 1970s, album art was in its heyday. XTC couldn't be bothered, even thought their subsequent records came with fantastic covers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Church Under the Milky Way Single

In the spring of 1988, I fell absolutely in love with The Church. The album Starfish sounded like ice set to music. It was shimmering and white, and, as the song goes on to say, it leaves you here, despite your destination. 

Under the Milky Way is a classic beyond any mortal reproach. Issued as a single, it has transcended the vinyl format, the single format, the compact disc format, and will enter a digital age yet to come as a treasure of vast importance.

Volumes should be written about how important The Church have been to recorded music without ruffling the feathers of critics or music business honchos. A core fan base have never abandoned them, even when the times, the formats, the eras, the genres and the fickle nature of recorded music have shifted and changed like a chameleon made out of glass being melted under the stars. Whoa, that was overboard. Well, you can't use too many superlatives when writing about any song ever recorded by The Church.

The typography and design of the album and the singles and the promotional materials that followed has always struck me as a brilliant moment before the demise of album art in the late 1980s. This was right up to that magical line, circa 1987-89, where album art gave way to Compact Disc booklets of diminished size.

I'll dig out my CD3 single of Destination, another incredible piece of musical history. If you thought the 45RPM record was special, then what of that now-forgotten gem called the CD3? If you use a mini-DVD player, then you know the size of the disc that I speak of. The mini-DVD is the modern version of the CD3.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians If You Were a Priest Single

A great single from Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians. 

This version opens from the side, not the top, making it a little usual for a 45RPM record. This feature, and, of course, the small hole in the center, denote this as an import. Someone helpfully smacked the back of the single with a "Made in the United Kingdom" label. I didn't bother to remove it. I would hazard a guess as to say that putting such a label on the back meant that a record shop retailer could charge a little more for this import.

In the digital world, imports all but disappeared. What used to be on version of an album or a single released in England or the rest of continental Europe was sometimes different from what was released in the United States. I suppose they could still try to accomplish this, but the digitization of music has effectively made this sort of practice impractical.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

XTC Love on a Farmboy's Wages Double Gatefold Single

Serving as the absolute antithesis of the music in era in which it was released, XTC's Love on a Farmboy's Wages single is about as far from Eighties music as you can get without crashing into ruin, financial or otherwise. It is a track that drove their drummer, Terry Chambers, to throw down his drumsticks and leave the band. Forever. And yet, it is a brilliant piece of pop music that defies categorization.

Almost delightfully anti-commercial but poignant and full of melody, this single has always stood out for me. Sounding like troubadors banging on homemade drums, strumming instruments of ancient delicacy, this paean to marriage, love, and rural poverty is as much substance as XTC could muster without totally de-throning the Kinks as recorders of English life.

This version of the single is shaped like a man's wallet. When opened, two vinyl singles sit on either side of the gatefold. The exterior is plain, but weathered, worn and very leathery. The inside shows the wallet of a man with very little, except a single banknote and a fetching picture of a lovely lass. Scraps of paper reveal the titles of the two extra songs delivered with the package.

XTC loved their B-sides. The three tracks that accompany the single are treasured gems.

You can learn more about the single at this site, even how to play the song.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Moose Reprise Single

The Reprise single (or EP) from Moose is wonderful to look at. It has a pop art feel to it (courtesy of the Brady Bunch actresses) and it's wonderfully lettered. If I could letter like that, I'd do more comics.

Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate CDs. The size of the format has reduced a lot of the artistic choices but this is still a wonderful cover.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Red Guitars Slow to Fade Cover

This is one of my all-time favorite album covers (yes, it would have been much better if the image were larger, but I get that it's still very well done with the wide borders). There are no faces, just anonymous helmets worn by the soldiers of the colonial era, and you see the ship on the horizon, just perfectly to the left of the flagpole. It's a marvelous shot. I believe the original was black and white, and this may have been colorized.

Using an old photograph of British troops watching the Union Jack being lowered on Crete (I think that's right), the title of the album really comes to life. I love the story that it suggests--the slow fade of empire, of greatness, of everything these soldiers have fought for, and then the image of an England in decline really comes into play. If you were an English band, circa 1984, you could say that about the Thatcher era, and about British music in general.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Echo & the Bunnymen Bedbugs and Ballyhoo US Promotional Single

I dug this little gem out with all of the others that I plan to scan and upload. I do this more to demonstrate the genius behind the marketing of these wonderful items. The 45RPM single is long dead, but still relevant and very much worth remembering and discussing as if the thing were alive today.

The cover photo is masterful. I don't know if the distant dot is meant to pay tribute to the cover of "The Killing Moon" single, but I certainly notice how it stands out in the photography. This shot carries the theme of the so-called "Grey" album, or the self-titled Bunnymen LP from 1987. The muted, but spectacular shots of the band, in silhouette and all, were perfect for the music inside.

This is the promotional single, liberated from some worthless radio station that would never play it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Julian Cope Sunspots Single

Never as weird as the squares wanted to make him out to be, Julian Cope always puts out great stuff. He is still releasing densely brilliant works, and is probably more prolific now than he ever was.

This single is a classic. Released circa 1985, he had already shed the Teardrop Explodes and was forging a new path as a solo artist.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Replacements in a Live Photo

Black and white photos of rock bands playing live are always stunning for their details. Would this be better in color? No, I don't think so. The lights at rock and roll shows tend to ruin things--is that the fault of the big light show bands from the 1970s or is that just the absurd decision to try to make the lights cover up for bad music?

The Replacements look like they're trying here. Bob's dress means that they're in it to win it. Bob Stinson was one of the most underrated performers in the history of rock and roll. A genius in his own right. I can still remember when he passed away.

Of course, this gig could have dissolved into drunken covers and half-hearted ballads. Still brilliant, though.