Friday, August 26, 2011

Echo and the Bunnymen The Fountain Covers

Echo and the Bunnymen couldn't put out a bad album if you paid them. I'm eagerly anticipating their next album, but this one, from 2009, shows that they haven't missed a step. The Fountain arrives at the end of the days when you could call a CD an album and when you might see this in one of those vanishing record stores. It's all digital downloads from here on out, I guess.

I really like this package. It's a no-nonsense affair, selecting a wonderful image of a fountain to center the artwork upon. I like the use of red here, and I like how this was put together.

A classic.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Plot Thickens

This sort of undermines the main thrust of Liam Gallagher's argument that he didn't have a hangover before canceling a show. It doesn't mean he actually had a hangover, since one beer does not automatically a hangover make, but it does reduce, considerably, the credibility of his contention that he had laryngitis.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Gallagher Too Far

You don't sue for an apology--you sue for damages. The legal process is not the place one goes to in order to soothe hurt feelings--the rule of law works in the other direction. When your feelings are hurt, lash out or find comfort in art or through a statement to the press. Suing in an austere court puts you in the realm of barristers and lawyers and men who take millions from other men over trifles and contract disputes.

The real story here is that older Noel has tormented younger Liam through the press this summer and now young Liam has to lash out any way he can. The music press in England is almost entirely on the side of Noel so what else is Liam supposed to do? Liam has overreached. He has gone to the courts and made himself look like the nervously twitching innocent. And, by innocent, I mean the naive sort.

What's behind this torment? Well, the Beady Eye album landed and it didn't take off quite like it was supposed to. Was it a failure? No. But it was no second coming of anything. Has that unsettled Liam? Does anyone care?

The pending release of the Noel Gallagher album is another animal entirely. It could be a huge hit or it could be merely fantastic. There's a lot of buzz out there about it, and there's a lot of hype. All of this is hype, of course. Both Gallaghers have the same management. And why is that?

Does that make it easier to coordinate the public relations efforts? Does that mean that one client of this management company is suing another client for an apology only, and no monetary damages for a reason? What is that reason?

Well, it was worth a blog post. Did it make anyone care? Did this make people sit up and take notice of a product that they could buy? Was it worth the time to file the law suit? And a few stories across the web? Hopefully, that will shift a few units.

Love and Rockets Express Covers

One of the greatest albums of the 1980s, for sure.

Love and Rockets Express is a wonderful album, full of twists and turns and stylistic choices that should have conquered the world. It would take a few more years for people to receive what it was they were transmitting. Nothing they were able to do tops Express, for me. I put this one on a pedestal for my own selfish reasons. I don't care about commercial success, ever. I care about the tracks.

Yin and Yang and An American Dream have always rotated through my playlists. Back in the cassette era, I don't know why, but I put this on one  side and Priest = Aura by the Church on the other. That was one of my favorite tapes, of course. No two albums could be more disparate and similar in quality at the same time--the perfect combination for a long-playing cassette tape of high quality. Since we don't consume music in that format anymore, it really drives home how much I miss listening to these two albums back to back on a long drive.

This one has the tracks that will break your heart. A suite of songs that are all monumentally important for understanding that the 1980s were not a decade of flops and vacuous synthesizers. The music that was good rarely got a chance to appear in the record bins of the major stores. To find this album, and the stunning singles that went with it meant browsing the import bins, of course. The American version of this album was different than the European release, I believe. What a shame.

Love and Rockets emerged from the ruins of Bauhaus and several other bands. They took their name from a comic book by the Hernandez brothers. Oh, sure. They had a great run. But this is the album that cemented their legacy.

The cover art is, of course, perfect. The rest of the package (this is the re-release for the world market) contains the essential B-sides and some of the original art and packaging. This version does not veer too much from the version I had way back when.

Find it, buy it, and enjoy it forever.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ann Kirsten Kennis Wins

I hope her settlement was fair and I hope this allows Kennis (her married name is now Benschop) to achieve some sort of closure with regards to this matter.

When I saw the image, I have to admit--it's a stunning photo of a very lovely woman. It has a wonderful "vintage" look to it and it made for an amazing album cover. But it did use the image of a person without their permission, and the legalities of this case are byzantine enough already. I hope whoever "stole" this image and misrepresented the ownership of it is punished.

Kennis posed for the shot ages ago, 1983 to be exact. And she is still lovely:

Kennis gave a full accounting of her modeling career to Vanity Fair, and her work was stunning:

Anyway, here's to the courts--and here's to closure.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Looting Will Continue Until Morale Improves

It took a riot to get people to wear Pretty Green? Is that the joke?

English justice moves swiftly. In five days, the man has been tried, convicted, and sentenced. In the U.S., I don't think the case would go anywhere in six months, but I could be wrong on that.

It's very sad. One can make jokes about Liam Gallagher and all, but the loss of so much merchandise probably equals the loss of jobs and benefits for people in the retail world, and then multiply that by ALL of the shops affected. How terrible. And the economic situation doesn't improve for anyone when there is rioting. It's a self-defeating situation. There are fewer and fewer jobs, and stolen merchandise is cold comfort when all is said and done. Oh, and it makes it easier for the police to convict you, I should add.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bill Drummond The Man

While it would be tempting to call this weird, it's very much of its time.

Bill Drummond's The Man album dropped into a world that just wasn't ready for Scottish honesty and integrity. He would go on to great fame and fortune with the KLF.

What I didn't know was that The Triffids backed him on much of the record, and their capable musicianship makes this a rare gem indeed. This is a fusion of country and freakout, and it is brilliantly conceived and executed.

You can't quibble about the cover. What are you going to put on the cover of a solo artist's album when he calls his record The Man? You're going to put him on the cover clutching a hollow-body electric guitar. It's almost a given.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Crippling Blow For Independent Music Labels in Britain

The article goes on to say that a tremendous amount of physical inventory--albums and CDs, I would gather--was destroyed. How devastating.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark Covers

Well, where do you start with such a thing?

The Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark album, by the group of the same name, was one of the most important releases in the history of all recorded music, bar none, and no hyperbole necessary. To this day, electronica is one of the most popular forms of music but it has lived almost entirely under the radar because our culture hasn't figured out how to exploit electronica for massive financial gain. You could write books about the impact of electronic music and how it has utterly inserted itself into the consciousness of the world without so much as a blink and a nod from the media; suffice it to say, this is the album where you can start Chapter One.

Of course, there were others. I'm not saying that this is where everything started (Kraftwerk, anyone?) But this is where you could start without angering too many people.

The design impact alone is worth volumes. To use two very modern, bright colors and then contrast them like this is genius. The cover is very distinguishable. The image created here is very much in line with the music inside and the efforts that went into making it. Slapping two smirking mugs on the front of this thing would simply not do. The cover had to be modern, and this is the cover they chose. It's absolutely timeless without being dated and it's very much rooted in the beginning of electronic music without being cheap or disposable.

This is the expanded, remastered version. It works on so many levels. There are exactly 100 of those orange things on the front of the album, by the way. A perfect square printed on the front of a perfect square. It doesn't get any smarter than that.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Verve The Drugs Don't Work EP

This is a package that I've never liked, visually, but I include it here because the effort is worth noting. The Verve released this as the follow-up single for Bitter Sweet Symphony, and it's a fantastic song, don't get me wrong. I like everything about this except for the layering on the cover and the way everything seems to disappear. The text is far too small, and when you use white text on a lightened background, it always seems to be difficult to read on purpose.

Do you know what would have made this better? For it to have been released as a 12" single. I think I would have liked the artwork a whole lot more if it had been released in a larger format. My version of this is a cardboard digipack which would be the U.S. version. I don't know if the British versions were digipacks.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Darling Buds You've Got to Choose

This one has appeared already, but I did locate the 12" single with the full workup of the front and back with the label.

Never take a picture of your band lying down. It just doesn't work. The Darling Buds were a dynamic live band.  Always photograph the singer and the band in action doing something, anything, other than lying down.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adorable Sistine Chapel Ceiling Video

Adorable - Sistine Chapel Ceiling on MUZU.TV

This is well worth embedding. There is so much going on in this video that I can't help but wonder why this wasn't a huge hit. Visually, I love this clip. The song is intense and the experience is unforgettable.

The Sundays Summertime EPs

This is one of those fantastic little marketing tricks that I love to see out there (although this one is fairly old, as it came out in 1997).

The Sundays released a double single for Summertime, hoping to lure in fans who wanted new stuff after a five year layoff. By putting two live tracks on one EP, and two B-sides on another, I guess they were hoping to tempt a few curious singles buyers and capitalize on some fan loyalty, and what's not to like? If I had been buying Sundays singles, I would have gotten them both, no problem.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nina Gordon Bleeding Heart Graffiti Covers and More

Someone anonymous stopped by last week and left a lovely comment on my previous Nina Gordon post (it's from months and months back) and so I was able to cobble together these five images.

Her Bleeding Heart Graffiti package is much more in tune with who she is as an artist. There's none of that Britney Spears crap, none of that phony image creation at work. Here's a confident artist doing what she does, and the album cover certainly works. It's a fabulous blend of art on a portrait, blended just the right way.

I've add the cover of the Kiss Me Til it Bleeds single, and one more portrait from this era, and these follow the same confident path. What are you supposed to do when you look like this? Show up wearing a garbage bag and too much mascara? These images seem to be saying, look, here I am, here are the songs.

That always seems to be the best way to go, especially for an artist of this caliber. Now that recording artists can eschew the record labels and mold and form their own images and make their own way (it's expensive, but it can be done--see Kristin Hersh), there's no need for a $50,000 photo session or for any of that nonsense. What used to be dropped on catering and limos can pay for the recording of a dozen or more songs and whatever else you need to get them out to the fans.

Also, that whole MySpace thing--someone needs to get poor Nina onto something else.