Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Police Wrapped Around Your Finger EP

I wanted to post this to show the contrast between what was marketed as a major label release and the previous post, which featured a single from Love and Rockets.

The Police were not quite at the end of their career when this came out, but no one really knew it was the end. Wrapped Around Your Finger peaked at number 8 and kept the Synchronicity album flying off the racks well into 1984.

I like the cover, but it shows what was important in the 1980s--the physical attributes of the band or the artist.

One thing I didn't know--the Police released their singles in one order for the US and in a different order for their British audience.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Love and Rockets If There's a Heaven Above Cover

You could devote an entire blog to the design aesthetic behind the album and single covers put out by Love and Rockets in the 1980s and 1990s.

The graphics for many of these releases relied upon the heart and rocket graphics and were masterfully rendered in numerous colors and formats. This EP represents just how minimalistic yet brilliant these choices were. In the 80's, everyone used garish hair, cheap colors, and excess to market and sell music. Love and Rockets existed in that quasi-underground world where one hit would drive them into the mainstream while a dozen or more great singles and releases languished on the shelves of indie stores.

Anyway, this is a brilliant track and I love how these covers hold up over time.

Monday, December 24, 2012

James Ring the Bells EP

In the early 1990s, James put out a string of classic albums and singles. Their recorded output is prolific enough to place them with the elite recording artists of their era, and they were more than a mere Britpop fad.

This EP is, I think, the first thing I've posted by James. It is a departure from the design sensibility that would appear with the single, colorful daisy image which, I think, defines the band.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this cover, other than the difficulty of reading the back of the single. Ring the Bells is a fantastic song.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dave Grohl and Bob Mould Live

Check out this whole clip of Bob Mould with Dave Grohl. An entire tour of this would satisfy a grateful nation.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Charlatans Crashin' In Single

The Charlatans were at the top of their game in 1995, and their self-titled fourth album ranks very highly as an artistic achievement because it firmly put their early work behind them and moved into a much more exciting time for the band. Sadly, this was the end of the contributions that the great Rob Collins would make--in a short time, he would pass away and the band would have to leave this era behind.

The single for Crashin' In features a great cover. The band is posed in a desperate way, seated on the curb and probably wishing they were somewhere else. The reluctant rock star look is not a bad way to go when you're on album number four and what is probably your fifteenth or sixteenth single.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Tenacity of Suede

I'm impressed with how tenacious and dedicated Suede have been in recent years. They have fought their way back, writing and then scrapping songs, going back to an honest version of their sound, and giving their fans something to hope for. With Oasis, Blur, and almost everyone else having given up or turned their backs on new music or mired in confusion, Suede are out there, playing and trying to make things work.

Is it really that important to "break" in America? I have no idea if Suede can come to the States and tour extensively and see enough interest to make it worth their while. I would imagine that there is a plan to play in America next year and try to break through. Their efforts to do so in the 90s were honest enough, but they never reach Radiohead status and they remain a European band.

My firm belief is that the whole legal mess over having to call themselves "The London Suede" broke their ambition here, and I think it hurt The Charlatans UK as well to have to kowtow to some ridiculous rule and the vanity of some defunct Sixties musicians. Let's hope that if Suede does get a chance to come across the pond that they can leave that whole "London Suede" thing behind them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Since When Does Graham Coxon Call the Shots in Blur?

Blur are, and were, perhaps the biggest band ever that never made it in America.

But, having said that, Blur are still this huge possibility that could very easily explode into something huge next year if and when they decide to put out a new album and play several of the big music festivals.

Since when does Graham Coxon function as the spokesman for what the band will and won't do? They recorded without him and they could very easily do so again. It's entirely Damon Albarn's band, and if he decides to make a Blur album, he will make a Blur album with three chimps and a triangle if that's what he wants to do. He doesn't need or require anyone else to make that decision.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Fire in John Squire's Barn

I remember watching a pre-Stone Roses reunion documentary about John Squire and his art, and if this is the building that I'm thinking of, then this is truly a sad event.

The documentary looked at how Squire produced his art, and if offered a rare glimpse into his creative process.

I cannot vouch for this, but I think this is the facility that may have burned down:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ride Kaleidoscope EP Covers

This is one of the neatest things, ever.

Very early in their career, Ride put out this massive EP of live tracks, six in all, amounting to over a half an hour of their early sound.

The Kaleidoscope EP featured here came with an actual cover; I have never seen that. What I have is the original Reprise records promo single pictured at bottom. The image in the middle appears to be some sort of cover for a Best Of compilation that I have yet to see, either.

If you can find one of these, hold on to it. The rarity of it marks it as one of the best of the Ride collectibles.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

U2 I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight Single

The enormity of U2 continues onto the sleeves of their singles, and I picked this one because I think it shows how the tie-in for their stage show spectacles and their singles have formed a kind of synergy you don't see much of anymore. People are so eager to appear real that they refuse to do these sorts of things unless it is clear that they have unabashedly sold out.

Has U2 sold out? Or is U2 simply selling what they sell so they can go away for three and a half years? I can't figure that out anymore.

This is a nice package in that it includes a live track from Boston. Any time you can acquire a live track of U2 playing Boston, do so. They seem to be able to create magic in front of a Boston crowd.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ringo's Car

You can see Ringo's car at the Mercedes Benz museum. It reminds me of a Pontiac. It's not that impressive of a car, but it's a Beatle car. That's impressive.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Supergrass Going Out Cover

Supergrass were a Britpop band without really any of the commercial failure associated with that genre; they were wildly successful, come to think of it, and deservedly so.

Going Out kicked off the singles from their In It For the Money album, and I remembered this cover because of the vintage typewriter; what that has to do with the single, I have no idea. Many bands put out the worst possible band photos when they release singles. The one on the back cover actually succeeds in making the band look fairly normal.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

He's All In

So much for being apolitical:

Right now, for the President to be effective in his next term he needs our increased support and he needs support in the Congress, where some sterling candidates, such as current Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, challenger Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, and so many others, are fighting to make their constructive voices heard. 
Right now, there is an ever increasing division of wealth in this country, with the benefits going more and more to the 1 percent. For me, President Obama is our best choice to begin to reverse this harmful development. 
Right now, there is a fight going on to help make this a fairer and more equitable nation. For me, President Obama is our best choice to get us and keep us moving in the right direction. 
Right now, we need a President who has a vision that includes all of our citizens, not just some, whether they are our devastated poor, our pressured middle class, and yes, the wealthy too; whether they are male or female, black, white, brown, or yellow, straight or gay, civilian or military. 
Right now, there is a choice going on in America, and I’m happy that we live in a country where we all participate in that process. For me, President Obama is our best choice because he has a vision of the United States as a place where we are all in this together. We’re still living through very hard times but justice, equality and real freedom are not always a tide rushing in. They are more often a slow march, inch by inch, day after long day. I believe President Obama feels these days in his bones and has the strength to live them with us and to lead us to a country “…where no one crowds you and no one goes it alone.” 
That’s why I plan to be in Ohio and Iowa supporting the re-election of President Obama to lead our country for the next four years.

The most important musical artist in America just threw down a mighty big gauntlet. Who will rise to meet it? Who will take a stand?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ian McCulloch Lover Lover Lover EP Cover

In the early 90s, Ian McCulloch's solo career stalled a bit, but it wasn't his fault.

Well, I suppose you could have made the case that his Mysterio album was weak, or wrong for the times, but I certainly didn't think that at the time and I don't think that now. Mysterio had some great songs on it, and I think it holds up today.

Nobody knew what to do with McCulloch in the early 90s because everything that was happening in music was breaking in different directions. Instead of thoughtful pop, influenced by his own travels, the world was looking for grunge and aggression. This would lead McCulloch to the Electrafixion project, which trumped everyone in those categories by a good country mile.

This EP, and the handful of others that he released as a solo artist, are all great additions to any collection for the B-sides alone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Order Crystal Single

New Order's Crystal was a single from the early 2000s, and while a lot of people were down on this era of the band, the album. Get Ready, and the subsequent follow-up, Waiting for the Sirens' Call, were actually very good albums, and I preferred them to Technique (but, then again, I'm weird).

The model on the front cover is Nicolette Krebitz, and I really like the art direction and design of the Get Ready album and the singles that were issued. The back cover is very, very washed out--sorry about that. But it does fit with the minimalism of the marketing of the single and the album.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Screaming Blue Messiahs Gun Shy Cover

The Screaming Blue Messiahs were an incredible band, and I wish I had better scans of their Gun Shy album. It's not a bad cover at all, and it does the job very well.  Their covers tended to feature guitarist and singer Bill Carter on the front; I think I have their last album on CD and I'll be digging that out very shortly.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot get their out-of-print albums from Wounded Bird Records. I checked! I couldn't find where they were listed.

Of all of the artists who were active during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Messiahs rank up there as being one of the artists whose works went out of print and became quite valuable as collectibles. Apparently, that is still the case.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This is How You Talk to Your Fans

You can say whatever you want about Patrick Carney, but the man knows how to talk to his fans about the future of his band.

I recently posted about Amy Lee and Bon Iver, and how they have both talked about the future in ways that are not conducive to making their fans happy. Bands should just break up or quit and not telegraph that move. They should announce it and move on. They should not tease their fans. And fans need to grow up and realize that no band can last forever.

Carney lays it out for the people who love his band. He says, basically, we're going to do this, then that, we're going to take a break, and you'll see us on the road again next year. And that's all he has to say. Plans can change, things can evolve, and what he's saying does not have to be true. But it should be positive and hopeful, and that's what fans want. They want to see an artist leaning forward, not stumbling around confused.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Ongoing Fraud That is The Beach Boys

So, it's Mike Love and some guys he doesn't have to split the money with? Okay then.

The Beach Boys are a fraud. They've been a fraud for decades. Why anyone would pay money to go see this schlock is beyond me.

How is it that Mike Love can kick Brian Wilson--Brian Wilson--out of his own band along with Al Jardine and still expect people to come see him is one for the ages.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another Artist Tells the Fans to Stuff It

This must be the new thing--morose, miserable people who make music that people want to listen to are all rushing for the exits, trying to find a way out of the music business, which is collapsing all around them.

If you were thinking of getting into Bon Iver, or if you were hoping that they might have a future, forget it. They're still on tour--and they're telling their fans that it's over. And Justin Vernon just wants to move on and walk away.

God, I hate music these days. I really, really do.

I mean, honestly. Get over yourself. Be thankful that anyone shows up and that you still make money from making music. Jeebus.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Problem Separate From Everything Else?

This is an unfortunate development for the band, but I really don't think they care about anything other than Billie Joe getting the help he needs so he can get this behind him.

Separate from that, I think his meltdown was entirely justified. He had twenty minutes cut from his set--he got angry and that's okay. Why do rock stars have to be polite and understanding?

This is something that came from another place entirely, and whether that was from the stress of writing and recording three brand new albums at once or his personal life, that's nobody's business.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Last American Band With Any Credibility

You may think this man has a point, but he does not:
And it's sad to see Armstrong claim credibility on the back of longevity and the fact that he's "not fucking Justin Bieber"—in other words, a rock star, not a pop star. Of course, for a band like Green Day—pop-punks, right?—there's not much difference. This is a corporate rock band, and I don't mean that pejoratively but rather as a point of fact: They've allied with and profited from the commercial forces that lead, among other things, to independent and alternative radio stations being killed and local DJs being replaced with automated playlists. That's fine. It's allowed a lot of their very-good music to find a very-big audience. But in Vegas, he made a spectacle of acting like he's been playing a different game than that. 
Of course, Armstrong knows all this. He's a self-aware master of staging: American Idiot, after all, is now a Broadway production. He may have even scripted this whole meltdown before singing a word. Quietly submitting to a quick set sandwiched between dance-pop superstars might not have played well with the Green Day diehards tuning in. Those diehards almost certainly made up a minority of the audience paying attention to the festival, but for them, a couple "Fuck this shit"s and a smashed guitar may help keep some myth of punk nobility alive. For most anyone else, it's just kind of embarrassing to watch.
Spencer Kornhaber's analysis of the radio industry is laughable. Greed killed radio, not Green Day. The radio industry is failing because someone (Randy Michaels, actually) got the idea to turn it into an overhead-free turnkey industry where radio station licenses were used to create places where satellite-oriented local radio stations could replace radio stations that had fifty or sixty people creating local programming and become nothing more than a closet with broadcast equipment producing exactly no original local programming in exchange for ad revenue. The radio industry is failing because there is no talent, no locality, no originality, no regional flavor and no attention paid to artists and the creation of a viable pool of talent. It is dying because people think Green Day is something to sell rather than a great band with three great albums coming out soon.

His embarrassment comes entirely from the fact that he's not used to seeing an American rock and roll band act like a rock and roll band. This is not an existentialist temper tantrum and this is anything but a sad display of emotion--this is the way a rock and roll band is supposed to act when they've had twenty minutes subtracted from their set.

If Billie Joe Armstrong had ended the song early, waved, and given an aw shucks grin, you could rightly call him a sellout and a candy ass. He didn't do that. He acted up in public precisely because he and his band had just been screwed. You didn't see the drummer or the bass player object. You didn't see Armstrong roll over and accept being treated like he had just been given another Grammy and another million dollars. You saw three men who can actually play their instruments live in front of people react the way that countless others who had gone before them would have reacted.

Do you think The Police would have smiled and waved after being ordered off twenty minutes early? Do you think Pearl Jam would have taken that? What would the Foo Fighters or the Red Hot Chili Peppers have done with that message to get off the stage in one minute? Insert your own band here--especially one with integrity and skill.

This is the sad result of so many sad emo bands. Rock and roll acts are supposed to shuffle up there, play their songs, and wander off, sheepishly confused about being adored. Armstrong doesn't want your adoration. He wants to blow the goddamned roof off the joint.

We need more of this passion, not less.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Amy Lee Wants to Make Different Music

In what must be the most blatant kiss off to the fans of Evanescence, Amy Lee now wants to go make quieter music that doesn't involve guitars. The question is, what's wrong with guitar music? And why are you touring arenas behind that sound if that's not what you want to do?

The question is, why not go do that and not make it part of an extended break? Why not go make the music you want to make and then either return to the current sound or leave it behind entirely?

Amy Lee has a great voice. She could make an album very similar to Adele's 21. Or she could go do an album of folk music. Either way, everything she and her band are doing it a well-telegraphed slap in the face to the people who are digging what she's doing now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Coldplay God Put a Smile on Your Face Single

Coldplay put out a slew of great singles in the early 2000s due in large part to the fact that, as the band was blowing up, demand for their music coincided with the explosion of music file sharing and downloading.

On the back of this particular single is a paragraph warning consumers about illegally sharing and downloading music--fat load of good it did, but the outcome was the destruction of sites like Napster.

This is an interesting cover--I believe that they were all done in sequence and show an image being blown up. A fitting metaphor of their career at this point.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Smiths Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now EP

This is yet another example of Morrissey's brilliant decisions in the 1980s. While everyone else was touting plastic, color, and throwaway nonsense, his sleeves and concepts were timeless.

I chose this particular one because it is very apt; the art matches the song, the concept matches the single, and the ideas resonate nearly thirty years on.

My, my. 1984 seems like a long, long time ago.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Steve Kilbey Writes a Song For Jade

Musician Steve Kilbey is donating the proceeds of this Bandcamp single to the family of a lovely young lade named Jade.

You can support this effort here...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Echo & the Bunnymen Lips Like Sugar Twelve Inch Single Cover

This is one of my favorite things, and all the more so because it arrived at precisely the moment when I did not think too much of Echo & the Bunnymen.

Oh, I was very aware of them; their first five albums coincided with my junior high and high school years; the fifth album on which this single was found came out the year I graduated high school itself and delivered me into a post-Bunnymen future (until the big reunion when I had already moved on and up and over and around).

Lips Like Sugar is a great, great single. It was better than most of what you might have heard that year. The Bunnymen, like everyone else, were trampled by the onslaught of hair metal and a band who used a thing called a Joshua Tree to take over popular music.

If I had been the one to design this single, I would have flipped the images. I would have used the back cover image for the front. I wouldn't change the colors or anything else.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Radiohead Hail to the Thief Deluxe Edition Covers

If you wanted to start a blog about Radiohead's album and single covers, you'd probably be in business for a decade or more.

I really like and appreciate all of them. In the late 1990s, when I was avidly buying the singles and everything I could get my hand on, it was evident then that the quality of the artwork was such that you always knew you were getting something special. I really adore my collection of Radiohead CD singles. I don't think there's a bad one in the bunch.

The Hail to the Thief album was a bit of a return to the guitar, and to all of that, but I think this is unnecessary. With Radiohead, you're going to get what they give you and if there's guitar on it, fine and dandy. They are not going to put out junk. That's a given.

This particular re-release is the same package as the album but with an extra compact disc full of songs. I thought that this cover was exceptionally well done and it really draws the eye into the stacks of handwritten messages. The colors are very striking.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Come Back For an Encore?

The thing is, I don't think there are many American bands who can handle a British festival crowd that is in no mood for crap sound and a poor performance. So many of them get by on image, lip-syncing, or prancing, and it's no wonder that a Nickelback or a corporate rap artist couldn't expect anything other than a good bottling from a festival crowd.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chris Helme Good to be in Love

Chris Helme has a new album out, and this is the latest single from it. Called "The Rookery," you can buy it from Chris here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Keane Crystal Ball Single

Keane's Crystal Ball single has always stood out to me; I love the art work here.

It's worth noting that this design is by Big Active--and they do some amazing stuff. I could look at their website all day long.

There are so many things to like here--the package is exceptionally well done, and it reflects a great combination of minimalism and design. It is not a throwaway--it's a very nice piece.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mark Gardener Live in New Zealand Poster

Mark Gardener made a trip down to New Zealand and played a few shows; this is a wonderful poster of the event, and I am just now finding out about it too late to really say much other than if you ever get a chance to see him live, do so.

I saw Gardener perform in 2005. He uses an acoustic guitar and has all of his songs and the obligatory Ride tracks worked out. His showmanship and talent are well beyond what you would expect. This is a fellow who has been playing in front of people for over twenty years, and he has great presence, great chops.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Paul Weller The Changingman EP

Paul Weller spent the 1990s making some of the best guitar music you've never heard.

The Changingman is a fine single. I love this package and I love the design. The four quadrant, four-color retro feel on the cover is matched by a great design choice on the back. I love the stuff he put out during this period, and there are about a dozen albums and singles he did during the 1990s that are all equally worthy of praise and a listen to.