I thought I would share a few more of my favorite album jackets, collected solely for the art. Not that there are any real lifetime favorites, because there are certain things about any record jacket I collect that make me want to keep it in my collection. And with almost any collector, the newest find is usually the favorite until it is filed away on a shelf or until another amazing find comes along. If I discuss any of the artists in past tense, please don’t be offended. But if they haven’t had any charting hits in the past 10 years or more, I’m not anticipating a breakthrough single or album in their future. And some of my favorite album art was prepared for artists who never had a hit song or album. Let’s take a look at a few in my collection:
Coney Hatch – Coney Hatch – This is the band’s debut album from 1982, issued by Polygram Records. Coney Hatch was a Canadian hard rock band that issued three albums during the 1980s, and a later album in 2013. The band was known for their very loud live shows, and the group even opened for Iron Maiden at some concerts during 1983. One song from this debut album, Hey Operator, made it to #19 in Canada, but sadly that appears to be the only chart-worthy song from the group.
The band was reportedly named, appropriately I think, after the Colney (sic) Hatch Lunatic Asylum in London, which makes me like the jacket art, by Martin Springett, even more. Springett has illustrated album covers and books, and he is a musician in his own right. ( For more examples of his work, see Martin Springett - The Gardening Club, or The Gardening Club -The Riddle, elsewhere on the internet.) The jacket, to me, captures the essence of an insane asylum, or perhaps how I would see one if I were insane. Does thinking that make you question my sanity? In any case, outstanding album jacket art! If I had to pick 10 albums to carry to a deserted island with no electricity, this might be one of them.
The Bugs - Barbaric***Mystical***Bored****** -- Released in 2009 on Hover Craft Records. Credits for the front jacket art is “Artist Unknown Courtesy of Mary’s Club”, so, sadly, I would not know of any other album art by the artist. But the cover art is striking, showing a scantily dressed woman praying to her god, with a volcano erupting in the background. As an amateur volcanologist, this cover is definitely a keeper in my book. Just kidding. I bought it for the scantily dressed woman. While the band has a few albums out, I could not find any information about any of their songs actually charting, and to be honest, I’ve never listened to this record.
Jack the Ripper The Original Soundtrack Recording of the Joseph E. Levine Presentation – Issued by RCA Victor in 1960. This jacket strikingly shows what can be done with a minimal number of colors, with only black, white, and red used for the illustration. Sure, I know that black and white are not colors because they do not have specific wavelengths, but I don’t hang around with anyone who tells me that. So technically this jacket contains only the color red, which is the color I see when someone tells me that black and white are not colors. Does that make me insane? Don’t answer that. I already heard the answer in my head. I see no credit given on the jacket for the illustrator, but I do love the art.
Hurricane – Over the Edge – issued by Enigma Records in 1988. The jacket illustration is strong, and has the appearance of actual art. However, an album insert notes that the album cover concept is by Gary Ballen and Hurricane, the photography is by Mindas, and the Cover Model is Darnell Gregoria. So I guess it’s a photo that has been enhanced to look more like an painting. In any case, I liked it, so I bought it. I learned online that this was this glam heavy metal group’s second album, which peaked at #92 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Fingerprintz – Distinguishing Marks – Released by Virgin Records in 1980. This is an oddball album, and I didn’t buy it because I loved the jacket art. But for some reason, the record company decided to serrate the separate scenes (“illustrating” each of the 10 song titles, with another for the group name and the last for the album title) on the front and back cover, forming 12 cards of the same size. Why one would want to destroy the cover by tearing along the serrations is beyond my understanding, and I don’t know what you were supposed to do with the record once you tore apart the jacket. Maybe throw it away? The inner sleeve has lyrics on one side and the group’s members listed on the other, so it’s not like art would show through the cover once the cards are removed. A strange concept, but hey, I bought it. This I believe is the group’s second punk rock album, but as with many albums I collect for the art, I’ve never tried listening to this.
War – Where There’s Smoke – Released by Coco Plum Records in 1984. Another “less is more” album jacket, showing the top of a champagne bottle with “white smoke” (water vapor) coming out of it shaped like a naked woman. If you’ve ever seen the Louis Icart print wherein the smoke from a cigarette forms into a cloud of a nude female, this is the same concept. However, I do prefer this modern version, not just because it is sexier, but because it is on an album jacket, of course. Amusingly, the back jacket credits actually list the cover model, Teal Roberts, used for the illustration, although you can’t see anything other than some of her naked back side.
Ronnie Deauville – Smoke Dreams – Released in 1956 on ERA Records. I loved this album from the moment I first spotted it in a thrift store bin – a sexy woman, lying in bed smoking, daydreaming of Ronnie Deauville standing over her, summoning her. All this while the smoke from her cigarette, forms the album title, Smoke Dreams. Apparently I am not the only fan of this record jacket, as there are several articles online telling the sad story of Ronnie, who, after releasing this album, got into a bad auto accident, discovered while in the hospital that he had polio, and then spent a year in an iron lung. Although paralyzed from the neck down, he eventually was able to sing again, but from a wheelchair. While he still sang for a while, his career never fully recovered. A tragic story behind this album, but still a great album cover.
iiO – At The End – This 4-song remix album was released in 2002 by Made Records, Inc. This jacket caught my eye due to its cartoonish and colorful appearance. iiO (pronounced “eye-oh”) was a New York City based dance music act composed of singer/songwriter Nadia Ali and record producer Markus Moser. The group was active from 2001 until 2011, and had a single in 2001 called Rapture, which reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. But as you know by now, my interest is solely in the jacket art, which was illustrated and designed by Naoko Adacci. A bonus is that the back cover shows the photograph from which Adacci’s illustration was born.
The Golden Songs of Donovan Played by the Johnny Arthey Orchestra – released in 1969 by RCA Victor. Last, but not least. While this album jacket isn’t particularly a favorite, I still have an affinity for albums with psychedelic type artwork on them, and this album again shows that an obscure group’s album can still have great artwork.
Hopefully seeing what I consider to be great album jacket art might encourage you to head out to your closest thrift store or flea market in search of album jackets you might find to your liking. I know art is in the eye of the beholder, so to each his own. Good luck searching!