June 5, 2019

You’ve probably seen them too, while flipping through bins at the library sale or the Salvation Army: album covers that have been altered in some way. For one reason or another, there are a lot of them out there: whether it’s a singer’s face, or an illustrator’s concept, or some other carefully-chosen design that has been scribbled on, augmented, obscured, or otherwise defaced. 

The artwork ranges from crude to expert; the writing tends toward lov...

August 23, 2018

From 1979 through 1985, Martin Atkins was on the road playing drums with Public Image Ltd., John Lydon’s post-Sex Pistols, post-punk agent provocateur that emerged intent on smashing the tropes of popular music. In a 1980 interview with Tom Snyder for The “Tom Snyder Show,” Lydon explained: “We ain’t no band. We’re a company. Simple. Nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll doo-dah.” … For Lydon, that vision evolved over the years. For Atkins, the time s...

March 5, 2018

Undead. Undead. Undead.

A refrain that would launch a new genre. Formed around David J. Haskin's plunging, dub-inspired bass line, Peter Murphy's sepulchral vocals and Daniel Ash's jagged guitar, upon its debut in 1979, Bauhaus's landmark single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" earned the band mythic status as the "Godfathers of Goth." If early fans might have dismissed them as a novelty act, the band quickly disabused them of that notion. Using similar imag...

February 22, 2018

Roe Ethridge is not particularly known for making album covers; his photographs appear on only a handful. Then again, that handful includes more than its share of brilliant gems. His portrait of Andrew W.K. for the cover of I Get Wet -- an iconic image of the musician’s bloodied face -- is arguably one of the most recognizable album covers ever made. Another standout is his photo for Cat Power’s Moon Pix. It’s a simple black-and-white shot of Cha...

December 26, 2017

If he’s most often described as a collage artist, it’s perhaps because Lou Beach, over the course of a long and productive career, has created a body of work that is difficult to sum up any other way. You can’t bottom-line him; and describing him by naming his medium of choice sidesteps the obstacle of categorizing his prolific output in other, more specifically descriptive ways. 

The obstacle is a significant one: in terms of composition, color,...

November 12, 2017

The Replacement’s Let It Be. I try to recall one close friend during my teenage years who didn’t own a copy. Often the record was sitting out somewhere you could easily spot it: on the floor, on the top of a stereo, or slipped inside the front of one of those wooden crates we all used to house our favorite LPs. Westerberg’s talent for capturing the ever-shifting range of adolescent sentiment aside, there was a reason for the album's ubiquitous ap...

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