Kurt Vonnegut ain't no Andie Airfix
November 16, 2003 11:23 AM   Subscribe

One hundred established graphic and fine artists were approached to create the definitive album cover of their favorite recording artist. Each chose an iconic musical subject from the 1940s to the present and from the genres of rock, blues, jazz, country and soul music. The result is an original and highly creative collection of contemporary art. The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were.
posted by riffola (25 comments total)
 
Kurt Vonnegut listens to Phish? Hi-ho
posted by BentPenguin at 11:31 AM on November 16, 2003


that makes perfect sense, in fact
posted by muckster at 11:48 AM on November 16, 2003


Great link! I wish there was more from the artists about the creation works. Like, did Alan Shaffer get David Byrne himself to pose for this shot? Did Elvis pose in this shot specifically for this project or was that a picture that he had or found or what? I am curious.
posted by wsg at 12:03 PM on November 16, 2003


I meant "creation OF THE works" above.
posted by wsg at 12:05 PM on November 16, 2003


Phil Collins meets Snoop Dogg?

Most of these designs are quite dated. Tell me you haven't seen this one or this one in the bargain bin at a record store.
posted by 4easypayments at 12:11 PM on November 16, 2003


A sentence or two connecting the artist to choice of musician would have gone a long way.
posted by mischief at 12:23 PM on November 16, 2003


Excellent link, riffola! Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 12:59 PM on November 16, 2003


It's an idea that sounds really good when it's described to you, but in execution it sort of requires that the graphic artist actually have the ability to interpret and express the nature or "essence" (if you like a nice pretentious word) of the musician. I'm not sure that's the case in many of these; what you end up with, with a few exceptions, is a lot of very, very ordinary album cover designs.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:31 PM on November 16, 2003


I had a problem understanding for which albums most of the covers were intended. Otherwise pretty. Not much snark though.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2003


AlbumCoverFilter. Seriously, sheesh.
posted by zpousman at 1:36 PM on November 16, 2003


yeah i agree with George_Spiggott, doesn't seem like many of the artists 'got' the artist they were designing for. The Velvet Underground cover, for example, doesn't look like their music or style at all and the Hank Williams cover is cool looking, but is way too modern and cutesy for him--doesn't work at all. the Beck cover artist seems to do the best job of getting the feel of the musician's music and personality across.
posted by rollerball at 2:11 PM on November 16, 2003


This one strikes me as closest in style to the musician represented.
posted by jpoulos at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2003


That David Byrne picture could be from a True Stories still -- there's that music video sequence in there for "Love For Sale" in which, IIRC, they all get covered with chocolate.
posted by litlnemo at 4:10 PM on November 16, 2003


what is this graphic artist phrase everyone seems to be tossing about? i found most of those "covers" to be pretty standard illustrative portraiture with horrendous type as opposed to a more evocative and designed whole.

aka: illustrators try and design album covers.
posted by c at 4:51 PM on November 16, 2003


The John Lennon cover fails on all counts. Poor idea, poor design, poor execution, and, additionally, if the cartoon is supposed to look like Lennon, poor likeness. I'm with wsg - why did the artists pick the artists? Or were they just randomly assigned?
posted by anastasiav at 4:55 PM on November 16, 2003


Granted, I agree with what most of you are saying re: the average-to-poor quality of most of these, and some--David Schrier for the Clash and William Claxton for Elvin Jones in particular--seem to be a waste of a great photo on a lousy layout/type treatment. But there's definitely a few gems in there: this one would be wicked if produced as intended with the fold-out plastic transparencies, this one captures some of Bird's essence while referencing an earlier era of jazz, and this, this and this do a good job of recalling the best of the artists' original eras, with the Zappa one being not only suitably psychedelic, but tweaked out and ugly enough to repell yr average hippie flower child.
posted by arto at 10:07 PM on November 16, 2003


Kurt Vonnegut listens to Phish? Hi-ho, ho-hi! I highly doubt it. What a fucking insult.
posted by item at 10:45 PM on November 16, 2003


anastasiav:...were they just randomly assigned?

item:Kurt Vonnegut listens to Phish? Hi-ho, ho-hi! I highly doubt it. What a fucking insult.

From vonnegut's site:

Mr. Vonnegut has participated in a project in which one hundred established graphic and fine artists were approached to create the definitive album cover of their favorite recording artist. Mr. Vonnegut chose to create an album cover for Phish, entitled "Hook, Line and Sinker."


the bolding is mine.
posted by vacapinta at 11:23 PM on November 16, 2003


Thanks for this link, riffola. I enjoyed going through the covers. Obviously some are good, some are pretty terrible, but I think the idea in general is a nice one. (The Eagles on tour made me laugh.) I'm surprised no one picked John Coltrane, but this photo would be hard to beat.

A sentence or two connecting the artist to choice of musician would have gone a long way.

I agree, mischief. I also think that art is too important to leave to the graphic designers. Who says they even know anything about music — at least, compared to somebody like our own bluedaniel or, to name someone at random, Albert Murray. Let's have covers designed by the likes of them.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:46 PM on November 16, 2003


One of the recent issues of XLR8R magazine had a feature where artists were given the task of designing album covers for albums that don't exist. Basically, they came up with a cool design that could fit an album. It looks like the article isn't online, but it had some good entries.
posted by mikeh at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2003


The Beck one is excellent at pegging Beck as of Odelay and Mutations. But from Midnite Vultures on, he's matured from that early reliance on dryness, death and bones, so it's now not as perfect an encapsulation.

Also, I gotta say: Yes? No.
posted by soyjoy at 8:28 AM on November 17, 2003


Kurt Vonnegut listens to Phish? Hi-ho, ho-hi! I highly doubt it. What a fucking insult.

To Vonnegut, or to Phish?
posted by muckster at 8:50 AM on November 17, 2003


Well, as far as I know, Vonnegut's not a hippie pedo, unlike a certain member of a certain band.
posted by item at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2003


Well, as far as I know, Mike Gordon is not a "pedo." But it's the "hippie" that the real insult anyway, isn't it?
posted by muckster at 10:54 AM on November 17, 2003


Great find, riffola!
posted by squirrel at 10:56 AM on November 26, 2003


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