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My Personal Salute To Vintage Art Found In Album Covers

Updated on September 23, 2011

Do You Remember These . . .

Art comes in unlimited forms. Paintings, sculpture, song, poetry and even the design of album covers. Okay, let's talk about bit about album covers. Album covers were the things in the 1960's, well, the 'turbulent sixties,' that were designed by noted artists of that day to not only create album covers that befit the artist, but to capture the attention of the vinyl record-buying public, while giving you a piece of tuneful history, but album covers you could proudly display in your bedroom, frat room, and later, your office when you went to work after graduating college.

Here are but a handful of the many fine examples of sixties artwork defined. Captured. On album covers such as these.

Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

a collection or cross section of the group's best songs. "Somebody to Love," is included on this album which was designed by group member, Marty Balin, who wrote or co-wrote many of the Airplane's many hits in the sixties that lived on today in many stations in our country who feature classic rock formats.

Cream - Disraeli Gears

was one of this supergroup's best works. Cream was composed of Jack Bruce, bass; Ginger Baker, drums and a young guitar genius, Eric Clapton. "Disraeli Gears" spotlighted Cream's number one hit, "Sunshine of Your Love," as well as "Mother's Lament," that showed the versatility of Cream's members. The album cover was designed by Martin Sharp, a noted artist who originated from England. Even in 2011, this album cover still stands as one of the most-memorable album covers of all time.

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland

is still rated high among sixties rock collectibles. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi Hendrix, guitar; Mitch Mitchell, drums and Noel Redding, bass, recorded this double-album set in their own studios, Electric Lady Studios. This double-album gave many accolades to Karl Ferris to helped with the album design as he did in designing another Hendrix album, "Are You Experienced?" where he used a novel idea of 'fisheye' imagery to give the group photo on the front a wider look. Hendrix fans still talk about the extended live version of "Voodoo Chile'" that featured Jimi and the Experience, plus Steve Winwood, organ, Jack Cassidy (of Jefferson Airplane) on bass and more special guests in the studio when this song was cut.

Led Zeppelin II

followed, naturally, Led Zeppelin "I," the black and white album cover that featured the terrible crash in New Jersey in the 1940's of the Hindenberg zeppelin that made it's maiden voyage and last voyage from Germany to the United States. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, co-wrote many of Zeppelin's 'monster hits,' such as: "Whole Lotta Love," "Heart Breaker," and more. The album cover was designed by David Juniper, an unconventional artist who meshed the original photo of the Hindenburg going down in flames with Led Zeppelin's group members.

Santana - Santana

featured a compex blend of artwork that was in fact, images within images that you could only see upon closer and careful inspection of the album cover that was skillfully-designed by Lee Conklin, who specialized in early forms of psychedelic art forms to enhance the artists who chose him to design their album covers. Santana - Santana featured the hit song, "Evil Ways," was released as a single and soon sold over a million copies. Santana fans loved the first-glance of this album cover that looked like a fierce male lion about to attack the person viewed the album cover.

Canned Heat - Then and Now

provided Canned Heat fans with a sudden burst of colors with this album design by Bob Masse, who loved to deal with the vintage and almost-faded forms of artwork in his designs. Notice the words how they are also in the famous psychedelic style that made the sixties an era of magical art, music and memories that we, who lived this era, will not forget any time soon.

Iron Butterfly - In A Gadda Da Vida

still stands as the premiere rock album that was always played at parties quiet and wild in the sixties. Iron Butterfly founder and organist, Doug Ingle's cathedral-style of organ tones are evident in the Butterfly's songs especially the extended, "In A Gadda Da Vida," which features drummer, Ron Bushy's solo that amazes the listener when they hear his superb drumming and his stamina. This song covers one side of the Iron Butterfly's mega-hit album. You will see the strobe lights in the background used where this photo of the Iron Butterfly was in concert. Strobe lights were 'the' special psychedelic effect chosen for many famous bands of the sixties. I am unsure who took this famous photo of the Iron Butterfly, but I am convinced that it helped to sell several million albums.

Grateful Dead '95

this album for one of San Francisco's most-famous rock group, The Grateful Dead, was designed by Alton Kelley, who kept the Dead's iconic use of a skeleton to seal their image even in 1995. Jerry Garcia, guitarist and founder of The Grateful Dead, loved to use skeletons in the album designs for the group. The Grateful Dead's albums sold by the millions. Their concerts were sell-out's. And more money was raked in by the Grateful Dead posters that featured their friend, the skeleton. Some rock music researchers speculate on whether the skeleton was used simply because of Garcia's captivation for the skeleton, or the skeleton was used to symbolize 'death' in it's final form.

Grateful Dead - Skeletons and Roses

features the lovely red roses surrounding the icon skeleton used as the logo for The Grateful Dead. In this case, the poster, Skeletons and Roses, probably sold as many copies to the 'dead heads,' fans of the Grateful Dead as the album. Even today in 2011, classic rock stations all across the country still include the late Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead in their program logs.

The Allman Brothers Band Tour Art

was skilled by master artist, Bob Weir who used, to convey touring, moving and evolving as a band, a locomotive that was so strategically-placed, front and center, of the poster art, that no Allman Brothers fan could resist whipping out his American Express or Visa card to purchase this Allman Brothers slice of memorabilia to add to their treasured collection of Allman Brothers Band collectibles.

Billy Joel - The Stranger

still rates high in today's classic pop collections who are well-guarded by Billy Joel fans. Joel, a master writer, producer, and performer had a virtual endless string of hits in his peak time as a performer. Memorable songs such as: "Piano Man," "Lunatic," "Don't Ask Me Why," "I'm Movin' Out," and the all-time personal favorite of mine, "She's Always a Woman to Me," have secured Billy Joel not only in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but inside my heart and untold numbers of hearts of his legions of fans. This photo, which was considered art, was produced by Jim Haugton, who told Joel's emotional state at the time this album was released. See the female mask. It represents the empty relationships that Joel had endured on his way to stardom and his dark bedroom that represented a time in his early life that he once thought that all of his talent and songs were in vain.

Name Your Favorite Album Cover

Which Album Cover Holds Your Attention The Longest?

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Thank you, dear readers . . .

for humoring me with this nostalgic journey back into a time where music was loud. Teenagers were loud as they tried to find their pathway to certain individuality, and our country was in the process of its own evolution brought about by changes which are not always easy to see nor easy to hear.

I do hope that this story has sparked in just one reader, a special memory that you have tucked away for safe-keeping and now now you have this overwhelming urge to shuck that three-piece suit for a pair of tie-dyed jeans, t-shirt, sandles and a real Kenwood stereo with those towering speakers blaring out Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," or another vinyl memory that you have in your own treasured and well-guarded record collection.


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