Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Saturday is …
This week, we go vinyl.
Remember those old record stores?
The first one I ever ventured into was Piasecki’s on the south side of Milwaukee. At Piasecki’s, I had one of the greatest experiences of my very young life at the time. My older brother took me, and to this day I’m not sure if he did it willingly or was instructed to do so by our mom.
I remember it like it was yesterday. The glass door opened, and 1, 2, 3 steps down to a long, long, narrow aisle of stacks and stacks of wax. My brother helped me find my very first record purchase.
I walked up to the counter and took out what I believe was about 30 cents to pay Mr. Piasecki, who sported an accountant’s visor and a cigar whose aroma filled the store along with all that wonderful vinyl.
Elvis’ website says “Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards.”
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the compact disc or CD. Small in size, convenient, easy to track, and better sound quality…these qualities made the CD invention a wonder of technology.
The bad news is that the advent of the CD meant the virtual disappearance of a lost art, the great album covers. That’s why it’s wonderful to see the renaissance of vinyl.
Let’s start with the very best, the King himself.
This one’s from his early, explosive days. Love the way he delivers in his own famous recognizable style the title words. And what an album cover.
The year was 1958.
What’s the greatest album cover of all-time?
This contender spent 141 weeks in the Top 40 – 61 of those in the Top 10. Gee, I wonder why?
Dolores Erickson, the woman pictured above calls it, “the world’s most famous album cover,” and she may be right.
The Seattle Times reported in 2005:
Erickson was friends with Alpert and Jerry Moss, cofounders of A&M Records. So she was a natural when photographer Jerry Whorf, who had shot the Nat King Cole album, got the assignment for “Whipped Cream.” They had Erickson flown out from New York for the shoot in Whorf’s Los Angeles studio.
“I thought, ‘Just another job,’ ” Erickson recalled.
Whorf draped a sheet over her lower body (she was three months pregnant) and slathered her mostly with shaving cream. Actual whipped cream was used only on her head.
Erickson got about $1,500 for the day’s work, typical of what she was earning in those days.
Whorf gave her the outtakes, in which the shaving cream had dripped to reveal a little too much flesh.
“My husband was very conservative. I tore one up. It was too much.” She saved the other outtake, which she now sells for $50, autographed.
“Whipped Cream” sold more than half a million copies, was in the top 10 for 61 weeks and won four Grammy awards (though not for best album cover).
Speaking of Elvis you won’t find him on one of the most famous album covers that turns 50 this year.
No Leo Gorcey, either. The actor is pictured above left.The album celebrating a milestone anniversary features a cover collage that includes 57 photographs and nine waxworks that depict a diversity of famous people, including actors, sportsmen, scientists.Here’s all kinds of great tidbits about the album.
Back In 1975, the Ohio Players recorded their smash album, “Honey.” Known for their provocative album covers, this one was no different…
“Honey” packed an urban legend that still creates a buzz today.
It was rumored that during the recording of one of the LP’s top tracks, “Love Rollercoaster,” a woman was stabbed to death, with her screams audible in the background.
Here’s a remake of one of the album’s best tracks, “Sweet Sticky Thing” done by Swiss-born keyboardist and composer Alex Bugnon in 1993.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend. Go out and buy an album!
The jazz-rock band Chicago has been around for nearly 50 years.
Their debut album was entitled “Chicago Transit Authority.” Because it was such a huge success it couldn’t escape being noticed. The real authority objected, so the band changed its name.
When it was released in January 1970, the second album, instead of featuring a picture of the band on the cover and a title drawn from one of the songs, had the band’s distinctive logo on the cover and was called Chicago II. From the start, Chicago took a conceptual approach to the way it was presented to the public. The album covers were overseen by John Berg, the head of the art department at Columbia Records, and Nick Fasciano designed the logo, which has adorned every album cover in the group catalog. “(Producer James) Guercio was insistent upon the logo being the dominant factor in the artwork,” says Pankow, even though the artwork varied greatly from cover to cover. Thus, the logo might appear carved into a rough wooden panel, as on Chicago V, or tooled into an elaborate leatherwork design, like Chicago VII, or become a mouth-watering chocolate bar, for the Chicago X cover, which was a Grammy Award winner.
And then there were those sequential album titles. “People always asked why we were numbering our albums,” jokes Cetera, “and the reason is, because we always argued about what to call it. ‘All right, III, all right, IV!”, Actually, the band never attempted to title the albums, feeling that the music spoke for itself.
The cover of Chicago VII contains leatherwork scenes of Chicago history (Railroads, Stockyards, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, and the World’s Fair).
Here’s Chicago with a jazzy, swing instrumental that leads into what one reviewer called “a barroom stomper.”