Work hard, play hard, die young, live forever.
Dorothy Baker's hit 1938 novel Young Man with a Horn tells a story inspired by jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, who, along with Louis Armstrong, was one of the most important early jazz soloists, but who drank himself to death in 1931, when he was only twenty-eight. Baker's protagonist is Rick Martin, who gets to live a couple of years longer than Beiderbecke before she knocks him off. Hope that didn't give too much away. The book was optioned by Hollywood and became a 1950 movie starring Kirk Douglas, which we talked about last year. The great cover, our primary interest today, was painted by British artist Josh Kirby, a legendary illustrator who during his long career did fronts for westerns, crime thrillers, James Bond novels, and non-fiction books, as well as creating many fronts and interior illustrations for sci-fi magazines. As you can see, he had a bold vision and a very confident hand. We'll keep an eye out for more of his work. This one is from 1962, for Corgi Books.
One good turn deserves another, and another, and another...
French illustrator Raymond Brenot, aka Pierre-Laurent Brenot painted many magazine covers and pin-ups, and a few paperback fronts, as well. He also painted sleeves for numerous records. You see a beautiful example above for French trumpeter Fred Gérard's Si nous dansions... en 16 tours. The close-up image shows the unique aspect of the art—its mise en abîme element, or what the Dutch call a Droste effect, an identical image within the image, with infinite repetitions implied.
The title of the record translates to “If we danced... 16 turns,” which is weird because there are actually twenty songs. The tunes cover various dance styles, such as mambo, Charleston, foxtot, etc., and we know what you're thinking. You're thinkingsixteen dance styles must be covered. No—only nine styles are played, so the 16 tours part of the title is a mystery to us. If you know the answer to the riddle, you know how to reach us. But don't expect an immediate response—we'll be busy foxtrotting.
Update: It is incredibly informative having readers from all over the world. The answer came from Jo B. in France, who informed us: "16 tours is the rotation speed of the record in 1 minute."
Webber and friend go for a dip—in the style of their dresses.
On the cover of Looks Like Fun!, a Café Society Series album by comedian Cliff Ferré, both models have decided to test the far limits of 1956 fashion with their dresses. Diane Webber, on the right, gets all Vikki Dougan with her asscrack, while her unidentified friend goes the more conventional route with a neckline that plunges so far it becomes a navel line. Not that we're complaining. The only thing we're unhappy about is not being able to name the model on the left. She's the same person as in this Technicolor lithograph, and we know that the photo was made by Tom Kelley. Beyond that we got nada. We would love to know who she is because we have her on three more lithographs we're reluctant to share without info.
As far as the content of the record goes, what you get is a collection of comical musical pieces. Sample titles: “A Cocky Cowboy” and “Fifi's Got the Biggest One in France.” Yeah. It's really bad. But you don't have to take our word for it—if you're the courageous type you can have a listen here. At least the platter is made from red vinyl, as you see at right. That's almost worth the purchase price. Almost. If you have any ideas on the unidentified model please drop us a line at the usual place: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If only the music were as flawless as the cover art.
Here's little curio from the former Yugoslavia—a record sleeve from Serb pop-rock artist Boris Bizetić with a Marilyn Monroe cover motif. We've seen her image rather poorly used on album covers, but this one is nice, we think, if almost certainly unlicensed. And the music? Hah hah. We dare you.
Sleeve from seminal gloom band gives fans plenty to be happy about.
This is the last of our rare bootleg record sleeves with art by Aslan, aka Alain Gourdon. The previous two were for records by The Cure, and we showed you those here and here. This one was made for Joy Division, and though undated—the blue vinyl and inner sleeve have no text at all—probably appeared in late 1980 as a rush release after lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide. As far as we know, no other bootleg records with Aslan art were ever made, though Fontana released a series of very nice licensed Aslan covers during the 1960s. All three Aslan bootlegs are somewhat racy, this one perhaps most so, but it’s a brilliant piece of art.
Musically talented but not particularly handsome? No worries. Put your hot wife on your album covers.
Spanish bandleader Xavier Cugat and his wife, singer Abbe Lane, were one of the most famous musical couples in the world during the 1950s and early 1960s, performing live together and releasing albums. These four Cugat album sleeves featuring Lane as the cover model evoke pulp fiction and film noir rather nicely, we think. Also, they kinda make us want to dance.
Always wash delicates gently or by hand.
Think accidental upskirts are a modern day phenomenon? Seemingly not, as Vikki Dougan shows by getting a little too frisky in a mid-1950s promo shoot, leading her to accidentally reveal just a bit more than she intended. Or we assume so. Considering the shoot showcased both her rear and breasts (below), maybe the trifecta was intentional. She was the queen of wardrobe publicity stunts, after all, and proof that skin always generates ink. Her antics even inspired a song from cheeseball rockers the Limeliters. It went a little somethin’ like this: Vikki turn your back on meCome on darlin' just for me'Cause there is something so appealingthat your eyes are not revealing! Oh, Miss Dougan, you're for me!Other girls who approach me,Are beautiful, gorgeous and gay!But you're so gosh darn more invitingGoing the other way! Vikki baby, you move me,Without you I'm bereft!I'm hypnotized by those crazy eyes,And that callipygian cleft! Vikki baby you rock me,In those far-out clothes!But don't it get chilly flyin' home at nightWhen that cold cold tail-wind blows? You can hear the tune at this link, and if you don’t want to deal with the comedic preamble the actual music starts at 2:37.
It must be jelly ’cuz jam don’t shake like that.
We got curious about Nai Bonet, who we’d never heard of until last week, and after taking a stroll around the internet discovered she was pretty famous in her day and even released a 1966 single for which you see the sleeve above. The song is called “Jelly Belly,” with “The Seventh Veil” on the flipside. Bonet teaches fans to do her trademark Jelly Belly dance, which we can only imagine led to many sprained backs in mid-century America. But maybe you want to try. The instructions are in like Danish, but here’s the gist:
1: Clap your hands together and gently bow…
2: Put your hands over your head and I’ll show you how…
3: First you inhale (pull your tummy in)
4: Then you exhale (push your tummy out)
5: Hips go up…
6: …and down
7: Tummy round and round…
8: Shoulders shivering…
9: Everything a-quivering.
And presumably it's rinse and repeat at that point. For extra inspiration you can hear "Jelly Belly" here. Just remember—if you pull something, rest it, apply ice, and dream up a much better story about your injury than you were trying to get everything a-quivering.
Reiko Oshida delights the senses.
Above are the front and rear cover for pinky violence icon Reiko Oshida’s album Nani ga doshite kounatta, which translates to something roughly along the lines of “Why does this happen?” It’s available with a couple of different covers, but we like the above version with its array of playful Oshidas. The rear is also nice, and some enterprising Tumblr.com user dug up an enlargement, which, since Oshida is a Pulp Intl. fave, we thought we’d share with you, just below. But what of the music, you ask? It falls, we suppose, into the kayokyoku category, which is to say it’s Western-inspired. We like it, but maybe you should judge its merits for yourself. Check out the album’s title song.
La Muse de l’existentialisme et Miles.
This striking promo art for French singer Juliette Gréco and Disques Fontana (a subsidiary of the Dutch label Philips Records) was created by the famous illustrator O’Kley in 1956. The art was reused for record covers, as you see below. Gréco, an actress as well as singer, was a fixture in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris, and her acquaintanceships with such figures as Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty earned her the nickname La Muse de l’existentialisme—the existentialists’ muse. She was also, according to Miles Davis, one of the great loves of his life, and the feeling was reciprocated, so that wins major points right there because Miles was the bomb.
Moving on to the art, O’Kley was a pseudonym for Nantes-born Pierre Gilardeau, the man behind some of the most collectable Folies Bergère posters. He also illustrated many book covers and movie posters, and after a long career just died in 2007. We’ve tracked down some good examples of his art and we’ll get back to him a bit later. You can see another Fontana post here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder
, Carmen Jones
, The Man with the Golden Arm
, and Stalag 17
, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
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