When the clock strikes twelve Jayne's ready to party.
Curvy Jayne Mansfield stars on these LP covers from the 1960s that caught our eye because of the clock striking midnight on all of them. You would think these are all from the same company, but no—Smashing Hit Parade, for example, is an album that despite its English name actually came from Japan's Union Records. The platters contain songs such as “Hello Mary Lou” by the Brooklyn Bluegrass Collective, and “Tonight, My Love, Tonight” by Dany Locker. Regardless of the musical content, the real attraction here is Mansfield. We'd love to see what she looks like around 3 a.m.
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 thinking sixteen 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."
A season for Joycing and re-Joycing.
Joyce Bryant is a former jazz singer who was very famous back in the day. When we came across two photos of her and couldn't choose between them, we decided to use both. In the first she's done up in a frosty silver motif, and the second one, below, shows her in normal mode. But maybe it would be more accurate to call her silver persona the normal one—she performed in a silvery hairdo and shiny dresses, and the look earned her the nickname “The Bronze Blond Bombshell,” among others. Her singing career ran from the late-1940s until 1955, when she stopped performing to focus on church activities. That's the condensed version. The long version is she managed to keep the music industry's hustlers, gangsters, and drug dealers at arm's length for years, but the mighty stress of doing that, plus performing nightly, was eventually too much, and she just had to leave. She made a comeback ten years later as a classical vocalist. She's still around at the age of eighty-eight. The year on the top photo is 1953, and on the bottom it's unknown.
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: email@example.com.
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 me
Come on darlin' just for me
'Cause there is something so appealing
that 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 inviting
Going 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 night
When 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. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.
1963—John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated
In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded as they ride in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald
, an employee of the schoolbook depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges of the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the Kennedy killing. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Today, Americans who believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy are routinely dismissed
in the press, yet the vast majority of them believe Oswald did not act alone.
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.
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