Spread-eagled Aslan art helped cure the guilt of buying pirated music.
We said we were done with France for the moment, but we’re veering back there briefly today to show you this Cure album sleeve featuring art from the French painter Aslan. Live at Paradiso is a bootleg, same as the other Aslan-fronted Cure record we showed you back in January. The people who pressed this weren’t messing around, either—they opted for one of the artist’s more explicit paintings. No complaints here, but we bet Aslan was a bit annoyed when he saw his work appropriated yet again. It wouldn’t be the last time. We’ll get to more bootleg sleeves a bit later.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, my next feat will be to make several career-killing mistakes.
Above is a 1957 promo photo of American dancer/singer Rose Hardaway, who came from nowheresville Arkansas and achieved international stardom that saw her perform on the glittering stages of New York, London, and Paris. Unfortunately, she also spent a lot of time in tabloids, district courts, and eventually federal prison, but perhaps we’ll get to that later. Instead, as a bonus, below is the sleeve of the 1960 album she made with The Sammy Lowe Orchestra It’s Time for Rose Hardaway, which has one of the great covers of the period.
Mr. Bonfils goes for Washington.
According to Robert Bonfils’ website this is an example of his early work. We find it surprising, but there can’t be a more authoritative source (though that source has been neglected for years). Anyway, since the last Bonfils pieces we showed you were quite racy we thought we’d present his other side. This cheerful and classy LP sleeve for Dinah Washington’s Blazing Ballads is from 1952.
If the song had been anywhere near as good as the cover art it would have sold millions.
Today we’re back to the recently deceased Aslan, aka Alain Gourdon, bringing another of his album sleeves to light. Unlike the amazing Cure bootleg we posted before, this appears to be licensed usage of Aslan’s work by the French group Super Nana for their 1987 maxi single “Lachez les chiens.” The title has something to do with dogs, apparently, which is appropriate, because this song is a bag of flaming poo. Even our fine appreciation for dance music can’t help us enjoy this awful electro disco effort. Just our opinion, though—you can listen for yourself here, if you’re inclined. We’ll have more from Aslan soon.
Barbara Nichols gets a leg up.
Berlin After Dark is an obscure record, but the sleeve caught our eye because the cover star boldly showing every millimeter of leg she possesses looked familiar. Turns out she’s American actress Barbara Nichols. She doesn’t sing on the record, but it was not uncommon during the period when this was released (1962) to use celebrity photos on record sleeves. Four years ago we put together a collection of sixty album covers featuring famous actresses (with the difference that they all actually sang on the records) and you can see those examples here. We also have two great promos of Barbara Nichols, once again showing a lot of leg, here.
Aslan art makes unlikely appearance on Cure album sleeve.
A couple of weeks ago we said we’d get back to more Alain Gourdon, aka Aslan album sleeves, so above is a rather eye-catching one for a collection of Cure songs entitled The Spell’s Unbroken. It’s a live release that was recorded in Birmingham, England in 1985 and pressed in Germany in 1986, and it’s got such Cure goodies as “Kyoto Song,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” and the excellent “In Between Days,” as well some more obscure tracks. The album is unofficial—or a bootleg, if you prefer that term—so in theory it was pressed and sold without the band’s participation. We also assume Gourdon hadn’t a clue about the art. And wouldn’t you know it—the record sells for exorbitant amounts of money, routinely over a hundred dollars. We don’t know about you, but that’s enough to cure us of any urge to buy it.
Alain Gourdon finds a musical outlet.
You know we love the French illustrator Aslan’s, aka Alain Gourdon’s work around here. We shared some of his genius here, here, and here. Today we thought we’d show you some of the work he did for Fontana Records, a subsidiary of the Dutch label Philips Records. These six pieces were used by Fontana during the early 1960s for its
Après Minuit series, which featured such performers as Johnny Hallyday, Juliette Gréco, and Serge Gainsbourg. Aslan’s work was used for other record pressings as well, fronting bootleg music by the Cure, Joy Division, as well as legal releases by other groups. We’ll show you some of those later.
Touch of Evil sleeve art perfectly captures the film's mood.
Above, a Japanese soundtrack sleeve for Orson Welles’ universally lauded 1958 post-noir thriller Touch of Evil, with music from Henry Mancini. Top marks for the beautiful design on this.
Record company borrows a collection of fabulous fifties models.
We ran across these CDs and thought they’d be an interesting share. The covers are sloppily Photoshopped, but we certainly can’t fault the choice of models. Some are semi-famous actresses, such as Dani Crayne, above, and Claire Gordon, just below, while others are pin-ups. Most of the photos were borrowed from the British cinema magazine Picturegoer, which was published from 1921 to 1960. We haven’t featured that magazine yet, but we’ve a mind to buy a few because they’re widely available online. As far as the music here goes, each CD is a compilation of twenty-five or thirty 1950s pop songs, but we haven’t heard them, so we can’t comment on the quality. Sloppy cover work often hints at hastily compiled music, and perhaps substandard sonic quality, but you never know. Anyway, we have fifteen scans total, with Julie Glenville, Sheree Winton, Barbara Joyce and more.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Heyerdahl Embarks on Kon-Tiki
Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl and his five man crew set out from Peru on a giant balsa wood raft called the Kon-Tiki in order to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. After a 101 day, 4,300 mile (8,000 km) journey, Kon-Tiki smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947, thus demonstrating that it is possible for a primitive craft to survive a Pacific crossing.
1989—Soviets Acknowledge Chernobyl Accident
After two days of rumors and denials the Soviet Union admits there was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Reactor number four had suffered a meltdown, sending a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. Today the abandoned radioactive area surrounding Chernobyl is rife with local wildlife and has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary, one of the largest in Europe.
1945—Mussolini Is Arrested
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, and fifteen supporters are arrested by Italian partisans in Dongo, Italy while attempting to escape the region in the wake of the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government. The next day, Mussolini and his mistress are both executed, along with most of the members of their group. Their bodies are then trucked to Milan where they are hung upside down on meathooks from the roof of a gas station, then spat upon and stoned until they are unrecognizable.
1933—The Gestapo Is Formed
The Geheime Staatspolizei, aka Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. It begins under the administration of SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police, but by 1939 is administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or Reich Main Security Office, and is a feared entity in every corner of Germany and beyond.
1937—Guernica Is Bombed
In Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque town of Guernica is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in widespread destruction and casualties. The Basque government reports 1,654 people killed, while later research suggests far fewer deaths, but regardless, Guernica is viewed as an example of terror bombing and other countries learn that Nazi Germany is committed to that tactic. The bombing also becomes inspiration for Pablo Picasso, resulting in a protest painting that is not only his most famous work, but one the most important pieces of art ever produced.
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