Album ass: TMBG style. I was beside myself when news of They Might Be Giants’ 1996 album, Factory Showroom would (finally) be released on vinyl. Quickly snatching one up, I fell into my chair looking at a 12″ display of what was, to my experience at the time, the CD’s back cover. Countless pizza deliveries were made listening to this album, and many a red light were spent matching the artfully displayed tracklist to the appropriate track number. Metal Detector, James K. Polk, and the personal favorite, Till My Head Falls Off were, and are classic, late 90s jams. (Takes a deep breath.) Thank you, Asbestos Records!
First off, RIP Jam Master Jay. Secondly, back covers, or as I like to call them, album ass, can be just as enticing and worthy of discussion and attention as their popular fronts (in my humble opinion). Case in point, this lovely, squared-off, rear-end of Run-DMC’s 1986 Raising Hell. Bold, yes. Informative, sure. Track listing is a huge plus. Credits, both artistically and manufactoringly (sure, a bit of a stretch, but we’re going with it), are all present and accounted for. This is a monster album, worthy of ownership by just about anyone with good sense, and if you don’t already own it (which I’m sure you do), it’s certainly worth seeking out.
Like countless labels before it, and many after, SST Records (owned by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn) offered specially priced compilations showcasing their label’s talent, aiming at nothing more than to spread their goods, and take your money. With a special list price of only $3.39 ($7.99 today after the inflation adjustment), cheapskaters could further explore the likes of Saccharine Trust, the Meat Puppets, the Minutemen, and even Tom Troccolil’s Dog for next to nothing. The comp series was called The Blasting Concept, and you’re looking at the back of Volume II.
I’ve kind of shied away from the Minutemen in recent months. Not by conscious choice, but by the inevitable interferences of everyday life. Same can be said for a lot of the old standbys, actually. Sleep. Extra time. My sanity. Anyway, this is the back sleeve cover to Minutemen’s 1983 EP, Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat. If you’ve ever felt like a gringo, you should check it out (track 6).
Leave it to good ol’ boy Roy Clark to team up with Pringle’s (circa: 1978) to righteously promote “Hearty Country Style” flavored tube-chips on the back of his 11-track classic, Roy Clark Sings Country Style. Remember back in June when I inquired about what other prominent country legend was associated with a delicious, rural delicacy? Well, Mr. Clark, I stand corrected.
After about 10 minutes of (deep) internet searching, I discovered that my copy of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence is a second pressing (of the three initial pressings). My copy is the last to feature the Tiger Beat magazine in Art’s jacket pocket. This would be airbrushed out on the third and subsequent pressings. Mine is also a German release, acquired at a storewide going-out-of-business sale some 15 years ago. Copyright states a release date of 1972, some 7 years after the album’s initial release. This doesn’t mean too much, other than now I want to bury myself in Bookends, my personal favorite.
Since we were recently talking about it, have a look as the showcased albums from the Time Records Series 2000 collection, and count the number of percussion-based titles: Percussion on Stage, Percussion Espanol, Gypsy Strings and Percussion, and Concert Percussion for Orchestra. Four. I count four. Command Records knew it had a revolutionary and timeless release with Persuasive Percussion, which is further evidenced by its competitors, in this case Time Records and their Series 2000 team, trying at great lengths to cash in.
I was strikingly unaware, back in some foggy 1998 day, that my purchase of Don McLean’s American Pie was actually an abridged version of the original album. Often one to overlook the tiny print, this glaring indicator is now unmissable on the back sleeve, and stands as a reminder that one should always at least attempt to scan the fine print.
Nothing too exciting here except for the backside of Enoch Light and His Orchestra’s Far Away Places Volume 2. The layout is a bit wonky, what, with 90 degree angles being thrown out the window, but Command Records did a pretty decent job of offering a ton of info while not seeming any bit overwhelming. That Stereo 35mm logo, though…
A Good Ground was released in 2005 and, as far as I can tell, was the first studio album released on vinyl by Brooklyn indie Gods, Oxford Collapse. Though not as pleasing to the ear as 2006’s Remember the Night Parties (my first introduction to the band), Ground is solid angst music, heavy on rhythmic glee. These guys were really good. It’s just too bad the rest of the world didn’t think so.
In randomly admiring the back cover to the 1984 Mystic Records comp, Mystic Sampler #1, I noticed a few key things. I present them in no particular or chronological order. 1) Discogs doesn’t have an entry for Slamulation, the comp album on which the original Suicidal Tendencies line-up released their early track, I Saw Your Mommy (also featured here). 2) There is a red vinyl version of Mystic Sampler #1 (Wantlisted). 3) The cover art to the Mystic Records cover compilation is the only advertised record NOT featured on this back sleeve. The only cover without a cover, is an album about covers.
Everyone knows the iconic cover to Elvis Presley’s debut LP, but what few may recognize, outside of those who own, is its subtle back cover. Released on RCA in 1956, I present to you, for the first time on this site, Elvis Presley’s debut self titled back cover art. Disregard the purple pen scribbles.
Aside from Double Plaidinum, these five albums were Lagwagon’s discography for this young listener (some 17 embarrassing years ago), which makes this exclusive box set (limited to 519 copies), all the more exceptional. Have a look, then a listen, then hunt one down online. Released by Fat Wreck Chords back in 2011, she comes with a bonus reissue of the band’s first 7″… worth the price of admission by itself. Happy hunting, kids, and happy Friday!
I had the pleasure of obtaining a UK original of The Clash’s debut album, neatly titled The Clash a few years back. Of course, there is an alternate tracklist on the UK version that differs slightly from the Canadian and US versions, and since both of those versions came out a full two years after this 1977 original, this UK version is strongly considered the only true full-length debut from the band. For those of you into such things, there you have it. For those of you who aren’t, you can show yourselves out.
Majestic and righteous, all in one cohesive and awe-inspiring logo. File under Album Ass, or best logo of all time. On a side note, mainly because I don’t yet own it on vinyl, but how much does “fresh meat” in Underworld’s stellar Mmm, Skyscraper, I Love You sound like “Presley” during the line, “Elvis, fresh meat, a little whip cream?” Intentional? I’d say, yeah! Happy Monday.
Without question, (yet still, arguably), the WORST back cover to any major album release of any, and all time. Now, there is certainly room for judgment and viable speculation, but k’mon! No track listings… no suggestive band photos… no credits… no nothing! “Look within” I suppose was the point, as well it should have been, but once that (now obvious) objective has been made, the art for Zeppelin II’s album ass is forever implanted (ass humor) in Groove history, or at the very least, made known to the casual passers by in a leisurely, and nonthreatening manner.