Thursday, January 04, 2007
Album Covers: Punk, Garage and So-Not-Punk
The Alarm Clocks are a band from Parma, Ohio - a suburb of Cleveland. In the 60s, they made a record called "No Reason to Complain" that won them a place in the hearts of garage rock fans everywhere once it found its way on to compilations made many years after the fact. But in 2006, they made a come- back, with triumphant live shows in Cleveland, Memphis and Brooklyn. I shot this picture sleeve and album cover in July, 2006 in Brooklyn, NY. Norton Records released these fine disks at the end of 2006. I might add that the Alarm Clocks album is one of my favorites of the year - my participation in its face notwithstanding.
Also for Norton Records, I photographed Mary Weiss, the legendary former lead singer of 60s super girl group, The Shangri La's, who recorded a new album with The Reigning Sound. Here's a photo I shot that is being used on Mary's myspace page, and as a promo photo of her with the band. It was an honor and a pleasure to have been invited to capture this. The album is due March 2007, and Mary and the Reigning Sound are playing a couple of record release gigs which you shouldn't miss (if you are in Cleveland or NYC).
While in New York working with Norton, Mary Weiss and The Alarm Clocks, I ran into Brooklyn's own pop/punk trio, The Bamboo Kids and we took some photos as well. Their latest, Feel Like Hell features two photos we created together on a sweltering hot August day.
Another 2006 release, What's for Dinner?" the marvelous lo-fi collection of dirty rock n roll by The King Khan and BBQ Show on In The Red includes some TK photography.
Over the years, many of my photos have made it on to record covers. I kept track of the ones I was invited to shoot, but you never know what's going to happen with a photo you give someone!
Have you ever done a Google search for yourself? Of course you have! The last time I did, I found out that the All Music Guide has a listing for me! Yes, so if you want to see a tiny fraction of my record sleeve credits you can check my listing in the All Music Guide. I have to look at it because sometimes its the only way I know where my photos have ended up!
Most of my picture sleeves are of great punk or garage rock interest - such as the one for the Ventures and their cover of the Go-Go's "Surfin & Spyin" with the lovely Pleasant Gehman on the double picture sleeve.
Keeping with the beach theme, you may have seen the cover of the Pandoras "Hot Generation," a favorite photo feature here at Punk Turns 30.
Here they are to compare - one is the familiar Germs picture sleeve for their "Forming" single and the other is an out-take from the photo session that yielded it. Very few copies of the picture sleeve were printed, and as things were back in 1977, I didn't get photo credit - but I did get a copy of the record, which I cherish, and a whole lot of memories that are ignited every time I see these gritty images.
While the total Do-It-Yourself operation that was What? Records didn't offer a photo credit, there was one label, the grand-daddy of all the indie LA labels that never missed a credit. Greg Shaw and his Bomp label really accelerated the momentum I was able to build with my Germs cover and my editorial coverage of Billy Idol.
Although the Pandoras recorded for a Bomp imprint, Voxx, they didn't release that record until the mid 80's, when I had already become a regular Bomp contributor. I'd like to think it was my dutiful documenting of the Stiv Bators experience that helped to seal the deal with Bomp. Stiv was the best, most cooperative and willing photo subject anyone could hope to meet. Those two Stiv albums you see pictured below are chock full of my photos - except the front cover of "Disconnected" is a David Arnoff shot. All the rest of the photos on the album and CD booklet are mine.
You may recognize this one from the band portraits insert (LP) or the CD booklet:
The Germs, Stiv, Bomp, Greg Shaw, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, Rodney Bingenheimer and the Kessel Brothers (responsible for the Ventures record plus a nifty Christmas single by Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello that I shot) kept me in print, whether on sleeves or in magazines throughout the punk years.
And I know, I just dropped a lot of old school Hollywood names, plus names of people who do have cred and popularity. Some of my punk and garage rock peers run screaming from that or complain about the references. But as someone who was born in Los Angeles, and grew up in the Southern California of the 50s, 60s and 70s where you could regularly see Bob Dylan stuck in traffic in his station wagon, or have gone to school with a grandchild of Laurence Olivier or an actor from The Brady Bunch or an Olympic Gold Medalist... your life was a passage through a crowd of bold face names. That's just life here in Sunny Southern California. And that's all just to preface this next photo, with a name and face from the golden age of old school and a name and face from the second coming of punk rock.
Mick Collins, Dirtbomb and Kim Fowley svengali record producer, movie maker and mover & shaker at large. This photo was (also uncredited) included in the 2005 In the Red Records double-disc release by the Dirtbombs, a favorite band of mine from Detroit. That disc is "If You Don't Already Have a Look," a collection of rarities, covers and B-sides.
Also in 2005, a few color photos I shot of Mumps appeared in the Sympathy for the Record Industry release, a divine Mumps comp called "How I Saved the World." I don't have any of the color images in digital form to share with you now but I will share with you a popular photo of Lance Loud, front Mump.
A band that played the Whisky A Go Go frequently in the 1980's, when I worked there, was Huey Lewis and the News. One night, I snapped a group shot of them, as I did with most bands that played - simply for posterity. The following Monday, when the group returned for their weekly residency, I gave the members a print of the best shot. Several years and gold records later, they used it as the cover of the Greatest Hits album "Time Flies." I'm sorry to say that there was also no photo credit here...well, at least I got paid.
Throughout the 2000's, I have provided photos for up and coming underground bands such as the Boss Martians and the Demands. Check out some Demands stuff here and on a limited edition pressing of the Boss Martians album "The Set Up" (band photo inside the CD.)
There are other photos of mine tucked away in CD booklets and LP inserts all over the place. A big ticket item in which I have a photo is the Rhino Records box set of Children of Nuggets which in true Rhino fashion is a deluxe package with a comprehensive booklet. For all the years I have known the Rhinos personally, this is actually the first time we've done something together!
For the most part, I don't have copies of half of the punk rock or indie records that have my photos on them. That's the way it was back then...people were just getting the records OUT...things get lost in the shuffle. You kind of have to plant your flag and wave it if you want the credit, or the legacy. And here is but a slice of mine.