“Rock Covers” by Robbie Busch, Jonathan Kirby and Ed Julius Weidermann (2014) review
“Rock Covers” by Robbie Busch, Jonathan Kirby and Ed Julius Weidermann (Taschen 2014)
Measuring 550 pages in length, “Rock Covers” is a hardbound coffee-table sized book containing photographs of oodles upon oodles of album jackets.
Arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the band or performer, the titanic tome offers a mix of popular recordings and unbelievable obscurities from all over world. Placed alongside the eye-popping snapshots is information identifying the act, as well as the year the album was released and the label it appeared on. Credit is further given to the folks who designed the sleeves and took the pictures. Quotes from musicians, photographers and graphic artists involved in the discs are also frequently presented.
Obviously not compiled strictly of photos, “Rock Covers” additionally provides in-depth musings from noted shutterbug Henry Diltz, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, author, illustrator and Liquid Liquid bassist Richard McGuire, and Norton Records owners Miriam Linna and Billy Miller.
A generous 750 albums are featured, orbiting anywhere from Elvis Presley to the Dead Kennedys to Bobby Darin to the Ramones to Savoy Brown Blues Band to Chubby Checker to My Bloody Valentine to Johnny and the Hurricanes to Deep Purple to Roy Orbison to the Shocking Blue to Devo to Bill Haley and the Comets to John Fred and His Playboy Band to the Surfaris to Jo Jo Gunne to the Replacements to the Five Man Electrical Band to the Buzzcocks to ACDC to Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps to Manfred Mann and so on and so on and so on. And as expected, iconic Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Yes, Grateful Dead, David Bowie and Beach Boys platters are displayed.
But the real meat of “Rock Covers” are the rarities, especially those from the late sixties and early seventies, when both the music and visuals burst with color, life and boundless creativity. Although “It’s Psychedelic Baby” readers are probably familiar with the majority of these seldom seen and heard albums, mainstream music fans are not, making the book a fascinating piece of history.
Unless you are a serious collector, it’s not every day one stumbles upon “Rebecca and the Sunny Brook Farmers” (hand-drawn images on eggs of band members in the nude) by Rebecca and the Sunny Brook Farmers, Sneakers and Lace’s “Skateboardin’ USA” (three supremely wholesome looking boys and a pretty blonde girl), “The G-Stringers” (hippy cartoon guys and gals attired in funky bell bottoms) from the G-Stringers, Puff’s “Puff” (tacky thrift shop threads and a stuffed white swan), “Evening Of The Magician” (LSD meets yoga) by Randy Burns or “Jungle Grass” (groovy doodlings of musical instruments and a fish in a pond) from the Aquarians.
And let’s not omit classic cult favorites such as “Psychedelic Lollipop” from the Blues Magoos, “Future” by the Seeds, the Q65’s “Revolution,” Love’s “Forever Changes,” the Boston Tea Party’s “The Boston Tea Party,” the Incredible String Band’s “The 5000 Spirits Or The Layer Of The Onion,” the Music Machine’s “Turn On…The Music Machine,” Bubble Puppy’s “A Gathering Of Promises,” the Free Design’s “Kites Are Fun” and “Underground” by the Electric Prunes. Bedazzling and bewildering, “Rock Covers” leaves nary a boulder unturned, encompassing the good, bad, beautiful, grotesque, stupid, silly and stunning. Viva vinyl and the many sights and sounds it comes in!
– Beverly Paterson
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