Tag Archive 'Album/Record Cover Design'

THE ALBUM ART OF BLOSSOMHEAD REID – CONFESSIONS OF AN ALBUM DESIGNER

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I have always had a passion for the art on music album covers.
When I was a young teenager I had album covers all over the walls of my bedroom as my journey into the wonderful world of music really began.

I loved their design, the shapes and lines of things, the colours, the combinations, the ideas and the revelations. In buildings, music, art, nature, even our bodies there is the wonder and marvel of design.

We humans are wonderful at designing and creating, at bringing an idea into actually being.
I guess that’s what sets us apart from the other animals on the planet and gives us a sense of superiority, we can create and our creations can affect the world.

Even though at times music seems to have stagnated, the artwork of album covers has always kept evolving, pushing boundries, daring to be adventurous and different.

Most of the album covers I enjoyed looking at were made by the British art design group – Hipgnosis. It was from their creative minds that bands such as Pink Floyd, Wishbone Ash. UFO, The Alan Parsons Project, Led Zeppelin, 10cc, Genesis, Bad Company and many others had such great album covers. Incidently, it was Pink Floyd who set them on their path when they asked Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell the founding memebers of Hipgnosis, to  design the artwork for the groups second album – A Saucerful of Secrets. Hipgnosis were in operation from 1968 until 1982.

For me collecting record albums wasn’t a hobby, it was something I loved both for the music and the art work. Sometimes I would buy a cheap copy of a crappy band just for the great art work on the cover.

There were many times I spent more money on record albums then I did food but having the records satisfied me in a way that food couldn’t, besides if you need to you can live well enough cheaply.

I would love looking through my record collection, much as gardeners do throughout their gardens or cooks through their cookbooks. I loved the names of the bands, the names of their albums, the ideas and the artwork and the over all design of how it was all put together.

Even though circumstances demanded it, I was foolish enough to sell most of my record album collection at a time when I needed money, a thing that I will probably keep on beating myself over my head with for a while yet.

I kept a few but lost a lot though my love for the design of album art has never waned and it still feels like the right place for me to be.

So I figured why not make my own album art and my own bands and my own alter ego, make a part in the world for that part of me that loves designing album covers.

What follows is a ficticious book about a ficticious me, a blossom I found within the garden of my mind.
A me that perhaps is another life.

Would I have made a good album designer?
I’ll let you decide and look forward to any comments you may like to share with me.

If any of you are struck with a sudden desire to have me design your album cover or book cover, please contact me.

Serendipity is one of those delightful things that occasionally appear in a persons life, when you know your feet are exactly where they’re supposed to be.

The following presentation shows 14 album covers and their accompanying stories that I have chosen for this book from the hundreds I have done throughout my career.

Please Enjoy and Blossom On

Blossomhead Reid

SHIMMER ~ OPHELIA’S DREAM

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Ophelia’s Dream by the band Shimmer was one of my earliest jobs.

I was just starting to get work as a designer, when my old friend Adam rang me about doing a job for this band he’d just signed.

I was living in London at the time and King Crimson had just brought out their amazing album “In the Court of the Crimson King” which had blown everyone away in 1969, with it’s uniqueness.

Prog rock was very in and a whole universe of bands seemed to grow out of the wood work, at least it seemed that way or maybe it was one of those trips that at the time, always seemed to find it’s way into my digestive system and then into my brain.

I was living in an upstairs studio  near the center of London, surrounded by my work space which was covered with creations and sketches of ideas all over the walls.
I wouldn’t say I’m the neatest of artists but within my disorder there is order.

Even though it got bitterly cold in winter, I really enjoyed living and working in that little studio, it was where my career as an album cover designer began.
I was always working on something when I wasn’t trying to solve the universal riddle of my belly button.

The band already had strong ideas about what the album should look like and wanted to use this beautiful picture called “The Lady of Shalott” by the 19th century artist, William Holman Hunt.

I was instantly taken by the picture and understood why the band wanted to have it as their cover. There is something that has always attracted me to the pre-raphaelite period of art and this painting shows why.

The title for the album came from the bands vocalist Sammy Twickham.
He told me how he’d had a dream of a girl called Ophelia who was at the same time, dreaming of Sammy. They talked without talking and moved without moving as she danced about him in the dream, weaving him into the colours of the sky that he seemed to be looking out at from within himself.

It sounded like a really special dream or a brilliant trip but Sammy assured me the heaviest drug he’d ever taken was some of his mum’s asprin for the occasional headache.

I’ll quickly share with you the story of how the band came together.

The four guys in Shimmer were looking for a new singer as their previous one had left to join a spiritual cult in India and Sammy answered their add.

He was five foot six, had a great voice and was full of a zest for life and an energy that emanated from him to the audience whenever I saw them play live. The other guys in the band said that it had only taken one song for them to know they had found their new singer.

Sammy brought new life, fresh ideas and a different outlook to the band which then started to make some really good albums.
At a time when everyone was under the illusion that they were “making it”, Sammy was different, not in a weird sense but in his outlook on life.
He saw it as a one way ticket and the only one you’re probably going to get and that’s why he felt it was so important to make the most out of life.
He wanted to have more to show at the end of it then just some unfinished “really good” ideas.

Shimmer’s career has now spanned more than thirty years, (quite an accomplishment for a prog-rock band that have never strayed from their roots, considering the many phases music has gone through over the past few decades), it is quite a testament to the popularity of their music and the creativity of the band as a whole.

I feel fortunate to have had the privilege of designing their first album cover and knowing them as friends throughout the ensuing years.

If you ever get the opportunity to listen to this album, I hope it imparts at least some of the energy the world has come to know as the psychadelic 60’s.

JEWDUS ~ LIGHT MY FIRE

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I had serious reservations about taking on the design of this album for two reasons.
The first was the reputation of the band JEWDUS and the second was the fear of death threats that would come from all kinds of strange people if I didn’t.

JEWDUS are you typical in your face, up your arse, punk/thrash/metal band that would only piss on you after you had burned to death.
Not very nice people.

They hail from the ghettos of New York and have made such an underground following for themselves they actually hit the charts with this album – LIGHT MY FIRE.

To say JEWDUS are controversial is putting it mildly.
They have made an art of getting publicity by doing insane, dangerous and perverse things.

It is well known that at their concerts, they will burn a living pig as part of their encore.
Sick?
Cruel?
Yes.
But it also guarantees that people will come to their shows and stay until the end, just to see a pig being burnt alive.

The band have been picketed and taken to court by various animal rights groups for cruelty to animals but so far have eluded fines or jail sentences, thanks to their highly over paid lawyer.

Apparently, no one could prove wether the pig was alive or dead before it was set alight.
The band claim to switch the live pig everyone else sees, with a dead one before they set it on fire.

So far no one has been able to disprove this because no one is allowed on the stage except for the band and their loyal crew and all members of animal rights organsiations are banned from Jewdus concerts.

Even the name of the band itself is a red flag for most people.

Rumours circulate that the bands original name was Jewdust but the mother of one of the band members who was a holocaust survivor objected to it.
So the band went one better and creatively named themselves after the most reviled man in religious history – Judas.

The album LIGHT MY FIRE is ten tracks of screaming, thrashing, bashing ugliness.
The lyrics of the songs encourage violence, racism, sadism and other things that should have been thrown out of human consciousness and into the dustbin a long time ago.

I’m not proud of being a part of such an album but as I said before, fear took over reason and courage left by the back door.

The cover is of a tattoo belonging to the singer in the band, Sick Dick.
He insisted I use it as the cover and left me to it with an unsaid but menacing alternative if I didn’t.

It took me three days of rationalizing and posturing to talk myself around to not hating myself for doing the cover.

I can’t even remember now how it came to be that I even agreed to do it but I did and had  made my bed, so I lay in it.

Strangely, the only thing I do like about the album is the cover.
It’s a great tattoo, full of colour and meaning, especially in the context of the albums name.

You can take its meaning as liberating or threatening but if you ever come across this album, take a moment and a deep breath before you decide if you’ll listen to it because once you do, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wish you hadn’t.

JAN TYLER – UNDERSKIN

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I got this job for designing Jan Tyler’s album “Underskin” through my good friend Adam, the head of a big recording company who recommended me to Jan as someone who was professional, imaginative and not afraid to take a risk.

This album was one of the most Avate-guard, underground albums I have ever heard.
I can’t say I understood a lot of it in between the blips, squeaks and screaming that seemed to accompany each of the twelve songs on the album.

I love weirdness as much as the next freak but there are some things that go right over the top of me and this is one of those albums.

I guess you’d have to be seriously into pushing the boundries of art to really appreciate what went in to making this album.
Many long hours of recording and editing of ideas that either worked or didn’t, worry, stress and doubt.

It was a risk for Jan who up until then, had been a pop musician with a promising career with a short life span as is the case with most top ten pop stars these days.
But after meeting and marrying the famed sculptor Franco Martinez, she changed her whole image and recorded this album of outstanding, if not a bit confusing, piece of work.

All of the songs blend into each other so you’re never quite sure which song it is you’re listening to, in fact I’m sure she chopped some songs in half and fused the beginning of one song with the end of another.

Jan whose image had once been that of a nice arsed bimbo singing other people’s songs, was looking for something to change all of that and be taken as a serious musician.

We  talked for a while over the phone as she was living in London at the time, and discussed many things about her past career and the direction she now was heading in.

It seemed to me that this new direction of Jan’s had always been waiting just beneath the surface and as we talked I began to imagine what lay under the surface, under the skin.

After talking to Jan, I looked in one of my old biology books and found a picture of a woman with her circulatory system superimposed over her naked body.
I sent the picture to Jan and asked her to imagine the woman was her.

Jan sent me back a naked picture of herself with her approval of the idea and permission to go ahead.

It took many hours to draw the circulatory system over Jan but the end result speaks for itself I think.

When the album was released it shook the music industry just enough for Jan to lose her image as the nice arsed bimbo and be taken seriously as a musician, which was her intention all along.

WOODY TALBOT – ALL THE GIRLS LOVE WOODY

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A mate of mine in the music business offered me this job.
I was desperate and up to my eyes in bills so that’s my excuse for doing this job.

Woody Talbot was a country and western singer who was making quite a name for himself only it was for the wrong reasons.

Woody was a good singer but a crap song writer so he sang other peoples songs without remembering to ask for their permission first.

After the first law suit, Woody and his manager Major Albert, put out the call to all aspiring song writers to enter a competition and if chosen, their song would be recorded by Woody Talbot.

Now anyone whose been in the music business long enough, would know that song writers have the worst of it.
Always struggling to write that perfect song and selling the others for a pittance so they could eat and buy drugs.

To have a song recorded by a major artist and living off the royalties is the holy grail for all song writers and the ironic thing is that most song writers could sing and perform the song much better than the latest fad who sings it all the way up the charts.

I sometimes wonder wether the cost of actually producing a one hit song and a film clip to go with it, is actually worth the effort or the money.

Anyway back to Woody.
I never actually met him but I have seen some publicity shots and heard the album once it was released.

Woody was your typical good looking, talentless, ego tripping eighty six year old wannabe music star who was actually a quite a nice guy.
He entered the music business late in life, at age eighty to be precise.

I spoke to him on the phone a couple of times during the design of the album cover and asked him what ideas he had for it.
Girls, surfing and girls was all he had to say.

He told me that girls, surfing and girls were his three favourite things in all the world and music was just a way of getting them.

So I had two things to work with – Girls and Surfing.

I found the picture of the girls on the surfboards in an old magazine and figured it was just what I was looking for.

I made a few different versions using different fonts, colours and shades for different effects.
I sent them to Woody who chose the one he liked the most.

Woody wasn’t the most imaginative of guys and had no idea of what to call the album.
When I suggested the title ”All the girls love Woody”, he laughed so much he almost choked on his false teeth.

It wasn’t until someone pointed out to me the other meaning for woody or “having wood” that I realised why Woody had almost left this world before the album was finished.

Once the album was released, it was acclaimed as a milestone in recording history because only one song had been submitted by an unknown song writer from a little town still living in the 1950’s.

On the album there were nine different versions of the one song which became so well known that Woody actually got the girls and a little house by the beachside where he could go surfing every day to his hearts content.

Unfortunately, before he could enjoy the fruits of his labour, his heart reached its expiry date and Woody Talbot left this world for that great music hall somewhere up in the sky.

I still have my copy of Woody’s album and on occasion I pull it out, dust it off and play frisbee with my dog Floyd.

Sorry Woody but I can only listen to one song nine different ways before I have to find another use for the album it came on.

SAMMA OTHERLAND – UNFOLDING MOMENTS

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Samma Otherland are as beautifully unusual as their name suggests.

They are a three piece multi-instrumental band of Sam Engles, Trish Macarthy and Elmore Judd, three unknown musicians who made this wonderful album called “Unfolding Moments”.

Every now and then an album comes along that you know is special even before you hear it, this is the experience I had with “Unfolding Moments”.

There are eight extraordinarily beautiful tracks on this album that take you on a journey out the window, up into the sky and leave you floating there safely above the earth until it’s time to come gently down again.

This is one of my favourite late night, drift away to albums, that leaves me with happy dreams and a sense of being safe.

They only ever brought out this album, which was a shame.
Some bands are like that, they’re only together for one album before they break apart and join up with others to form new bands.

If you ever get the opportunity to listen to this album, it will be a once in a lifetime chance.
The master tapes along with the only printed copies of the album were destroyed in an accidental fire that burnt the historic Spiral Recording Studios to the ground.

It was fortunate that some quick thinking engineer grabbed an arm full of albums before the place was consumed in flames.
A pity he couldn’t save the master tapes.

There are only twenty known copies left in the world and because of the way it was recorded  and the technology used at the time, it isn’t possible to translate the signal to an audio frequency we can listen to on the technology we have today.

That’s why a copy of one of these albums can sell for ten thousand dollars if its in poor condition and sixty thousand dollars if it’s in mint condition.

Unfortunately for those who have a copy of this album, once they listen to it, they know they’ll never be able to sell it because they’ll never be able to live without hearing it again and again and again.

For the cover I once more narrowed in on a smaller portion of a bigger picture I came across somewhere.
It shows a seed pod opening to reveal the seeds, each of them a capsule of growth full of  unfolding moments.
It’s amazing what you can find in the detail.

Some people didn’t think much of the cover but the band liked it and the whole seeds of unfolding moments thing that went along with it.

The album soared up the charts even though it wasn’t a commercial piece of crap that usually park themselves in the way of true art.

It stayed at number 1 for four months before Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon took over the crown.

It was such a success I guess, because of the story surrounding its destruction but I prefer to think it was because of the music that unfolds into your mind whenever, if ever, you get the chance to hear it.

I wish I had a copy but am fortunate to have a trusting friend who on occasion and with much begging on my part, will lend me the album.

Unfolding Moments is much like a drug, one taste and your hooked.

SPIRIT RHYTHMS – NIGHT SONGS

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If you ever want to lay yourself down in an ocean of moonlight and listen to the whisper of a thousand hearts beating to the rhythm of two spirits in love, this is the album that will take you there.

SPIRT RHYTHMS are a combination of Annie Treyo and Kurt Lamont who are both multi instrumentalists and devotees to their guru Champa Lada, a indian mystic from the land of mystics.

NIGHT SONGS isn’t just an album of traditional, devotional chants, it is an incredible album that only comes around every now and then.

My earlier description was no exaggeration, this is one of those albums that transports you .
It excites you at the start and leaves you satisfied and content afterwards.

Annie and Kurt were a funny couple, very much in love but not taking it too seriously which was refreshing to see.

They felt themselves lucky to find each other in this life and believed they had spent previous lives together and would most probably be together in future lives.

They weren’t interested in going about being all analy spiritual, in the hope of getting off the whole reincarnation cycle thing through attaining enlightenment.

Annie and Kurt had worked out that enlightenment was a process that took many lifetime experiences to attain and they’d be wherever they would be when they got there.

In other words enlightenment happens when you become enlightened so they felt it important to enjoy the ride until they got there.

I don’t think I’ve ever met two more spiritual human beings who have learnt the lesson of merging the two instead of trying to keep them separate.

Being spiritual isn’t about being spiritual, it’s about letting the quality of your life reflect the quality of your spirit, while you are being human.

Being human is a tough thing to do.
It is full of pain, grief, despair, loss, regret, hope, imagination, creativity and the one that makes it all worthwhile, Love.
All of them wrapped up in the lessons of life.

As humans we are challenged to survive everyday, minute and second of our lives.
Our bodies are bombarded constantly with the challenges of a physical world, from the smallest of bacteria to the forces of nature over which we have no control.

After talking to them for a while, I knew that they were pretty aware people who had found a lot of their missing pieces so I didn’t understand why they were following a guru.
They both gave hearty laughs when I asked them that question.

They explained to me that the whole guru thing was just amusement for them.
Anyone who is happy to sit on a pedestal while sprouting words of wisdom, has either stolen that knowledge or just remembered but they’ve also forgotten how easily pedestals can fall over.

They all seem to come here to remind us of things we already know but hold themselves above everyone else, in fact most seem to encourage the cult of pedestal building.

They forget their place, which I suppose would be hard when everyone is telling you, you  are something more than what you are not.

For the album cover I used an image of a black hole as seen through a radio telescope.
It was left raw and untouched.
Annie and Kurt felt it said a lot about ebb and flow of a universe we are only just starting to understand.

They were both astronomer buffs and invited me out to their little woodland cabin one night for a star watch.

We walked for about fifteen minutes through the forest until we came to an opening of fields laid out before us and above them shone fields of starlight.

We each took turns at looking through the very powerful telescope that Kurt had happily carried on his back.

After a time of having looked at the fields of space, I closed my eyes and felt myself open  up into the energy of the starlight that radiated down upon us.

It felt as though I was rising far above my body, the earth, and out into the kaleidoscopic universe that unfolded before me.

I didn’t feel scared and I didn’t feel worried, I felt as though it was the rightest thing I had ever done.

Solar systems spun into galaxies and galaxies spun into star fields and star fields spun into stars and planets upon which life begins.

It was so, so beautiful that any words I use would be inadequate to describe the experience.

Suddenly Kurt and then Annie appeared before me and urged me to wake up.

I was starting to drift out too far, beyond where the connection that holds us to this planet of humanity, can go.

A soul can only go so far away from the planet when spirit traveling, before the connection is severed with the body.

They said that if I had kept going, my spirit would have left my body which would have died and the rest of my life would have been forfeited.

Apparently looking at the stars through the telescope had opened a part of my mind, letting my spirit free to float out into the stars.

Ever since that night I have felt a warm glow inside of me, that has guided me through some difficult situations and taught me to look at things differently, in a way that when I see where my expectations are, I look beyond them and see something else that is a journey within itself.

“Enlightenment itself is really very simple, learning to get there is the hard part,” Annie said as she and Kurt boarded their plane for Instanbul.                                                                                                                 They were going to visit a mountain tribe to learn the art of playing the Tar, a traditional instrument that was sort of like a gourdish guitar and was extremely tricky to play.

It wasn’t long after that I heard their plane had crashed in a mountainous region of Turkey, there were no survivors.

I hope that if reincarnation is real, Annie and Kurt find each other again in their next lives.

It was a privilege for me to have met them and share the experiences I did with them.

It may sound strange but whenever I listen to their album, I can almost feel them beside me humming along.

KORE ROBERTS – PAINTED LADIES

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I met Kore Roberts at a party held by a mutual friend, somewhere out in the wilds of somewhere really beautiful

I’d known Adam, the guy whose party it was, from my early days knocking around with musicians and artists and poets and all sorts of weird and wonderful people who were part of “the happening” as we used to call it.
Now it’s called the quickening and a few other things but the thing is the same.

It’s like the level of consciousness rises in people.
Whatever it is, it comes around every so many years, like the sixties, like the ebb and flow, a beautiful wave you surf into the beach on but you’ve got to stay aware or you’ll miss it and have to wait for the next one, that’s if you’re around to catch the next one.

That’s the sort of stuff we to rambleothize on about, about while under the influence of one thing or another.
It was a wild and crazy time full of promise and far horizons and we were young and felt we were invincible in our love for life, music, talent and good drugs.

Only thing is we all got caught up in the traps laid for us by the type of society we live in – debt, jobs, taxes and for some, families.

The years speed by one another and before you know it your older than you thought you were and you look behind at where you’ve come from and you see what you’ve left behind, and what you see before you is a place to leave something of your worth, before your existence reaches its end……..”see, rambleothize, once you start you can’t stop” said
Adam as he smiled his brilliant smile, that had blinded many into helping him reach the top of his ladder, which was the head of the biggest music label in corporate history – Planet Records.

I have scored some great design jobs from Adam and owe him much.
Some of my favourite jobs were through him and I had made firm friends with many genuine people in the industry, thanks to Adam.

He was happy to help as his philosophy was, “to pass on some of the good you’ve been given, share it around because it helps to make more”.

I’m the sort of person who likes to know and be friendly to a lot of people, but there are only a few that I would call close friends and would want to know until the day I die, Adam is one of them.

So that’s the story behind Adam and me who introduced me to this guy who I came to know as a special human being and a brilliant song writer, who made such beautiful music that the moon would cry if it heard it.

Kore Roberts was special guy who was headed for far horizons but whose life ended  tragicly and left the world a sadder place without him.

At the party we got to talking about music and its incredible effect on the human soul and when I told him I designed album covers, he immediately pulled out a demo tape of songs he was making for his first album – Painted Ladies.

He asked me if I would be interested in designing the cover for him.

Being the sort of person who doesn’t wish to offend and ends up wishing he had kept his mouth shut, I said I’d have a listen to his tape and get back to him.

People were always giving me tapes to listen to of music I didn’t like, so I shoved it in my coat pocket and forgot all about it until I was driving along the coastal highway a week later.

I needed to clear my head that was crowded with a weeks worth of designs for an idea I was working on and had borrowed a friends car for a few hours just to get away from it all.

The car had a tape player in it but no tapes to play until I reached into my coat pocket looking for a roach only to come across Kore’s tape.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I put the tape in the player and prepared myself for some average piece of crap to while away the next few hours with.

Imagine my surprise to find that the songs were actually very good, so good in fact, I forgot to smoke the roach I had found in my pocket and just cruised along for the next few hours listening to Kore’s album, again and again.

When I finally circled my way back home, I started to work on some ideas for the cover I had come up with while driving.

The next day I rang Kore and told him how much I liked his songs and if he was agreeable I’d design the cover for him.

We talked for awhile about the songs on the album and as Kore told me of the meaning behind each one, I came to see that he was a guy who looked beyond the surface of things and wasn’t afraid of the mortality of his life.
The fact that his life ended for someone else’s stupid reason still makes no sense to me.

Mort Jordan was a serial, religious, psycho who believed armageddon had told him to start killing people so they’d get to heaven quicker and be spared the torment of seeing the earth becoming the devils domain.

Unfortunately Kore was at the shopping centre where this guy decided to “God’s will” and was shot five times before Mr. Goodbar found someone else to go and save.

We were told that Kore died from the first shot and wouldn’t have felt the others.
We can only want to believe that’s the truth because if there ever was someone who left the world a bit better for his being and deserved not to suffer, it was Kore.

From a design point of view I really like the simplicity of the cover and I love the conflict of the image with the title of the album.

The back shows the inner core of an atom which was an analogy I always thought suited Kore, he was a simple yet very deep guy.

My favourite song from the album and probably all time, would be the last track, “If I Only Knew”.

It’s short, simple and says a lot.

If you ever see a copy of this album, buy it.

You wont regret it no matter what sort of music you like, because the songs on this album are the sort that grow from the inside out and they’re the best kind.

SMOKIN JOE – MAD HATTER

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Smokin’Joe were a blues outfit from down south.
If they were any more blues they’d be black but these four white guys know how to play the blues.

Their guitarist was a young guy named Jimi but everyone called him Rix as in Jimi Hendrix.
After seeing them live I could understand the reason.

Like Hendrix, this young guy had huge hands and had taught himself to play better than Hendrix without even having heard him.

Rix was brought up in a strict religious sect called “The Witnesses of Revelation” who believed all of mankind were sinners for being born human.
They lived without the modern conveniences we take for granted, grew their own food and over the centuries, interbred.

Rix once showed me a picture of his family who he missed a lot.
His mum and dad looked like ordinary people as did his two sisters but none of them looked like Rix.
This was because he had been adopted as a baby, left on the doorstep of Rix’s mum and dad who brought him up as one of their own.

Rix was fortunate as his mum and dad although members who were born into the sect, had enough sense about them to know that a lot of what the sect leaders preached was fantasy and rubbish.

They also loved their children enough to want more for them then to live in the past reciting dogma and waiting for an event they knew would never happen.

But they kept their personal views to themselves and in the privacy of their home, would teach the children about the world outside of the 200 acres on which the sect lived.

They wanted their children to be able to deal with the lessons the world would teach them  and have a future of their own, not one decided for them by the council of elders.

Lucky for us they were that sort of people or else we would never have had the pleasure of  hearing Rix teach a guitar how to sing and man could he make it sing.

As a side line, there is a story about Jimi Hendrix who upon arriving in London for the first time, went to a Cream concert.
Back then, cream were like England’s super group, playing in the stratosphere far above everyone else.
Hendrix asked if he could play with them on one song.
At first Eric Clapton who people worshipped as the best guitarist in the world, thought Hendrix was a bit cocky and would end up making a fool of himself.

Well Hendrix blew them all away and Clapton walked off stage literally shaking so much he could hardly light his cigarette and announced to everyone that he was going home to practice.

I think Jimi Hendrix would have reacted the same way if he heard Rix play.
He would have realised he had a long way to go before he could think of himself as a master of his instrument.

The rest of the band were made up of Honey Boy Johnson on vocals, Slick Mantra on Drums and Tiny Watson on bass.
All amazing musicians in their own right but they really shone once Rix started playing with them.

The album “Mad Hatter”, is a collection of old blues standards and original songs that deserved more credit then it got.
If you ever want to listen to great blues or what a guitar sounds like when it is really played, then this is the album to be introduced to first, I recommend it.

The picture on the cover is a tattoo belonging to Tiny Watsons’ wife, Tina.
A really nice lady you do not want to get on the wrong side of.

The band had already decided on the design of the cover and wanted me to put it together for them which I did one hot summers night as I listened to the blues of Smokin’ Joe, which floated out of my window upon the swirl of the joe I was smoking, into the dreams of my neighbours.

ECO

eco

German Nilhist band ECO hit the big time with this album selling millions upon zillions.

They were a four piece made up of very different characters who while able to make great music together were incapable of getting along as human beings.

Gary Borden the bass player had his face slashed by their drummer Klaus Schmidt, who had found out that Gary had been screwing his wife while Klaus had been at de-tox in between albums.

Steve Obrien the guitarist had nothing in common with the other members of the band.
While they had come from privileged backgrounds, Steve was a hard knocker from the land of hard knocks.
He was working class, loved the pub, women, drugs but mostly his guitar.
He spoke rough, lived rough and played sweetly.
It was Steve’s guitar work that made the album what it was.

The band were unique because their manager/guru was an invisible being called Jim the Chosen who could only be heard by the singer Isoma.

Invisible or not, Jim the Chosen’s advice helped ECO to hit the big time.
They were finally rolling in money and fame and the road ahead was pave with gold

It was because of Jim that the band had become such a success Isoma believed, but the pressure of bringing out such a successful album had been to much for Jim who announced to the world through Isoma, that they were both quitting the music business and were going to go and live in the ocean with the dolphins.
They also took all the money the band had made, with them.

The band broke up but this only made the album sell more and more and a legend grew up around the disappearance of Isoma.

There were reports that he had seen by sailors as a half man/half dolphin swimming out in the deep ocean or that he had become an alien who flew around the world in his own space ship.
What actually happened was that he just went crazy and forgot who he was, ending up in a sanitarium dribbling about Jim the Dolphin.

Gary Borden bought a Muckdonalds franchise and made squilllions but became more and more unhappier until he joined a monastery, became Brother Francis and was never seen or heard from again.

Klaus Schmidt works as a hairdresser in his hometown of Schlaussenberg and is almost an icon amongst the gay scene of Germany.

Steve Obrien became a fan of Stockhausenz, a gypsy mystic who made music about nothing.
There was no sound on the recordings but Stockhausenz said that if you listened to it enough you could hear the music inside nothing.

So Steve spent the rest of his musical career listening to and making recordings of nothing, which wasn’t a great career move and a terrible waste of talent.

The cover seems so simple but actually took me days to come up with.
There must have been about one hundred and twenty different versions of the same image until I finally found the right one.

The face on the cover belongs to Astrid, the drummer’s wife who divorced Klaus, sued Gary for giving her a venereal disease and became a buddhist lesbian.

I find her stare haunting, questioning, thoughtful and silently accusing as though behind her wall of an icy stare, she is about to burst into tears.

My favourite track on the this album would have to be “She Flew Into Me Through Morning”.
I have no idea what it means but it sends me somewhere else every time I hear it.

Whatever you or I may think about the bands personal lives, they made a mark in music that won’t be forgotten.