Monday 30 September 2013

Abandoned AAA Album Covers (Top Ten, News, Views and Music 213)

Every so often an album cover gets rejected - sometimes the record company takes offence (as happened on the first five examples on this list), sometimes the band can't be bothered (as per example six), sometimes the bands have too much choice (as per example number seven) and sometimes the result is just too scary to use (as per examples eight and ten). As we've often said on this site, however, the packaging can often make all the different about how an album is accepted - just think how 'dark' 'Yesterday and Today' would have sounded surrounded by decimated dolls and hunks of meat - or how ordinary 'Dark Side Of The Moon' might have been treated without its iconic cover. All our top ten are in chronological order this week

The Beatles "Butcher Sleeve" aka "Yesterday and Today" (1965)

By far the most famous album on our list, first pressings of the 'butcher' sleeve now fetch ridiculous amounts at auctions, making them one of the rarest AAA records of all time. An American-only compilation of songs from 'Help' and 'Rubber Soul' , it was taken from an 'arty' series of shots designed by photographer Robert Whittaker (who came up with the iconic 'With The Beatles' polo-shirt cover) and titled 'A somnambulent Adventure' (it was never designed by Whitaker as an 'album sleeve'). The theory was that the Beatles were having a nightmare - and as a result discovering all that was wrong with a modern capitalist society. Baby dolls were pulled apart and slabs of meat draped around all four Beatles, with all of the fab four bored of tired drab covers and Lennon especially egging the photographer on (even Paul, the Beatle who spent most time thinking of their public image, thought the shot was still intended only for an art gallery and would make a valid comment on Vietnam). Most dealers refused to stock the record at all and the few that did had so many customers refusing to buy the album or demand a refund that they soon complained to capitol and the cover was switched to a rather boring one of the Beatles playing with a box (compare their gleeful faces on the 'butcher' sleeve to the bored ones at this hastily arranged shoot and that will tell you all you need to know about the Beatles being hemmed into a 'box' themselves in this era!) Actually the original sleeve is arguably closer to the songs on the album, especially the harder-edged 'And Your Bird Can Sing' and helpless 'Nowhere Man', but the cover still has the means to shock now, so goodness knows why Capitol ever thought it was a good idea (did they even see it before 'borrowing' it for the cover?!)

Simon and Garfunkel "Wednesday Morning 5 AM" (1965)

Less of a change, but still controversial, comes from the first Simon and Garfunkel album, which was quite a flop on its release in 1965. If you've ever wondered why this album comes with such BIG graphics naming the duo and album (back in the days when neither were well known) that's because the full photograph of Simon and Garfunkel standing in front of a dirty tube station contains a rather too graphic obscene instruction on the wall. Legend has it the photographer didn't notice it when he belww up the pitcure and sent it off for use as an album cover but record company Columbia noticed and flipped. Figuring it was too late to ask for another cover, they simply cropped the cover, leaving S+G as dwarfs on their own sleeve. Paul Simon was tickled at the censorship and wrote his 1967 song 'A Poem On The Underground Wall' about the incident, reflecting on just the sort of person who leaves messages on subway stations.

The Rolling Stones "Can You Walk On The Water?" (1966)

For years it was assumed that this album - the first version of what would become the first Stones greatest hits record 'High Tide, Green Grass' - was just another piece of manager Andrew Loog Oldham's commercial nous, trying to get the publicity from stirring up controversy without actually having to go the whole hog. In the 1990s, though, proofs came to light that featured the Stones physically walking on water, a la Jesus (although they were actually walking along a conveniently placed plank). With the Stones already under huge pressure to conform from the Southern American States, this was a step too far for record label Decca, who absolutely refused to let such a 'blasphemous' title past. As with most obstacles the Stones encountered in the 60s, most people probably wouldn't bat an eyelid today and it would have made for an interesting title to go along with a string of faintly controversial singles.

The Monkees "Headquarters" (1967)

As regular fans of this site and this band will know, 'Headquarters' was the moment when The Monkees crossed over the divide between fact and fiction and became a 'real' band, not just some stars from a TV series miming to other people's playing. In keeping with the all-our-own-stuff vibe of the album, the Monkees planned to make their own arty cover for the record. They'd been inspired by Micky Dolenz bringing in a collection of paints one day and getting all four Monkees to 'draw' on the panel that separated the recording studio equipment from the musicians. The band got really into their artwork and made some very psychedelic designs and even got record company Colgems to accept their 'masterpiece' as the album cover. Unfortunately, no one told the cleaner who worked at the studio where the Monkees were working and she simply cleaned the whole glass panel before a professional photographer could come in and take a picture of it. Luckily a few 'home-made' snaps were taken, though frustratingly not of the whole cover, but we at least know what part of it looked like - the result is part gifted amateur, part genius, all Monkees (some pictures were included in the booklet for the excellent 1990s re-issue of 'headquarters' on Rhino). It would have made for an even less commercial album, probably, but would have fitted the album contents better than the rather forced 'holding hands' shot that graced the final album cover.

The Rolling Stones "Beggar's Banquet" (1968)

More Stones controversy for our list, this time for something so deeply uncontroversial to modern audiences you wonder why it was ever rejected. The original cover for one of the Stones' greatest albums had the contents for the album (along with a bit of other graffiti) scrawled over a toilet wall. Decca figured that fans would be 'offended' to have a toilet wall in their record collection and pulled the cover in favour of a very boring mock-party invite that didn't have half the frisson of danger all Stones covers should possess (although the naked girl scribbled on the wall on the back cover was pushing it for the times, even for the Stones). Thankfully sense has prevailed and every CD re-issue of the album since 2002 has restored the original cover. Sadly the Stones weren't the ones to write on the toilet wall, but whichever poor art designer had to write all the remarks on seems to have caught their spirit well: if you own for a copy look out for references to Bob Dylan, pianist Nicky Hopkins and the very Stonesy' wot - no paper?!'

The Beatles "Everest" aka "Abbey Road" (1969)

The Beatles knew that 'Abbey Road' was going to be their last album more likely than not and wanted to go out with a bang. At first, this included not just the cover but the contents. Stuck for a name everyone could agree on, George Harrison came up with 'Everest' based on the brand of cigarettes engineer Geoff Emerick was always smoking during their recordings. Liking the idea of the band leaving at their 'peak', the band toyed with the idea of being flown out to Everest by helicopter (or at the very least a suitable looking alternative). When it came to it, though, the band were simply too tired and grumpy to go to such great lengths anymore and decided to stay local, doing a 'Let It Be Rooftop' and taking their cover snap literally on their doorstep at the crossing into Abbey Road. A shame, as a snowy Beatles might have been just as iconic! Intriguing footnote: Paul McCartney remembered the trick when asked to come up with a cover idea for 'Wings Greatest' - with the band in disarray after one of many splits, he got a suitably mystical figure that had sat on the Mccartneys windowsill for years flown out to a mountain at vast expense, although as all the viewer can see on the cover is a figure surrounded by snow and ice the result isn't as impressive as it should have been!

Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon" (1973)

There was never any doubt in Pink Floyd's mind what their album cover should be - they spent a grand total of 30 seconds perusing artist Storm Thorgerson's many ideas before exclaiming 'that one' in unison and walking back to finish the album (about the only thing they did all agree on in 1973!) Storm, however, was far from convinced about what direction to go into on album Roger Waters had loosely told was about 'life, death, madness, greed, religion and death' or words to that effect. He'd made at least 20 different ideas, all of them sketched loosely so he could work on them later (including the one for 'Dark Side' the band wouldn't let him change - that's why 'Indigo' is missing from the prism and why the line of light doesn't exactly correspond with what would happen if you did the experiment 'properly'). You can see some of these 'outtakes' on the Floyd's next release, a re-issue of their first two albums 'Piper At The Gates Of dawn' and 'A Saucerful Of Secrets' under the collective title 'A Nice Pair', including light being refracted by a pair of spectacles, a giant fork balancing in the middle of a road (boom! boom!), a kettle of fish and an eerie phantom floating above a road with her head missing (an idea returned to for 'Wish You Were Here'). Frankly, the Floyd got it right - none of these other album covers can compare and its a surprise that someone as confident as Storm didn't see it from the first, but nevertheless its a surprise that more of these ideas weren't revisited as many of them are too good to be thrown away on a re-issue hardly anyone bought.

Pink Floyd "Animals" (1977)

Sticking with the Floyd, Storm's book 'Mind Over Matter' reveals quite a few alternate artworks that never quite happened. The one that's most different is the one for 'Animals', that was famously replaced by Roger Waters' own idea of a flying pig drifting over Battersea Power Station. Unusually Storm tried an illustrated cover of a small boy walking in on his parents having sex and drawing the listener towards the 'animal' instincts of humans in quite a different way to the music. Roger reportedly wanted an album cover with more 'hope' which was when his flying pig was born.

George Harrison "Somewhere In England" (1981)

We've already dealt with this album cover on news, views and music 194; to reiterate replacing the brilliant cover of a swirly illustrated George made out of darkness with a bland picture of George standing in front of what appears to be an anonymous road (before the back cover pulls away to reveal he's in an art gallery) is sheer madness. Apparently EMI didn't like the cover because George 'wasn't smiling' - by contrast his 'happy-with-this-suckers? fake grin on the 'finished' album cover probably put off more fans than a serious-but-serene George would ever have done. Utter stupidity, even though the second cover is quite clever too (you assume from the front George is somewhere low brow - and on the back he reveals he's somewhere 'high brow', which is actually pretty fitting for this mixed up album of material and spiritual matters).

Grateful Dead "In The Dark" (1987)

We end with an album cover that wasn't actually that different to the finished cover. However, the first attempt at capturing the band's eyes shining 'in the dark' was apparently 'too scary' (and relegated to the inside sleeve); a jumble of the band member's eyes all stuck together to create one massive huge one. The record company were still upset with the 'finished' vinyl cover, though which does seem to emphasise the band members' many and varied bushy eyebrows, so for every CD re-release the main cover photograph has been turned upside down, making the contents marginally less scary (unless you turn the sleeve upside down!)
Right, that's all from us for now - we'll be back with more albums and covers as finished next time around with more news, views and music. See you there!

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

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225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

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227) Top ten AAA drummers

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229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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