A Tribute to Rock Art
Don't you like that? It's an evolutionary experience here at BRP.
My man Jonathan is as big a Tedeschi Trucks Band fan as you are ever going to meet. I like them, too, but hadn’t been to a TTB show until Jonathan invited me. Now, I think I’ve seen them 4 times, and 3 of those shows were with Jonathan. But my experiences are just a drop in the bucket compared to what Jonathan has seen. If they are playing 4 nights at the Warner in DC or 4 nights at the Beacon in NY, he buys tickets to ALL the shows. It’s not quite a Deadhead thing (Jonathan, after all, takes personal hygiene seriously and TTB plays good songs), but it’s pretty obsessive in its own way.
But he comes by this honestly – his brother was a big Allman Brothers Band fan (who, in their right mind, isn’t?), and he instilled the love of ABB in Jonathan, too. TTB is sort of the successor to the now-defunct ABB for southern blues-rock played live by a top-notch group of musicians. I get it. And it’s a personal tribute to Jonathan’s brother: that link forges a spiritual connection that is important and oftentimes overlooked as an inspiration to human actions.
A rock obsession is nothing new. I get them all the time. But here’s the cool thing that Jonathan is doing that is also worth writing about. He started collecting ABB and TTB concert posters from the shows that he attends (and gets the autographed ones that cost real money), and then frames them and hangs them in his office. TTB gets great graphic artists to do their posters, and they have this fantastic psychedelic feel to them that conjures up great lithography from the past. You know, modern day guys and gals in the graphic artist tradition of Toulouse-Latrec or Mucha, but they carry it forward in a new way. Anyway, Jonathan has a bunch of these posters now, and sent me a series of photos documenting his growing collection. I thought they were cool, and decided to share them with the BRP family. Let’s take a look:
It’s only a super-fan that gets all of these posters. And it’s a monster fan that gets them framed and puts them up in his office. Which, of course, means that Jonathan is a monster, haha. Seriously, he is a good guy and has a great eye for picking posters that are both individually meaningful as reminders of shows gone past, but also that have visual appeal that allow you to stare at them for hours when you are supposed to be working, thus sticking it to The Man in a new and different way. Nostalgia and revenge, all in one piece of art!
You know what these do to me? They make me lament the days of album cover art. Sure, some artists still put out vinyl, but it ain’t like the old days when vinyl ruled the world. Most artists long ago moved on to CDs and now to digital streaming. Neither are conducive to great cover art. It’s a missed genre for me and my generation. And those fold-out albums also allowed you to clean your dime bag in a ritualistic fashion that mesmerized everyone watching. A bygone era, alas.
I have some great albums with interesting cover art. How about this classic, which sported the first fold-out record album in US history:
Yeah, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which I bought (my very first album) in 1968, has a super cover. Who are all those people? Why did they choose them? I’m sure someone has answered these questions, but that’s too much work for your humble rock blogger, so I’ll just ask them and move on. Oh, and the Beatles also took the opportunity to insult their biggest rival, the Stones, right on the cover. The Stones were always one step behind if you ask me. I like the Stones, but the world’s greatest rock ‘n roll band? Please. Anyway, Sgt. Pepper’s Is one of my favorite covers of all time, something that you could stare at for hours after self-medicating.
Jimi Hendrix gets a ton of credit for his Axis: Bold as Love cover. It is very cool and inspired a lot of subsequent cover art. Here’s my beat up version from my record collection:
There are many others, less iconic but still worthy in their own right. A couple of favorites from my collection are the following ones – see if you can identify each of them and then try to figure out why I think they are on the highlight reel:
Another great thing about albums was that they often came with the lyrics printed on them (or in a sleeve insert). So instead of just guessing what the band was singing, you could actually know the words from the start. Try to decipher words in songs like the Kingsman’s Louie Louie or the Hollies’ Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress and you’ll understand why this was a coveted relic. Sure, now you can simply go to the internet and ask Lyrically.com for the song lyrics, but then the next thing you know you are getting offers to purchase said song alongside your other internet searches. Doesn’t that kind of creep you out? I just read where Google lets app developers read through your emails on gmail.com to target ads at you (and god knows what else), which explains why I keep getting offers to “stick it to The Man,”
But I’m not a Luddite, and I do recognize that things change and often for the better. I wouldn’t want to live in any other era as this one is just so far superior to all that have come before it, not just in material conveniences, but also in freedom and equality. We need to keep defending that, and now it’s not just governments but empires like Google and Facebook that are big threats. But back to music: during the 70s and 80s, I hated having to do the whole DiscWasher thing with my records prior to playing them, or having to get up after about 20 minutes and flip the record over to keep hearing music. Worse still was the annoying scratch or the heavy-footed roommate who plodded along and made your needle skip during your favorite guitar solo. Grrrr. But the album cover visuals that were created by young, talented and clearly stoned artists was nice to behold, and it’s a worse situation for the world to have lost that.
Which brings me back full circle to Jonathan. He has found a way to bridge the technology gap and to continue to support the rock visual art world through his poster collection. BRP salutes the effort.
Want a preview of coming attractions? No trailers here, but I’ve got a rock ‘n roll road trip to tell you about. Yeah, I am venturing back to one of rock’s great live music cities, Austin, Texas, to gorge on the best of the city, from live music to Tex-Mex and BBQ. Sure, it will be hot as hell, but I like the heat and there is something about hot nights and rock that just blends perfectly. I also have a few tidbits from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (one of the country’s great art museums, particularly if you like John Singer Sargent, a BRP fave), the long-overdue motorcycle picture collection, the record player picture collection, a Philly fringe festival review, the long-awaited Jean Shin: Collections review, and my “do not play” list of party songs that will keep you on the straight and narrow. Whew, that’s a lot, and just typing that made me tired. But I love doing this and I love the fact that you come back and read my musings. You keep on rockin’, enjoy sweet summer, and remember that you always have a home here at BRP. Love you, rockers!
7/7/2018 09:04:44 pm
I’m Jonathan’s sister. He sent me the link to your blog. Nicely done and he is a monster but the nice kind like Sully in Monsters’ Inc. (well, really more like Wazowski but I digress).
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.