Banned album art is a fascinating topic. I also find it interesting to discover all the record label politics, reissued images, and economic repercussions of the collector community.
Case in point: David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album sleeve, painted by Belgian artist Guy Peelleart. The label RCA nixed the one with the… um… anatomically correct body part. These old finds are worth a pretty penny. Beware of phonies selling you the Rykodisc 1990 reissue with the old art, which can generally go for a few hundred dollars. The real old school vinyls and original pressings are worth approximately $10,000. Be mindful if you’re dropping lots of money on one of these.
As a little girl, I always liked the notion of a Roxy girl. It was always along the lines of something very “Helmut Newtony” — with sleek women, not your typical models, but bold, and forward. The origin of this album art is a tale of urban folklore… the story being that Bryan Ferry met these two models, Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald, in Portugal, and asked them to pose for the cover shoot. The record label changed their mind and reprinted the boring plant tree cover to put the fire out. Of course these originals are available because the lingerie pressings were sold in other countries. America was the boring conservative country that sold the “foliage” version.
What can I say about the chopped up babies cover? I know I know. What were they thinking? It was so absurd, but it was also so wacky and cartoony that the controversy seemed silly. This one is the holy grail of collecting “banned art” covers.
Capitol Records printed 750,000 copies of these sleeves, also referred to the “Butcher Baby” cover. Once people started freaking out, they quickly recalled the records. Instead of destroying all the records, Capital created a sticker image of the Beatles sitting around a trunk thinking they were being all smart and coy. The smart ones were really the fans that caught on, and began discovering the peel … and so an entire cottage industry was spawned with Beatles fans peeling the trunk photo off with the joy of finding the secretly dangerous image lurking below. Because of this, collectors began subcategorizing the records — “First State” (original uncovered version), “Second State” (paste-over version) and “Third State” (peeled) copies. The most valuable being a “First State” copy that is factory seeled. If you discover you own a “paste-over” record in your dads record collection, DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT unpeel it. This state is considered practically extinct.
Today, these Butcher Baby “first states” are worth a few thousand bucks. Funny part of the story is that Peter Livingston (who’s father was President of Capitol Records at the time of the recall) snagged some of the copies for himself. To collectors, these coveted editions are known as the “Livingston copies”.
Not much to write about in terms of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland fold out cover. Jimi was just naughty, and he had a harem to prove it. Tragically, he died only 2 years after he released Electric Ladyland. This is probably one of the all time classic images of the 60′s. The “do-over” cover was the trippy image you see below. Personally, I feel like this is a smart-ass response to the previous cover since it appears like Jimi is in “the act”…. wink wink. Then again, his music brought him that exact joy, and his guitar (which he was probably holding in the second photo) was probably the most loyal and inspirational woman of all.
The list of art goes on and on. If you want to see more, go to wikipedia’s offiicial list of controversial album art.