When Easy Listening achieves transcendence.
In case you don’t know (the type is tiny) this is the gorgeous cover of Astrud Gilberto’s 1969 album I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, and if the job of a sleeve is to convey what an album sounds like then this does the job beautifully — it’s so evocative you can hear the record in your mind just by looking at the photo: low-key, intimate, and sad. You almost don’t even need to listen to the record, but that would be silly because it’s wonderful, what Astrud called “my fireplace album.”
Download: I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do – Astrud Gilberto (mp3)
The staring-at-the-camera pose is often used for emotionally-vulnerable albums like this, Phil Collins did it too but he isn’t as pretty as Astrud Gilberto and having a face like hers really helps with a sleeve like this. I imagine the designer didn’t want any type on it at all but the label insisted so he did it as small as he could get away with. A lot of the skill in being a designer is knowing what not to do, or doing nothing but hire the right photographer.
The “right” photographer in this case was Joel Brodsky who shot several very famous record sleeves including Astral Weeks, Kick Out The Jams, and The Doors, (plus that iconic portrait of Jim Morrison) so he has a hell of a portfolio, but his lesser-known work also includes another of my favourite sleeves:
This is another very evocative photo that tells a story but I’ve always had trouble figuring out exactly what it is. Her nakedness and cigarette suggest this is post-sex, but she also looks very pensive and lonely curled up on her own like that. Whatever’s going on, it’s a beautiful photo and her coffee-coloured skin and au naturel state are perfect for Callier’s laid-back, Jazzy-Folky Soul.
Download: Just As Long As We’re In Love – Terry Callier (mp3)
The furthest abroad my mother ever got was to the Channel Islands on a family holiday in the 1960s, and later in life it was impossible to get her to step outside of West London, let alone England. But she had so many groovy sun n’ samba records like this I like to think that when she listened to them she dreamed of exotic locations, sandy beaches, the warm sun, and tanned hunks handing her chilled cocktails. But then it was back to the two kids and the council flat.
I’m not so contrarian that I’m going to claim this is better than The Beatles’ original, but this is the first version I knew so it always sounds to me like it’s the Fab Four who are doing the cover.
Download: The Fool On The Hill – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (mp3)
I’ve used up all the adjectives like “chilled-out” and “trippy” on the previous two records plucked from the 12″ single box but they could apply to this one as well. “Talking With Myself” was originally released in 1988 and this Frankie Knuckles remix from 1990 adds a Deep House undertow to the sublime electronic soul of the original.
Like the Soul Family Sensation record posted previously this was remixed and re-released a few times in an attempt to get it in the charts though, unlike SFS, it did became a minor hit. Electribe 101 didn’t last very long though and broke up in 1992 after just the one album.
Recorded from vinyl so excuse the snap, crackle, and pops at the beginning.
Download: Talking With Myself (Frankie Knuckles Mix) – Electribe 101 (mp3)
My grandparents were big James Last fans, no idea what they would have made of this though.
“Lovely” is the word that comes to mind watching this.
At the moment life seems to be a constant stream of things that need doing or worrying about: Kids starting new schools, house painting, deadlines to meet, career decisions to make, what to have for tea. I’ll be glad when this summer is over and life can get boring and routine again.
This sublime performance by the Capital Children’s Choir from London really helps with the stress levels though. If this doesn’t soothe your savage breast you might need to see a doctor.
Van the Man has charms to soothe the savage breast.