When we ran our picks for our most memorable Science Fiction and Fantasy album covers last week, we asked for your picks too. Then we sent the word out to some of the luminarias in San Antonio’s SF/F community. We’ve got more great suggestions from Voodoo Daddy Mistah Pete, Jeff from Hyperbubble, Sci-Fi Writer Scott A. Cupp, Geek-Speaker-in-Chief Rene Guzman and Goofa Man Mike Fisher. Consider this our Missions Unknown Christmas present to you as we unwrap part two…
MISTAH PETE BARNSTROM – Left Foot Red Productions
Album title: MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION
Cover artist: Unknown
It’s got a truly silly flying saucer on the cover, along with stack heel boots and a Jiffy-Pop taint, and that’s just about everything you need to know about P-Funk, isn’t it? Really, they deserve inclusion on this list not so much for their album art as for their dedication to geek ideals. This is the rump-bumpin’ scifi concept album to end all rump-bumpin’ scifi concept albums.
Album title: THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS
Band: Thomas Dolby
Cover artist: Unknown
If all the Thomas Dolby you know is his campy (and spectacularly popular) radio single “She Blinded Me With Science,” you don’t know Thomas Dolby. This album not only has a beauty pulp-inspired cover, but some really thoughtful, contemplative songs (most of which are nothing like single), many of them rocking the same sort of steam-punk aesthetic as the cover.
Album title: MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
Band: The Beatles
Cover artist: Unknown
Okay, not their best album, maybe not even a good album. I know I wouldn’t listen to “Fool On The Hill” again without a gun to my head. But the cover not only launched a million furry fantasies (spoiler alert: the Walrus was Paul), the 24-page booklet was more fun than just about anything they did since A Hard Day’s Night. I hear there’s a movie version of this, but I’ve never seen it.
JEFF FROM HYPERBUBBLE
Album title: JAM ON REVENGE
Cover artist: Bob Camp
Jam on Revenge by Newcleus is a masterpiece of space age b-boy electro-booty filled with cosmic synth wooshes, robot voices, and lots and lots of lyrics about space. One listen, and any fan of Zapp or The Jonzun Crew is sold. But around the time of the album’s release, as a clueless kid picking through the stock of shrinkwrapped goodies at the Sound Warehouse, all I had to go by was the comic book cover art by Bob Camp, which featured a spaceship AND a dragon. Judging a book ( or in this case, a record ) by it’s cover paid off. Spinning the album for the billionth time today, my theory that basically any album with a spaceship on the cover is worth buying, is again confirmed. Other fave spaceship covers include the first two Boston albums, Hijack by Ammon Dull II, just about everything by Parliament/Funkadelic and ELO’s spectacular Out of the Blue gatefold sleeve.
Album title: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Band: Giorgio Moroder
Cover artist: CW Taylor
Thanks to Disco and the first Star Wars movie kinda happening around the same time, the world was treated to countless album jackets featuring airbrushed robo-vixens. Meco probably made the biggest commercial splashdown with his Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk album, and while it’s cover art is pretty swell, Giorgio Moroder’s Battlestar Galactica clone wins the prize for pure tacky absurdity. A sexy space babe pouts for help on her telecom. The nature of the distress may well be her outfit. The woman, possibly a fembot of some sort, is crawling on her hands and knees, most likely because her electrically wired titanium thong makes it impossible for her to stand up or sit down. The same rule applies here. If the album cover features a robot or an alien girl, or a mannequin for that matter, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time. Other robo-disco masterworks include the first two Munich Machine album covers, Mouth to Mouth by Lipps Inc, Computer Games by Mi-Sex, Sigue-Sigue Sputnik’s Flaunt It (which is packaged as a Japanese robot toy) The Man-Machine by Kraftwerk, and the debut by Bionic Boogie.
Album title: ATTAHK
Cover artist: H.R. Giger
Man, what a rad cover. Every bit as intense as the apocalyptic prog-opera on the record inside. I’m not the world’s biggest HR Giger fan (I prefer Barney Bubbles) , but you gotta love those saftety-pin mirror shades as well as the one-point perspective architecture disappearing into the heavens. Giger’s cover art for Floh de Colgne’s album Mumien is equally raw and punk looking, and the one he did for Celtic Frost, equally silly. Of course, who can forget Debbie Harry’s skewered face on Giger’s rather disturbing cover art for her Koo Koo album? Michel Langevin seemed to be influenced by Giger. I love the raw high-school book-cover doodles-turned-rugged paintings he did for Voivod’s War and Pain, Dimension Hatross, and RRROOOAAARRR! jackets. Damon Edge should also get a mention here in the apocalypse department for the acidic cut-and-paste UFO zombie art he did for the Chrome albums.
RENE A. GUZMAN - Geek Speak
ALBUM: THE TROOPER
BAND: Iron Maiden
ARTIST: Derek Riggs
Of all the depictions of Iron Maiden’s zombie-like mascot, few compare to Eddie on the cover of the 1983 single The Trooper. Eddie creator Derek Riggs planted the bony dude in a smoking battlefield with a bloody sword in one hand and a tattered Union Jack in the other – appropriate enough considering the British metal troupe based their pulse-pounding hit on the Battle of Balaclava and Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade. Throw in a dead soldier or two and the Grim Reaper lurking in the background and you have a dynamic, daresay inspiring work of historical horror.
ALBUM: BRAIN SALAD SURGERY
BAND: Emerson Lake & Palmer
ARTIST: H.R. Giger
Known for his insectile Alien design and generally ashen, biomechanical stuff of nightmare, Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger gave the progressive rockers a haunting album cover that, like so much of Giger’s work, is as macabre as it is mesmerizing. The art for ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery is really two dark sf/fantasy paintings in one – the cover is the top half of a skull on what looks like an industrial door that literally opens to reveal a corpselike muse behind it. The closest you’d ever want to get to a ghost in the machine.
ARTIST: Ken Kelly
I’ve always loved Kiss’ Destroyer for how it bridges the gap between the face-painted foursome’s early straightforward rock ‘n’ roll sound and the D&D rock opera they would become. With the cover art for Destroyer, fantasy artist and Frank Frazetta protégé Ken Kelly dialed back the swords and sorcery enough to depict Paul Stanley & Co. as four earthbound rock gods rising amongst the flaming ruins of men. Which is truly the stuff of engaging fantasy art. Even with the face-paint.
MIKE FISHER - Goofa Man Productions
Album title: RELAYER
Cover artist: Roger Dean
Well, picking a Roger Dean cover from a Yes album is an easy pick and that’s what I’m going to do! You really could select any cover he did for the group, but my favorite is his work on Relayer, because of the cool towering structures (Made of wood? stone? ivory?) and the unusual color palette. Plus he put the badass hippie horsemen in the picture for scale. And… BONUS!… when you turned the album over, the illustration was continued with an awesome close up of a snake! The music inside is good, too.
Album title: IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING
Band: King Crimson
Cover artist: Barry Godber
Once you saw the cover and heard the songs, it was etched into your mind forever. This was the Schizoid Man with his grotesque face and never ending ear lobe. The album was their most successful and most accessible with Greg Lake providing vocals before running off to join Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The songs by Pete Sinfield were trippy which further enhanced the image. According to Robert Fripp and Wikipedia, this was Godber’s only painting and he died shortly after the album was released.
Album title: OSIBISA
Cover artist: Roger Dean
My friend Guy Plunkett mentioned these in his comments to the earlier post and I have to agree. For me, the early 70′s are best exemplified by Roger Dean either through the two covers he did for Osibisa (this and Woyaya) or his early work for Yes , particularly in YesSongs with its fabulous foldout paintings or Tales from Topographic Oceans, a wonderfully psychedelic title to an equally odd album. Osibisa did an African jazz mix that was a stylized as the little flying elephants on a rampage.
Album title: TALES OF THE GREAT RUM RUNNERS
Band: Robert Hunter
Cover artist: Rick Griffin
Coming out of the underground scene of California Rick Griffin, along with Mouse and Kelley, helped warp my sense of record art in a variety of ways. The Grateful Dead covers began to get more twisted and wonderful, but this piece by Griffin really caught me. It might be more historic than Fantastic but Pirates, for me, are always a fantasy image so I’m including it. And the album accompanying it was wonderful. Hunter was a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and, except for Hunter’s vocals, this is a Dead album. All the members play and sing to songs written by their primary lyricist, Highly entertaining.