Cover Stories with Paul Morris, Vol. 4

January 24th, 2014


Paul Morris is a graphic designer and writer who collects album art of the 1940’s and 1950’s. He finds his examples of influential mid-century design in the used record stores of Portland, Oregon.

In this edition, Paul invites readers to revisit the 1950s with images of fans holding and enjoying their albums.

 

 

 

 

__________

 

 

 

 

All vinyl lovers are invited to revisit the 1950’s, when LPs took over the music market. Covers of the day often portrayed fans who had made albums part of their lives.

      I can really identify with this Ray Eberle cover, not because of the sedate party mood, but because the basement rec room is decorated with album covers. My own basement TV room is similarly decorated, though I have room for only six at a time. The mid-century suspended lights are great.

paul-jan-1

__________

 
  

   “Hits by Hibbler” shows shoppers in a record store in about 1959. Somehow they don’t seem like Al Hibbler’s target audience, but who knows? Hibbler was Duke Ellington’s vocalist for eight years in the 1940s, and in the 1950s had a few hits. The seated man is in the listening booth, well decorated with albums. As this was a Decca record, the records on display all seem to be Deccas.

paul-jan-2

__________

  

   Here the Ames Brothers are happy to see that their new album contains a song book with all the lyrics. Through the magic of the darkroom they’re looking at the photo of them looking at the album…The photographer, Wendy Hilty, was a male commercial photographer who died in 1978.

paul-jan-3

__________

 

     The Four Freshmen’s dressing room is adorned with albums, by the Freshmen, natch. The upper-right record, “The Four Freshmen and Five Trombones,” was chosen for the cover of a coffee-table book of jazz album art.

paul-jan-4

__________

 

     Having Thelonious Monk, Henry Miller, and Jelly Roll Morton in the front row makes this extravaganza on the beach irresistible. There are numerous jazz classics and obscurities to be found in the assemblage. Paul Weller was the photographer and Paul Bacon the designer. Having enjoyed this photo for a time, you may ask, as I did, “Aren’t they going to get sand in the albums?”

paul-jan-5

_________

       This brings me to the other side of albums on album covers: people are neglecting, even trashing their records! I’ll pause for a moment to recall how the inner sleeves of LPs used to instruct us in record care. As a young record owner in the 1960’s I was no audiophile, but I took seriously the admonitions such as the ones below from Columbia. Don’t touch the grooves, buckle the record jacket, wipe with a soft, slightly damp cloth, keep in protective envelope when not in use, etc. (Actually I didn’t do the damp cloth routine.)

paul-jan-6

__________

  

   But while the sound engineers were preaching record care, the photographers were going wild in the studios. The listener lounging on red velvet in this photo is eating jelly beans while browsing her extensive Stanley Black collection, plus two records are out of their jackets! The nice hi-fi set with three-band radio gets a credit: “Essex Phonograph by London.”

paul-jan-7

__________

      This married lady should know you don’t use a record as a pillow. Her partner is pouring a nightcap of Budweiser as she smokes and lounges on a shag rug next to the portable record player. The label on the front shows the record was once owned by a guy in Brookings, South Dakota, and on the back is evidence that he may have had Sammy Kaye sign it for someone named Betty.

paul-jan-8

paul-jan-9

__________

  

   These two have been launched into a vinyl fantasy by the music of Edmundo Ros, though they’re keeping their records in their jackets. The record player they imagine tromping on is credited: “Turntable and Pick-up by Fairchild.”

paul-jan-10

 

__________

  

   It’s an album orgy! The photographer was seriously into vinyl, I’d say, but the happy young fellow is putting his foot on a record. His friend doesn’t care, as she smiles and touches the grooves of several Capitol albums. The songs are all hits of 1960.

paul-jan-11

__________

      And here Ralph Marterie is surrounded by levitating Mercury 45s. According to the liner notes, Marterie’s “exciting, swinging instrumental sounds” brought about “a rediscovery of the ballroom floor as a great place for recreation.”

paul-jan-12

__________

Vinyl is coming back to the music scene, but we won’t see album art like this on today’s records.

Next time: the art of Alex Steinweiss/Piedra Blanca.

___

In Volume 1 of “Cover Stories,” Paul shared his collection of covers by Alex Steinweiss, known as the father of the record album cover, and for many years in charge of Columbia Records’ art department.

Volume 2 focused on Columbia covers

Volume 3 featured jazz illustrations from the early years of the record album

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 22 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Stephan Crump, Brittany Anjou, Julian Lage, Joey DeFrancesco and Antonio Sanchez

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

The Joys of Jazz

In new podcasts, Bob Hecht tells three stories; one about Miles Davis’ use of space in his music, one on the mutual admiration society of Sinatra, Lady Day, and Lester Young, and the other about the train in jazz and blues music.

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Ida B. Wells” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #126

In 1964, along with the orchestra of arranger Lalo Schifrin (pictured), this flutist/alto sax player recorded one of the first “Jazz Masses,” and soon after studied transcendental meditation in India. He would eventually become well known as a composer of music for meditation. Who is he?

Great Encounters

Dexter Gordon tells the story of joining Louis Armstrong’s band in 1944, and how they enjoyed their intermission time.

Art

In this edition of Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light,” photographs of Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are featured.

Short Fiction

"Strings of Solace," a short story by Kimberly Parish Davis

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Coming Soon

National Book Award winning author for non-fiction Jeffrey Stewart is interviewed about his book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

In the previous issue

The question “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?” was posed via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people, and the responses of Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who participated...Also, the publication of the winning story in our 50th Short Fiction contest; an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; a collection of jazz poetry; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; the March edition of "On the Turntable," and lots more...Click here to be taken to the issue.

Contributing writers

Site Archive