Thursday, October 2, 2008

Album Cover Art Story- Pink Floyd

I want to thank Michael Goldstein from for allowing me the exclusive reprint rights to his amazing album cover art stories

Cover Story – Pink Floyd's "Piper at the Gates of Dawn", cover by Vic Singh

Subject – Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn - a 1967 release on Columbia Records (distributed in the U.S. by Capitol Records), with cover photography by Vic Singh.

2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the world’s introduction to the recorded music of Pink Floyd. Clubgoers in London had been treated to the band’s psychedelic blues and instrumentals - with 20 minute jams of “Interstellar Overdrive” and ground-breaking lightshows the highlights of a typical concert event – but it was their first singles, “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”, released early in 1967, that introduced the song-writing capabilities of Syd Barrett to a wider listening audience. The singles had done pretty respectably in the U.K. charts and the band was keen on trying out new technologies in the studio. As it was that Barrett – the chief songwriter and singer – was also quite fond of LSD, it only made sense that their first full-length effort, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (whose title was adapted from a chapter in a fondly-remembered book – The Wind in the Willows – from Barrett’s childhood), would both employ these new technologies to craft songs and experimental musical tracks and also be altered by drugs to the point that they were considered “spacey” and “hallucinogenic” in nature.

While the record was a hit in the U.K. at the time (hitting #6 on their album charts), the record did not fare well here in the U.S. until it was re-released in the 70s, after the band’s popularity had soared due to the popularity of their subsequent albums and their touring with other psychedelic stars of the day - including Jimi Hendrix – and their appearances at many music festivals. Of course, Floyd fans are all aware of Syd Barrett’s rapid and disturbing slide into sickness – both mental and physical – that ultimately lead to his ouster from the band in 1968. After his departure and guitarist David Gilmour’s joining the band, Roger Waters took on the role of the creative lead and the band would go on to create a roster of rock classics, selling over 250 million records (!) world-wide. It wasn’t until many years later that rock critics and fans would revisit the band’s debut album and explore its many intricacies, with most fans and critics now in agreement that it deserves consideration as on of the most-important and influential psychedelic recordings of the rock era.

Pink Floyd has also been associated with a number of the best-known artists and illustrators throughout the years, including Storm Thorgerson/Hipgnosis (who created covers for Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and many others) and Gerald Scarfe (creator of the amazing imagery used for The Wall’s packaging and stage show). After they had reached a certain degree of fame (i.e., right after their first album), they did not appear on the cover of any other album, but in 1967, it was an “industry standard” to feature a photograph of the recording artist on the cover, and so London photographer Vic Singh has the distinction of having shot the image that turned out to be the only one that featured the band – and that featured the soon-to-be-sacked Syd Barrett. Vic, too, was interested in creating something unusual (and “psychedelic”) for this commission, and the result was an image that represented the “vibe” of the time exceptionally well. The “making of” this image is the topic of today’s groovy and gear fab Cover Story, so enjoy, you dig?

In the words of the photographer, Vic Singh (interviewed in September, 2007) –

In the mid-1960’s, I was a young established photographer and a member of the 60's swinging “in-crowd”. I first met the Pink Floyd at an event - or happening as it was called in those days -under the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus in London. They were a new, unknown band and we all chatted for a while. They looked trippy and said they were making their first record album.

A few weeks after our meeting at Piccadilly, their manager (I can’t remember who called, but it was probably either Peter Jenner or Andrew King) rang me at my studio and asked me if I would like to shoot the album cover for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I agreed, and we fixed a date for a one day shoot in my studio. At that time, The Pink Floyd were a new band unsigned to any record label, and so there was no art director. I asked their manager if he or the band had any ideas for the album cover, the answer was “no”, and so it was left up to me to come up with ideas. I don't know if the band had seen any of my work, and since I was not given much to work with visually, the inspiration would need to come from the music and the band’s image.

The band was psychedelic and their music was surreal and alien compared to other popular music of the time, so it needed a far-out image. Having to work with a small production budget (Colour labs for special effects were mega-expensive, and there was no technology like today), I decided to use a prism lens which George Harrison had given me because he could not find a use for it and I had not used it up till then, so it seemed like the perfect solution. All I had to do was screw it on my Hasselblad camera lens and the creative special effect would go straight on to the film.

The photo shoot was in my studio and was shot on a white background with flat, even electronic strobe lighting (i.e., a studio flash). I used my Hasselblad with an 80-mm lens and 2 1/4 square Kodak Ektachrome Daylight type film. As I had decided to shoot with the prism lens - which multiplied and softened some of the images - I also asked the band to bring colorful psychedelic clothes (fashionable at the time) which would stand out and provide us with more contrast as the prism lens tended to soften and loose contrast as it split the image. I don't know how long it took the band to get the clothes together, but they arrived at the studio in the morning, put the coffee pot on, and sat around the studio chatting. There was a lot to chat about as London was buzzing - it was a time of love and peace.

Finally, we decided to get on with the photos and the boys went to the changing room and started trying on the clothes. I first started with some test Polaroid shots, positioning them on the white background, which was a bit tricky as the prism lens multiplied each figure - they all overlapped each other! - so I had to get the figures positioned right or the whole thing looked like a mess. Syd got especially interested at this point and was quite intense, changing outfits and the positions of the band on the background and shooting tests on the Polaroid film with me.

< - Alternate takes from the session

When it was time for a lunch break, my assistant arrived with sandwiches, a couple bottles of Scotch and some joints - all quite enjoyable. After lunch, we put on some Piper music. I had a rather loud stereo system and the Piper sounds could be heard all the way down the street. With the music blasting away, we got into the session, shooting quite a few reels of film and finishing up around 6:00 PM. We had the films processed the next day and I delivered the photos the day after.

They loved the photos and Syd got inspired to create the back of the album cover. It had been a beautiful day – as had the day before the shoot and the day after – I attribute it to Flower Power!

About the photographer, Vic Singh –

Vic was born in Lucknow, India, his father a son of Raja of Kalakankar, situated on the banks of The Ganges in northern India and his mother a daughter of a well-known Austrian society photographer in Vienna. He was sent to St. Christopher’s College in Letchworth, Hertfordshire as a young child and his mother decided to move to London.

In his teens, he attended St. Martin’s College of Art in London and then got a job at Mayflower Studios as a junior assistant - delivering prints, sweeping the floor, making tea, etc. He then moved on to his first job as a photographer with Studio Five in London's Mayfair, and a couple of years later, he opened his own photo studio called “Vic Singh Limited” also in Mayfair.

He worked for the fashion, advertising and music industries. Being a member of "the Swinging 60's In-Crowd" from it's formation, he had many acquaintances in the music industry. Besides photographing various independent artists such as Pink Floyd, Marc Bolan and others, he also worked for Chris Blackwell of Island Records with artists such as Jimmy Cliff, The Spencer Davis Group (Stevie Winwood) and others shooting PR, record covers and music video (16-mm b/w film), including The Beatles film 'A Day in the Life' (from Sgt.Pepper) for Apple Records.

In the last few years, Vic’s concentrated his efforts on the digital side of photography and video and is working in a new environment of the avant-garde music and fashion scene that is, at present, evolving in London.

To see more examples of Vic Singh’s work, please visit his Web site at:

To see more examples of artwork related to Pink Floyd in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please visit

All images Copyright 1967 & 2007 Vic Singh
Except as noted, All other text Copyright 2007 - Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery ( - All rights reserved.

More Vinyl Record News

Death Cab For Cutie to release anniversary edition of debut album

And their most recent album will come out on vinyl

Death Cab For Cutie have announced that they will reissue their 1998 debut album 'Something About Airplanes' this autumn.

The limited-edition deluxe reissue is due out in the US via Barsuk Records on November 25 and will mark the 10th anniversary of its original release. It will include a bonus disc featuring a recording of the band's first-ever Seattle show in February of 1998, as well as redesigned artwork and new linter notes written by Harvey Danger's Sean Nelson.

The band have also announced that they will release their latest album, 'Narrow Stairs', on deluxe vinyl on the same day. It will include a 7” single featuring demo versions of album tracks 'No Sunlight' and 'The Ice Is Getting Thinner'.

Von Bondies Sign To Majordomo, Finally Set Album Release Date

It's been years in the making, so let's hope the new Von Bondies record, finally inked in for a February '09 release isn't a complete letdown.

The Detroit band, headed by one-time White Stripe-beater Jason Stollsteimer, had originally planned the release of their third album 'Love, Hate and Then There's You' for early 2008, but problems finding a label to release it, plus the perennial line-up changes have resulted in the delay, with Stollsteimer comically noting that the band “would have signed a lot sooner, but it took us four years to find a pen.”

The tie-up with Majordomo, home of the Airbourne Toxic Event and Earlimart, marks the third consecutive LP that the Von Bondies have switched labels. The band did imply earlier this year that they would be releasing their records independently now, following their departure from Sire.

"For me personally, [the relationship] had run its course. I love the people we worked with, but it wasn't right for what I wanted to do." says Stollsteimer, “At this point [we] kind of don't need one, we know how many records we'll probably sell on our own and we're OK with that.”

The Von Bondies will also tour the U.S. this autumn. A new single, taken from the album, entitled “Pale Bride” will follow November 18th as a 7-inch vinyl single.


Neil Diamond's latest album, "Home Before Dark," will be released as a double-LP set on 180-gram vinyl Nov. 11 via Columbia. The LP includes two bonus tracks: covers of Nilsson's "Without Her" and Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love," as well as a digital download card.


The first-ever vinyl release from the Cruz del Sur label will be the album "Be Gone" by acclaimed U.S. act PHARAOH. "Be Gone" was released as a CD and limited digipack CD in April. The upcoming deluxe vinyl version will include a full-color poster and a bonus 7" record containing two additional songs from the "Be Gone" album sessions. This package, scheduled for a November release, will come in a gatefold sleeve and be limited to 500 copies.


The limited edition Jon Foreman vinyl box set is now available to order. It contains four 12" marbled high quality vinyl records (fall, winter, spring, summer) and a beautiful four page book-style cover featuring a few of Andy Barron's best shots of Jon over the years. Each box set is numbered 1-500 (we're only making 500 of these marbled guys!), and every set is signed by Jon Foreman.

Top 5 eBay Vinyl Record Sales

Week Ending 09/06/2008

1) 45rpm - Margaret Little "Love Finds A Way" / "I Need Some Loving" Genbro - $7,400.00

2) 45rpm - Lester Tipton "This Won't Change" / "Go On" La Beat - $7,200.00

3) 45rpm - Tommy & The Derby's "Don't Play The Role" / "Handy Andy" Swing - $4,161.00

4) 45rpm - Al Williams "I Am Nothing" / "Brand New Love" La Beat - $3,220.00

5) LP - Soul Expedition self titled Private Press - $2,939.29


Classic Rock Videos

Elegants- Little Star


A rather long post explains the techniques and modifications that Classic Records are implementing in their new vinyl releases. An interesting read for sure and one of importance to all vinyl lovers

The long and winding road continues here at Classic Records with our ongoing pursuit to make the best quality records possible. To that end, we have made some changes that have been in the market now for most of 2008 including a slight modification to our Super Vinyl Profile. Some background is in order here before I explain. Originally, what has come to be known as Classic's "Super Vinyl Profile"

Read the rest here:

Album Cover Art

Continuing our look at's look at the most controversial, weirdest, best and worst album covers (as compiled by their staff) we carry on at #27


27. King Diamond: ‘Give Me Your Soul Please’ – A concept album by King Diamond released on June 26, 2007. The album's concept and cover art are both based on a painting titled "My Mother's Eyes."

In the July/August issue of UK metal magazine Zero Tolerance, Diamond elaborated on the themes of the album, being a story of two dead children, murdered by their father, relating their tale to him. He stated that cases of parents killing their children and then themselves were a large influence, citing such an incident which occurred in Dallas four days before the interview took place. Ironically, Give Me Your Soul was also released the day after the highly publicized Chris Benoit double murder and suicide.

The album opens with a sister and brother waiting in the afterlife, haven been recently murdered by their father. The ambigious "Thirteen Judges" have deemed that the boy deserves to go to Hell because they mistakenly believe he committed suicide. The sister, called the Girl in the Bloody Dress, goes to search for a soul free of sin to save her brother from damnation. She arrives at Neverending Hill, where King Diamond lives with his black cat, Magic. She tries to contact him to help her, but only ends up haunting him instead, causing the lights to flicker, objects to move on their own, making the temperature drop to ice-like levels, and increasing the darkness. Using black magic, and fighting the darkness of the house, he finally contacts the girl who tells him her story; that her father chopped up her brother with an axe, splashing her with his blood, then choked her to death before shooting himself in the head. She looks into King's soul, but finds it's no good to her, because his soul is full of sin. In the final track, a rare ballad for King Diamond, he pleads with her to find a new house to search for a soul free of sin before the sun rises. The album ends with the Girl in the Bloody Dress saying that she's moving on to THIS house, implying that she's coming to the house of the listener of the album.

Wow, what kind of drugs were available for this recording session?



27. Queensrÿche: 'Hear In The Now Frontier' Maybe they should have called "Five Ears in the Desert"- the mason jars are a nice touch. I love the concept and wonder why it isn't rated higher or even on the 'best' list.

Hear in the Now Frontier is the sixth studio album by progressive metal band Queensrÿche, released in 1997.

The album debuted at #19 but quickly vanished from the charts. The musical sound and style of the album was more basic and stripped down than anything the band had released to date, and some fans and critics pointed to the grunge musical style as being a major influence on the record. Despite the reaction, the singles "Sign of the Times" and "You" received substantial airplay. Queensrÿche has sold over 20 million albums worldwide including over 11 million albums and videos in the United States.



27. Bee Gees – ‘Life In A Tin Can’ (1973) Now, I actually own a copy of this LP and I happen to like it. The pre-disco Bee Gees were actually a great pop/rock band and their career is iconic. Certainly an acquired taste, the Seventies soft-rock giants sold many records. But I still haven't figured out how they get in and out of that can.

The Gibb brothers (along with the Wilsons, probably the most famous 'family combo' in the world of pop music) weren't big innovators in the world of pop. What the brothers always had for them, and to a certain extent, have preserved up to the present day, is an incredible knack for writing solid pop melodies This is a plus. Another plus is the brothers' vocal talents: while their harmonies leave a lot to be desired, both Robin and Barry had tremendous singing voices, and were undeniably in the same league with Britain's (not to mention Australia's) best vocalists of both the Sixties and the Seventies... until, of course, they traded everything in for the irritating falsettos on their disco records. And that is where it all ended for me, although they continued to release music until the premature death of Maurice. Maurice Gibb died at a Miami Beach, Florida, hospital on January 12, 2003 of complications resulting from a twisted intestine. Following his death, his surviving brothers Barry and Robin announced that they would no longer perform as the Bee Gees.



27. Radiohead: ‘Amnesiac’ - Yet another Radiohead album cover designed by Stanley Donwood (he’s done the majority of the band’s complete back-catalogue), this somehow makes it onto the 'best' list- which is beyond comprehension for me.

Amnesiac is the fifth studio album by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. It was released on 4 June 2001 in the United Kingdom and on 5 June 2001 in the United States and Canada, debuting at #1 on the UK charts and #2 on the Billboard Top 200. Seen as the furthest departure yet from the rock style and heart-on-sleeve songwriting of the band's early career,[citation needed] Amnesiac nevertheless has more audible guitar than its direct predecessor Kid A, and unlike that album, it spun off several singles. Like Kid A, it synthesizes influences of electronic music, ambient music, classical music, and jazz.

In addition to the standard release of Amnesiac, a special edition album was released. This consists of a red hardback book, like the book pictured on the album cover. The book is styled as a library book from "Catachresis College Library", with the CD inside the book cover along with library slips and date stamps, some of which reference Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The book featured many pages of art designed by Stanley Donwood and Thom Yorke, who went by the pseudonym of "Tchocky" when credited. In 2002, the special edition album won Donwood and Yorke a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package. "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" is called "Pull/Pulk Revolving Doors" on this version.

This Date In Music History- October 2


Don McLean ("American Pie") is 63.

David Sommerville of the Diamonds ("Little Darlin'") is 75.

Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford was born in Guildford, England in 1950.

Happy birthday to Gordon Sumner AKA-Sting (1951).

Phil Oakey of Human League was born in Sheffield, England in 1955.

Soul singer Freddie Jackson ("You Are My Lady") was born in Harlem, NY in 1956.

Mall superstar Tiffany ("I Think We're Alone Now") was born in Norwalk, California in 1971.


Elvis Presley's body is moved from a Memphis cemetery to the Meditation Garden at Graceland in 1977 after a plot was foiled to steal the body.

Elvis Presley mades his only appearance on Nashville's "Grand Ole Opry" (the Opry manager tells him to stick to driving a truck) in 1954.

In 1945, ten year old Elvis Presley made his first public appearance in a talent show at the Mississippi-Alabama Dairy Show singing "Old Shep.” He won 2nd place and 5 dollars.

TV's "Soul Train" premiered in national syndication in 1971, with guests Gladys Knight and the Honey Cone.

The first single was released on Phil Spector's Philles Records ("There's No Other Like My Baby" by the Crystals) in 1961.

In 1957, after a heated argument with her father, Connie Francis reluctantly records "Who's Sorry Now" in two takes. Although she doesn't like the song at all, record buyers feel differently and by the following March, it would become her first hit, reaching number 4 in the US and number 1 in the UK.

In 1967, police raided the Grateful Dead's house at 710 Ashbury St. in San Francisco and busted the band's members on charges of marijuana possession. They are released on bail after six hours in jail and later cleared of charges, as the police had failed to obtain a search warrant.

1975- The scene Milwaukee's Hotel Phister. The setup: Bruce Springsteen has retired to the hotel bar after his show at the Upton Theatre is delayed due to a bomb scare. Springsteen ends up performing at the bar after getting what he calls "a little loose." He makes his way back to the theater riding on top of a music journalist's automobile.

In 1998, singing cowboy Gene Autry died at age 91. His biggest hit was the original version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

1997-It is announced that “Candle in the Wind 1997,” Elton John’s tribute to the late Princess Diana, has shipped more than 26 million units worldwide, making it the second biggest single in history (behind Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”). It topped the U.S. charts for 14 weeks.

Today in 1971, the song "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart topped the charts and stayed there for 5 weeks.

In 1960, "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs entered the US chart on its way to number one. At just 1:37, it becomes the shortest US chart topper in Rock and Roll history.

John "Cougar" Mellencamp’s "Jack And Diane" began a four week run at #1 on the U.S. pop chart in 1982.