Thursday, October 30, 2008

AC/DC 'Overwhelmed' By Huge Worldwide Album Sales

That have seen band storm charts...

by Jason Gregory

AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson has said the band is “overwhelmed” by the success of their new album 'Black Ice'.

The record, which was released last week, is already number one in 29 countries, including the UK, US and Canada.

It is the second fastest selling album of the year in America, shifting 780,000 copies in just six days.

Johnson told the BBC: "It's overwhelming, and quite hard to take in. Even an old dog like me has a few more surprises in life, I guess."

All the more remarkable about the band's latest chart success is that 'Black Ice' is only available on CD and vinyl.

AC/DC have refrained from allowing fans to download their music in a bid to ensure their albums are purchased as a complete package.


Album Cover Art Stories

I again would like to thank Michael Goldstein over at for his wonderful insights and this behind the scenes look at a classic album cover:

Cover Story - The Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street", with artwork by John Van Hamersveld

Cover Story for April 25, 2008

Subject: Exile on Main Street, a 1972 release (on Atlantic Records) by The Rolling Stones, with cover artwork & design by John Van Hamersveld

When the Rolling Stones released Exile on Main Street in 1972 - a double album of songs representing the many different genres of music that shaped Stones music at the time - fans and critics found themselves having to spend a lot of time trying to “get it”. It required a number of listens to gain an appreciation of what, on the surface, often seemed to be a collection of studio out-takes and Richards/Taylor/Watts jams than a freshly-recorded musical offering.

Many critics of the era failed to appreciate the Stones’ explorations of R&B, Soul, Country and roots Rock that were spread over the 4 album sides. In fact, the record was comprised of a series of recordings done during the previous four years and, as such, they featured a variety of mixes (some better than others) and showed the band building on top of these influences in their own inimitable style to the point that, now over 35 years later, the package is considered by many to be the band’s most-authentic offering. It is always listed near the top of most of the “Best Of” and “Greatest” lists (#7 on the Rolling Stone Magazine 2003 list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, #22 on VH-1’s survey, and even impressed the younger generation enough to be ranked #11 on Pitchfork’s 2003 list of Best Albums of the 1970s).

In a similar fashion, when the buying public took their first look at the design and imagery of the sprawling record cover, most people admitted that they didn’t “get it”. Having just soaked in Warhol’s ultimately-iconic "cover with a zipper" for Sticky Fingers, fans should have been ready for anything, but John Van Hamersveld’s designs seemed to confound them, asking them to digest a rough, anti-establishment, punk-before-there-was-punk collage of images that may have, initially, combined with the unfamiliar musical stylings to impact sales (don’t worry, as the record was supported by the now-famous 1972 American concert tour and songs such as “Happy” and “Tumbling Dice” got some significant radio play, the record went on to top the charts in the U.S. and the U.K.).

And so when Van Hamersveld, who’d established his industry cred via his poster and package designs for Hendrix, The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour), Jefferson Airplane (Crown of Creation) and others, was approached by the Rolling Stones (who were in a studio in LA putting the finishing touches on this new album) to work on the graphics and packaging for a songbook project the band wanted to release, he joined in on an interesting series of events on the day of their initial meeting had a profound impact on the course of album art history. And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, on center stage, here’s today’s Cover Story…

In the words of the artist, John Van Hamersveld (interviewed in March 2008, with additional text provided* and used with his permission) -

I had been a multimedia artist and rock promoter during my Pinnacle Rock Concerts in the 60's and I was returning from the Kings Road Scene in London to LAX in 1971 in an effort to use my music business promotions experience to connect with Hollywood again. One day, from the new Chapman Park Studio Building on 6th Street in Los Angeles, I left to meet with a friend who would introduce me to Norman Seeff, the art director and photographer for United Artists and Blue Note Records.

Norman was an art director and photographer of personalities and had worked as the photographer for Bob Dylan's The Band package with Bob Cato, the famous art director for Columbia Records. I had skills that I had developed in art school and I could apply them to this medium. I could draw, do typography, illustrations and could combine design with photography. I also had printing and publishing experience from my famous rock posters of the 60's. After the meeting, Norman and I started a creative relationship built around packaging albums.

Norman had 65 projects to package over the first year, so he and I created an artistic design process for the packaging of music and band identities. We became a design team that worked hard to lead the industry by creating a professional style that was envied by all the major labels. After each release of record packages to retail, other companies began to follow our UA style.

One day Norman and I met the Rolling Stones here in Hollywood. A beautiful girlfriend I had met earlier on “the scene” in London – Chris Odell - was now Mick Jagger's personal assistant, and so in early 1972, The Rolling Stones approached Norman and I to work on the design of a songbook with photographs for Warner Brothers. At this stage, I don’t know that I will be packaging Exile On Main Street. The Stones are in Los Angeles at Sunset Sound studios, finishing the record. Our first meeting was set to be in Bel Air, where they were staying.

As I drive to the meeting, I think about the times I am a captive to Jagger's enigmatic voice on the car radio, clarifying themes of the day with his lyrics, as if they were an advertising slogan for today's lifestyle. His words strike like an axe to my forehead. The Bel Air mansion where the Stones are living is a sumptuous Mediterranean-style villa, surrounded by lush foliage, and soon I am standing on a Persian rug, looking into the eyes of Jagger. He extends his pale, soft hand – limp from a life of wealth, decadence, and privilege.

The rest are talking at the large dining table. We greet each other and sit down in a seating plan orchestrated by Jagger. I am directed to sit next to Mick, and Marshall Chess (son of Leonard Chess of Chess Records and President of Rolling Stones Records) stands on the left. Norman is taking pictures of the band, and Keith is sitting on the couch across from me. He is looking at me in his mirrored sunglasses while smoking a joint. He looks so healthy, handsome and rested.

Then, to my surprise, Robert Frank (the photographer and film-maker well known for his late 1950's book The Americans, with a foreword by Jack Kerouac) walks into the room with a small Super 8mm Canon camera. Jagger and I smile. "This is a very hip day," I say to myself. I knew Robert from a meeting in New York in 1968. He takes Jagger to downtown Los Angeles to film him on the seedy parts of Main Street later in the day. Norman and I leave after the shooting to edit his photographs.

At the request of Marshall Chess, Norman and I arrive for a second day of meetings. We walk through the living room of the villa down to the far wall into the dining room where Mick and Keith are waiting with Marshall. As Marshall starts the meeting, Norman hands another album cover by another designer to him. The cover is passed to Jagger for approval. He rejects it. Marshall then hands me a Robert Frank front photo collage across to me. The tattoo-parlor-wall cover image is from Robert's photo documentary “The Americans”. Mick, on my right, looks on for both of us to agree, so I nod. This then becomes the famous photo-composition for the Exile On Main St. album cover. As the meeting progresses, the other pieces of the package are handed to me.

During the meeting, Marshall asks me what we will do with Norman's photos, given that Frank's are the agreed ones for the cover. Marshall has Norman's images from the late night photo shoot. They are the sequences where Keith arrives at the very last minute for the shoot. Everyone had been waiting for him to show, and then he arrives with his pants hanging off his butt. With Keith's arrival, the group is now ready to go on with Norman's session ("This is a one-time shot!" someone says). Lights, smoke, and confetti is readied, it all begins and a sequence is attempted but then, by accident, Keith began to fall all over the set, creating a disaster. All else fails and our budget has now been used up.

Suddenly Keith says from across the edge of the table, "Make some postcards," showing us with his hands an accordion-folded-style collection of postcards. He then proceeds to almost lose his balance and fall over onto the rug. I say to Mick, "Let's take that as an idea and do it." He agrees and Marshall says, "Done". Marshall and Jagger hand me a stack of photos made by Frank over the weekend. I leave with the visual “ingredients” and arrive back my place at the Chapman Park Studio Building.

In my studio, I play the song 'Sympathy For The Devil' and I think about how to design, in a "Beat style", the concept of a “pop art” package. I have to make it so it will work as an image in a competitive market place. I envisage the package as a painter's fine art print. I had been using various kinds of mediums like brushed inks, crayons, markers, paint and airbrush tools with complicated layered stripping and printing tricks to gain the effects I needed, but in this case I need just the basics - drafting tape and ripped paper.

I select the pictures from the ones Frank took. After our meeting, I organize the images as per Jagger's instructions while Marshall looks on. I am able to step back as an artist and see the opportunity in front of me. Jagger is really a pop artist, too. With all the images in place, I'm satisfied with my work. Upon the label’s approval, Exile will soon hit the streets.

The last step of the approval process stopped at Ahmet Ertegun’s office at Atlantic Records. He was the label’s ultimate authority and so when this kind of art and esthetic made it past his eyes, I knew that all would be okay. In the eyes of the many in the industry, they were all shocked by the ugly, rough, tuff, beat look of the package and that it was not funny or real humorous (to anyone but a Johnny Rotten).

So, as the result of Jagger and I sitting side by side in 1972 at our meeting, my arrangement of materials that would go beyond Frank’s photo style, creating an identity that would becomes the basis of the PUNK FASHION MOVEMENT. To the spectators, critics, and others in the Establishment, I had made a package that was not glamorous. It was not a friendly image to put on display in the record stores, but it was THAT image that established the anti-establishment look of PUNK. It took years to recover from the cover’s graphic statement, with new generations of punks exploiting the graphic concept to this day - still ripping and tearing and drawing all over things with their own graffiti.

The album cover art images from the past, as part of our culture, were styled for fashion and archetype. In 1984, my friend John Lydon said to me "The Stones’ Exile package set the image of punk in 1975 - we used that graphic feel to communicate our message graphically".

In the 70's, I do feel that 12x12 album covers were an all-inclusive image of cultural style in the visual fashion of the sixties and the seventies. I was, therefore, a well-known designer of cultural images which were created as reflections of that culture. These were then watched closely by other design teams and designers who copied me their pursuit to find new images. Today more than 100,000 artists are using a "Ripping and Tearing" style and graffiti in their work.

At least Johnny was nice enough to explain what his intention was then…JVH

About the artist - John Van Hamersveld -

John (b. 1941, Baltimore, MD) is an artist and designer who’s responsible for an enormous catalog of well-known music industry and pop culture-related images. From his early works on the promo poster for the soundtrack for 1966’s ground-breaking surf-culture movie The Endless Summer and his cover work for The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour) and Jefferson Airplane (Crown of Creation), to his iconic 70’s covers for the Rolling Stones (Exile on Main Street), The Grateful Dead (Skeletons from the Closet), KISS (Hotter than Hell), and Steve Miller (The Joker and Fly Like an Eagle), and then on to his imagery that helped introduce the world to Punk Fashion, such as the cover for Blondie’s Eat to the Beat and Autoamerica and John Lydon’s post-Pistols solo efforts (This Is What You Want, This is What You Get), Van Hamersveld’s images set the path that the rest of the industry followed for style and substance.

His recent posters and graphics for the Cream Reunions in New York and London have been fan and collector favorites, and who but JVH could have so appropriately designed Led Zeppelin’s recent Mothership package?

Van Hamersveld also created the famous "grinning Johnny" image in 1969, a version of which is said to have been the inspiration for John Pasche’s designs for the Rolling Stones' “Lips & Tongue” logo.

To learn more about John and visit his site, please follow this link –

To see more of John’s works in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please follow this link –

To see all of the Rolling Stones-related items in the RockPoP Gallery collection please click on this link –

*Adapted from the JVH interview found in book by Genesis Publications, titled EXILE: The making of EXILE ON MAIN ST. by Robert Greenfield. Copies of this book are available from the publisher on their web site at

All images featured in this Cover Story are Copyright 1972 and 2008, John Van Hamersveld - All rights reserved. Except as noted, all other text Copyright 2008 - Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery ( - All rights reserved.

New Vinyl Stamp Under Consideration

As many of you know, Gary Freiberg, founder of Vinyl Record Day ( has asked the US Postal Service to consider using classic album cover art and vinyl records for consideration for a stamp series. I spoke with Gary today and the news is encouraging; although many more details have yet to be ironed out. Here is the reply from the Committee:

Hi Gary,

Actually, the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee had their meeting last week.

I am pleased to inform you that "Vinyl Record" has been placed under consideration by the Committee for possible future stamp issuance. This is very notable, considering we receive approximately 50,000 letters for stamp subjects each year. Also, a limited number of these stamp subjects (generally 25-30) are chosen for each yearly stamp program.


Stamp Development Specialist

Queen to Reissue Classic Lps

Queen have announced that they will re-release all of their studio albums on vinyl over the next two years.

The album packaging will feature original album details as well as bonus posters and pictures. This will be the first time all of Queen's albums will be available on vinyl.

The Hollywood Records re-releases will span the band's career, from their 1973 debut self-titled album with singer Freddie Mercury to 2008's 'Cosmos Rocks', featuring Paul Rodgers on vocals.

Hollywood Records will release a new "wave" of records every six months. “The First Wave” consists of 'A Night At The Opera', 'A Day At the Races', 'Sheer Heart Attack', 'Queen' and 'The Cosmos Rocks'.

“The Second Wave” will be available in spring 2009 and includes an edition of the rare gold-foil stamped 'Queen' album, 'Flash Gordon', 'News Of The World', 'A Kind of Magic' and 'Innuendo'.


Circle Jerks Vinyl and Digital

(PR) The Circle Jerks have just released two special vinyl products that will interest both fans and collectors. itunes has also just posted a ton of the Circle Jerks back catalog so you can finally complete your collection and fill your ipod up, check the itunes store today and avail yourself to the bands recorded history in the worlds most popular format.

In a first for the band, a 12" vinyl picture disc has been released on Porterhouse Records of the bands debut album "Group Sex". This will be a collectors item to be sure. In fact an extremely limited group of the initial pressing have been autographed by the surviving original band members Keith Morris, Greg Hetson and Lucky Lehrer. The signed copies are available exclusively through Aural Exploits so check their online store at

The band has also releasing limited edition colored vinyl of the "Group Sex" L.P. The run included various colors including pink, clear and clear blue. The skinny on the blue vinyl is that it will be exclusively available through retailer Hot Topic while pink and clear will be in mom and pop stores. Red and yellow clear vinyl will be available in the new year, so check for availability or to order online.

Classic Rock Videos

The Birth of Rock N Roll; Elvis, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry Etc

This Date In Music History- October 30


Happy birthday to The Fonz, Henry Winkler, who was born in 1945.

Anthrax vocalist, Joey Belladonna has a birthday (1960). He joins in ‘84 and is with the group during its prime.

Grace Victoria Wing, a.k.a. Grace Slick (of Jefferson Airplane), was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1939.

Otis Williams of the Temptations ("My Girl") turns 67.

Born on this day in 1939, Eddie Holland (Holland/Dozier/Holland), producer, songwriter, wrote Motown hits for Supremes, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Martha & The Vandellas, Freda Payne, Chairmen Of The Board.

Timothy B. Schmit, singer with the Eagles and Poco, was born in 1947.

Bush's Gavin Rossdale was born in London in 1967.

Jim Messina (Poco) celebrates a birthday today (1947).


Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' receives its 26th platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2000, representing 26 million copies sold in the U.S. It remains the second best-selling album in music history.

In 1970, The Doors' Jim Morrison was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $500 for exposing himself during a concert in Miami. The case would still be on appeal when he died on July 3rd, 1971.

Melbourne, Australia's Men At Work had the number one song in the US in 1982 with "Who Can It Be Now?" They would follow with three more Top 10 hits, "Down Under" (#1), "Overkill" (#3) and "It's A Mistake" (#6)

The Crystals release their single "Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby" in 1961. The No. 20 hit is the first release on the Philles label, run by producer Phil Spector.

In 1971, John Lennon had the number one album in both Great Britain and The United States with "Imagine". The album contained two tracks attacking Paul McCartney, 'How Do You Sleep' and 'Crippled Inside.' It would be John's only solo LP to sell a million copies and his most popular album until "Double Fantasy" which went to number one shortly after his assassination on December 8, 1980.

John Lennon released the album "Mind Games" in 1973.

Elvis Presley began work on his Gospel album "His Hand In Mine," in Nashville in 1960.

Roy Orbison was awarded his ninth gold record in 1964 for "Oh! Pretty Woman," which will stay on the charts for 15 weeks.

Elton John gives a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II in 1972, making him the first Rock 'n' Roller to be asked to appear in a royal variety performance since the Beatles did it in November 1963.

Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC was murdered by an assassin's single bullet in 2002 at his recording studio in Queens, New York.

The animated cartoon, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, was shown on NBC-TV in the U.S. in 1978. The four rock stars had to deal with a mad scientist who went crazy in an amusement park. All four members of Kiss had just released their individual solo albums.

Pink Floyd and the Sopwith Camel performed at San Francisco's Fillmore in 1967 in a benefit for the radio station KPFA. The same day they appear on The Pat Boone Show. Madcap singer Syd Barrett refuses to answer Pat's questions during the program.

Linda Stein, former co-manager of punk band The Ramones, was found beaten to death at her Manhattan apartment in 2007. Mrs. Stein was the ex-wife of Seymour Stein, former president of Sire Records, which was the launching pad for the Ramones, Talking Heads and Madonna.