Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rare Beatles film of '64 Kansas gig sells for $6,600

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Rare film footage of an unscheduled concert by the Beatles in Kansas City during their first U.S. tour 44 years ago fetched 4,100 pounds ($6,600) when it went under the hammer on Tuesday.

The two-minute silent, color 8mm film was uncovered by American Drew Dimmel who attended the concert as a young boy in Kansas City in September 1964 but had forgotten about the footage until he was clearing out his parents' home.

The footage was estimated to fetch between 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.

"This was their first tour and what happened was this very rich baseball club owner (Charles O. Finley) promised to bring the Beatles to Kansas City," Alan Pritchard of Berkshire-based Cameo Auctioneers told Reuters Television.

"Unfortunately it wasn't on their scheduled tour so he talked to Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, and he persuaded them to come on their day off. I think he paid something like $150,000 for their 30 minute or so appearance."

Pritchard said Dimmel had managed to borrow his father's new cinecamera and took it into the stadium, passed it to his father's friend in the orchestra who took a clip of the Beatles doing their first number.

The Fab Four were besieged by fans during their first trip to the United States and were watched by a television audience estimated to be about half of the country's population when they played the Ed Sullivan Show.

But the concert at the Kansas City Municipal Stadium was only half sold-out with a crowd of 20,000 due to local animosity toward Finley, the owner of the Kansas City Athletics Baseball Team, according a lot listing on the auctioneer's Web site.

Other items up for auction included a Beatles "Please Please Me" vinyl record that sold for 2,000 pounds ($3,200), nine unpublished Beatles photographs that fetched 950 pounds, and a Beatles original concert flyer selling for 470 pounds.

(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith )


Album Cover Stories

As always, I want to say a special thank you to Michael Goldstein over at for allowing me the exclusive right to reprint this fine material

Cover Story Interview - "Exhumed" by Grave, with design & artwork by Mike Hrubovcak

Cover Story for October 31, 2008

Subject: Exhumed, by Grave – a 2008 release on Century Media records, with cover artwork and design produced by Mike Hrubovcak.

Throughout the Cover Stories series, it has been my goal to show readers the art and artistry of the talented designers, illustrators and photographers who have created many of Rock Music’s most-intriguing cover images. We’ve seen psychedelic images, fantastic designs and the intimate photographic portraits of many iconic musical acts and highlighted most major musical genres. And yet, while we’ve learned about the inspiration behind Dark Side of the Moon, we’ve yet to really visit the real dark side of the rock world – Death Metal. For those of you who have, for whatever reason, not closely followed the Death Metal music scene, here’s a brief primer.

Death Metal was initially viewed of as a sub-genre of “heavy metal” and early practitioners drew much of their inspiration from “thrash metal” acts including Celtic Frost and Slayer. With the maniacally-fast guitar shredding and impossibly-fast drumming of acts such as Death, Morbid Angel and Possessed setting the example for many others to follow (and, early on, the support of popular record labels including Earache and Roadrunner Records), Death Metal emerged as a genre of its own beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s.

While the musicianship is undeniable, the genre has, for most part, remained outside of the mainstream – in terms of distribution and press coverage – due primarily to the principal themes of the songwriting (i.e., death, destruction, mayhem) and the accompanying lyrics and visual imagery (and replicated on-stage by many of the acts, as well).

Take, for example, the inspiration for today’s cover story. Originally known as Corpse and then as Putrefaction, the re-christened band from Visby, Sweden named Grave burst from the Swedish death metal scene in the late '80s (1988). They built a strong fan base after the release of their soon-to-be-classic (in death metal circles) debut record, 1991’s Into The Grave. This was followed by a tour of Europe and the U.S. and the release of their second album, You'll Never See (1992). Following a series of personnel changes, the band continued to record and tour on and off throughout the 1990s, with some of these performances captured live for release as a CD (Extremely Rotten Live) and on DVD (Enraptured, released in 2006). Some of Grave's current and past members have played in several notable bands such as Entombed, Face Down, Kaamos, Krux, The Project Hate and Therion.

Throughout their history, Grave’s records (and most recordings in the genre) have been packaged with covers that feature images that, for the most part, would scare (and, sometimes, disgust) most typical music buyers – these are the over-the-top images that only fans of slasher/gore-fest movies can fully appreciate. And yet, most people who truly understand and appreciate the history of painting and illustration realize that, throughout History, the works of “the Masters” have graphically depicted scenes of war, torture, crucifixions, lions maiming slaves, death camps and most other examples of man’s inhumanity to man. No one can question the technical mastery of these artists or, in some cases, can deny the dark beauty of some of the most-disturbing scenes brought to the canvas. Dark, intricately-detailed illustrations by modern masters such as Mati Klarwein and H.R. Giger have graced record covers and posters and, while they caused public uproars when they were first introduced, they’re considered as masterworks now.

It is with this in mind, coincidentally at the time when some celebrate All Hallows Eve, All Saints' Eve, Samhain, etc., that we present an interview with one of the genre’s current masters (and active participant in the music scene), illustrator Mike Hrubovcak. As you’ll see, the process of creating eye/vein-popping cover art for fans of death metal is a familiar one, but with a few sinister twists, as evidenced in today’s Cover Story. Grab a shovel and some new batteries for your flashlight, then read on…

In the words of the artist, Mike Hrubovcak (interviewed October 2008) –

I was originally contacted by the Century Media record label when they were looking for an album cover for a new thrash band called Warbinger they had just signed. Marco Barbieri from Century Media had told me that he's been a fan of my work for a while now and was interested in working with me. Apparently he had seen my artwork for other bands floating around (probably bands like Mortician, Sinister, Cattle Decapitation, etc.), and had seen the work I did recently for the thrash band Rumpelstiltskin Grinder (on Relapse Records - see below) and thought they'd try me out for the Warbringer record.

Unfortunately - I think due to time-constraints - they decided to go with another artist for that cover. Looking back it would have been great to work on that cover, but then they offered me the "Best of Grave” collection". I have been a huge fan of Grave since my youth - and a natural “death metal kinda guy” - so this was a fitting project for me to work on and had me pulling out my old Grave tapes to throw on for inspiration.

When Marco and I were talking about a concept for the cover, he had the idea that, since the album was going to be called "Exhumed", it'd be neat to feature a cover from the "worm’s eye view” of a corpse in a grave looking up toward the sky/tombstone, as if he's awakening and rising from the dead. So, with Marco's direction, I just took the idea and ran with it. Originally, I had a different perspective set up in my mind, of having a decrepit grave overgrown with weeds somewhere in the middle of the woods - as if it was an abandoned cemetery - with a corpse rising from it. I actually prefer and like Marco’s idea better though and I'm glad we went with it. The perspective is fresh and unique and grabs your attention right away without actually showing the corpse.

Most of my covers are custom-designed and geared toward the idea or concept of the band or label. I do, however, do my own personal work that will periodically get licensed for use on album covers, but it’s hard for me to actually take the time to do my own personal work since normally I'm just too busy doing custom jobs all the time for the extra cash.

Anyway, since this was a "best of" album, I was already familiar with most of the band’s music from their earlier albums - especially all of the old material which I had grown up with as a kid. I was fanatical over the Into The Grave and You'll Never See... albums and have always been a fan of old-school Death Metal, so I wanted to go for that old feeling I’d had as a kid, and that was my defining inspiration. I would play the albums as I worked on the cover while trying to let my mind interpret those dark feelings into the motivation for my hands and then into image itself.

If I remember correctly, I had about a month or so to do the album art. Normally, I like to allow myself 2-4 weeks, but sometimes - especially when I'm super into doing the work, like I was with this piece - I under-estimate how fast a work will come together and I end up getting a cover done quicker than I had planned. I think the quickest cover I ever did was the one for Mortician’s Re-animated Dead Flesh. That took me less than a week, just because I was also super into it as well and would stay up into the early hours of the morning working on it for the tight deadline.

I think this one only took about 2 weeks or so for the actual cover illustration, but then I also had to do the artwork and design for the 16-page booklet and packaging layout as well, so that added another week to the total project.

To create basic image for the cover, I used my digital camera to shoot photo reference pictures. I actually went to my local cemetery and photographed some tombstones and some up shots of dead trees. Conveniently, it was right after winter and all the trees were still dead. Also, one night after a rain storm, I went out into my back patio area and got all dirty by smearing my hands in the mud and taking photo reference shots of my arms in various poses as well. Luckily, I think I hit the nail on the head and they liked the first image I sent them. It usually works that way, and once I complete the cover, I'll send the client a preview sample through email to check out. It’s pretty rare when a band or label actually makes me change something. I guess I'm lucky in that way, because changing something after I've completed an illustration is a real pain in the ass.

In the end, Marco and Century Media were completely professional and it was a pleasure working with them - I hope to work with them again sometime in the future. They have a lot of bands that I personally like, so getting the chance to produce artwork for any of them would be an honor.

(These are some pix of the images Mike created for the CD booklet and tray liner - including an alternate version of the tray liner. Click on an image to see a larger version.)

The album will be released sometime in November, but I’ve already gotten plenty of comments though from posting it on my website, etc. People say that it's totally creepy looking. Creepy and dark, but without the explicit gore that a lot of my custom artwork normally features - I think its one of my more professional pieces to date. I’m looking to break into more of the commercial side of horror, and since most of my favorite bands are on labels that would have problems distributing the explicit gore, it would have to be dark and creepy while still being acceptable enough for “big-box retail stores” like Wal-Mart to stock it on their shelves. This was primarily a collection of older songs, so I tried to summon those old-school feelings. Hopefully, that effort came across and all the old Grave fans buying this collection will share those same feelings.

About the artist, Mike Hrubovcak –

The picture on the left features Mike on stage with Monstrosity headlining the FTC Festival in Germany. The image on the right was taken from a photo shoot with Monstrosity in Florida just before our tour of Mexico.

Mike Hrubovcak is an artist based out of the Philadelphia/NYC area and has been heavily involved in the metal/horror scene since 1992. In his own words – “My artistic release first began with oil painting and airbrush. Throughout college, I started doing more artwork on the a computer within Photoshop and found that incorporating several mediums (painting, drawing & photo-manipulation) into the computer really allowed me the flexibility to express my art on a whole new level. Over the years I've had the pleasure of working with many great bands, magazines and record labels worldwide. I currently maintain a day-job working as a graphic designer at an Adult Novelty company while doing the work featured on my site - - on the side as a freelancer. I also currently sing for the bands MONSTROSITY and VILE and have stayed busy with former bands DIVINE RAPTURE, I.C.E. and my own solo project AZURE EMOTE."

A few clients I’ve worked with have included: Revolver Magazine, the record labels Century Media Records and Relapse Records, and acts such as Sinister, Inhume, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder (see latest cover, below), Avulsed, Cattle Decapitation, XXX Maniak, Aurora Borealis, I.C.E. and many more..

To see more of Mike’s work, please visit his web site at

To learn more about this (and other) releases on Century Media Records, please visit their website at

To see the complete selection of album cover art available for sale at RockPoP Gallery, visit our site at

About Cover Stories - Our series of interviews will give you, the music and art fan, a look at "the making of" the illustrations, photographs and designs of many of the most-recognized and influential images that have served to package and promote your all-time-favorite recordings.

In each Cover Story, we'll meet the artists, designers and photographers who produced these works of art and learn what motivated them, what processes they used, how they collaborated (or fought) with the musical acts, their management, their labels, etc. - all of the things that influenced the final product you saw then and still see today.

We hope that you enjoy these looks behind the scenes of the music-related art business and that you'll share your stories with us and fellow fans about what role these works of art - and the music they covered - played in your lives.

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

Classic Rock Videos

Byrds - I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better

Music News

Kinks Working on New Album

The Kinks have started working on a new album ... but it might not be good enough to see the light of day.

Front man Ray Davies told BBC News that he and his act have reconvened in the studio to test the waters for a new record. Davies said the writing process is going to be more collaborative than his top-down dominance of the band in the past, and that if the band deems the songs to be subpar, won't release the new material.


Mighty Mighty Bosstones Working on New Album

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have been mighty, mighty busy working on a new album.

The third-wave ska act started writing and recording new songs for an upcoming new album, the band announced on its web page. Two cuts from the record, "Impossible Dream" and "Next to Nothing" will be released as a limited-edition 7-inch next month through the band's own Big Rig Records label.

No title or release date has been revealed for the album, which will follow up 2002's A Jackknife to a Swan (review) (Side One Dummy) and this year's rarities collection, Medium Rare (review) (Big Rig).


New Springsteen Album May Come As Soon as January

Bruce Springsteen has been very busy traveling around the country playing shows in support of Barack Obama. His song, The Rising, was even the first one played over the loudspeakers at last night's historic victory celebration in Chicago's Grant Park.

Two night's before, Springsteen played the final rally in Cleveland and one of the songs he played was Workin' on a Dream, a duet with wife Patti Scialfa. According to the Springsteen site "The song has been recorded for the follow-up to Magic, which Springsteen has been working on this fall, an album expected to see release around the time of the Presidential Inauguration in January 2009."

Nothing else is really known about the pending release other than there was quite a few extra tracks recorded dring the Magic sessions and that they may make up the bulk of the album.

Album Cover Art

Let's look at #47 on the's look at the sexiest and dirtiest album covers:

47. RATT: ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’ The band's second full-length album Invasion of Your Privacy was released July 1985. The album met mostly positive reactions from fans and critics. has called it "another batch of solid pop-metal tunes". It contained the favorites " You're in Love" and "Lay It Down"(which made #40 on the Hot 100) that assured the band a presence on radio and MTV.

The model on the Invasion cover is Playboy Playmate Marianne Gravatte, who also made an appearance in the "Lay It Down" music video. Using a beautiful female model on an album cover later became a trend copied by many glam metal bands of the 1980s, such as Bon Jovi, Great White, and Slaughter. Invasion of Your Privacy was also one of the many albums that received the attention of the PMRC since the cover and the album title were an obvious reference to voyeurism. The Tipper Gore-led organization presented it at a U.S. Congressional hearing on September 19, 1985 dealing with parental advisory labels on albums that display "inappropriate" content.

This from the same generation that had hundreds of nude album covers used to sell music...hmmmm