VERTICAL PURPLE

The quest to unearth further 60s vertical gatefold album covers produced many nominations of 70s covers that do indeed open up in ‘portrait’ format, but only one addition from Sixties-land.

The LP was the third Deep Purple release, their self-titled record from 1969. Many thanks to Arterrorist for the reminder. I say that because the CD is on the shelves—indeed, is playing as I write—yet nowhere in the extensive and informative booklet is there an image of the full cover.

And what a cover it is! A detail from the right hand panel of the famous Hieronymus Bosch triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights (painted somewhere between 1490 and 1510), the gatefold sleeve was meant to be in colour (that is, a reproduction of part of the painting now housed in Madrid’s Museo del Prado) but due to a “mix up” appeared in monochrome. 

Even so, some squeamish retailers refused to stock it.

Author Peter S. Beagle has described the painting as an “erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty” (Wikipedia). All well and good, though I’m not sure I’d want to be munched by a ravenous insect bird or be forced to ride an anus-powered jet-ski. We should mention, too, that the art director may have forgotten to press ‘colour’ but they did not fail to include a tiny photo of the band in the hellish vista. (It’s under the crucifixion harp, for those interested).

As for the music, I’m rather fond of Deep Purple Mark I. Original singer Rod Evans doesn’t do the high-tension electrocution of Ian Gillian, but he’s a fine vocalist. Opening cut “Chasing Shadows” has a stomping African feel (almost like a prototype ‘Space truckin’’) and jabs of Jon Lord organ. “Blind” is a fine harpsichord-tinged mid-paced song that highlights Evans terrific voice. About now it occurs to you that even someone who is averse to the later Purple sound could really enjoy this album. When Ritchie Blackmore drops a neat wah-wah guitar solo then throws it back to Lord for another harpsichord flourish, it really is rather marvellous.

The cover of Donovan’s ‘Lalena’ is pretty but pretty forgettable other than for Lord’s jazzy organ, but then comes my favourite part. A glorious psychedelic instrumental introduction (‘Fault line’) segues into ‘The Painter’, which really does sound like Deep Purple! Powerful rhythm, great guitar, fine vocal, riffing organ…it’s a wonderful five-and-a-half minutes that beautifully illustrates how psychedelia morphed into progressive rock. Because that’s what Deep Purple did in the late sixties. Believe it or be consigned to Bosch’s hell.

Although ‘Why didn’t Rosemary’ is a basic plodding blues, before leaving Deep Purple, mention must be made of the final two tracks. ‘Bird has flown’ is a stomping original that again melds two moods. Here psychedelic touches rub up against hard-rocking riffage, and it works a treat!  A very progy twelve minutes long, ‘April’ opens with church organ and acoustic guitar before going on an extended electro-acoustic journey of great pastoral beauty. Not everyone will enjoy the pseudo-classical arrangement, but hang in there; it rocks up most agreeably at the nine minute mark to create a multi-section opus that probably had young Genesis pricking up their ears. In summary: a back-catalogue album worth checking out. [The 2000 CD remaster also has a generous handful of bonus tracks]

So, on with the vertical album cover show!

First up we have the Moody Blues fourth album, A Question Of Balance (1970). Embodying something of the pretensions of their lyrical concerns, the cover painting (by Phil Travers) is an intriguing collage of images that has a certain cosmic grandeur.

Grand in a different way is the 1970 album by The Flock (remembered chiefly these days as the first appearance of violinist Jerry Goodman, who went on to be part of the Mahavishnu Orchestra). My copy of Dinosaur Swamps is not the gatefold version, and I would not have known about this panoramic primordial painting if not for Arterrorist (see comments under previous post).

A completely different world is evoked by Funkadelic’s Cosmic Slop (1973). Owing something to the urban cartoons adorning Miles Davis albums of this era, this Pedro Bell painting also seems to nod towards The Garden of Earthly Delights with disturbing lascivious images and hybrid creatures.

Lastly, we need to get this classic in somewhere. It was my first Pink Floyd album, purchased second-hand in 1973 (two years after its release). Probably I’m the only dill in the entire world who took months to work out what the image actually was, due to never actually opening up the gatefold for the full 12” x 24” experience. The band designed the cover, by the way, with the outer photos being taken by Bob Dowling.

What are your favourites—visually or musically—amongst this selection?

NEXT: More vertical covers plus one album review!

34 comments

  1. I own the same CD edition of Deep Purple pictured here and had no idea there was more to the cover. Interesting tidbit on the monochrome resulting from an error; I had always thought it an attempt to suggest a purplish tint. I’m beginning to think this Vertical Gatefold series might be your most persuasive argument for the merit of vinyl collecting to date.

    I am an avid booster of Mark I Purple and Rod Evans, even following Rod into the Captain Beyond. I may find their version of ‘Laleña’ to be a tad more memorable than you do, but I otherwise agree completely with your positive take on the Purps at album three. And speaking of the handful of bonus tracks on the 2000 remaster, this is where I finally got a copy of Mark I B-side ‘Emmaretta,’ a great song notable for Ritchie’s crunchy wah wah and Nick Simper’s plunky bass.

    Re Meddle, while I now recognize my misalignment, I still can’t unsee the underwater nose I had been sure was there during decades of gatefold-deprived squinting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah, the spell of vinyl is insinuating itself into your digital consciousness, Vic. Good to hear.

      Yes, I should have singled out “Emmaretta” – good song!

      And thank you for outing yourself as a member of the underwater nose brigade. I feel less lonely already.

      Like

  2. To answer your question, Meddle
    Funkadelic out of contest – unknown to me.
    Can also only just remember the sound of Dinosaur Swamps and Deep Purple III, both albums I haven’t heard for decades.
    So, A Question Of Balance takes a clean 2nd for me, in my book one of the best MB albums. (2nd only to In The Lost Chord – a-om…a-om…a-om)

    You a not the only one….took me years to notice the ear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, tamijo, we are aligned on our favourite Moody Blues album. Excellent. Must do a post on ‘In Search of the Lost Chord’ sometime.

      Am kind of relieved that others also struggled to make sense of the ‘Meddle’ cover. 😊

      Like

  3. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Gorgeous Bruce and love the premise! I know that Funkadelic record well, though I never saw the actual album art in that format. I think that was my first one by them and man, I had a good run with those records in the early 90s! Sad to say I can’t contribute any I’m aware of, but I love this premise. Cheers, Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t Funkadelic an interesting band! As J. observed, ‘Free your mind…’ is also a vertical gatefold (but I don’t have it).
      Delighted you are enjoying this indulgence, Bill. Must say I do like delving into the shelves and this theme has been so much fun I think it will run for a couple more editions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        It should (keep running)! I’m really embarrassed to say this but I will: I have Blonde on Blonde on vinyl and NEVER NOTICED it was vertical. I suck. Wow. More aural than visual or just daft?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s too difficult to pick a favourite from these covers, Bruce. I love the bonkersness of Funkadelic, but… Dinosaurs, man.

    Musically, Funkadelic… again, the right amount of bonkersness. Besides, I haven’t heard anything of the others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This whole project is seeming pretty bonkers at present, Jim! And thanks for mentioning ‘Free your mind…’ the other day. I don’t have it myself, but it would fit in well with a planned ‘risqué’ collection of verticals.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You can’t go wrong with a little bit of bonkers… Free Your Mind is less bonkers and, well, a little, eh, cheeky, I guess. Like the album, it always lifts the mood, I reckon…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. chris delprete · · Reply

    The first May Blitz album on Vertigo. Great vertical artwork, great music and nowadays a great price for an original.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know the cover art – that ink drawing of a strange human/ape hybrid – but I’ve never heard the album.
      Vertigo swirl: the label rich folks collect.

      Nice one Chris.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. iwarti · · Reply

    Oh I’m flattered to read my humble nick among such a great artists 🙂
    Great post!
    Check these two also (with two different Keefs involved):
    Keef Hartley “Halfbreed” – 1969!
    Zior – s/t. 1971 Stunning vertical artwork by one of my favourite sleeve artists of all time: Marcus Keef
    Impatiently waiting for the next part!
    Greetings from Arterrorist 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both excellent nominations, Arterrorist. I though of another that would pair beautifully with the Keef Hartley: Herbie Mann ‘Mississippi Gambler’, the Australian pressing. But I don’t own it and can’t find a decent photo!

      Like

  7. All impressive but Deep Purple lll takes it because of the Bosch (even after discount for Michael Connelly >> Harry Bosch bias).
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bias noted, DD.
      Cheers.

      Like

  8. One of my favourite Purple albums period. It was a transition. You can hear Concerto for Group and Orchestra bubbling under. And, it got me into Bosch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anything that bridges to Hieronymus is worthwhile, Mike! And you remind me that I really should have a proper listen to Concerto for G and O.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the original white cover is still the way to go.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll have to look up Blind – I have a weakness for harpsichord!
    Of the visuals, I’ll vote for the pterodactyl

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ya can’t beat a pterodactyl menacing a bunch of 70s longhairs, can ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Masterful Bruce.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Joe.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Queen’s News of the World, had vertical gatefold.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s right! The robot cover. Nice one.

      Like

  12. chris delprete · · Reply

    As always your posts have me going back to my record collection looking for examples. I know you’ve written of it before but would ‘Warrior on the Edge of Time’ by Hawkwind count? Not our piddly local issue but the magnificent fold out shield UK release. It took me ages to find one but I finally succeeded last year, in Sydney Road Brunswick no less. I often wonder how overseas releases make their way down here. I’m sure they’d have some great stories to tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t some of those much travelled records have great stories to tell?

      Congrats on picking up a ‘proper’ version of one of Hawkwind’s finest.

      If I suggested that the ‘Warrior on the Edge of Time’ cover is four-panel sleeve rather than a vertical gatefold, I’d appear even more pedantic, pathetic, and nit-picking than normal (if that is possible, which it may well not be), so I’ll simply put in a link to the piece I did on that excellent album and invite those unfamiliar with its fold-out glory to check it out and decide for themselves.

      Warrior On The Edge Of Time post.

      Like

  13. Some new ones to me but I’m a ‘Meddle’ freak. Like this post. You have me going through my pile. More of these than I thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m finding more and more as well. It’s kinda fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amazing, most of my early stuff is a fold out of some sort. I guess even a guy like CB becomes a collector if he lives long enough. I should have collected more real estate.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Frampton. Comes. Alive!.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t he play for Peru?

      Like

  15. Add me to the roster of the underwater nose brigade…! As for a favorite, although it unsettles, I’d have to go with the Bosch…there’s enough going on in that painting to fill several doctoral theses.

    Like

    1. Isn’t there just! I recall sitting at the back of a church somewhere in Germany (I think) and looking at a similar style of illustration on the ceiling above me. I imagine it served to keep the peasants awake while His Nibs was droning on in Latin.

      Liked by 1 person

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