In the holiday post a few weeks ago—Vinyl Hunter-Gatherer Goes Surfing—there was a 1971 George Benson LP of which I wrote, ‘Hoping I haven’t re-purchased it, misled by a different cover’. The brain is a funny old organ and some of the organ stops don’t work as smoothly as they once did. When the catalogue was finally checked, there, sure enough, was Beyond The Blue Horizon… on CD.
Damn, I thought, striding across to the jazz section to examine the offending item.
Annoyance evaporated swiftly.
What do you think? Acquittal?
Interestingly, the 2011 CD re-issue is the original artwork from the 1971 CTI release; it’s the 1979 vinyl version that changed the image to something less fiery but more fractured.
Nothing fragmented about the music, however. Opening with a very smooth yet engaging version of the Miles Davis classic “So What”, George then explores a Luiz Bonfa tune, “The Gentle Rain”. These two nine-minute cuts comprise side one of the LP. Side two has three pieces, all Benson originals. With legendary bass player Ron Carter and equally lauded drummer Jack DeJohnette providing a limber bottom end, and organist Clarence Palmer providing some rich tonal variation, this is a very solid and accessible modern jazz album.
Now, back to the covers.
It’s not uncommon for albums to be issued with different covers. Indeed, this topic was explored way back in the early days of Vinyl Connection (2013, would you believe!) in a post entitled Another Cover In A Different Country.
As I was enjoying George do his jazz thing, it occurred to me that the VC Collection has ample examples of the ‘same album, different cover’ phenomenon and that it might be entertaining to share a few more. Some are later (or even recent) re-issues, others display small but inexplicable changes like those ‘pick the difference’ cartoons we did as kids. Sometimes there is a whiff of prudish censorship. I reckon quite a number have been financially motivated… ‘Too expensive!’ quoth the Finance Department.
Anyway, here is another instalment in the infrequent Another Cover series. Enjoy.
Fleetwood Mac – Future Games
There are many simple variations like this. One can’t help but wonder, why?
The Who – The Who Sell Out
Original cover is on the left (though mine it is a nice re-issue, not an actual 1967 copy) and a budget re-issue from the Netherlands (1970) on the right. Reckon Polydor sold out The Who with this one. Great album, nevertheless. “I can see for miles” is probably the best Who single ever.
Faust – Faust
On first encountering the debut album by German experimentalists Faust (1971) you could be forgiven for wondering what the hell was going on. The layers are visually very confusing. Clearly something is transparent here, but what?
When the package is disassembled, all becomes clear. Everything is see-through.
What also becomes apparent is why later versions reverted to a more traditional cover (picture below).
As for the music, this is a startling debut. In a music chat group recently, the subject was albums that rewired your brain. This is one of those. Cut-ups, found sound, ear-popping transitions, crazy lyrics, musical non sequiturs; it’s like they took John Cage’s tape adventures, The Beatles “Revolution #9”, and Trout Mask Beefheart and decided to use that impossible amalgam to make a record in the European experimental tradition.
Side one has two tracks. “Why don’t you eat carrots” fades in with interstellar static and a quote from “All you need is love” before a pretty Satie-esque piano interlude gives way to a marching band on acid. That’s the first two minutes. “Meadow Meal” also creeps into the room… odd, vaguely industrial sounds and Satie tinkling with one hand, disjointed percussion, stroked piano strings… it is not an unpleasing collage. The words are an elbow in the ribs on the first few listens, declaimed and insistent and drawing meaning from something not of this earth. But “Meadow Meal” also riffs and rocks, almost making it the quintessential Faust piece. It all ends in tears, of course. Well, rain and distant thunder, anyway. And a weedy reedy organ coda.
“Miss Fortune” occupies side two. At first the traditional rock instrumentation—particularly the wah-wah guitar—give the piece a more recognisable psychedelic feel. Shades of Guru Guru perhaps, or one of the other experimental German rock bands of the time. But fear not! It gets passing strange: strangled vocals, heavily treated guitar, and a drum kit on wheels circling the studio, thrashing away dizzily. Drunken echo-laden vocals and bar-room piano close out this epic journey (except for the chirping of a small but massively distorted organ) (except for the cut-up twin-speaker spoken word poem).
The whole album clocks in at a little over half-an-hour of destabilising yet exciting listening. Faust is crammed with invention and surprise and should be listened to at least once before your turntable dies. It is funny, alarming and absolutely invigorating. Like someone throwing a bucket of cold water in your face and saying, “Oh, es tut mir leid. Sorry about the chunks of ice in there”.
Buckingham Nicks – Buckingham Nicks
The one and only Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham LP appeared in 1973. Apparently the cover is rather notorious, though it is difficult to see what all the fuss was about. Context is all, however, and Stevie Nicks has said that she was very unhappy on the day and with the photo. That is a shame.
Stevie’s regrets did not have anything to do with the release of a different version in Australasia in 1982 that avoids any sniff of controversy by being utterly boring.
As for the music, it’s not boring. In fact, for fans of Fleetwood Mac—who the pair would join not too long after this album’s release, making it seem, in retrospect, a kind of job application—there is plenty to enjoy. We have Lindsey singing Stevie’s excellent “Crystal” (very well, but she did it better), a couple of nice guitar instrumentals from LB (including a surprising interpretation of John Lewis’s Modern Jazz Quartet classic “Django”) and a nice Buckingham song “Without a leg to stand on” that sounds like a quality Cat Stevens outtake from 1973. The version of “Don’t let me down” lacks some of the punch of the Mac version, but its’ rolling freight-train rhythm is present and correct, as is a neat Buckingham guitar solo; the song definitely rocks . Overall, it’s a pity Buckingham Nicks is remembered for its cover and what came after rather than its own modest but pleasing merits.
Postscript: Because I became immersed in the music inhabiting these covers, the length of the post stretched like an extended 12″ mix. As a result there will be further instalments in the Another Cover series, featuring artists from New Zealand, the UK and the Netherlands. And more.