2 hours ago
Friday, January 2, 2009
Johnny Otis part two: Black Comedy LP covers
These are some of my favorite album covers. They are all issued on the Laff label in the 1960's, and all are recorded live in night clubs and feature the Johnny Otis Show as the backing band. Honestly, the covers are the best part. Pardon the crummy reproductions, the LP covers are too big for my scanner so I had to photograph them using existing light. Since I don't have a great camera, the flash would cause a ugly glare on the reproduced image or else get kinda fuzzy. You still can see them and I assume you get the idea. Or you don't. I hope you agree with me that as "art" they are infinitely more interesting than anything such big buck art frauds like Julien "I'm fat but I'm hairy" Schnabel, Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons have ever produced. Listening wise they don't hold up as well as their covers, here's the best track, Skillet & Leroy's The Republicans 23rd Psalm/The Boss. These LP covers were all designed by Howard Goldstein with photography by Bud Fraker. Unfortunately, one of the best covers-- Skillet & Leroy's The Okra Eaters I no longer own as Lester Bangs borrowed it from me back in '81 then promptly dropped dead two days later*. John Morthland who was the executor of Lester's estate refused to give it back to me when I asked for it, along with a book he borrowed: Persecuted Prophets by Karen W. Carden and Robert W. Pelton (A.S. Barnes, 1976) about Kentucky snake-handling religious cults. The book I've replaced, the LP eludes me still, 27 years later (partially due to my refusal to pay more than $10 for a copy). I don't know if Mr. Goldstein or Mr. Fraker are still alive but their work together deserve a retrospective at Moma (Museum Of Modern Art) or at least the Whitney. Art, politics, religion, music, medicine, literature, history, let's face it, they are all just branches of Show Biz. And American Show Biz was invented by P.T. Barnum. Need I say more? * I think it's funny there's someone out there bragging about "having Lester Bangs' copy of Metal Machine Music" and evidently paying big bucks for it. Lester owned over one hundred copies of MMM at the time of his death, including two copies I sold him when I ran into him on Astor Place where I was hawking promos a week before his death. Evidently someone is selling them for highly inflated prices as "Lester's personal copy". I'll bet all together he went through 2-300 copies (he was also always giving them away to folks who missed it the first time around in '75). A copy of MMM that wasn't owned by Lester is probably rarer than one that was.