Our friendly neighborhood record shop has appeared in two of Brendon Farley’s south Minneapolis neighborhood portraits. One of them is below.
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In one of his comedy records, Steve Martin uses his mock naïveté to explain to the audience that “it’s like those French have a different word for everything.” This joke came to mind yesterday when we were listening to this instructional record, on which Nazir Ali Jairabhoy delivers a lecture introducing his audience to Indian classical music. You could say that they have a different note for everything.
The idea is certainly much older, having appeared in an altarpiece in the apse of the Old St. Peter’s Basilica in the 14th century. Italian painter Giotto included in his Stefaneschi Tryptic the eponymous Cardinal holding a smaller image of the work. The work was preserved through the destruction of the Old Basilica and remains in a Vatican art museum.
The technique is best known to record collectors for its appearance on Best of Friends, the groundbreaking psychedelic rock album by the Smurfs released on the progressive Starland Music label in 1982.
Its awesome cover only hints and the mind-expanding masterpiece contained within illusive copies of Best of Friends, which of course was named the #1 most important album of all time by Rolling Stone upon its initial release.
The technique also appeared on a far more conventional album by Pink Floyd ten years earlier. The first copies of this album included a copy of the soundtrack to Gigi, which had to be withdrawn for copyright complaints, leaving only a blank album jacket in subsequent pressings like the one seen here. The best thing about the Ummagumma‘s jacket is that they have fun with the Droste effect by changing the position of the Pink Floyders in each reproduction of the image, suggesting an infinite cycle, or perhaps endless overlapping realities.
Our in-house design team (ie our friend Paul) used the Droste effect on the jacket for Live at Hymie’s, an LP+DVD we released this past Record Store Day. He placed the album in one of the shelves in the shop, originally because we asked him to cover up a Mylon LeFevre album because, well ugh, Mylon.
We’re pretty proud of this compilation, but it’s no Best of Friends.
The Dillards were a successful bluegrass group, whose first found fame as recurring characters, the Darling Family, on The Andy Griffith Show. They recorded several albums for folk-friendly Elektra Records, before beginning to explore an electric version of their sound which retained its traditional roots.
The Dillards’ “progressive bluegrass” records weren’t huge hits, but they had a lasting influence on country-rock. Elton John took them along when he toured on Honky Chateau in 1972, and bands like the Byrds and the Eagles clearly took a cue from them.
Their second album after leaving Elektra also has some fans here in Minneapolis. Tribute to An American Duck has one of our all-time favorite album covers.
rainbows“Rainbows all over your Blues” by John B Sebastian
somwehere“Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
chasin“Chasin’ that neon Rainbow” by Alan Jackson
ridin“Ridin’ the Rainbow” by Elvis Presley
connection“The Rainbow Connection” by Kermit D. Frog
Austin (Texas, not Minnesota) band Bumping Uglies gives each records special hand-painted covers in the grand El Saturn Records tradition — no two are alike!
They played along with Hymie’s employee Tyler Haag at the Kitty Cat Klub last week and we were luck enough to grab a few copies of their EP (they also have a full-length LP with hand-painted covers). So you collectors of bizarre, limited edition records might want to check them out. They’re super fun records, too.