Tom Phillips album covers

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Words and Music (1975) by Tom Phillips.

Two related posts is coincidence, three is a series. Earlier posts from the past couple of weeks looked at album covers created by designers better known for their work in other areas. Tom Phillips is a British artist, writer and composer who I continue to insist is one of our greatest living artists, a figure of singular intelligence, invention and versatility whose lack of grandstanding has never raised his profile to, say, the Hockney level. Phillips’ involvement with the music world, both as composer/librettist, and his oft-cited position as Brian Eno’s art teacher in the 1960s, have led to the creation of a handful of record and CD covers from the mid-70s on. Before we get onto those I’ll note that Phillips has a piece in the latest edition of Eye magazine where he reviews a book of postcards from the Wiener Werkstätte. I happen to have a review in the same issue looking at a republished Kenneth Anger study.

Words and Music above has a January 1975 release date although the cover clearly states “LXXIV” in Phillips’ customary stencil lettering. The pressing was limited to 500 copies and doesn’t seem to have been reissued since which means that copies for sale command excessive prices. Side A comprises recordings of Phillips’ compositions while on the flip the artist/author reads extracts from A Humument, the treated book/experimental novel which is not only his most celebrated work but a project whose influence permeates all of the Phillips oeuvre, including the sleeve art.

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Starless and Bible Black (1974) by King Crimson.

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A year before Words and Music, Phillips created the cover art for this King Crimson album, and he’s also credited with the design. The fractured stencil lettering on the gatefold interior resembles similar effects in some of Phillips’ paintings while on the back cover there’s a tiny extract from A Humument bearing the enigmatic phrase “this night wounds time”. I’ve wondered for years how this cover came about: Robert Fripp often selects the art for King Crimson’s covers so was Phillips his choice as artist/designer? Or was it a result of the Fripp and Eno connection? If anyone knows the answer, please leave a comment.

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Weekend links 53

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Ancient Egyptian capitals from The Grammar of Ornament (1856) by Owen Jones at Egyptian Revival.

• Golden Age Comic Book Stories has been pulling out all the stops recently with entries for Will Bradley, Alphonse Mucha’s Documents Decoratifs (a companion volume to Combinaisons Ornementales), and pages from My Name is Paris (1987) illustrated by Michael Kaluta, an Art Nouveau-styled confection which features scenes from the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Related: Alphonse Mucha in high-resolution at Flickr.

The Sinking Of The Titanic by Gavin Bryars at Ubuweb, the first release on Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975. Bryars’ Titanic is an open composition which has subsequently been reworked and re-recorded as more information about the disaster has come to light. The accompanying piece on that album, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, is the only version you need unless you want Tom Waits ruining the whole thing in the later recording.

• Hayley Campbell claims to have the worst CV in the world but she has a better way with words than most people with bad CVs. She’ll be giving a talk with Tim Pilcher entitled Sex, Death, Hell & Superheroes at The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, Bethnal Green, London, on April 8th. Just don’t shout “Xena!” if you attend.

Monolake live at the Dis-Patch Festival Belgrade, Serbia, 2007; 75 minutes of thumping grooves. Related: A video by Richard De Suza using Monolake’s Watching Clouds as the soundtrack.

• “I preached against homosexuality, but I was wrong.” Related: Gay Cliques, a chart, and Sashay shantay épée at Strange Flowers, the last (?) duel with swords fought in France.

• Mixtapes of the week: Electronica from John Foxx and Benge at The Quietus, and Ben Frost mashing up early Metallica, Krzysztof Penderecki, and late Talk Talk for FACT.

• A 40 gigpixel panorama of the Strahov Philosophical Library, Prague, described by 360 Cities as the world’s largest indoor photo.

How Hollywood Butchered Its Best Movie Posters; Steven Heller on Saul Bass.

• Back issues of Coilhouse magazine are now available to buy in PDF form.

Absinthe minded: The ruin of bohemians is back in all the best bars.

Fade Into You (1993) by Mazzy Star.