Balloon parade


Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (1983) by The Rain Parade.

Another minor piece of album-cover detective work. A couple of years ago I was looking for dirigible pictures for a steampunk book I was working on, and in the searching came across the original of the photo used on the cover of the Rain Parade’s neo-psychedelic debut album. I didn’t want pictures of round balloons, however, and since I was ripping through a number of websites I neglected to bookmark the page. I’ve still not seen the photo since—which I recall was in a landscape ratio with more balloons to the left—but I’m fairly sure I’ve identified the event as being the balloon race that took place in the Bois de Vincennes, Paris, in October 1900.


The significance of the cover photo for this blog is that the balloon race in question was one of the Olympic Games competitions being held that year in tandem with the Exposition Universelle, an event which has been fairly thoroughly explored in earlier postings. Needless to say, balloon racing was later discontinued as an Olympic sport. The picture above shows another view of the “Parc Aérostatique”, while from the map below one can determine that the people in the foreground of the album cover photo are standing on the velodrome parapet.


The picture below from L’Illustration magazine might have made a better cover shot for Emergency Third Rail Power Trip if it was suitably cropped and coloured. If I turn up the errant photo at a later date I’ll post it here. As for the album itself, it was reissued on CD in 1992 together with its follow-up, Explosions In The Glass Palace, a mini-album that remains the pinnacle of the Rain Parade’s studio recordings.


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