The record geek can be recognized in his home by the lovingly quick glance he gives the album covers framed on his walls -- next to the original Family Dog, Fillmore and Frank Kozik posters -- a look both swift and penetrating, but thoughtful, as if he was recapturing a fine moment ... or simply undressing them. This is either followed by pained reverential silence or a thought in his head like, “I really wish I could find a Japanese or Thai pressing of that record.” The record geek will stand back from the framed album at a distance, his head slightly cocked to one side, in his hand a Scotch or Irish whiskey, eventually, after a long moment of wishing or searching Ebay, he -- and it is always a he -- will cautiously slink forward to within a millimeter of the frame, study the blur of lines and color in the cover art and remember being fourteen years old again. Then he'll return to his former distant position by the sliding door in the living room, give the framed art piece one last glance, wander over to his stereo system and play the Import CD version of that very record, grimace as he recognizes the inferior digital sound of the classic disc he still can’t believe everybody doesn't own. He sighs exhaustively. But that’s where the Scotch comes in; he pours himself one more drink, collapses in his mid-century arm chair and contemplates a better tomorrow.
Graphic designer Heinz Edelmann, best known for his work as the art director of the classic animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine, has died; he was 75. Edelmann died in a Stuttgart, Germany hospital not far from Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts where he taught design for many years. No cause of death was announced.
Heinz Edelmann was born in 1934 in Aussig, Czechoslovakia. He studied at the Duesseldorf Art Academy and upon graduation became a freelance graphic designer. In 1961 Heinz Edelmann began teaching design, illustration and animation design at various art schools in Holland and Germany. As a graphic designer, Edelmann is mostly known for his advertising and poster work, especially for the broadcasting station Westdeutscher Rundfunk and his innovative book cover designs for the publishing house Klett-Cotta, which includes the first German edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in 1971. Edelmann in 1989 won the competition to design the mascot of Seville's Expo '92 World Fair, beating out two dozen other entries with his illustration of a pudgy bird with a rainbow plume and conical beak named Curro.
But his greatest fame stems from his art direction for the 1968 film Yellow Submarine; he also received co-credit for the script. Edelmann was originally hired for only eight weeks to create the design for the film, but wound up working for almost an entire year. Because of the lack of direction, an incomplete screenplay, and the enormous deadline pressure -- the producers reserved the July 17, 1968 date for the debut at The London Pavillion before the production was even finished -- Edelmann took on the long ordeal personally. Sleeping only four hours most every night, he led some 200-plus artists to create a visionary work that would be worthy of the most famous band in the world. Edelmann’s health took a major nosedive; he said it took almost two years to recover from the project. Needless to say, Yellow Submarine left a somewhat sour taste in his mouth. On top of that, Yellow Submarine has sometimes been inaccurately attributed to one of the most famous artist of the era, Peter Max. However Edelmann, along with another of his contemporaries, Milton Glaser, is thought to have pioneered the 1960’s psychedelic style for which Max would later become famous. According to Edelmann and film producer Al Brodax, Max had nothing to do with the production. But other notable illustrators did work on the film including Paul Driessen, Tony Cuthbert, Ron Campbell, and the film’s overall director George Dunning (he also worked on the Beatles cartoon series), who created the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" sequence.
Dear 45 Records room,
One more Interstate 5 story: just outside of Sacramento in a fast food joint, I got into a quick conversation with a couple of bikers from the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club, one of the oldest clubs around. They had just come back from the annual Fourth of July weekend gathering in Hollister, the site of the infamous 1947 riot which was the basis for the classic 1951 film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin. (Marvin’s character "Chino" is said to have been based on Wino Willie, founder of the BFMC). But while we were talking I overheard this woman at a table behind me say “He's a goddamned freaking national treasure ... I heard he has, like, a closet filled with mason jars of urine.” Anyway?
Here is the song hopelessly stuck in my head, tormenting me as I drove over the Siskiyous Mountain Pass on our way to Ashland, Oregon. And as I drove all night, my hands wet on the wheel, I thought I heard a voice in my head. Oddly enough, at the 4310 ft. summit, around about half past four in the morning, I found myself inexplicably shifting gears ...
Anyway, it's pretty late, say hey to the straight edge records and the 200 or so BRMC records we have stacked in the 45 Records Room. One more thing-- give a little peace, love and understanding to the new Elvis Costello Box, and I’ll see you all Monday afternoon.
Dear 45 Records room,
How’s it going? Up until a couple of days ago the weather had been pretty damn nice; mid 70’s, sunny, slight sea breeze ... but a cold front came in, shelving plenty of weekend barbeques. From the edge of this five acre property you can see the whitecaps out on the waves getting ornery. Damned cantankerous Northwest climate!
At the local thrift store I found a goldmine -- and I use that term loosely -- of used Jackie Gleason records in mint condition. Jackie Gleason, AKA the Great One, back in the mid 1950’s when his The Honeymooners television show was at the top of its game, was contracted by Capitol Records to arrange and conduct or compose a series of records with a relaxing-romantic-late night vibe. I suspect he simply just sold his name to Capitol and hung out at the studio sessions tippling with the musicians. The best part of this “Music For” series was the packaging. The art work always stood out. One cover in particular, Lonesome Echo, was created by Salvador Dali. But this thrift store’s stash of LP’s are the more “desirable” covers, pun intended. Anyway, I found about eight Gleason albums, minty jackets all, but minus the vinyl! These album jackets are perfect, lust filled portraits of silky and laced up vixens -- femme fatales draped over sofas and beds and floors with their come hither mouths and eyes whispering “another martini, lover boy?” What I found includes Music Martinis and Memories, Music for Lovers Only, Aphrodesia, Love Embers and Flame and of course Music to Make you Misty; all the albums ready for framing and decking out your mad bachelor pad dad!
Well, 45’s Record Room, I’ll talk to you later. Tuck in all the Northern Soul records for me, give the R&B section a kiss goodnight and tell the Ska records that I haven’t forgotten about them, I have a little gift to give them when I get back.
Dear 45s Record room,
I just finished driving due north to beautiful Vashon Island off the coast of Seattle; 1200 miles of dodging Highway Patrol speed traps, over-thinking routes and stuck in hyper caffeine overdrive listening to crazy-ass tirades from loony-right-wingnut talk radio. I suspect the elitist-socialist-coast-hugging-Hollywood-sissy-leftist-yoga flexing-public radio-wingnut they’re talking about is me, except I’m just a record geek on vacation driving a Ford mini-van with my wife and kid on that silvery ribbon of highway. By the way, gas wasn’t terribly overpriced anywhere on the road.
We spent a couple of days at the mouth of the Russian River just north of the Bay Area; insanely gorgeous and weirdly quiet. For most of us, spending a night in John’s cabin was probably a treat. Up there on the Russian River surrounded by big blue chunks, there is no noise, just pure unadulterated silence. I woke one morning very suspicious of silence. Is silence golden? Hell, I think silence is more often than not iron pyrite. Confucius said “Silence is the true friend that never betrays.” Well, I’m always a little dubious. In Buddhism silence and allowing the mind to become silent can help lead to spiritual enlightenment. Unfortunately I doubt I’ll ever know. My hearing is shot and if the high pitch ringing in my ears doesn’t drive me mad, all the noise I use to cover my tinnitus every single frigging day will. I’d like to blame someone other than myself for this predicament; it is the true blue American, Fourth of July, consecrated right to deny personal responsibility. Could I blame some of the 5000 different bands I did sound for in my years as a live engineer? I was raised in the Catholic Church-- maybe the blame should be directed at god? Then again, what’s that going to accomplish? I’m pretty sure by the sixth chapter of the first book in the bible god was ready to kill off everybody; I doubt my tinnitus could qualify as either a concern of the almighty or the act of a vengeful god ... too simple a scheme. However, according to talk radio rationale, I could and should blame Obama, Pelosi, or Letterman and Franken or a least my college education for all my problems.
Anyway, I’ll write you again later, don’t forget to feed the new psychedelic record box, and take out the thrash records, thanks. Oh, and send my regards to the pop vocals clutter. PS: here are a couple of pix from along the way and an old song. One more thing, according to the great mime Marcel Marceau, “Music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music.” I presume he wrote that down.