Category Archives: Stuff

Five Favorite Album Covers

I love album covers. It’s the thing I miss the most about vinyl. I know vinyl is back, but most of the time the cover is designed for the CD, digital image AND the vinyl album. Not much room for nuance when the design is made for a .375 inch square avatar instead  of a square foot canvas.

The following are five of my favorite covers, I’m not saying they are the best, just five art/designs that hold special to me. I also admit what sound came from their sleeves made an impression on the choices.

5. Sailin’ Shoes – Little Feat  This was not only my initial introduction to the band but to their cover artist, Neon Park. He went on to make many more Feat covers and became a much in-demand  illustrator. Sailin’ Shoes remains my favorite Feat album and my favorite Park cover. I mean an anthropomorphized slice of cake on a swing, half a blue boy and a voyeuristic  snail, come on!


4. Led Zeppelin  This album burst out of the speakers like a rock blues hurricane, and the album art captures that explosion. All of Zeppelin’s covers were fantastic but its first, and starkest design, is the best. Note: the band and friends thought this album would fail like a lead ballon, thus the band name and the art: crash of the Hindenburg.


3. School’s Out – Alice Cooper  A perfect album cover for me at the time. Released in the Summer of 1972, I had just graduated high school and the single and the album became athemic. The cover was also interactive. It was a desk. Using great photography, oragami and wicked attention to detail, this design stood as art or at least a good high school shop project. Note: the original release album sleeve was a pair of girl’s panties soon replaced by a regular paper sleeve. Alice knew his audience, huh?

album-schools-out-front-cover-09-06-11 schoolsout

2. The Band – The Band   Designed by the great Bob Cato, using an Elliot Landy photograph, this simple cover speaks volumes of what waits inside. Their first album, Music From Big Pink (and a contender for this list) did not show the members of the group on either the front or the back; you had to open it up to see the group. Here they confront you head-on, staring at you from another time. This was the time of paisley and psychedelic design and fonts. Not this band, there were dressed as workers, laborers, as if they stepped out of 1940’s  America. Hell, they could’ve been mistaken for hobos then. The album was sepia toned as if taken from our grandparents’ scrapbook. And the music reflected it all, and magnificently. A masterpiece.



1. Revolver – The Beatles  Now you know I could’ve put lots of Fab covers here, as a matter of fact all five spots could be Fab covers: With The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles (White Album), Abbey Road. But Revolver is my favorite. Designed and drawn by their friend and fellow musician Klaus Voorman, the cover captured the band as they were moving from Fabdom to somewhere else. It captures this space in time and the music within perfectly. As a professional graphic designer I think it is beautifully rendered and remains timeless. It also won the Grammy for Best Album Cover Design, that’s one they got right.



OK, one more, not really a favorite but this design for Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats freaked me out in 1969 and still does today. Some cats have nightmares about bogeymen and monsters, I have nightmares of Hot Rats.


I’d love to know some of your favorite covers and why.



Warren Zevon – Five Songs You Should Hear


Warren Zevon burst from the wellspring of 1970’s Southern California songwriters, artists such as Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Don Henly, Glenn Frey and others. But Zevon was a tad different; he was bitterer, funnier, darker, scarier and tenderer. He was an oxymoron of a writer, and we are better for it.  He died at the age of 56 in 2003 but he left behind a treasure of work – you just have to find it.

Now you can easily uncover his ubiquitous “Werewolves of London” (a financial blessing but a creative curse because some people only remember him for this, so much so they think him a novelty writer) and the songs covered by other artists such as Linda Ronstadt . Her covers of “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, “Mohammed’s Radio”, “Carmelita”, and “Hasten Down the Wind” are staples in her catalog.

But he was so much more, so much that I want you to hear some of his best but overlooked work and hopefully dig deeper into his work.

Desperados Under The Eaves

From his masterpiece album simply titled Warren Zevon, it is a cautionary tale of California life and its quest for success.

Accidentally Like A Martyr

A heartbreaking love song of days sliding by and love lost from his album Excitable Boy. One of his best.

Jeannie Needs A Shooter

From the album Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School and co-written with Bruce Springsteen, this song of love, lust and betrayal is a self contained Peckinpah Western. Brilliant.

Splendid Isolation

From Transverse City, well this lyric says it all:

Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don’t have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
And lead me through the World of Self

Keep Me In Your Heart

The last song on his last album, The Wind, was recorded as he battled terminal lung cancer. It is the last song of a short life and a fitting stone for his monument of work.

Note: Amazon has Zevon’s first five albums packaged in a box set for an amazingly low price, click here. I have no clue to how long this will be available but man it’s fantastic.


At my age… that’s not a good idea.


When you reach a certain age, say 55, there are some things that you just shouldn’t do. I am that age and over, so I know of what I speak.

Here’s the list of “don’t do’s” over 55.

1. Karaoke – trust me

2. Tequila shots

3. Tequila shots AND karaoke together.

4. Twister

5. White Belt  Personal aside, my wife  knows that if we are ever walking through a department store and I stop to admire white belts in the Men’s section, she has permission to kick me in the shin just as hard as she can.

6. Play air guitar in public   You just don’t.

7. Knee high socks with shorts

8. Plaid

9. Buy a bright yellow car

10. Send Christmas cards out in October, just to be sure they arrive on time

11. Neck tattoo

12. Collect garden gnomes and stone frogs    One each is enough

13. Eat gummy worms alone in public

14. Fall asleep on a public bench

15. Planking

So, there’s some of mine. There are some others, like never give up and never forget.

10 Things I Don’t Get

Look, there are a lot of things I love that people don’t get: fedoras, Crocs, Tom Waits, peach jelly on a bacon and egg sandwich, Buckaroo Banzai and way too many more to mention. The following list I’m sure will contain many things you like or love, hopefully a few you will agree with me. Ready?

1. The Geico gecko speaks in an English, nah Cockney, accent? WTF!

2. The Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket. There are too many bands to name that I don’t get, but these three are liked or loved by many people I respect and usually agree with as far as music goes. I’ve tried, I don’t get.

3. Guacamole. Pea diarrhea.

4. Good manners seen as a sign of weakness. In reality nothing makes you stronger.

5. Political hate speech. The way politicians, media pundits and officials spout hateful and bigoted views is just harmless and expected rhetoric, right? Wait a minute, Germany, January 30, 1933.

6. Why we celebrate and idolize the reality stars on Jersey Shore, Real Housewives and their ilk. When did this behavior become something to be cherished and worse, valued?

7. Ketchup on a Hot Dog. Dude, that’s just wrong.

8. Self entitlement. I was at a restaurant yesterday, it was 88 degrees outside. A woman and her friend came in and asked for the heat to be turned on, she is chilly at anything over 74 degrees. At first the waiter thought she was kidding, she wasn’t. When he said he could not turn it on, she became irritated. She could’ve cared less about anyone else dining, just herself. And people, our educational system puts up with these jerks everyday…  and their children, see #4.

9. Car advertisements that highlight the speed of a car that can go to 120 miles per hour. Where in America can you drive 120 miles an hour on a public road?

10. Ringo Starr is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an individual artist, yet all the other Fabs are. He has had more “hits” than John and is the most famous drummer in the history of the friggin’ world. (Poco should be in there , too.)

If I Was King Of The Friggin’ World

If I was King of the friggin’ World the following are the the first things that I would implement. Yea, there are the most important things like World Peace, the environment, poverty, medical research, new economic systems, The Fab Four as Universal Ambassadors of Intergalactic Friendship and so on; but I would have the best and brightest minds as my Court working on that shit, these are the King’s personal get ‘er done list starting Day one.

1. The complete eradication of all snakes. That includes eels and long skinny lizards with real tiny legs. I know lots of people would bitch and complain that snakes do good, killing vermin and… well other snaky crap. Well, those people will have their asses exiled to a large ark-like boat that will forever sail the seas unable to set harbor on land. And on that boat will be every photo, sculpture or painting ever created with an image of a snake. See ya!

2. Fat Gyms. These are gyms that are only for fat people, where you can wear workout clothes that are clearly designed for thin people no matter what Xlarge size they may be. Where you can work out without thinking that every toned person running, biking, lifting or spinning (what the hell is that, when I first hear spinning class I think of blue-hairs with yarn and wooden wheels) is judging you. And once you get to a certain weight you’re OUT! If you don’t think this edict is worthwhile, you can probably wear bike shorts. Believe me I’ll get to bike shorts eventually.

3. Beginners Golf Courses. Just like fat gyms’ hierarchy these golf courses are designed in the same mold. Golfers hate beginners on THEIR golf course, and a beginner cannot enjoy or learn the game due to the nature of this system. This would bring the Putt Putt mentality to the real greens, and it would be a self-reliant system of moving on to another course because nobody wants to play with a beginning golfer.

4. The King’s Movie Theater. Certain movie theaters would be labeled as The King’s. These theaters would not allow talking, and that includes from the second the trailers start to the last credit rolls, no cell phones, no hand-held video games and no babes in arms. Of course there will be regular movie houses for the masses but the King’s theaters will be available, too. If  you talk, text or play during the movie your seat will sink into the security floor where you will be barcoded by an invisible tattoo laser and from that moment on forever banned from a King’s Theater. Yeah, that’s right, one time. This edict will become known as The King’s Revenge Edict. Yeah, I’m talking to you, the couple with the 4 screaming kids all with cell phones and video games who incessantly misbehaved as you talked about an upcoming wine tasting event while ruining my first screening of The Dark Knight.

5. The words “Lindsay” and “Lohan” would never appear together in a newspaper, news program or magazine again. They would be allowed on the one and only trash TV channel and in certain publications found in Dentists’ offices only.

Note: The King hopes that all The Real Housewives, Mafia Wives and Jersey Shore cats are snake lovers.