Event Calendar
August 31, 2004 - September 24, 2004
San Jose State University
Natalie and James Thompson Gallery
The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were
Group show
Opens Tue - slide lecture at 5pm; viewing 6pm; free; runs through Sept. 24
You heard the story about Mingering Mike? This year, two dusty-fingered New York record collectors digging for funk and soul vinyl came across an amazing stash of oddities--38 records with handmade covers for albums that didn't exist. Dated 1968-1976, the albums contained original artwork, cardboard cylinder circles with grooves, gate-fold sleeves, catalog numbers and promotional quotes so they felt just like a real record--credited to an artist called Mingering Mike.
There were soundtracks to movies that didn't exist, a tribute to Bruce Lee, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia. Moved by the amount of detail and obvious love of music, the guys tracked Mingering Mike to Washington, D.C. They found a blue collar Vietnam war vet and failed musician. He lived vicariously through his conceptual albums so "if it all came together one day, I'd be ready," he told The New York Times.
As the two diggers search for a gallery to host Mike's collection, San Jose State's Natalie and James Thompson Gallery might be a good place to start. On Tuesday, " exhibit opens. Music archivist Michael Ochs and graphic designer Craig Butler asked 100 artists to choose a musician and create original album cover art. Among the contributors to this traveling exhibition include Alan Aldridge, Gary Burden, Ophelia Chong, William Claxton, Robbie Conal, Ron Coro, Andy Engel, Gottfried Helnwein, Graham Nash, Tim O'Brien, Jim Salvati, John Van Hamersveld and Kurt Vonnegut. The original exhibit opened at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in May of 2003. The touring exhibit contains 50 specimens featuring musicians like Marilyn Manson, Buffalo Springfield, John Lennon, Elvin Jones, Brian Wilson, Alanis Morissette and Blind Boys of Alabama being submitted to the creative vision of this hodge podge of established and burgeoning artists.
As Mingering Mike's story shows, the search for music's soul is an elusive thing. Image is such an important component of success but the compressed CD jacket--plus reliance on video and commercial tie-ins--has rendered cover artwork irrelevant. And as more music becomes available in downloadable form, the CD jacket could be extinct in five years. " merges whimsical imagination with the excitement of holding a freshly opened record sleeve. (TI)

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