Today's show is called Run for Album Cover, and it asks the question, "what are your favorite record covers of all time?" It is designed to be part two of a trilogy of topics focusing on the 50th anniversary of three seminal albums: Dark Side of the Moon, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Let's Get It On.
The first of those shows, as you might remember, was a discussion of the albums you could listen to from beginning to end and, in doing so, create a complete world of your own imagination. It was called The Vinyl Frontier. You were an attendee at the parting of the clouds for the great gig in the sky, could picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies, or were going to hit the highway like a battering ram on a silver black Phantom bike. Songs became routes, detours, and destinations that, because of their perfect positioning, brought you to an emotional conclusion in a completely sealed world. We circled around Dark Side and used it as a touchstone for both our guests and calls.
The third of these shows will be entitled The To-Woo List, and focusing on Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, it will ask you to set the mood for cupid's arrow by asking to pick your most romantic albums of all time. Setting the mood isn't just a matter of a three-and-a-half minute song. No, my fellow travellers in the game of love, it must be a collection of songs that move with an easy give and take towards the final flush of desire. That's drawing a bow and aiming it towards the beating drum beneath another human being's chest. The destination is the heart.
Obviously with both topics, I am talking about making maps. The Weekend 34 loves to talk about maps.
Whether we follow the maze on the back of a cereal box or lay out a plan to build a better you, it should come as no surprise that a show focusing on the lifestyle of trucking tends to look for mile markers, road signs, and the position of the stars. In conceiving this trifecta of shows, I immediately saw the possibilities for literally mapping out a structure in the first and last of the topics. But the second seemed to be a breather between wild journeys, a chance to take stock and contemplate before setting back out.
So, I was rather shocked yesterday while doing the handoff on The Dave Nemo Show with Michael Burns when I realized I had failed to hone in on the importance of maps in this Saturday's topic. Run for Album Cover seemed like a really fun, albeit static, conversation about cool images leading to cool t-shirts leading to cool fashion choices. But the presence of maps seems so obvious now as I write the previous sentence containing both the word "run" and a sequence of events that leads from an image on a cover to a full blown lifestyle.
It was Michael that got my imagination going with a simple statement.
After listing The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and The Holding Company as the producers of some of his favorite album cover offerings, Michael said how he loved to listen to a record while just staring at the image presented and seeing the world of the music contained within it. In Michael's hands, the album's packaging becomes like Joseph Cornell's dioramas, Man Ray's assemblage, or a Dadaist manifesto: scrutinized sacred text where grammar and punctuation oddities, inserted objects, and picture placements all speak to hidden meaning. Covers contain a treasure trove of mystical understanding provided one can figure out the arcane map gifted to you along with the music. Roger Waters' frenzied scribblings and Gerald Scaife's manic monstrosities, Richard Corben's Conan-like heroes doing battle with giant bats, or Neon Park's symbiosis with Little Feat all become more entombed, savage, or comically surreal when coupled with the music they introduce. Likewise, that music is then infused with a visual landscape that infects the listener's musings, dreams, and nightmares.
Because of Michael's insight, Run for Album Cover becomes a genuine sequel to The Vinyl Frontier. If you're truly going to enjoy an album in its totality, then that means total immersion. That immersion includes looking for shooters in the grassy knolls of The Dead Kennedys' discography, figuring out the meaning of the muses in Roxy Music's initial albums, or wondering just what in the hell Aleistei Crowley is doing inside Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. You might have missed that last one looking for Paul is Dead clues. Trust me when I tell you, you can lose an entire evening of your life going down that rabbit hole. Just make sure you're listening to "Revolution 9" on The White Album when you do. It makes it creepier.
Once again, we're asking you to draw us a map, show us what you think you've found, and take us out to prove that it's there.