March 28, 2021

The Dying Art of Album Covers — Part Six

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Trout Mask cover

Despite many very impressive reviews, TROUT MASK RELPICA by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, sold very poorly when it was released. Over time it has become widely acclaimed as a work of genius and one of the most influential albums of the entire Rock era. The songs were all written by Beefheart, arranged by drummer John “Drumbo” French and produced by Frank Zappa.

In my talks with the Captain, he told me where the idea for the cover and title song came from. Don Van Viet (his real name) has always had contempt for so called “practical jokes”. They can do great harm to the victim. The song, “old Fart at Play”, tells the story of a man who created this Trout mask in order to play just such a joke on his wife and how it backfired.


The first album by Steely Dan is one of the best debut albums of all time. While it never charted above number 17 on the charts, it has stood the test of time. It remained a good selling album over the years and has since become a platinum record.

The cover of the album is a photomontage that was created by Robert Lockart. It features an image of a line of prostitutes, standing in a so called red-light area in France, waiting for clients It was perfect the concept of YOU CAN’T BUY A THRILL and for the philosophy of the band. Throughout the entire Steely Dan album collection you will find these comments on society.

Surfs up cover

SURF’S UP is the 17th studio album by The Beach Boys released August 30, 1971. Brian Wilson didn’t do much in the production It represented a real effort on the band’s part to change their “surfin’” image. Lyrically, the album addresses environmental, social, and health concerns more than the group's previous releases.

The album's title and cover artwork are meant to be ironic, The cover is a painting of a sculpture called ”End of the Trail” that was created by by James Earle Fraser that is located in Waupun, Wisconsin. It depicts a weary Native American man hanging limp as his weary horse that have come to the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

This is Part Six in a series. To view the rest in this Album Cover series, click here.

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