Pop-Up Record Albums

Until fairly recently, I had a Tuesday Morning “close-out retailer” store within 2 miles of home.   In an age when we’re lucky to have just one large national bookstore chain, I was grateful to have a quirky home goods store that also offered the oddest assortment of book fare, the overwhelming majority of which can not be found in Barnes & Noble, Politics & Prose, and other “respectable” reading establishments.

This piece, therefore, is a tribute to the former Silver Spring location of Tuesday Morning for allowing me to purchase the ingeniously-crafted Country Music Pop-Up Book, a $45.00 retail value (as the price tag states) for only $14.99.  This delightful pop-up book I first mentioned two years ago last December in a classic “road” story about Waylon Jennings as told by Kinky Friedman.

Country Music Pop-Up Book-aaCountry Music Pop-Up Book-a

The closing of our local Tuesday Morning has me looking at this sumptuous movable book once again — I just re-read Steve Earle‘s funny essay about life as a struggling songwriter in Nashville working on “The Graveyard Shift” in which we learn that, when “Steve Martin led the entire audience down Ellison Place and bought everyone a Krystal hamburger, [Earle] was at the front of the line.”

When it comes to pop-up record albums, Jethro Tull‘s elaborate gatefold sleeve for their sophomore release — 1969’s Stand Up, with the pop-up art of the four band members — single-handedly rules the roost (one has to wonder, then, why the title of this piece is plural).  The concept was “based on ideas from Terry Ellis and John Williams and printed from woodcuts by New York graphic artist, Jimmy Grashow [whom you may visit on Facebook].”

Jethro Tull Pop-Up LP

One song I remember hearing on 1970s FM radio was Jethro Tull’s adaptation of a popular Bach lute piece (Bourrée in E minor).  Although Stand Up would reach the US Top 20, Island’s release of “Bourée” b/w “Fat Man” would fail to chart, except in Germany (#37) and the Netherlands (#5):

“Bourée”     Jethro Tull     1969

Jimmy Grashow would also design the artwork used for the French 45 picture sleeve:

Jethro Tull 45-aJethro D’oh!

Did You Know…Jethro Tull’s very first single release – their one and only on the MGM label – would find find the group identified as Jethro Toe!  In fact, 45Cat emphatically states that any copies of “Sunshine Day” b/w “Aeroplane” with the band’s name as ‘Jethro Tull’ are bootlegs — click here to check out the many interesting comments about this 7-inch equivalent of the postage stamp with the bi-plane flying upside down.

“Jethro Toe”:  a fire-able offense?

Jethro Toe-bJethro Toe-a

A rare beige/taupe 45 would sell at auction in 2009 for £500 ($800)!

Jethro Toe-c

Connect Sonny James’s Dots

To the best of my knowledge, there are only three “connect-the-dots” album cover designs:  (1) John Entwistle‘s brilliant cartoon rendering of the four band members for The Who By Numbers released in 1975;

Who connect-the-dots LP

(2)  Neil Diamond‘s aforementioned Shilo cover from 1970 — one that ABC Arts of Australia, you might recall, would utilize as a vehicle for an art contest in 2009;

Neil Diamond's connect the dots Shilo LP

(3) Sonny James‘s refreshingly unformidable connect-the-dots cover for 1972’s Traces LP.

Sonny James connect the dots LP

James would pantomime his rousing version of “A World of Our Own” – originally recorded by The Seekers – for this 1960s televised performance:

forget the song:  check out the gargantuan bass guitar wielded by the guy on the porch

Zero to 180 finds it hard to believe there have only been three connect-the-dots covers — and all of them released in the 1970s, curiously enough.  Are there others?

While it is true that, three decades later, hip hop artist, J.J. Brown, would take the baton with the release of his 2009 album, Connect the Dots, Brown – regrettably – would deprive his fans the joy of completing the puzzle themselves.

Honorable mention, of course, goes to Jethro Tull for Thick as a Brick‘s elaborate fictional newspaper concept that also included a clever, though puerile, connect-the-dots feature for the kiddies.

Jethro Tull connect the dots