Saturday, April 13, 2013

Banned Album Covers

Through out the history of the music industry artists and labels have had their disagreements about their public image, their royalties, lyric contents and even the album covers. The latest feature on the final vinyl are album covers that the labels or the artists used that caused public outrage and or upset the censors. Some of these covers are now highly prised by collectors and can command a hefty price. Possibly the most valuable would be The Beatles infamous "Butcher" cover, I found an article from PBS, written by Dennis Gaffney, below is a summary of this article.
The most repeated story about the butcher cover is that the Beatles made the album cover because they thought Capitol Records was "butchering" the English-market versions of their albums in order to make more money. The company had reshuffled songs on the English releases, reducing the number of songs on each album in order to turn three English albums into four American ones.
In 1991 the photographer who took the butcher cover, Robert Whitaker, stated in an interview with Goldmine magazine, that the cover was a satirical take on the Beatles fame. He said the idea for placing the Beatles with dismembered dolls and raw meat was his, and called the theory that it was a protest against Capitol records "rubbish and absolute nonsense." The butcher photos are printed in Whitaker's book, The Unseen Beatles, Whitaker stated that, "I was trying to show that the Beatles were flesh and blood."
John Lennon, in an interview shortly before his death in 1980, said the shot was "inspired by our boredom and resentment at having to do another photo session and another Beatles thing. We were sick to death of it." Paul McCartney told Capitol's former president, Alan Livingstone, that "It's our comment on the war," referring to the war in Vietnam.
Whatever the reason, Capitol printed hundreds of thousands of the Butcher album covers then had second thoughts, and pulled them from distribution in order to paste on a more presentable portrait of the Beatles sitting around an open trunk, which was another Whitaker photo. But a few Butcher covers slipped through, and because of their rarity they have become a prized possession of Beatles collectors. In December of 2005 a very rare stereo version sold at auction for $10,500.
The lively hood of an artist depends on their public acceptance, sure they can have fans but if the masses do not accept them then they are making music just for their own reasons.