I can finally reveal my illustration for the Thirty Three and a Third Exhibition that opened at the fantastic Gallery1988 East In Los Angeles today. The piece is called The Butcher Shop Quartet and is my reinterpretation of The Beatles Yesterday and Today Album with the infamous Butcher cover. The print is a limited edition giclée print you can get a copy from Gallery1988's website here.
The Thirty Three and a Third Exhibition celebrates the art of the album cover, featuring reinterpretations and re-imaginings of existing album covers by artists and designers! When it came time for me to pick what album to illustrate I was stuck. I had a million ideas running through my head, I even lost sleep, mentally going through my record collection thinking of an album to reinterpret. I really wanted to illustrate an album that I not only loved to listen to but that I was also drawn to the cover artwork of. I then began thinking about records and record collecting and albums that I don't own and what would be my holy grail record find based solely on its cover, that's when it hit me….. The Beatles, Yesterday and Today with the now infamous Butcher Cover.
For those of you who don't know the Beatles' U.S. albums differed from the band's U.K. albums in a variety of ways, including different track lists, song mixes, album titles and artwork. In the U.S. the fab four where signed to Capitol Records and especially in the early years they were playing catch-up with the albums and singles that had already come out on the EMI record label in the U.K. Yesterday and Today was released in June 1966 and included tracks from the Beatles' two most recent British LPs which had not yet been included on American albums, plus three from their upcoming LP in the United Kingdom, plus two songs which were back-to-back on a single. At the time The Beatles felt the US releases had undone the hard work that they put into the sequencing of the British versions.
Capitol Records originally printed 750 000 covers with the Butcher Cover image. A small fraction were shipped to distributors, disc jockeys and reviewers before its release. A Negative reaction to the cover was immediate and after receiving complaints from some dealers, the record was immediately recalled by Capitol Records prior to its actual release. Although initially ordering the destruction of the Butcher covers, Capitol decided instead to paste a much more conventional cover over the old ones when faced with number of jackets they had already printed. Of course as word of this spread among Beatles Fans, owners of the altered cover attempted, usually unsuccessfully, to peel off the pasted-over cover, hoping to reveal the original image hidden beneath. Eventually, the soaring value and desirability of unpasted-over Butcher covers spurred the development of intricate and complex techniques for peeling the Trunk cover off in such a way that only faint horizontal glue lines remained on the original cover.
I originally chose to reinterpret The Beatles Butcher Cover of the Yesterday and Today Album because of its rarity but it also got me thinking about the power of the album cover. I feel that this cover is a definite precursor to the more artistic and creative album covers of the Beatles' later career, that move away from a simple group shot of the band. When recreating the cover I made it a little less macabre by illustrating it in my retro "story-book style". I really wanted to capture not only the likenesses but also the mannerisms and energy of The Beatles in a very simplified form. I think the final illustration has the feeling of being a children's sing along album which is funny when you think back to its original release and the controversy that followed. Rather than having the band sitting is a blank studio I decided to emphasize the humour and surrealism of the original photograph having The Beatles sitting outside a Butcher and Doll Repair Shop. I also decided to get a bit self referential placing this Butcher and Doll Repair Shop on Penny Lane right next door to the famed barber shop. The Thirty Three and a Third Exhibition exhibition will run until the 21st of December at Gallery1988 East In Los Angeles.