Friday, June 29, 2018

How a really bad album cover picture became my obsession

UPDATED 6/13/24 -  Just added #35 and 36 (!!!)

I admit to having a fascination (some might say obsession) with private issue (vanity) albums. But somewhere in time, I became preoccupied with LPs featuring this out-of-focus, faded picture of a man wading in a stream, along a mountain backdrop.

Is that man on this cover relieving himself, burying a body, fishing, dancing... or is it Bigfoot?

Here's the deal - I have amassed, not a couple, not even a half dozen, but a grand total of 36 different albums, with the exact same stock photo (so far).       

No kidding.

It all started with this Colorado Springs folk gem, by the Emanon Majority. Then I spotted another one, and another...(see all of them, at the end of this post). Saying I was fascinated, is an understatement. Who is this guy and what the hell is he doing?

I mean, come on, how is one not scratching their head over this, especially when you learn that all of the artists could have chosen any one of the other (much cooler) 49 cover art options, from the custom album art outfit, Bert-Co., the company responsible for this picture.

(Thanks to my friend George Gimarc, for finding the original 1966 Bert-Co custom cover art brochure - click on image to see a larger picture)

Was the art chosen because there is a mountain in it? I guess I get that, for a Colorado group, but what about Al Stewart's (not THAT Al Stewart) Collegiate Singers, out of Chicago? How does mystery guy best represent a choir recording, out of Illinois?

Catalog picture is actually flipped, compared to the final product.

One might wonder if, after receiving their albums, the client also wondered who this guy was. I couldn't help but notice that "Bigfoot" is really unnoticeable in the original picture of the art sample (above). So, I completely understand how it could have been the obvious choice for mountain state recordings (or they could have picked the other mountain art, below).

The back of the brochure shows a drawing of the Bert-Co building, in Los Angeles (which looks very much like the Century Custom building, I might add)

A bit of history: Bert-Co was based out Los Angeles, and founded, in 1930, by Berton P. Couturier. The company was originally in the printed matchbook and travel brochure business, when they started printing record labels for RCA, Capitol and Columbia. In the 1950s they began to include stock album cover art, whereas a guy in his basement recording studio could press a couple hundred LPs for friends and family, and include a cool custom cover.

But don't think Bert-Co was only catering to unknown vanity vinyl. The company's typesetting efforts can be found on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, and Elvis Presley, Loving You, just to name a few. According to the company's website (yup, they are still in business) "Bert-Co had the distinction of printing, Abbey Road, the first record jacket produced in the U.S. for The Beatles."

(Full disclosure, Bert-Co had no clue who the model is in the picture, nor did they have any additional information on cover production, including locale).

No telling how many artists used the "mystery man wading in the water" cover. I'm surprised I even uncovered a dozen, let alone more than 30. Needless to say, if you find any others. I'm buying!

Colorado LPs:

(Colorado Springs) 
The Thunderbird Band - Cheyenne Mountain High School 1964
10" record
(Colorado Springs)

Polkas From the Rocky Mountains - George Meier and his Polka Band

 The Emanon Majority
(Colorado Springs)

 Larry Taylor Plays For The Handicapped
(Colorado Springs)

 MIA Conference 1968
Other States: 

(JUST ADDED - June 13, 2024)

A Cappella Choir - South Salem High School (Salem Oregon)

(JUST ADDED - June 13, 2024)

There is a God... Listen - Albert Anthony Bonahur (New York City)

He's Mine, I'm His - Gospel Five 
(Hendersonville, NC)

Clover Park High School
(Lakewood, WA)
Praise to the Lord - Young Men's Chorus - Salem Mennonite Church
(Freeman, SD)
 Gospel Favorites by the Jubliaires of Hammond
(Hammond, IN) 
It's Cool on the Banks of Jordan - The Revelators Quartet 
(Lexington, KY)
Sandy Union High School Music Department
(Prineville, OR)

Blue Springs High School Band and Choir
(Blue Springs, MO)

For The Beauty of the Earth - Boise Honor Concert 1970
(Boise, ID)
Eastern Oregon Fiddlers 1969
23'rd Annual Spring Program  - The McHenry Choral Club 
(McHenry, IL)

Just Beyond the Blue  - The King's Daughters (Frances, Patsy and Sandy Osborne)
(Santa Anna, TX)
San Augustine High School Band
(San Augustine, TX)
Donauschwaebische Blaskapelle - Danube Swabian Brass Band
(Cleveland, OH)

Oregon's Old Fashioned Camp Meeting - Bethel Gospel Park
(Brooks, OR)
How Great Thou Art - Dick Pollard and Bill Ness 
(Des Moines, IA)
York College Presents the East Hill Minstrels and The Newfolk Trio
(York, NE)

The Rices - Valley of Peace
(Tulsa, OK)

The Bill Daniels Family - Sweeter as the Days Go By
(Hayward, CA)

Danny Hibbard
(Coeur d'Alene, ID)

 Surely Goodness and Mercy - Gene and Bobby Moore
(Abilene, TX)

 Beside Still Waters - First Baptist Church Choir
(Las Cruces, NM)

 The King's Harvesters - Gospel Favorites
(Twin Falls, ID)

 Matt Shumac - Mother Lode Laments
(Placerville, CA)

 Meet the Sneed Family
(Spanaway, WA)

 Ray Turner and Dick Barron - Christ For Me
(Fort Worth, TX)

 Glen Walker - Christ in My Heart
(Baytown, TX)

 Al Stewart's Collegiate Singers (Chicago, IL)

1 comment:

  1. I found another just BEYOND THE BLUE
    The King’s Daughters
    Sandy, Frances and Patsy Osborne