Sunday, 6 November 2011
If you've seen Terry Zwigoff's brilliant documentary about cartoonist Robert Crumb you'll know that the comics pioneeer loves old American music in almost equal measure to drawing large-breasted women.
Over the years Crumb has married his passion for music with his talents as an artist to illustrate dozens of record covers (most famously Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills).
These sleeves alongside other music-related epheremea are now gathered in a terrific book, accurately titled, The Complete Record Cover Collection (Norton).
It's difficult to browse through the book and see names like Ukulele Ike and the Possum Trot String Band and not want to hear their music.
This is Crumb's cover to a 1978 compilation by bawdy bluesman Bo Carter.
On this track, when Bo sings about troubles with his pencil, I don't think it's an HB graphite he's referring to.
MP3: Bo Carter - The Pencil Won't Write No More
Buy Bo Carter's Banana in Your Fruit Basket at Amazon
Another great cover in the book that sees Crumb playing to his strengths is this one for a 1975 Hokum Boys compilation on Yazoo Records.
MP3: The Hokum Boys -You Can't Get Enough Of That Stuff
Buy The Hokum Boys Complete Recordings: June-Dec 1929 at Amazon
The book also includes all of Crumb's covers for his own band The Cheap Suit Serenaders.
I thought this track from the Cheap Suits' third album was most appropriate.
MP3 R Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders - Fine Artiste Blues
Buy The Cheap Suit Serenaders' Chasin' Rainbows at Amazon
R Crumb - official site
R Crumb - Illustrator & Musician - good interview on Leap in the Dark blog
Robert Crumb on WFMU's Antique Phonograph Music Program - great video interview