Upon the release of my second solo album earlier this year, I decided to assemble my discography over the last twelve years. On a whim, I lined up the six main CD’s from my career on the floor of my studio and noticed a curious visual trend.
Beginning with our 1999 release “The Legende of Jeb Minor”, the band (or artist) name is positioned slightly higher in the design of each subsequent album cover. Some of the designs I had a major hand in and others I merely approved drafts from a hired designer so it would be difficult to make the case that there was a subconscious intention at work here. Still, I thought I’d go back and take a brief look at each release and see if there was anything to it.
The Legende of Jeb Minor by The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love (1999)
This was the first legitimate release by anyone in the band. After the teenage and college years of weird weekend bands, 4-track cassette releases and odd gigs, this was the first time any of us had worked hard enough to create something worthy of considering a “release”. We were a new band intent on working our way up. The original 1999 release on Planet Ant Records didn’t even have the band name on the cover. It was added to the lower right corner after we were picked up by The Telegraph Company in 2000.
H.O.M.E.S. Volume One by The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love (2001)
Jeb Minor gave us some clout locally and led to a record deal with The Telegraph Company in Brooklyn, NY. With the addition of Fido Kennington on drums, the lineup was solidified and we moved to a new studio and started working on better equipment. Our confidence was building, but the classic “Calithumpian Band” photo was the hero of this album cover and our name had to settle just below it.
Summer Cherry Ghosts by Timothy Monger (2004)
After three years of work and a lifetime of thinking about it, I released my first solo album. I admit that by the time we got to the artwork, I was crippled with debt and completely stressed out. Although I love the birdhouse photo session I did with Doug Coombe, I’ll admit to having had greater intentions for this album cover. I worked with a designer I met through a mutual friend and it was done very quickly. She did an excellent job with what I gave her, but I remember mere days before going to press choosing this version of the cover out of a line-up of four. In the year leading up to the release, I had imagined my name in a classic illustrated 60’s-style banner across the top, but in the panic to get it all done, it never materialized. The named climbed up a notch from the last release but it wasn’t ready for prime time, I guess.
Great Lakes Myth Society by Great Lakes Myth Society (2005)
Technically this album was recorded as “H.O.M.E.S. Volume Two” by The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love and we had another bizarre 100 year old Northern Michigan clown band photo already chosen for the cover which would mirror our previous release. After three years of recording we presented the finished album to our label just as they were going bankrupt. Depressed and disenchanted, we actually disbanded for a few months before reforming as Great Lake Myth Society in early 2004. We began reworking our new live show and image and the album eventually fell into the hands of Boston label Stop, Pop and Roll who released it in 2005. We called on our friend Dan Shepelavy who had done our previous cover to construct something classy and moody. His simple and understated photo of the dark water surface aptly fit our new black-suited image and our name could be nowhere except front and center.
Compass Rose Bouquet by Great Lakes Myth Society (2007)
Newly signed to Ann Arbor’s Quack Media label, we recorded this album more quickly than we had ever done before. We had a great batch of songs, a willing label and were back in the comfortable confines of our favorite studio Big Sky Recording. We knew we wanted to commission a piece of art for the cover and hired Brooklyn illustrator Rachel Salomon. Her lovely painting of the high-wire tower dictated that our name would should rise into the air above it, but we were ready to move up anyway.
The New Britton Sound by Timothy Monger (2011)
The cover photo of my newest solo album was chosen long before the record was finished. It’s a crop of a gorgeous panoramic photo taken by my girlfriend Kristie Brablec. It was shot about a half mile from our farm on nearby Centennial Road. Once again, I hired designer Dan Shepelavy and he came up with the classic lock-up text for the album cover. In an early draft, he had place my name even higher in the image but I asked him to bring it down a bit. I have to leave a little headroom for future releases.
Conclusion: It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.