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September 20, 2007 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-09-20

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4B - Thursday, September 20, 2007
From page lB
rollercoaster on the cover opens the door
to an immaculate studio product.
Fat Cat 2005
It's hard to "
decipher exact-
ly what you're
looking at on
the cover of Feels. But in listening to the
album, it makes complete sense. The cover
looks like delicate, overlapping pictures:
children feeding animals or playing in a
park, a small spotted goat. But then there's
the decapitation of a young boy that might
actually be a rabbit, purple blood or chil-
dren painted hot pink - it's grotesque. The
collage is impossible to look away from yet
it somehow captures the pretense of Ani-
mal Collective perfectly. It's utopia blitz-
krieged by chaos, and I can't turn my ears
away, either.
Her Majesty
Kill Rock Stars
It seems like
it would be a cop
out to have Colin Meloy's girlfriend design
the artwork for all of the band's albums.
Either he's romantic or totally whipped.
But when your girlfriend is Carson Ellis,
you'd be insane not to use her skills, and
The Decemberists are only slightly insane.
The Her Majesty cover shows three war-
torn soldiers playing cards, nestled in a
bunker surrounded by a blown-out world
where only scraps of wood and shades of
gray remain. Try not being enthralled by
the lyrics of "The Soldiering Life" as they
blend into Ellis's recreation. Pretty fucking
spectacular, girlfriend or not.
More Songs About
Buildings and Food
Sire 1978,
It's hard to
think of Talk-

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
cover pasted over them, while a few promo
copies remained in their original state.

ing Heads without recalling how damn
original the group was. Whether in videos
or on stage, the band practically defined
creativity - remember those - gigantic
white suits? But leave it to zany front-
man David Byrne to come up with one of
the greatest album cover schemes of all
time. For 1978's More Songs About Build-
ings and Food, Byrne snapped more than
500 close-up Polaroids of the band stand-
ing at motionless attention. The result is
a photomosaic with a particularly warped
effect - no matter how hard Byrne tried to
get the proportions right, it always ended
up goofy and somehow mildly disturbing
- which, of course, is the point.
Late for the Sky
Asylum 1974
Intended to
evoke the style of
Rene Magritte,
Latefor the Sky's
cover may be the most effective piece of
surrealism made for an album. Browne
personally pitched the idea, and photog-
rapher Bob Seidemann called it the "Los
Angelization of Magritte." The marked
contrast within the photo between the
barely twilit neighborhood and the
bright, cloudy sky is the visual throwback
to Magritte's representational style. The
juxtaposition reflects Browne's songwrit-
ing trademark - the juxtaposition of som-

sad-yet-uplifting tone.


Touch & Go 1991
Taken by resi-
dent crazy-dude-
Will Oldham, the
cover of Slint's
masterful Spider-
land captures the joyous fear and violence
of the album so precisely it shakes souls.
The group - submerged in a lake to their
chins with deranged smiles - seems to
be stalking you, hovering out of the black-
and-white fagade. But what's happening
below the surface is the mystery. Are they
sinking? Are they kicking slowly to stay
afloat? Or, given the mythical power of
the album, are they simply floating in the
water, buoyed by their own insanity? A
picture may say a thousand words, but this

a tree in a serene field on
Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
with Lennon's various de
"God," "Isolation") shou
ful. But then it hits you: J
tic Ono Band isn't Lenno
demons - it's his goodb
primal scream therapy o
the hypothetical fingert
"God" - these are the t1
purge, and he does. And
just believe in me /Yoko
ous he means it. Hell, it's
said to Yoko just beforee
on the cover.

the cover of John
d. An album filled
emons ("Mother,"
ldn't be so peace-
ohn Lennon/Plas-

n confronting his JOHN
bye to them. The COLTRANE
in "Mother" gives Blue Train
to the Beatles on Blue Note 1957
hings he needs to
when he sings "I In any dis-
and me," it's obvi- cussion of great
probably what he album art, a men-
entering sandman tion of Reid Miles
and Francis Wolff's work for the Blue Note
CHRIS GAERIG Records label is mandatory. No other design
team was able to create such a consistently
pleasing aesthetic over such a long period of
time. There are hundreds of examples that
illustrate their genius, but it's John Col-
trane's Blue Train that's their most iconic,
and rightfully so. The blue tint over a black-
and-white photo of a pensive Trane is both
obvious and stunning.

Velvet Under-
ground & Nico
Verve 1967

one doesn't have to. It let

Paid in Full
4th and Broadway
A cover only
fully understood
in retrospect,

.;y -

ber melancholy and dre
The cover succeeds in b
In the Aeroplane
Over the Sea
Merge 1998
art is inseparable
from the music,,
and such is the case with
tral Milk Hotel's In theA

amy romanticism. the album art on Paid i
'oth imitation and prolific impact of this 19
often cited as the father
BRIAN CHEN rary lyricist, stands alon
showered in gold chain
and designer clothes. T
hip hoppers, the two st
confidently as their sta
album's opener "I Ain't'
see Eric B.'s oversized ch
Unit logo, hanging arou
twenties in their handsr
in their latest video, the
hiding their glocks. Paic
temporary hip hop befo
h the cover of Neu- temporary hip hop.
Aeroplane Over the

s the album do the Love him or
hate him, you
CHRIS GAERIG could do a lot worse than getting Andy
Warhol to design the album cover for your
first record. Eye-catching for its phallic
simplicity, VU's debut featured early gim-
mick packaging: You can peel the banana.
(Warhol would later repeat the trick with
- an actual zipper for the Stones's Sticky
Fingers.) Legend has it that the first press-
ings contained LSD underneath the stick-
er, but all most people found was a pink
banana. Still, good luck finding an origi-
nal copy of the initially overlooked classic
n Full typifies the unpeeled and intact.
'87 classic. Rakim, LLOYD H. CARGO
of the contempo-
gside Eric B., both
is, diamond rings THE BEATLES
rypical of today's Yesterday...and
:and stoically and Todoy
res anticipate the Capitol 1966
No Joke." You can
ain, a spinning G- Sgt. Pepper's
nd his neck. The Lonely Hearts
rain over strippers Club Band may
ir excessive coats be the most
d in Full was con- iconic album cover in rock history, but it's
re there was con- a different Beatles album that calls itself
the iost valuable. The original issue of
CHRIS GAERIG Yesterday...and Today, better known to
collectors as "The Butcher Cover," fetches
up to five digits for sealed copies - not
because the music is particularly rare, but
because of the controversy surrounding
its issuing. The practice of "butchering"
the Beatles' U.K. releases by subtracting
tracks and rearranging them to create
more albums to sell in a rabid U.S. market
irked the Beatles, but their lab coats, raw
meat and dismembered baby dolls were
seen as bad taste by executives. The few that
they sleep against had already been printed had a new, -safe

London Calling
Epic 1979
Mimicry is the
sincerest form
of flattery, but
it's rare that the
derivative eclips-
es the original. The Clash's greatest effort
borrows the design of Elvis's debut, but it
ups the ante with a shot of Paul Simonon
mid-bass-smashing. The musical similari-
ties between The Clash and Elvis might be
hard to discern, but the raw energy of both
is exactly the same - befittingthe identical
& TH E
Whipped Cream &
Other Delights
This album is
the 25-cent thrift-store staple - but that's
more owing to the music contained within
than the whip-cream-clad beauty on the
cover. Indeed, before the movie "Varsity
Blues" there was this album, and there's no
doubt that the bold designhelped make this
a multi-million seller. It may.seem quaint
now, but in 1965 a hint of sexuality on what
was basically a lounge jazz album attracted
a lot of attention. Fun fact: the model on the
cover was pregnant at the time of the shoot.


Sea. The otherworldly, yellowed, vaguely
impressionistic rendition of an old post-
card is both familiar and bizarre, just like
Jeff Mangum's fuzzed-out, noisy pop.
Once you've seen the cover, it's impossible
to listen to the album's tragicomic mus-
ings on everything from Anne Frank's
famous diary to two-headed circus side-
shows without that strange, drum-headed
woman coming to mind. The question
of whether the swimmers are playing or
drowning perfectly reflects Aeroplane's

John Lennon/
Plastic Ono Band
Capitol 1970
It seems -
strange looking
at John Lennon
lying with Yoko Ono as1

From page 1B
about being with friend Burroughs
before and immediately after the
author's death 10 years ago.
"I kissed him," he read. "An early
LP album of us together, 1975, was
called Biting Off The Tongue Of A
Corpse. I kissed him on the lips, but I
didn't doit ... And I should have done
He performed other poems
like "Welcoming the Flowers"
and "Thanks For Nothing" in full.
"Countless lovers of boundless, fabu-
during what he declared the world
premiere of "Thanks For Nothing."
Giorno had performed it once before,
a year earlier at the Howl Festival
in New York. But that didn't really
count, he said, to an appreciative
What worked so well with Gior-
no's performance was that it comple-
mented, rather than stole attention
from, the artwork on display. What

Giorno does sonically when he plays
with the English language, the 16,
installations that comprise "Words
Fail Me" do visually. The presenta-
tion matters as much as the content.
For "Words Fail Me," Higgs has
collected posters, paintings, videos
and various signage. Some pieces
are as deceptively simple. Martin
Creed's "Word No. 336" consists of
the word FEELINGS in pink neon
lighting. Both the medium and the
word are ripe with connotation. The
louche commercialism of the sign
- reminiscent of strip clubs and
convenience stores - contrasts the
response suggested by the word.
Another installation, Ryan Gan-
der's "Encrypt Encrypt Encrypt,"
relies on the absence of language. A
trio of television screens play karaoke
videos united in their complete lack
of words. Instead, bouncing cartoon
cues hint at the non-existent lyrics
below. Clearly intended to be espe-
cially thought provoking, the piece is
mostly frustrating.
With varied presentation and
media (materials in the show include

thumb tacks and hand-knitted
sweaters), the inherent meaning of a
set of words does not always match
the message. Anne-lise Coste's drip-
ping, blue-black messages paper
the walls of the MoCAD's foyer in
"Parmi les singes et les signes (trist-
esse et beaut)." Alone, and in a dif-
ferent setting, the words could mean
one thing, but the near illegibility of
the painted scrawl creates a differ-
ent result.
One of the most striking pieces
is a three-part poster work by Jer-
emy Deller, "Folk Song." Knee-high
stacks of posters - available for

guests to take home - contain the
lyrics to a popular 1960s folk song.
One stack is in Arabic, another in
English, the last in Hebrew. It's a
reminder that no art has a universal
reading, especially when translated.
"Words Fail Me" illustrates the
power of language, and art that can
truly speak, if you will. It continues
the museum's run of forward-think-
ing shows, and the new media atten-
tion it has received (partially due to
the MoCAD's increasing ability to
draw bigger names to its crowd and
its walls) should ensure the trend

Asian Martial Arts Studio
208 S. 4th Ave.
(Close to Campus in downtown Ann Arbor)
Aikido , Okinawan Karate , Kungfu and Tai Chi
For Men and Women
Since 1974
Website: a2amas.com -
SEPTEMBER 21, 2007 AT 3:30 P.M.

From page 1B
"Today" show intern. In retro-
spect, I never thought I'd sell out
that quickly.
Before this internship, I liked
to think of myself as a good
judge of quality programming,
the kind who can tell the differ-
ence between streamlined trash
and legitimate content, even if
my personal tastes didn't always
fall in line with those standards.
More important, Ibelievedthese
distinctions were something to
be noted and lived, lest people
believe VH1 is the finest televi-
sion has to offer.
With this mindset I applied
for an internship at the "Today"
show. I considered the morning
news show respectable, a place
where Icoulduse Mywritingabil-
ity in a serious setting. I believed,
hilariously, that my work would,
focus primarily on social issues
and the war in Iraq.
It didn't take long for my
moral precipice to crumble into
a sea of Type-A corporate climb-
ing and irrepressible commer-
cialism. I quickly found myself
drawn to the business, to the
hustle, to getting ahead. I want-
ed to sit in on the senior produc-
ers' meetings and discuss how
"Today" could further its lead in
advertising revenues over "Good
Morning America." I.wanted to
compete with my fellow interns
for the plum editing times and
most lucrative shooting sched-
ules. At 21, I had the attitude
of a cutthroat workhorse while
many people.10 years my senior
still retained some form of hope-
ful innocence.
Making the (sad?) trans-
formation from critical TV
viewer to behind-the-scenes
intern/bitch is a disorienting
experience. The thinly veiled
curtain of TV programs is torn
away, and a startling new fron-
tier emerges. In this world my
life became a dizzying blend of
4:30 a.m. wake-up calls and 12-
hour workdays. These marathon
work sessions were punctuated
only by after-hours sin with my
co-workers and intra-network
softball games. Everything was
about NBC. There was even a
bar called Channel 4 dedicated
to NBC employees that I would
frequent for happy hour.
After a few weeks of immer-
sion into the NBC world and the
prompt loss of my soul, I was

accepted into the NBC Pilot Pro-
gram, where the accepted sum-
mer interns would be divided into
teams of five and told to create a
pitch for a new show - business
plan included. The program was
set up like the perfect stori of
to create the best possible product
for NBC, but only after we signed
our ownership rights away. The
prize was the chance to pitch the
winning product to senior execu-
tives on the 52nd floor.
Despite the ridiculous condi-
tions, I threw myself into the
project, spending countless
hours in meetings and debating
what kind of show would cata-
pult NBC back to "Friends"-era
ratings power. I learned that cre-
ating a TV show has nothing to
do with television. The financial
plan was a logistical nightmare,
since none of the costs could be
realistically projected without
extensive investigation. Writ-
ing the characters became more
about why they would appeal to
advertisers than connect with
the audience.
Db you know the cost of a
three-quarters-length Web
banner on People.com? I do. At
the end of all this, wrangling,
we came up with a mash-up of
"Felicity," "The O.C." and "Ally
McBeal" for the 20-something
female set. It was supposed to
star that chick from "Live Free
or Die Hard." Maybe you'll see it
in the fall 2012.
The derivative conceit of the
product aside, my transition to
the dark side of the corporate
fence played a major role in my
team winning it all. Street cred
be damned, I emerged the vic-
tot ofthe challenge, leaving my
competitors in the entry-level
dust. Despite the measures I
took and the moral sacrifices I
made, the sense of self-satisfac-
tion I felt was intoxicating.
So intoxicating, in fact, was
the feeling of corporate achieve-
ment that now when I watch
TV I think more about demo-
graphics and cross-branding
opportunities than dialogue or
esoteric pop-culture references.
I can honestly say that had I
been in charge, I too might have
cancelled the low-rated gems
"Arrested Development" and
"Freaks and Geeks" (shudder).
I'm not in charge yet, and until
that time comes, I will continue
to dream up inane PowerPoint
pitches and wonder if the viewer
inside me is vacant forever.

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