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Raspbernie

Raspberries at Capitol Records

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Several labels were interested in signing Raspberries to a recording contract in the Fall of 1971. After a bidding war, Eric was happy when he found out Capitol Records had won. Capitol, after all, was the record label for two of his favorite bands, the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

After recording their first album in New York City, the band made a visit to the West Coast where they played a show at the Los Angeles Coliseum and performed several gigs at Disneyland in Anaheim. They also took time to visit their new label at the fabled Capitol Records Tower at 1750 Vine Street in Hollywood.

The 13-story tower was the world's first circular office building, and is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city. The blinking light atop the tower spells out the word "Hollywood" in Morse code, and has done so since the building's opening in 1956.

The rare photo above was taken during the visit, and shows Eric, Wally, Dave and Jim meeting with a Capitol Records exec.

Noted producer/songwriter Kim Fowley ran into the band at Capitol Records headquarters in Los Angeles. "I was walking out of the Capitol Records Tower one afternoon, when I noticed some people behind me. I wasn't paying attention, I was just walking along. Someone yelled, "Kim Fowley! You're one of my influences, come over and talk to us."

"It was Eric Carmen, dressed in his Raspberries stage clothes. They were all there, the four guys, doing a photo session or meet and greet at Capitol. I walked up to him and said, "You're very good and so is your band." Then he ran down, as a record collector, elements of my discography—various things he knew about my work. I agreed with him that I was talented [laughs].

"I produced things like "Alley Oop" by the Hollywood Argyles, the Seeds and Them, Van Morrison's band. Eric was very gracious, very enthused, and he was very knowledgeable about rock history. David Bowie is another encyclopedic record collector guy. Eric Carmen and David Bowie were almost interchangeable, in terms of their drama, their mentality and their background.

"So whatever success that Eric Carmen has, like Bowie, Gene Simmons and all of the other thinkers in rock and roll, he did his homework before he ever formed a band."

Bernie

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As I've said before, I love when you post these old pix (despite that the band looks like they didn't sleep well the night before). The Capital Records tower spells out the word "Hollywood" in Morse code, I didn't know that.

"Eric Carmen and David Bowie almost interchangeable in terms of their drama, their mentality and their background"? That quotes a first!

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I was aware of the Raspberries performing on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert just after the release of their third and fourth albums, but their first? Where is the tape? That would be great to see!

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elle4ec   
Raspbernie said:

Eric was very gracious, very enthused, and he was very knowledgeable about rock history. David Bowie is another encyclopedic record collector guy. Eric Carmen and David Bowie were almost interchangeable, in terms of their drama, their mentality and their background.

While Eric and David may be "almost interchangeable" in some areas, David couldn't begin to compete with Eric's :heartpump: adorable smile and fluff-ilcious :wub: hair...

Now, that's what I call Cute, with a "CAPITOL" ;) C!!!

Thanks, Bernie!

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So... I did a little more research and it turns out that the guy in the photo is NOT Capitol art director John Hoernle, which means it is someone else working at the Capitol Tower in 1972. Who? I haven't a clue. But he is rocking a '70s-style 'stache nonetheless. Below is an interesting article from Billboard magazine in 1973 on album cover design. It features a Raspberries mention as well as lots of quotes on the business from Hoernle and others.

Bernie

- - - -

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Three top art directors: John Berg of Columbia, Capitol's John Hoernle and A&M's Roland Young

GRAPHICALLY

The art in records is exciting, alert and ever changing

The art director is the contact man between almost everybody with anything to say about how an LP should look

By Ron Tepper

FEW IN THE RECORD INDUSTRY WOULD DENY that music has undergone dramatic changes during the past decade. But equalling those startling innovations is the "quiet revolution" that has gone on in the graphics end of the business,

The "quiet revolution" involves five distinct areas:

1) the emergence of printed board for album cover use;

2) the growth of the independent graphic contractor:

3) the growth of the independent jacket fabricator:

4) the "total approach" now being utilized in graphic production and:

5) the "surrender" of the sales department to the art directors and graphic men in the industry.

Perhaps the most startling change is the tatter. As little as four years ago, record company sales/ merchandising personnel would cringe at the thought of leaving an album cover design entirely in the hands of an art director without the benefit of "sales guidance."

Today. however, that opinion has radically changed. But there are still some who quietly object to the control the art director's have attained. ("My big bitch," explains one vice president of sales, "is that you can't read the damned titles in the browser. If they'd only make the type legible-or bigger-I'd go along with it but between the recording artist and the art director they'll drive you nuts about the cover if you try to interfere.")

Most art directors-and the sales managers who go along with them—counter the argument by saying that "today it doesn't matter if the name doesn't stick out. The kids are much more sophisticated. They know who has what album out."

"You don't need giant. bold-faced type to sell LPs," maintains Capitol's art director, John Hoerrile, "Kids know what they're looking for and they'll find it. The myth, at least here at Capitol, of blasting the artist's name and picture on the cover is gone. About the only thing we do is put the cut titles on the back of the jacket to keep kids from tearing off the shrink wrap and looking inside for the name of the songs."

Hoernle points out several packages that contain neither the artist's photo or his name on the cover. "And, we'll sell just as many," The theory, however, is modified in the case of the new artist. "We'll use the same basic approach but we all recognize the need for some identity on the cover. Maybe a picture or the name prominently displayed. Maybe both."

Hoernle maintains the art director at Capitol has more freedom than ever before. The things he advocates today he would have been fired for three, maybe even two years ago. "There's a hell of a lot better relationship today between sales, merchandising and art than ever before. To illustrate it, we're now, for the first time, on the same floor. Christ, before we wouldn't get within two floors of each other. Sure, there's more freedom but I think we understand their problems more and they understand ours. Plus there's been that radical sophisticated change among kids who buy records today."

The freedom has also brought a new sense of responsibility to the art directors. Before, they would assign a cover to a designer before anyone knew anything about the artist, his music, personality or his ideas about album covers, etc. Today, that practice has disappeared.

"I wouldn't think of just assigning a cover to a designer without meeting and talking to the recording artist first. Finding out what kind of person he (or she) was: what they're interested in: how they see their music and the package that's going to hold it. I try to understand what they're trying to say musically. Once I grasp that, I'll assign the cover."

More than likely, the cover will be assigned to someone outside of Capitol's art department, Once. Capitol had one of the largest art departments of any label. Today, it's down to three with most of the work being done by independent contractors. The same trend prevails throughout the industry, with one or two exceptions.

Hoernle, as do many of the other art directors, utilizes a variety of freelancers, however, their roster of independent contractors is constantly expanding. "I talk to three or four new people every week and look at their work." The same is true of most other directors. One of the exceptions to the independent contractor practice is Columbia, where there are still more than two dozen staff people employed. Despite the enormous amount of product Ed Thrasher, Warner's executive art director is responsible for, he operates much as he did when he came to the label 10 years ago-with a small staff (two others within the department), and a lot of outside help.

"It hasn't changed much for us," says Thrasher. "since we always used outside people. We also are given a great deal of freedom in our designs and the relationship between art and sales here is one in which we realize that the only thing sales asks is that we don't buy what we are trying to sell. I agree whole-heartedly with that philosophy. You can't sell what you can't see."

Saul Saget, MGM's vice president of creative services, brings up a different point. He agrees there is less influence from the sales department, but the area in which sales has stepped back has been filled by another influence-the artist. "In the past, the company has always had the say as to packaging. Today, the company's influence has diminished and the artist has stepped in with his influence. Nevertheless, the art director still has about the same amount of outside influence as before. The only thing is that it comes from a different direction—the artist instead of sales."

Like most other labels. Saget uses an enormous amount of outside help for product. The same is true for RCA, one of the biggest contributors of product to the record industry. According to Acy Lehman. RCA's art director, the label does nearly all of its own photographic work but farms out about 80 percent of the actual cover work. Lehman is one who is constantly looking at the work of freelancers in an attempt to find new and more interesting design/artist/ illustrators.

John Berg, Columbia's vice president in charge of packaging, is responsible for more than 500 albums a year. ranging from pop to classical, and probably the largest release schedule of any label. Thus far, he has resisted the outside influence.

"Ninety-Five per cent of our work is internal. We seldom use any outside photos and most of our design is inside as well."

Perhaps the most interesting thoughts offered on the graphic state of the industry come from Roland Young, A&M Records art director.

His answer to the question of what trend is here: "None, we're in the same old rut we've always been in." Young. who speaks more with humor than bitterness, continues."Today's art directors are decorators, not designers. The packages are determined, we don't do anything except put on the frosting. The only time we're going to get back to the designing of album covers is when this business runs out of paper and board.

"We're dealing with an outmoded system. Everything in this world is progressing with several exceptions. One of those is the art direction of record albums."

Young, like most art directors, uses an extensive amount of people outside of A&M to put the "Frills" on the covers. "To design a 'good' cover all you have to do is have a telephone book and be able to dial," To say the least, Young's thoughts differed sharply from those within the industry.

Both Berg, Hoernle and every art director in the industry surveyed do agree, however, on another outside influence—the desire of the recording artist to sometimes have one of his "friends" design an album cover. The "friends" are a growing phenomena in the business but one that all the directors have learned to handle. Most of them will look at the proposed design to see if it might fit the concept. If it does, they'll go along with it. If not. "We'll fight like hell to make the artist understand why it doesn't fit."

Although Berg may not be pioneering the utilization of independent contractors. he has become an important pioneer in another area-the creation of a "logo" or "total identity for an artist." Many in the industry give Berg's department credit for coming up with the first artist logo (for Chicago), a logo that was created for use in all graphic and sales areas.

Berg sees the "artist logo" as a growing responsibility of the art department and one of the most important new functions of the art director. Hoernle agrees and explains it thusly: "Designing album jackets has become a total merchandising thing. It's a change we wouldn't have dreamt of years ago. Today, we're designing logos (Raspberries and other groups) that will be used on album jackets. advertisements, merchandising and any other facet of the artist's career."

Other art directors throughout the industry share Hoernie's enthusiasm for the project. And the merchandising and sales departments of labels are particularly pleased.bFor the first time they have a definite identifying mark for anbartist that every consumer can recognize. They don't have to read the title of every LP. just see the logo, as in the case of Chicago.

One exception, however, is Warner's Thrasher. He doesn't share the enthusiasm for the "logo concept" and explains it thusly:

"I can see it working in the case of an act like Chicago but, for many other acts, it might not necessarily be correct. Let's say you create a logo. You use it on one album and then on all the graphics that support that LP. Then the artist has another album coming out. Suddenly, you find yourself not really designing a new and creative album cover but a cover that has to fit around a previously designed logo. And, maybe that logo no longer fits the package and what's inside. For that reason we try and stay away from the logo design although we have been asked to do some. We try and discourage it."

While he hasn't created individual logos for each artist. CTI's creative director, Bob Ciano, has tried to create an identification for the label itself.

"We don't, of course, put out an abundance of product so we can control things much better. We've tried to make all our album jackets have a distinct CTI label look. Once someone sees one of our packages he immediately knows it's CTI. We

tend to stay away from artist photos. You might say our covers have a 'surreal appearance,' The sales department has left things pretty much up to us but I think every creative director has got to realize the problems a salesman has. We're on our own but we don't forget the sales department."

Elektra's Bob Heimall is on his own as well and finds that although today's art director has more freedom, he still finds himself in the position of satisfying the "recording artist" sales and public. That's the biggest problem. trying to satisfy everyone, but it has to be done. Luckily, for us, we only design about 35 covers a year so we have plenty of time for each one."

Enlightened attitudes on the part of sales/ merchandising personnel are singled out by most art directors as the reason for the close working relationship and cooperation the two departments now have. There may. however. be one other reason for the art director's increased freedom-that is, the new merchandising approaches being practiced by many large record retailers. No longer do they bury most LP's in a bin without any identification. Today, if you visit the successful

mass merchandisers throughout the country you find that many of them have taken the time to draw and place a small sign next to most LP's. The sign identifies the LP and gives the price. This, in itself. eliminates the problem of "non-identifiable" covers that sales/marketing people have objected to in the past.

The past decade has also seen the development of printed board, a material used by most art directors in preparing album jackets. Printed board, which has been in use about 10 years, wasn't perfected until recently but now the board has given the art directors more versatility than ever before with LP jackets. Unlike its paper album counterpart, printed board can be embossed, die-cut in numerous ways and utilized in many other ways to create highly unusual, sometimes "gimmicky" album packages. At the same time "PB" has also been caught in the midst of rising cost problems that seem to be coming to a head. Virtually every art director agrees that in the past few years the album packages have become extremely elaborate-and costly.

"Printed board" says Polydor's production art director, Ron Nackman, "has given us the ability to do things we never thought could be done. At the same time board can lead to much higher costs than paper. Take, for instance. a paper LP package. Say that each one costs two cents. Print 50,000, then assume you've got to scrap 30,000 because of no-sale. The same type of package in printed board might run nine cents. Esthetically, of course, printed board enables you to do many more things-but you can see with that kind of cost difference you can get buried."

That cost factor is a real one. especially in view of the current paper shortage. The raw material for paper is available, however, many of the mills are on strike and so are the carriers who deliver the stock. Thus the user is caught in a "paper shortage" that really isn't one. Nevertheless, supply and demand are hiking his costs exorbitantly.

Those rising costs, coupled with a tighter market, have led to some furrowed brows. "Record companies are getting fed up with fancy packaging costs," says Heimall. "Whereas we used to run about eight cents for a standard jacket, we can run all the way to 25 cents for the fancy die-cuts today we use on printed board. I'm looking for a simpler LP package in the future and I think most other art directors are, too."

Most agree with Heimall. Virtually all see a return to simpler packaging. not only because of reduced cost but because that's also "the way the artist wants it today." says Hoernle.

"He's not interested in all the fanciness and extra embossing. It was great but we're reaching a limit. If you look at most labels today you'll find we're all 'gimmicking ourselves to death' with printed board."

"Simplicity will be the answer," theorizes ABC Dunhill's Peter Whorl. "We're heading towards a cleaner design phase than before. Right now, we're spending more money on packaging than ever before but I don't think it is necessary.

"There's rumblings about paper and board shortage and the packages do display a great deal of 'extremes' today. If things continue, I would say we're going to find people backing-off and going back to the simpler covers."

RCA's Lehman thinks that costs have just gotten way out of hand. "You have to have a good front and back and that's what sells. What's inside the consumer never sees but the costs in producing those insides-and the outside—are out of hand. I don't see a reversal, however, as long as the album cover is considered an 'extension' of the artist's music. which is actually the way most companies view it today. I do think, however, that if packaging continues in this direction and goes to the point where it is just a matter of ego, the artist should be asked to contribute directly to the cost. Otherwise, it may never end."

MGM's Saget, too, objects to the fanciness of the packaging and sees a return to simplicity. "I feel there's a kinship between album jackets and bookcovers. A good, high quality cover reminds me a of a hardcover edition. The fancy. gimmicked up package is a novelty. It reduces the hardcover to a paperback."

Development of the fancy, intricate package has also led to the development of the independent fabricator and designer. One of the biggest in the industry is AGI (Album Graphics), with offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. AGI designs and manufactures LP jackets and, says marketing vice president. Richard Block, "we're the only company in the industry that has integrated both functions. We do either for a company, or we can do both."

AGI isn't the only one in the field. There are others, all highly praised. along with AGI-Shorewood, Queens Litho, Ivy Hill, etc. All supply a service to the industry that the industry used to do for itself. The rise of these independents, much like the rise of the designer-independent. is the result of a trend towards specialization by art and creative directors. Several majors, which used to depend on their own plants for jacket fabrications. no longer even consider it. The costs, according to several art directors, are comparable. much as the costs are for an outside designer or internal man.

Several years ago. the thought of having an outside, independent contractor like AGI would have created numerous problems. The art director would have objected to an outside influence and the manufacturing vice president would have raised eyebrows as well.

Today. however, the art directors are willing to listen—and look—at outside ideas more than ever before. The egos don't get as bruised as easy. Not all manufacturing vice presidents may be feel the same. but with the permissiveness and freedom allowed the creative areas, they have little choice.

"It's almost become," Block says, "accepted practice. If we had brought a bunch of dog designs in for some art director to look at, I'm sure we would never have gotten back in the door. But we've taken time and given a lot of creative thought not only to album designs but manufacturing as well. I think it is paying off for us and other companies in the field."

Sophisticated, high cost packaging has reached beyond the art directors of major pop labels. It's even had its effect on some of the budget-priced manufacturers. such as Pickwick.

Frank Daniel, creative director of Pickwick International, says that "budget records aren't cheap anymore.' ' Most children's record jackets are now printed on board and, if anything, the children's line is getting more fancy. Pickwick has a new line where the package is part of the merchandising unit (other labels are doing the same thing). and the label is going to try and give more "across-the-board" appeal to its Christmas line by turning part of an album jacket into an 11-inch high angel that the child can construct. Daniel calls it a "play-activity" package, and predicts the industry will see many more of similar types.

While farming out jackets and designs to independents has grown phenomenally among pop labels, Pickwick has stayed away from it.

"For one thing," Daniel says. 'we don't have the problems that the pop label has. Artist ego isn't a concern: we're more sales-oriented."

Sales, however, is a concern of all labels. But, during the past few years that concern has been tempered with the cooperation that has apparently developed between illustrator and merchandiser.

For the first time in its history, record industry sales and creative departments are working-and cooperating-together. Whether or not that cooperation is permanent, or just a fad, much like the forties and fifties looks now in vogue, only time will tell.

—Billboard, October 27, 1973

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missm   

LP Album art is, indeed, becoming a lost art!! Then again , so is music played on real instruments by real musicians!!

As for the photo of the Raspberries at Capitol Records - Eric looks amazing!! I have been past the Capitol Records building what seems like a million times in my life and did not know about the morse code thing!! Gee, yet another day in which I learned something new!! Thanks, Bernie!!

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