R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover CollectionBook |
An era of music filtered through an iconic artist.
One of the subjects that has consistently inspired legendary underground comics pioneer Robert Crumb throughout his career is music. He's illustrated or designed album covers for scores of blues and jazz acts, including his own group, R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders (with whom he plays the banjo and mandolin and occasionally sings). His latest book, R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover Collection, catalogues this vital aspect of his life. Along with record covers, the book features record label inserts, concert posters, and more. The telling influence of psychedelics in his work from the '60s and '70s is here as well, most notably in the cover of Big Brother and the Holding Company's seminal album Cheap Thrills. It represents one of his rare forays into rock, and shares the same bright colors and Asian symbolism—a sun motif, in particular—as other psychedelic art from that era. Also present are the aspects of Crumb's work that have long been targets of criticism—namely, overly sexualized women and minstrel-style depictions of African-Americans—but his dignified, loving portraits of blues musicians redress the balance. While The Complete Record Cover Collection is unlikely to change anyone's opinion about Crumb, flipping through its pages, it's easy to see how much love he puts into his work.