Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ESP-DISK (1966)

Can't say that I remember what this LP, The Coach With the Six Insides (a musical play by Jean Erdman), sounds like, but I do know that I bought it based simply on the label art. Well, that and it set me back $2. My man in Miami took me to the most hood record store I've ever been to. The spot was in Liberty City, where Trick Daddy represents. Best leave it at that. Anyway. The super nice guy that ran the place had what seemed like every hip-hop LP and single known to man, many of which were stored in old refrigerators and freezer units. I think there was even a microwave that had 45s crammed into it.

Out of all the records I own, this has my favorite labels (both of which are displayed here). There's no identifying text, just cut-up, hallucinatory images taken from the cover art, which was done by Howard Bernstein. I just love the aesthetic -- I think it does a lot in such a small circular space. The play this album documents is "Inspired by James Joyce's Finnegans Wake," a work I'm ashamed to say I've never even looked into. But from the record and its artwork, I can only imagine that Joyce was on to something unusual. There's something really dreamy and joyous going on here, but at the same time, the visuals also seem off-kilter and discordant.


  1. This is the coolest record label I have ever seen, Graham. I'm assuming that this the same ESP-DISK label that put out the Fugs stuff?

  2. Yeah man. Same ESP. Although I dug out my other joints on the label and they're pretty much black and whites with standard-looking text. I do think it must have been a purposeful decision to do these labels like this. You can only tell the A side from the B side from the etchings in the run-out grooves. You can listen to either side and not tell which was intended to be the actual beginning, which I'd like to think is part of the point of the entire project, i.e. a free-flowing, cut-up, stream of consciousiness sort of thing. Maybe someone else knows a bit more about Joyce's work and could fill us in on how this matches up...

  3. A couple of free jazz ESP covers by Bernstein recently caught my eye while I was flipping through some bins. His designs are incredible!