Star Trek pastel painting - Khan and Kirk

These 1980s Star Trek Illustrations Are My Favorite Things Ever

Sometimes, my friends, fate smiles upon you. Such was the case for me recently when I stumbled upon a series of 1980s Star Trek illustrations in chalk pastel, some of which I will now share with you. Credit for these goes to artist Doug Little, who apparently produced these for commemorative posters around the time of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Enough chit chat, let’s boldly go. By the way, I’ve saved the best for last.

Star Trek pastel painting - The Man Trap

Awww. Posing for the sweetest prom photo I’ve ever seen are Dr. McCoy and the salt creature from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Man Trap.”

Star Trek pastel painting - Khan and Gonzo

Yes, this is Khan and Gonzo. And Gonzo is holding a yo-yo that actually says, “Khan Is a Yo-Yo.” Let that seep for a few minutes.

Star Trek pastel painting - Spock and Richard Nixon

Of course! All we had to do to figure out what was on the missing segment of the Watergate tapes was to get Spock to do the mind-meld on Richard Nixon. Who needs to bother with a pesky Congressional subpoena?

Star Trek pastel painting - Ronald Reagan and a Klingon

Fear not, Republicans, because the GOP is redeemed thanks to the Great Communicator. Ronald Reagan looks strangely right in his Federation uniform. He’s just pretending to not see the Klingon giving him the stink-eye.

Star Trek pastel painting - Spock and Jeffrey Hunter Jesus

OK, so this actually makes a little sense. Yes, this is Spock with Jesus. But it’s actually Jeffrey Hunter, who played both Capt. Christopher Pike in the Star Trek pilot episode and Jesus Christ in the King of Kings movie. See? Total sense.

Star Trek pastel painting - Khan and Darth Vader

Hmmm. You know, I think I could throw my support behind a Khan/Vader ticket. I’m not in favor of their Kirk-killing policy, but I do like their planet-exploding policy.

Star Trek pastel painting - Khan and Kirk

And there it is. Totally innocent I assure you. I mean sure, the background is pink and Kirk and Khan are holding hands but… oh.

Frank Zappa, Over-Nite Sensation (1973)

Album Cover of the Week: Frank Zappa, Over-Nite Sensation

It took a long time before I had the nerve to finally dive into the deep, deep well that is Frank Zappa’s discography. And for me, the album that hooked me to his delightful weirdness was 1973’s Over-Nite Sensation. It’s a bizarre mix of music that is by and large straightforward and experimental at the same time. Zappa truly was a colossal talent and is missed.

And just like the music therein, the cover of Over-Nite Sensation is absolutely packed with fun details. Because there are so many of them, I’ve included an extra-large foldout version of the cover. Click for a larger version.

Frank Zappa, Over-Nite Sensation (1973)

So we’ve got an electric hand reaching into a painting of Frank Zappa’s dressing room for a cigarette. There’s some sort of figure in white rising out of a crack in a table, and in the upper left on the wall is what looks like an old San Francisco 49ers logo. In the room are packages from McDonald’s and Bob’s Big Boy. There’s an old pair of underwear next to a rotten orange, some stage passes for Zappa and the Mothers.

Oh, and there’s a two-headed guy sitting on the bed about to… ah hell, I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s cool.

Anyway, the illustration credit goes to David McMacken, whose name is on the little plaque at the bottom of the painting. Some of McMacken’s other credits include Kansas’ Leftoverture, the Beach Boys’ Friends, and Journey’s Raised on Radio (logo design).

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Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind

Album Cover of the Week: Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway — I cannot wait until September 18th. For that’s the day we get the first new Ben Folds Five album since 1999, The Sound of the Life of the Mind. Here is the snazzy album cover:

Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind

The rather mysterious but comical artwork on the cover is a piece called “Submerged” by artist Eric Joyner. Joyner’s work, which apparently focuses a lot on doughnuts and robots, features only the former here. It’s also reminiscent of the famous Auguste Rodin sculpture The Thinker (Le Penseur).

I’ll likely be reviewing the album, either for this site or Popdose, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Bonnie Babe Lettuce crate art

Vintage Fruit Crate Label Art

Bonnie Babe Lettuce crate art

Yup, just like the title says, this is a gallery of vintage fruit crate labels. You can find these little art masterpieces in most antique/junk shops.

Miss Soft Ball, 1940s

Miss Soft Ball – Phoenix, AZ

Bonnie Babe lettuce crate label

Bonnie Babe lettuce – Salinas, CA

That Lucky Old Sun

El Sol – Fresno, CA

Race Track Tokay Grapes Crate Label

Race Track – Lodi, CA

Brownies Orange Crate Label

Brownies – Tulare County, CA

Rainbow's End

Rainbow’s End – Exeter, CA

Happy Bee

Happy Bee – Newburgh, NY

Blue-Jack fruitc crate label art

Blue Jack – Brawley, CA

Monashee Apple Crate Label

Monashee – Kelowna, BC, Canada

Gold Coast Orange Crate Label

Gold Coast – Fullerton, CA

Plen Tee Good

Plen Tee Color – Wapato, WA

Streamlined Delivery

Air-Flow – Winter Garden, FL

Nubile Field Hands Required: Apply Within

Buxom Melons – Yuma, AZ & Firebaugh, CA

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Album cover of the week: Mob Rules

It’s hard to believe, but we lost Ronnie James Dio one year ago today. It seems only right to pay small tribute to his musical legacy, and so here we have 1981’s Mob Rules. It was the second and last studio album Black Sabbath released with Dio as frontman until the one-off reunion disc Dehumanizer in 1992. It’s every bit as sinister and metal as the cover indicates.

The cover painting is by fantasy/science fiction artist Greg Hildebrandt. It’s essentially a recreation of his 1971 work, Dream 1: Crucifiers. Here’s the original:

I’m guessing the addition of the band and album names didn’t escape your notice, but did you catch the fact that the hook on the left side of the original was changed to a crucifix for the album cover? Also, the blood stain in the fabric (skin?) was made to look more like a devil’s head on the album. Subtle, I know.

Oh yeah, here’s the title song from the album. RIP Dio.

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Album cover of the week: Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely

There’s a lot to love about Frank Sinatra’s classic 1958 LP, Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. With its introspective, melancholy arrangements — credit famed music director and frequent Sinatra collaborator Nelson Riddle — and typically excellent vocals from Ol’ Blue Eyes, the album packs a real emotional punch. That’s probably no coincidence. Sinatra’s divorce from actress Ava Gardner was finalized during the sessions, and Riddle had recently lost both his mother and daughter.

So is it any wonder that the cover for this album looks like this?

This rendering of Sinatra as a sad, Pagliacci-esque clown was painted by Nicholas Volpe. At the first-ever Grammy Awards (held May 4, 1959), he won the award for Best Album Cover.

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Album cover of the week: 1984

Call it 1984 or call it MCMLXXXIV— Van Halen’s sixth album is one of the great achievements in rock for the entire decade of the 1980s. It also happens to sport a pretty badass front cover:

The band’s original vision for the 1984 cover involved four dancing, chrome women. The artist that Warner Bros. wanted to commission for the cover, Margo Nahas, declined the job as it was too complex. Her portfolio found its way to Van Halen however, and when they stumbled upon a painting of hers — featuring an angel baby smoking a cigarette — they knew that was what they wanted for 1984.

The angel, who was rumored to be David Lee Roth as a child, is actually modeled after Carter Helm, the son of one of Nahas’s friends. She styled his hair with some “goop” and gave him some candy cigarettes for the modeling session. The sky in the painting is just as it was back in Malibu for the photo shoot. The only additions are the wings and marble table.

For a more in-depth look at the history behind this all-time classic cover, check out this interview with Nahas.

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Album cover of the week: Beck-Ola

There’s not much room for expounding on this week’s entry, 1969’s Beck-Ola, the second and final album from the first incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group.  It’s a giant apple in a room.  Very simple, very cool-looking.

Beck-Ola album cover

The album art is a reproduction the second version of The Listening Room (1958) by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte.  The first (1952) has the apple in a wooden room.  Magritte’s work enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the ’60s and ’70s thanks to its inclusion on other album covers, as well as by album covers inspired by his work.

Perhaps of even more interest is the note included on the original album’s back cover – “Today, with all the hard competition in the music business, it’s almost impossible to come up with anything totally original. So we haven’t. However, this disc was made with the accent on heavy music. So sit back and listen and try and decide if you can find a small place in your heads for it.”

There’s something to be said for a little honesty in advertising.

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