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Album cover collage
Click inside here to visit the
Under The Covers web site.

My Old Albums, Revisited --
The Under The Covers CDROM

A review, by David RE*AC*TOR Lybrand

First thing my wife noticed (without putting on her glasses) was the Under The Covers title, and what looked like a naked guy sitting there. And something about Los Angeles, and a Hotel. She gave me a dirty look...

Then she put on her glasses and looked more closely. "Hotel" was part of the title of the Morrison Hotel album cover. The almost-naked guy was Richard Pryor, on a picture of the cover of the That Nigger's Crazy! album. Ohhhhh, I get it! "Under the ALBUM Covers"! It's not porno after all...

So we pop in the CD, do the painless installation, and start it up. Hmmm, looks like an old scratched up movie about to start... 3... 2... 1... A Graphix Zone logo. A Triptych Pictures logo. The next thing we know, we're back in the sixties or early seventies.

Floating by on the screen, we see several of the album covers that every boomer has leaning on the wall by their not-used-very-often turn-table (or used to, before that garage sale a couple of years ago...) Eagles, Doors, CSN... Other images of the era float by... A young Croz, and Joni... Maps of LA and its surrounding area float by, with locations marked that relate to folks we know (Mama Cass, Dan Fogelberg, etc)... Eventually things settle down, but then a video clip of a "wild west" photo-session starts up... Scruffy-looking Eagles and their friends stage a shoot-out, under the direction of Henry Diltz.

Then Ben Fong-Torres (probably best known from his association with Rolling Stone magazine) introduces us to what we're about to experience. Right away we find out that the meat of this CDROM is built on the work of a couple of folks that most Neil Young fans are familiar with, even if they don't know the names: Henry Diltz and Gary Burden. You saw that peace-sign that Neil flashes on the front page of HyperRust? Henry took that. Have you looked over your Broken Arrow CD (with a magnifying glass :-) lately? Gary designed it. And these are merely among the most recent of Henry and Gary's works -- the tip of the iceberg.

The CDROM is a well-crafted, comfortably styled chunk of history. By focusing on the work of these two artists, work that has overlapped quite a bit, we get a look at some of the key players of late-sixties & early-seventies Rock, primarily from the LA area. But it's by no means limited to that time or place -- Woodstock is also covered (both '69 and '94), for example. Recent work from both artists is also featured. And each of them has also provided for us a photo-bio, so that we can get to know them better.

Between the two of them, a bunch of Neil's coolest album covers (After The Goldrush, On The Beach, Four Way Street, etc) came about, some jointly, some individually. They're responsible for the album covers of dozens of performers, from the Doors, Joni, Steven Stills, America, Crosby-Nash, etc, to such perennial favorites as David Cassidy, The Monkees, Arlo Guthrie and Richard Harris ("Someone left a cake out in the rain...")

Every Neil Young fan will also enjoy looking over some of the early Mirror Ball variations, preliminary photos and drafting, even T-shirt designs.

Note that this CDROM is by no means merely a collection of album covers! There are also lots of photos from various album photo-shoots, promo-shoots, concerts, and other events. There are video and audio interview-clips with members of CSN, the Doors, the Eagles, and others. And while you're browsing the pictures, you can listen to original music from such artists as Jackson Browne, Bernie Leadon, Shawn Sullivan, and Jonathon Lee (though some of the music "loops" are a bit short and the repititiousness gets obvious after a while).

If you do feel like doing some good-old-fashioned READING, there are several short essays by Ben Fong-Torres included, about the performers who are featured on the disk, and "liner notes" for the CDROM. While browsing the later, you can select from among several period hits (e.g., Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Rock Me On The Water, etc) to listen to.

Though the Neil Content on this disc isn't major (there's a lot more CSN, Eagles, and Doors stuff than Neil stuff) there's enough of Neil for me to recommend it to Rusties who aren't already over-budget on their Neil purchases this year. I'm not sure what the store price will be for this, but it'll probably be somewhere in the upper $30 range. Treat yourself to it for Christmas...

The CDROM can be ordered directly, via 1-800-768-6943. If you use the codeword "Backstage" they'll drop the S&H charge.

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