Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ode to Barry Godber (1946-1970)

My last round of Random Flickr Blogging made reference to the cover of In the Court of the Crimson King. For starters, I wanted to post the original album cover, so that readers would better understand the reference. The more I kept looking at the image, the more I wanted to delve further into it.

I was one year old when this album was released in 1969, and it took me about 15 years to catch up to it. I distinctly remember seeing the cover for the first time and not having any clue as to what the hell was going on over there. But yet, this cover art set this album aside from every other piece of vinyl in the shop. After listening to the album and freaking out multiple times, I came to appreciate that Crimson cover. Now, just like Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with its timeless simple prism design, one look at that cover tells you everything you need to know. And the artist didn't even live long enough to view the impact of his vision.

That artist was Barry Godber, a computer programmer and artist who was friends with Peter Sinfield, King Crimson's (and later ELP's) lyricist. The word is that Peter brought a few tracks from the album to Barry for ideas on a cover. The result was his interpretation of the 21st century schizoid man, with the smiling Crimson King adorning the inner sleeve. Interestingly enough, this was the only painting he had ever made. Shortly after the album's release, Barry died of a heart attack at the age of 24. I'm unable to find much info about Barry, aside from some recollections from Peter Sinfield himself.

I won't make you split up into discussion groups to think about one's purpose in life, and so on. However, I will say this: I raise a glass to Barry Godber, a man who gave us one of the most compelling and memorable pieces of album cover art. Ever.

Cheers, Barry.


At 11:35 PM, Blogger Bryan said...

Excuse me but you forgot the ! after the word "Ever."

I remember that cover fondly...



At 12:58 PM, Blogger SpaceCowboy said...

One of the trade-offs of our having entered the CD/DVD age is the disappearance of album cover art. Yes, new CDs have art on the front of the booklet, but that is clearly not the same.

Sue me for the nostalgia, but there was something great about listening to a record while admiring that big album cover.

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Russell said...

I entirely agree about this image being one of the most impressive album covers I have seen. Rather sad that the man died so young considering his talent and potential/

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AGREED,AGREED,AGREED! I was born in 74 and used to sit on the floor in my mothers apt and admire all of the beautiful and bizarre album covers for hours at a time. Among my other favorites Greatful Dead Shakedown Street and Zep Houses of the Holy. When I think of my moms record collection( seemed like millions at the time) these three are the ones I remember most.Man,I can almost smell those records today.

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few "observations" on the famous inside cover of the Crimson King. Our original perception is a schizotypical happy & sad jester- looking guy instead of the great emporer Frederich II as supposed. Look at the backround. 'Tis not a bloody court of a tyranicle king. Watching the movie The Moonstone, the stolen gem was happily returned to it's Hindu goddess Chandra, with the identicle face and hand gesture. Godber had read and/or watched Wilkie Collinse's book and subsequent movie (series). Most intresting to note, is the fact that those sad bloodshot eyes don't homoginize with a shit-eating grin. She is a cannibus ripped or very stoned moon goddess Chandra.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Riah Boo said...

My dad haa these hanging in his man cave lol

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your wish or need for an exclamation point after "Ever." But, with all due respect, I feel that the artwork of Barry Godbar is, in itself, a grand, unforgettable exclamation point in the album cover world. Therefore...Ever, Period, says it all for The Court Of The Crimson King.

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Sajal of Green Park said...

I'm a river


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