Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he designed

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he designed

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:29 am

Dubliner Steve Averill talked to me today about the E.C. sleeves he designed, 1991- 2001. I've a hour of conversation to transcribe. After I do so, in the next week or two, I'll incorporate it into an account here. At this this stage I can say that nothing truly Earth shattering or revisionist came up . Elvis 'n Steve clearly had a very harmonious and fruitful relationship. They still do - Elvis dedicated 'I Lost You ' to Steve from the stage in Vicar St. last June. Elvis now works, primarily, with U.S. based sleeve designers, Steve says, because , given how hands on he likes to be with the process, that is more convenient given where Elvis now lives.

Steve happily agreed to pose for some photos -
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Steve is still a busy man, recently doing the sleeve of the album by The Script-


http://www.ampvisual.com/

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:01 am

My chat with Steve has now become , after three hours, 16 pages of transcription -

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Now I have to listen to it again , checking the script, then type it up , then decide what to use, put that together with images and then post it here. It'll take a week or so more - watch this space!

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:58 am

Here follows the highlights of my conversation with Steve about the sleeves. We also talked about Barney Bubbles and other matters - I'll post them in due course.



Steve Averill



I can’t remember anything where an idea was totally rejected. For most of the albums we did together I would, initially, come up with four or five options. We would look at the typography, how the picture was placed on the page, how it worked – we would find the images from that. There was never something where he’d go ‘That’s completely wrong’. It was all ‘That’s OK but maybe we should do this, or we’ll do that...’

Mighty Like A Rose 1991

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MLAR was done by Michael Krage. My only connection was that my good friend Amelia Stein, the photographer, who was the person who introduced me to Elvis. Amelia would have been the photographer on the whole thing. She talked to me about the idea of the rose, the image which was combined with her portrait. I wouldn’t have had anymore than that to do with it.

The Juliet Letters
1993
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It was quite strange for me. I’m not a huge fan of that type of music. The accompanying video was being shot out in Ardmore (near Dublin) so I went out there for three days in a row to watch what was going on, to take stills. When you’re hearing the music being played you suddenly start getting it in your head and you become much more attuned to the music. I’ve always felt Declan has a very distinctive, individual voice. There’s nobody else other than him that does that. And to hear the voice in this setting, ‘cos your used to it, with The Attractions or whatever else is behind it, to hear it in this setting was different, quite interesting.

The monochrome look on the cover was very much suited to the whole thing. What I was to come up with was the feel, the thing about it, the typeface. I changed the ‘e’’s that were in it, to this round face to make it more Celtic. We used the studio lights to light the faces from below - it was pretty much a case of working hand in hand with Amelia on the art direction.

Art work was done for a 12” version. They certainly used 12“ squares for promotion, mock-ups for record shops that had 12” boxes to display them. I haven’t ever seen a vinyl edition.

Brutal Youth (1994) was done by Michael Krage since he was the Warner in-house art director. Declan is a very hands on person when you work with him, he likes to be with you. After Krage left Warner Declan was looking for someone to work with and, since he had known me previously, we met and it was a kind of obvious link, since he was living in Ireland.

Kojak Variety 1995

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Warner 1995
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Rhino/Demon 2004


I worked on this with a young designer, Pat Swan. I worked on the typography and overall feel with Pat. We did it like a old fifties thing you see for a say and old soap powder packet, something ‘cleaner than clean’. The Rhino re-issue uses, obviously, a scanned version – it’s lost a bit in the colours. You’ll find that in a lot of re-issues, the record companies don’t have the original artwork. It happened with U2. The record company have lost artwork and we have to go back and, doing the best we can, recreate. The transparencies for October were lost so we had to take the best quality image we had and spend time re-touching it.

All This Useless Beauty
1996
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We had the title, we had a conversation and, basically, the cover came about in this way. Amelia and I went through various shots, found this shot and went to Declan and told him we really think this shot suits the title. He loved it; he fell in love with it. We did a lot of shots using a frame win context with various objects. We did visual collages. We went and bought stuff in junk shops and pound shops that we could use. I’m still happy with the cover, it works very well.

The cd booklet was a case of me sitting down with Declan and him going through the shots that he wanted. It was quite complicated ‘cos his, songs have a lot of verses and we were finding ways to make the words go with images, we were trying to get them to slot in with the work. I worked in the studio with Pat Swan who did the layouts with me. He’s (Elvis) very strong in what he wants to do. He’ll go with you to a certain point. It is kind of chaotic but it’s exactly what he wanted me to do. I think he was happy that it was slightly difficult for people to make out the lyrics.

Extreme Honey 1997

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That’s a funny tale. Elvis provided me with a load of images. I did the layout for it. I applied, like, one image, two images together; we needed this multi-layered image. He came into the office one day and he, literally, sat with me for, probably, about three hours. We moved very single image around on the screen, try that over here, try that over here etc. Eventually he turned to me and he said, laughing, ‘we got back exactly to where we were in the beginning. OK, you were right, I trust you’. That was the point where he realised that I hadn’t put it together randomly. I was actually working out the balance. The corners are kind of like a jigsaw. It’s like the sleeve for U2’s Achtung Baby. The joke on this was kind of The Ever Changing Faces of Elvis Costello. In a sense the only common feature is the glasses, in most cases.

Painted From Memory
1998

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Blue Note records was an inspiration for the way we wanted the cover to look. Rankin (John Rankin Waddell , b. 1966) had done some shots and they just didn’t quite sit with that concept. So they got William Claxton (1927-2008) who was a long time veteran shooting wonderful photographs of those involved in the jazz scene. He got studio shots of the two of them working together. It was very much a homage to the great Blue Note sleeves, the typography and all that, it turned out quite nice in the end. I had done a layout using found photography, trying to get at the mood of what I wanted it to be. This was the kind of area we wanted to go with and this is what he saw there. Out of respect for Burt Elvis showed him what was being prepared but he was very much the person to go to about it. He’d come into the office and he’d go through it, trying different colours on the borders, seeing how they worked. The image on the back is a photo of both Burt and Elvis, taken in England by Rankin. It doesn’t, however, quite have the right feel. Whereas the William Claxton photographs are from the U.S. studio session, they have a totally different feel. This is what we were looking for.

When I Was Cruel 2002
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I went down to the studios and Declan played me about eight or nine tracks, we listened to them and we talked about the songs. I went away and went through various photo library catalogues and came up with half a dozen to nine images. I said to him that one of them was standout to me. He went through them and he made exactly the same choice. He instantly saw what I saw in it, without me saying it. I just thought it summed up the static-ness of the thought ‘When I Was Cruel’ ; you’ve the two ( bees) smiling , it’s not Disney , it’s Coney Island ( the location of Melissa Heyden’s photo). Declan, I think, had to go quite a bit of the way to persuade the record company to use it. They were always keen to have pictures of him on the cover. Def Jam was the label. He rang me one day and said ‘Guess which label I’m on now?! ?!’ He kept bouncing around the different labels.

Amelia took the one that’s on the back. The way it was used was my idea. It was whole face but I thought that half face element of the whole thing worked very well.

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The sleeve of the Doll Revolution single was re-used from a picture in the booklet with ATUB. I was, at one point, going to detach the head from the doll, thinking of the’ Tear Of Your Own Head’, but we thought that would be too nasty. We went into a pound shop and bought some of these fake Barbie dolls and used them.

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I enjoyed the 45 cover, it was good fun. The gun is a stock book image. I went up to my attic and took out a box of old 7” vinyl singles and – I can’t remember – maybe it was a Parlophone sleeve, and I just simply photographed it. We talked about having a hole in the middle of the sleeve, a nod to Barney Bubbles’ Stiff/Radar sleeves.

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby FAVEHOUR » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:13 pm

Thank you, John! Very interesting!


dave

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby terryhurley » Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:52 pm

Enjoyed that. Thanks John.

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby migdd » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:31 pm

Interesting to read this. Thanks for posting, John. I'm curious (I know, I'm a bad boy and it's none of my business and I'm an evil voyeur for even thinking it; however . . .) if Averill shed any light on the "bee bee" concept of the cover to WIWC.

(There, I asked it. I'm a total loser pedant for my curiosity in this matter. I surely shall be castigated and banned from the board.) 8)

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:44 pm

if Averill shed any light on the "bee bee" concept of the cover to WIWC.


As in the 'B B' referring to Bebe Beull? I put it to him and it was the first he'd heard of it. He said he used to get similar reactions to the U2 Achtung Baby cover, people putting totally unfounded interpretations on the juxtaposition of images etc.

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:27 pm

That's Phil Chevron in the stripey jacket to the front ; the bloke in the specs just behind him is Steve Averill , designer of many a Costello album sleeve.


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sound-City-Beat ... f_gw_p_t_1


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The fourth Radiators studio album Sound City Beat is now set for February 27 release, on Chiswick Records. Guest musicians on the album include Terry Woods, Henry McCullough, Conor Brady and Eamon Carr.

Full track listing follows.

1 Head For The Sun (Brendan 'Brush' Shiels)
2 It's Happened Before, It'll Happen Again (Rory Gallagher)
3 I'm A King Bee (James Moore aka Slim Harpo)
4 6.10 Special (J. Cuddy/M.Bonner/D.Kay)
5 Yes, I Need Someone (Ernie Graham/Davy Lutton/Chris Stewart/Mick Cox)
6 Behind The Painted Screen (Dave Lewis)
7 I'm Gonna Turn My Life Around (Peter Adler)
8 You Got What I Need (Andy Dunne)
9 Gloria (Van Morrison)
10 Dublin (Philip Lynott)
11 The Lady Wrestler (Horslips)
12 Turn Out The Light (Derry Lindsay)
13 Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson/Tim Rose)
14 That's All Right (Ron Ryan)
15 Never An Everyday Thing (Ben Findon/Peter Shelley)
16 Dr. Crippen's Waiting Room (Robin Crowley/Jimmy Greeley)
17 New Places, Old Faces (Brendan 'Brush' Shiels)
18 You Turn Me On (The Turn-On Song) (Ian Whitcomb)

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby Neil. » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:59 am

John, thanks for this! Fab stuff.

johnfoyle
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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:59 am

http://www.ampvisual.com/archive-work/e ... um-design/

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Elvis Costello – 45 – Album Design


During his time living in Ireland Elvis Costello worked closely with Steve Averill and the design team on a number of album projects including; The Juliet Letters, Kojak Variety, Painted from Memory, Extreme Honey, All This Useless Beauty and When I Was Cruel. The latter album’s cover came about from listening to a selection of tracks in the studio and then looking through a large number of library shots until finding the shot that seemed to sum up the album. Something that Elvis concurred with. The first track on the album was 45 and the cover was a reference to two of the most obvious definitions of the title.

johnfoyle
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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:23 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1BQ1pB5 ... e=youtu.be

The Trouble Pilgrims (Radiators from Space without Philip Chevron and with Paddy Goodwin on bass) playes support to Horslips during their Drive the Cold Winter Away Christmas party nights in the Olympia Theatre on 14th and 15th December 2012. With Pete Holidai, Steve Rapid (Averill), John Bonnie, Paddy Goodwin.

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:58 am

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Steve , under the name Steve Rapid, used to write for fanzines in the 1970s' , including this review of Less Than Zero

http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/Raw_Power,_March_1977

johnfoyle
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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:54 am

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art- ... 142?page=1

Steve Averill’s life in Irish rock, from the sleeve to the stage

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he design

Postby Goon Squad » Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:54 am

johnfoyle wrote:Image

Steve , under the name Steve Rapid, used to write for fanzines in the 1970s' , including this review of Less Than Zero


Classic ! :lol:

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he designed

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:13 am

Facebook reminds me that it's six years since I talked with Steve for this. The place we met in Dublin , the coffee shop in Waterstones bookshop on Dawson Street, is now a Tower Records ( a Irish operation that still uses the name they franchised years ago). Where we sat is now, appropriately,part of the vinyl section. Steve is still a busy man , playing occasionally with the Trouble Pilgrims - they shared a bill with - and nearly stole the show from! - the Undertones last May.

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Re: Steve Averill talks about the Costello sleeves he designed

Postby emotional_fascism076 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:07 am

I love reading about stuff like this. Thanks for sharing it.
Who on earth is tapping at the window?


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