Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kansas - their eponymous debut album; about to carry on...a Great Album Cover

Kansas - their eponymous debut album.  Is this one of the all time great album covers?  I think so.  Here is why:  yes, we all know that the album cover depicts abolitionist John Brown in a scene from a painting titled, Tragic Prelude, which is a mural by Kansas native John Steuart Curry.  The original mural is painted on a wall at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. The album cover image is severely discolored and cropped to show less than half of the painting.  But what of John Brown.  John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American revolutionary abolitionist, who in the 1850s advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery in the United States.  Brown led the Pottawatomie Massacre during which five men were killed, in 1856 in Bleeding, Kansas, and made his name in the unsuccessful raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859.  Later that year he was executed, but his speeches at the trial captured national attention.  Brown has been called one of "the most controversial of all 19th-century Americans" and "America's first domestic terrorist."  Below is a screen shot of the entire painting.  On the album cover - the Kansas twister is cropped out.  Rethinking the album cover for the band, in retrospect, they should have made the album a gatefold (even with single disk) with the entire painting laid out.  Looking at the painting - it's even in the proper rectangular proportions.


  1. it is because of the music and the art on this album that I picked a piece of art of a wall in a house we were cleaning (signed lithograph of John Brown by John Steuart Curry) that I just sold for $4000...yaaaayyyy

  2. Where was the picture on the back taken? There isa reunion picture taken at the same spot. ..curious where.

  3. Re: "they should have used the whole painting..." Absolutely disagree. As the twister in the painting is cropped out, and the back photo shows the real approaching storm around the musicians, it blends the art into life and the band into the painting. It ties the band so much more into the culture of Kansas (the state) than if they just showed the painting alone.


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