Editor's Note: Thanks to Phil Milstein for this post and to Jim Blanchard for the comp!
I first met Jim Blanchard c.1995, when he was recommended as a possible cover artist for the song-poem compilation The Human Breakdown Of Absurdity I was then preparing. As I undertook due diligence on Jim I came away impressed not only with his brilliant illustration skills, but also with his great ear for music (or, perhaps more accurately, taste that closely matches my own) and his talent for enlightening cultural exploration. I did indeed hire him –– I’d have been a fool not to –– and 15-plus years later Jim remains a stalwart colleague and beloved friend.
He is also a superb mixtape compiler, although his comps have far too frequently been no more than privately distributed. I hope the posting here of his latest, The World Is In A Hell Of A Fix, will help break him out of his shell. The contents have been expertly culled from the fieldwork of Tom Ardolino, who was the ur-source for collector interest –– or, for that matter, any interest –– in song-poem music. When Penn Jillette purchased Ardolino’s song-poem collection outright a few years back, Jim was brought in to digitize the set. In the course of that work he kept copies of his favorite tracks for his personal listening, and his favorites from among those form today’s compilation.
I’m a tad disappointed that Jim chose to use a photograph of Gene Marshall, rather than his own drawing, to anchor the cover, although frankly his renderings, when he wants them to be, are so realistic that I’m not 100% that it’s not one. Anyway I’m comforted by the fact that the yellow he’s chosen for the background is so lurid it is unlikely to print correctly on any common desktop printer, and may cause some of them to break down completely.