Monday, April 20, 2009
Carcass Wake Up & Smell... JFK picture
Question: All this talk about banned artwork has reminded me of a question I\'ve always wanted to ask. Everyone always focuses on Carcass\' first 2 albums (Reek and Symphonies) when it comes to gory, banned artwork, but I was wondering if you ever had any trouble with the artwork for Wake Up and Smell The Carcass?
Surely pictures of JFK\'s autopsy would\'ve caused a rumble or two protest from the States? Did you ever get any contact from the authorities about the pictures? And who the hell suggested it? Was there anyone in the band or at Earache who thought \"Ooooh, bit unnecessary\"? Also, where the hell did you get them in the first place? Surely, in the days before the interweb REALLY took off, they must have been hard to come by? From: firstname.lastname@example.org
Answer:There is an interesting sub-plot to this album's picture which is revealed at the end of this posting, but first off heres the basic facts of how it ended up as Carcass' sleeve art.
By around 1995 or so the band had recently split up, and Carcass were no more. Jeff was playing in Blackstar at that point I think, and had other priorities going on. There were 5 great songs left over from the bands last recording session- the aptly named Swansong -which needed a release somehow, so we compiled a mish-mash of leftovers and rare single B-sides and Peel Session material, and asked Jeff to come up with a name and artwork, which he was kind enough to take time out from Blackstar to do.
I remember being stunned that Jeff decided to supply a gore-art cover again- it seemed a retrograde step, as the band had already spearheaded the gore-art sleeve concept in the late 80s, and had moved on considerably since, ending up on a major record company, before the band imploded.To me, it seemed to lack that creative spark which they had always been known for.
Don't forget that Earache had already taken the flack for the 1988 debut album with UK chain stores refusing to stock the album on full public view (hence the mid to late 90s editions on CD had the gore hidden inside or removed completely) and the infamous police raid on our office in 1991 had more or less put us off releasing such sleeves as they are not worth the hassle, and have to be altered to sell in any meaningful quantity anyway. As a side note-this record store squeamishness is a particularly British trait, when Reek was released in USA under license to Combat/Relativity it was released with the gore art printed in full view outside on a long-box CD.By 1996 I guess Jeff did'nt care about any such problems for the label, as the band was over anyway.The reactivation of the band a decade later in 2007 was unthinkable at that point.
So we duly released the original Wake Up And Smell The...b-sides and rarities CD with a huge black sticker to cover the gory JFK photo, assuming, as ever, that the major chain stores would object.However to our great suprise, we encountered no complaints and no refusals to stock this record.The expected controversy never came, and it was treated as just another release.I guess tastes had changed by then, black metal had upped the ante in 'shock-value', the interwebs had taken hold and by 1996 autopsy images on death-metal sleeves just were'nt that shocking any more.You could say in comparison to the murders and suicides coming out of Norway, it was almost boring.
The picture itself is far from boring however- its dynamite.It forms the centrepiece of the ongoing controversy about whether JFK was shot from the back or the front.The official Report into the assassination declares he was shot from the back - but the picture shows large exit wound at back the head, meaning he was shot from the front.This contradicts all the official evidence and explanation of the shooting.The FBI deny all knowledge of the picture, it simply does not exist according to the US government.It's impossible to find the image online nowadays, but was widely circulated in the 90s.It is removed from many internet sites as its highly controversial and some say the "smoking gun' which points to US government's involvement and subsequent cover up in the JFK killing.
Make your own mind up after watching this: