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The Subway As Album Cover Art

The New York Transit Museum shows off three decades of subway-themed album covers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Joe Bataan's album 'Subway Joe' is featured in the New York Transit Museum's exhibit 'Album Tracks.' Joe Bataan's album 'Subway Joe' is featured in the New York Transit Museum's exhibit 'Album Tracks.' (Courtesy Fania Records)

The New York subway has inspired not just songs but a great deal of album cover art. A new exhibition at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn displays over 30 years of record covers featuring the subway.

The albums show an evolution in musical and artistic styles from the 1950's to the 1980's, as well as the changing face of the subway.

Robert Del Bagno, director of exhibitions at the museum talks about the exhibition. Then, we check in with "Latin Soul King" Joe Bataan, whose 1968 album, Subway Joe, -- featuring the infectious Boogaloo hit of the same name -- is part of the exhibit.

(And you can make your own subway "album cover" at the Transit Museum's live band karaoke night.)

The cover photo of Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 album Wednesday Morning, 3AM was shot in the 53rd Street station.

 

The cover photo of Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 album Wednesday Morning, 3am was shot in the 53rd Street station.

 

The Velvet Underground's 1970 album Loaded featured cover art by Stanislaw Zigorski.

 

The Velvet Underground's 1970 album 'Loaded' featured cover art by Stanislaw Zigorski.

 

The Ramones' 1983 album Subterranean Jungle.

 

The Ramones' 1983 album 'Subterranean Jungle.'

 

Grandmaster Flash's 1985 album 'The Source.

 

Grandmaster Flash's 1985 album 'The Source.'

Guests:

Joe Bataan and Robert Del Bagno

Comments [2]

Dave K from Manhattan

Oh to return to the vibrant days of graffiti and banish the mindnumbing panoramas of Madison Avenue's relentlessly pimped talent. Even subway stair risers and treads are now just one more filthy canvas presenting corporate conditioning to convince us that whatever garbage they are selling is some kind of beneficial exchange for our hard earned pay.
Bust out the spray paint and running shoes again. Where is the youth culture which once shouted down this netherworld of useless product.
The subway which once resonated a sort blossoming of difference and new thinking is now an insultingly undependable waiting room within a landscape of visually oppressive marketing, reeking of services denied and evermore shocking in the successful dehumanizations of New York City 'straphangers'.
Remember straphangers and what they were like?

Oct. 16 2013 07:41 PM
Howie Stier

Museum director Robert Del Bagno attributes the Ramones album Subterranean Jungle to 1985; it was actually released in '83-during the height of the subway's graffiti exposure( while I commuted to high school). The policy of cleaning trains each night began under David Gunn, who became president of the NYCTA in 1984, and so that anecdote about the Ramones cover shoot is troublesome.

Oct. 16 2013 06:40 PM

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