Scratched Records: Collecting banned album covers

Rare album covers hit a high note with this Indiana Township collector



Photos by Becky Thurner Braddock

We Goofed!” reads a sticker on the cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1980 LP, The Royal Albert Hall Concert. Why? Because the concert was actually recorded at the Oakland Coliseum, and the sticker goes on to explain, “We are in the process of correcting subsequent album covers.” Subsequent covers were corrected, and this one was scratched as quickly as possible—which makes it very valuable to collectors.

“We goofed,” describes most of the extraordinary album-cover collection owned by Dr. Lawrence Biskin, a surgeon who lives in Indiana Township. The covers were pulled from store shelves, and some were banned across the country. Many were too sexually explicit; some were violent, had profane language or infringed on copyrights; and others, like the CCR album, were simply misprints.

Although the misprints and misspellings account for only a small number of Biskin’s collection of more than 150 albums, they are some of the funniest examples. The Marvelettes spelled as “Marvellets” is one of his oldest LPs; he has a 45 RPM record listing the artist as “Jethro Toe,” and some of Eric Clapton’s albums were released in Japan under the name “Eric Crapton.” (Seriously!)

The story behind the beginnings of Biskin’s collection is as cool as the collection itself. Born and raised in Montreal, where he was a DJ for weddings and events for a time, Biskin moved to Pittsburgh in 1987 to complete his residency at Western Pennsylvania Hospital. In the early ’90s, while serving with the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission Medical Advisory Board, Biskin was the resident M.D. at a WWF show. There, he met Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who introduced him to AC/DC, which later led to his meeting Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.

Slash was autographing an album for Biskin and mentioned that the cover was actually banned for being too explicit. Intrigued, Biskin looked into other banned covers, and the collection began. So, too, did his reputation with many of the world’s top bands such as ZZ Top, The Who and Deep

Purple, some of which turned to him if they needed a physician while in town.

Almost all of Biskin’s finds are from eBay. One of his most valuable is the “butcher cover” from The Beatles’ 1966 release Yesterday and Today, worth between $1,000 and $2,500. The original cover showed The Beatles dressed in white butcher smocks with pieces of raw, bloody meat and plastic baby-doll parts. The cover was pulled for being too controversial, and a sticker with new artwork was placed over it until new covers could be printed.

The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls cover was pulled for featuring likenesses of Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett, Judy Garland and others without their permission. And a variety of LPs infringed on corporate copyrights for including logos from properties such as Superman or McDonald’s. In a famous case, the album cover for The Resident’s album Meet the Residents is a defaced version of the exact image from Meet The Beatles.

While these copyright-copycat albums wouldn’t fly now any more than they could in earlier decades, other pulled covers seem tame by today’s standards. A photo showing David Bowie in drag, wearing a long dress? Practically kid’s stuff.

For an avid music lover like Biskin, someone who also appreciates and collects art from rock musicians, the collection is a natural passion. “I’ve always liked things that are unusual, things that not many people have,” Biskin says. “I guarantee you that so many people have these rare covers and don’t even know it, or threw them away without realizing what treasures they had.” Time to hit the attic.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Our exclusive list of the region's 584 leading physicians across 76 specialities.
Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Follow eight physicians over two days as they perform surgeries, consult on end-of-life care, treat accident victims, discuss hospital programs –– and then reset and do it all over again.
The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
What Inspires Ray Gastil's Careful Plan for Pittsburgh's Future

What Inspires Ray Gastil's Careful Plan for Pittsburgh's Future

How will the city’s new planning director stoke Pittsburgh’s next generation of developments?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Two Pittsburgh Restaurants Closing; Kings Leaving the Family

Two Pittsburgh Restaurants Closing; Kings Leaving the Family

One of the eateries has been a staple in Bloomfield for more than a half-century.
Who's Carson? Why Does He Have His Own Street?

Who's Carson? Why Does He Have His Own Street?

Some of the names synonymous with Pittsburgh have surprising histories behind them.
Aviary Determined to Have Dwindling Condors Leave the Nest

Aviary Determined to Have Dwindling Condors Leave the Nest

The National aAviary is working to send ’Burgh-born birds back to their natural habitats to boost endangered populations.
Are You Missing Out? Why More People Love Life in Butler County

Are You Missing Out? Why More People Love Life in Butler County

Cranberry Township is crammed, but people still are flocking north.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh

Our exclusive list of the region's 584 leading physicians across 76 specialities.
Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Endless Challenges: 48 Remarkable Hours with 8 Pittsburgh Doctors

Follow eight physicians over two days as they perform surgeries, consult on end-of-life care, treat accident victims, discuss hospital programs –– and then reset and do it all over again.
The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
What Inspires Ray Gastil's Careful Plan for Pittsburgh's Future

What Inspires Ray Gastil's Careful Plan for Pittsburgh's Future

How will the city’s new planning director stoke Pittsburgh’s next generation of developments?
Dare to be Different — PittGirl's Better Ways to Use Social Media

Dare to be Different — PittGirl's Better Ways to Use Social Media

You can use social media to change your life and the lives of those around you in a positive way.
Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module