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 ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to 1 million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Oakland Crows: A Big Mess but a Harmless Murder

Oakland Crows: A Big Mess but a Harmless Murder

Trees around the campus of the University of Pittsburgh are filled with nesting crows, and many students are wondering why.
Inside the Ultimate Man vs. Machine Poker Match in Pittsburgh

Inside the Ultimate Man vs. Machine Poker Match in Pittsburgh

Four of the world’s best poker players are playing 120,000 hands of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em against Libratus, the poker-playing bot created by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists.
See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

Watch the video that reveals Bell’s talents that go beyond the football field.
RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

Chris Howard will help decide which four teams will vie each year for college football’s national championship.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to 1 million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

The rest is history at ye olde Colonial Williamsburg, the former capital of Virginia and now a restored revolutionary war-era village.
Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

I snuck into a steel mill. Bethlehem, Pa. I’d been bragging about how big Pittsburgh’s industrial ruins were when a woman in a bar told me, “Bethlehem’s are bigger.” Size matters.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Oakland Crows: A Big Mess but a Harmless Murder

Oakland Crows: A Big Mess but a Harmless Murder

Trees around the campus of the University of Pittsburgh are filled with nesting crows, and many students are wondering why.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Zach Behm was chef de cuisine at Cure in Upper Lawrenceville at the time of a July car wreck.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The latest outpost of the popular local chain is housed in the former Verde space in Garfield.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

The Steelers are going to have to attack the game to survive it, to grab it by the throat and choke it to the desired conclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Reviews of "Split," "20th Century Women" and "The Founder," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Real Pittsburgh Weddings: Why All of the Guests Got a Gift

Real Pittsburgh Weddings: Why All of the Guests Got a Gift

This couple wanted to make sure all of their guests felt as included as possible.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Making Moves: Restoration Hardware Coming to North Hills

Making Moves: Restoration Hardware Coming to North Hills

RH Pittsburgh, The Gallery at Ross Park Mall is opening up shop at Ross Park Mall. The new store will replace the luxury brand's prior location in Mt. Lebanon.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Gun Violence Target of Carlow's Social Justice Institutes

Gun Violence Target of Carlow's Social Justice Institutes

The University will conduct research and offer scholarships to victims.

Comments