Klaus Schulze on Vinyl  

Klaus Schulze on Vinyl: What is worth owning in the CD age?

by David M. Cline (summer 1997)

Despite what some audiophiles might say about the "sweet sound of vinyl," no one misses the distracting clicks, pops, and hiss. The disadvantages of vinyl are especially bothersome in the quiet sections of KS' music. So why concern ourselves with an outdated format in this digital age? There is an undeniable joy in gazing at a full sized LP jacket as you become lost in the sonic experience created by KS music. Not only has the CD format reduced the size of the paintings, photographs and text, but in many cases, the original LP art work has been butchered or left out all together. The high praise given to the packaging of: Moondawn - The Original Master demonstrates KS fans' appreciation of contemporary photos and art work. In this article I have tried to describe the differences between the common CD and LP versions, as well as those differences within a format. Although I have expressed my opinion, I hope my descriptions will allow the reader to determine the value of tracking down the LP version, if you can find it these days. I will discuss in detail only those versions I own, and invite other readers to express their opinions and fill in the gaps.

I am indebted to KDM's Klaus Schulze - The Works which provided the frame work for this article. I have limited myself to KS solo albums and the Richard Wahnfried releases that have been issued in both formats. In addition, I have not attempted to list all the record company labels or label numbers, as I do not intend to reproduce The Works, but I have listed numbers when needed to clarify which release I am discussing. Also, let me point out that the individual who designed the album cover, is not necessarily the artist whose painting or photograph was chosen for the cover image. I will point out these differences when I am able.

For those who simply wish to view the front cover album images of KS' discography, click on this website's discography section, each album's front cover is pictured with a link to all other existing covers. This experience is well worth your time, and you can even print out the covers on your color printer. For many this will be enough. For the rest of you, read on.

Irrlicht was released in two different cover designs. The original, preferred, gatefold cover is the one designed by KS himself: a red Saturn like planet on a blue background highlighted by starlight and contrasted by surrounding sharp geometric patterns in red, found on Ohr 556.022, PDU Pld SQ 5095 and others. KS had intended to have the cover released in blue velvet, but Ohr did not agree. Inside the gatefold is a photo of sunlight reflected on water and floating ice, credited to KS. This version is used by Spalax for their CD release. The second available cover was part of a re-release series on Brain, number 1077, and was released subsequent to Timewind. This cover was designed by Metronome and used a painting by Urs Amann. Several Dali like paintings of Urs Amann were used for KS album covers, and therefore, these are desirable to collectors. Urs Amann did not design any covers for KS, nor were his paintings originally intended for this purpose. KS liked his work, and Amann agreed to the use of his paintings for several KS covers. This second Irrlicht cover depicts a cloaked futuristic or alien figure (no hair, upper head larger) with fingers and legs that end in sharp points, similar to other paintings used for KS albums. The back cover has a picture of KS, dressed in white, walking in the woods, with motion effect and yellow/brown hues.

Cyborg's original gatefold cover on Ohr, KM 2/58005, designed by Peter Geitner, depicts KS gazing skyward with a red textured, illuminated sphere behind him. Inside and back cover photos by Marcel Fugere shows KS with headphones working at his keyboard, with the Revox in the background. This is the design that Spalax used for it's CD reissue. The cover for the re-release on Brain 2/1078 again uses paintings by Urs Amann. The front cover shows an alien like figure, exchanging his head for the sun? The inside gatefold painting by Amann shows what appear to be the creature's birth pods. Like the photo that graced the back cover of the Brain reissue of Irrlicht, the back cover of Brain's Cyborg reissue has a photo of KS in a chair, with the same woods in the background. There is a third unique cover on Gramavision 18-7020, USA. All the front cover images for the KS albums on Gramavision are similar, and follow label's format. The images are different nature pictures with an overlay of varied circuit board patterns.

Blackdance, Brain 1051, was the first KS album to use Urs Amann's art work initially on its release. The original gatefold contained three similar paintings that featured surreal figures with fruit heads, very much in the Dali style. The CD release on Brain 833.129-2 does not faithfully reproduce the original art work (as pictured on Caroline CA 2003), as the front and back cover art is cropped, and the inside painting is left out.

Picture Music, which was recorded before, but released after Blackdance, was issued in five different covers. The original Brain 1067 release features on the cover, part of a pre-existing painting by Jacques Wyrs. Its surreal figure is also alien like, backed by geometric figures and flowing colored cloth, but very different from the work of Urs Amann. The original painting is 3 by 4 meters and unfortunately, the album cover does not reproduce well the effect of the much larger original painting. In fact, the disappointment that KS and KDM felt when they saw the Brain cover prompted them to pursue other covers for later issues. The back cover photo on the Brain release, again by Marcel Fugere, depicts KS at the keyboard, in a relaxed mood. The French release on Clementine CLE 33007 contained art work by Urs Amann, and these paintings can be found on the Spalax reissue on CD. The painting shows a human figure pinned to the ceiling, over a checkerboard tiled room, with a large blue face which fills the far door, gazing in. There also is a photo of KS sitting in a folding chair, on a complementary checkerboard tiled floor. The re-release on Brain 40.146 (the "Rock on Brain" series) is the oddest, showing a photograph of a framed picture of young girl with one corner wedged into the dirt of a freshly plowed field. The back cover shows other albums in this series, including LPs by Edgar Froese, Cluster, and Harmonia, all redone in an equally inappropriate style. One of the other front covers uses the previously described Urs Amann painting, but in this case it is framed in white. Finally, the fifth front cover [Dutch Ariola -kdm] is similar to the classic Moondawn cover except it uses a different photo and is bordered in blue.

All Timewind covers I have seen have had the same basic design, however, Metronome listed the title as "TIMEWIND by" instead of the correct "TIMEWIND", as Virgin did. It was originally released in a gatefold cover, again using paintings by Urs Amann. The inside gatefold cover painting was free of print (unlike some of the CD versions), and is similar to the front cover. The original back cover featured music notation and synthesizer use for "Wahnfried."

Moondawn was released in three different covers. The "classic" preferred cover as released on Brain 1088, was designed by KDM, and uses photos by Guido Harari. The original art work was faithfully reproduced for the Moondawn - The Original Master CD release, (with the exception of a few small photos of KS on the inside gatefold from the original LP that were not included). This CD release included an added photo and an extra track. The contrast between the superior CD release on Manikin and Thunderbolt's version exemplifies the typical decision making of record companies faced with abundant original LP art work. Thunderbolt's version of Moondawn does not include the inside gatefold mirror image photograph, and the color photo from the LP's back cover is reproduced in black and white, surrounded by white instead of the original brown coloring. One could argue that these differences are insignificant and certainly the sound is the most important aspect to a CD. However, the images contained in recorded music's packaging create an essential part of the experience that the fan enjoys. The Dutch Ariola release uses a more emotional photo of KS by Harari, and the border surrounding the circle is in blue. The French Isadora release uses the same photo as the Brain release, but does not use a circle border and instead uses a black background. Isadora's ISA 9001 release also contained a poster showing KS at his keyboards, in a different, but similar pose to the inside cover photo from the Brain LP.

Body Love I, was of course released in two well known versions (with some additional variations). The front of the "nudes cover", as on the first issue of Metronome 60.047, shows a drawing of a reclining nude woman above a photograph of cast members from the film. The back cover shows six more pictures, which appear to be scenes from the porno film, plus a picture of the director, Lasse Braun. Finally, there is a photograph of KS on the back cover, which appears to be from the same photo shoot as the pictures on the inside of Moondawn, although uncredited to Guido Harari. This version certainly gives you a better idea of what the film portrays, if one needs such direction. The later "white drawing" cover has an interesting history. One of KS' Belgian fans, Charles Mikael, had sent him some black on white drawings of some subtle nudes. These drawings have nothing to do with the film. KS decided he wanted a different cover and stumbled across the drawings. More by accident than by a careful search for the best art work, these drawings were used for the new cover. All CD versions I have seen have used the "white drawing" cover. If you are searching for the "nudes cover" beware of confused record dealers who are advertising a "nudes" Body Love, yet actually are selling Body Love Vol. 2.

Mirage was released with one gatefold cover design by Island Records' staff. The original front cover features what may be the most famous KS image, which is a colored photograph by Guido Harari. The back cover is the same image with different coloring. The inside cover contains mirror image photos of KS with a typed message from KS, plus a listing of his equipment, credits, and a track listing. Again, CD versions omit much of this art work, although many include at least the message and equipment listing, such as found on the Thunderbolt release CDTB 033 (plus a misprinting of "Exvasion" as the incorrect "Evasion").

Body Love Vol. 2 was released in three cover designs, all using the same photograph of three nude woman by Han-Chew Tham. The photograph is not from the original film. The back cover photo is by Guido Harari, and again is excluded from many CD versions. The Dutch Ariola LP version uses the title Moogetique instead of Body Love Vol. II.

Of all the many KS LPs released throughout the years, surely the most rewarding package is that of "X". The CD release (on Brain 833 627-2 for example) contains almost none of the original art work, as found on Brain 80.023. KDM designed this beautiful release containing 42 pictures of KS, reproductions of the covers for the first nine KS Brain albums, music notation to the track "Ludwig II" with graphic representations of the synthesizer use, an essay by KS, an essay by KDM, and full credits. The purple color scheme from the cover is continued on the inside front and back cover, as well as the first and last pages of the 16 page booklet. The photographs included eight pictures from the GO live in Paris concert, seven pictures from the May 9, 1977, concert from the Hippodrome, Paris, and photographs from KS' early days prior to his solo career. The majority of the non-Brain LP releases do not include the booklet. It is not surprising that CD reissues fail to reproduce this wonderful booklet as it would take 50 pages of the small CD pages to display the original photographs, or worse, the art work would be reduced to the point of being unrecognizable. If there is only one KS LP you own, this should be the one.

Dune was released in two different cover designs, the unique version is again on Gramavision 18-7022-1, USA . The original version on Brain 60.225 was designed by KDM. The photograph shows a scene of the movie "Solaris." The actor is looking out of a large round window. The photo was taken from a TV monitor. Before taking the photo KDM stuck a piece of string across his teevee, and he put the "Letraset" letters ("DUNE KLAUS SCHULZE") onto the front glass of this furniture. The inner sleeve, complete with lyrics, emphasizes the TV monitor's lines as style. There is also a photo of KS on the back cover, which is included in the Brain CD 811.842-2, as are the lyrics.

Richard Wahnfried Time Actor, as released on IC 58.065, has a different cover than the subsequent CD release IC 710.094 (which included a track from Megatone. The original front cover used a painting by Peter Nagel, showing an infant and a child with multicolored striped balloons escaping from their mouths. In the early days of IC, the idea was to use works by modern painters for the album covers. The boss at WEA, IC's distributor, was an art collector and he chose and financed the use of these paintings, as long as IC was with WEA. The original Time Actor back cover has a photo of KS' son Richard atop the Yamaha piano, and a photo of Peter Nagel. The CD version includes neither of the two photos, and its front cover is an inferior new age styled photograph by Michael Weisser.

...LIVE... was released with one basic cover design. The front cover photograph was by Frederic Pauchot, and the remaining 52 photographs are by KDM. The fifty photographs from the inside gatefold are interesting, entertaining, and mostly from the 1979 tour. These fifty photos are not included in the CD release (which is favored by the inclusion of a longer version of Sense). After consideration, KDM decided that he would not include the inside gatefold photos for the CD release as the reduction in size rendered the images too small to be pleasing to the eye. Pictured in the bottom right corner of the original gatefold, over the other photographs, is the image of a little toy robot. As one of the many gimmicks that gave character to each tour, this Japanese plastic toy was placed among KS' instruments during performances for the 1979 tour. Also included in the original LP release on Brain 80.048 was a 60x90 cm poster with six color photographs of KS.

Dig It was released with one basic cover version, but the release on Amiga 855941, titled Elektronik-Impressionen, had a unique cover. The original Brain 60.353 cover was a photo by Michael Weisser. One side of the inner sleeve featured 16 titled photographs, however the titles were largely nonsense. The other side of the inner sleeve was another 12x12 inch version of the cover photograph with different coloring. The CD release on Brain 811 632-2 includes the mentioned 16 photographs, but they are not titled and are irregularly cut.

Tonwelle, IC KS 80 006, features the cover photograph by Michael Weisser, which appears to be a carnival ride, captured at night with motion effect. The back cover photograph by Claus Cordes is KS' son Richard as a small child. The CD version IC 710.095 deletes the back cover photograph, but includes butchered tracks from Megatone.

Trancefer, IC KS 80 014, features cover art by Claus Cordes and KS. The image of KS was created with the use of their video studio, and the photograph was taken by Claus Cordes from the video monitor. The original border surrounding the photo was planned to be white to match other IC releases, but was changed to black just before release. Metronome had falsely claimed in press releases to have resigned KS to their label, and then released a sampler, Mindphaser 0060.423, that obviously copied the cover style of the original IC releases. Were any fans fooled into thinking this was the new KS release? The back cover of Trancefer includes two color photographs of KS by Michael Weisser. The Thunderbolt CD version, CDTB 146, includes only one of these photographs, poorly focused in black and white. Again, the Gramavision 18-7025-1 cover is different. Two special versions of this LP exist with white covers, with hand written (by KDM) consecutive numbers 1-300, IC KS 81 014, and 1-500, IC KS 82 014.

Audentity was released in two different cover designs, with some versions being the intended gatefold, and some as a single cover. The original IC KS 80 025/26 cover art of the hairless man in headphones and slit sunglasses, is by Mediagraphics, Melbourne Australia, and the cover design is by Claus Cordes. The original inside gatefold features a relaxed color picture of KS at the keyboards, by Claus Cordes. The Brain CD 817.194-2 includes a cropped black and white version of this photograph. The back cover photograph of KS from the original LP is by Steven Reekes-Parsons, and is not included in the Brain CD version. A completely different cover design exists on the Japanese Victor Music Interior JMI 28007, which is only a single album.

Dziekuje Poland Live '83, IC KS 80 040/41, was released in one basic cover design. The Brain CD 817.620-2, includes the original front cover art, by Steer Design and Claus Cordes, and the back cover photograph of KS and Rainer Bloss, but deletes the many photographs from the tour. The original photo collage from the inside gatefold gives you a sense of the tour; a lot of fun was had by all the participants, or so it would appear. One interesting development for the Polish release of this album, was that on the inside gatefold, the picture of Rainer Bloss making the V-sign was blacked out for it's potential (but probably non-intended) political message. KDM comments: "After all, the tour did happen during the heydays of the Solidarnosc movement. And when the album came out, Poland was still a communist country with a lot of political problems."

Aphrica was only released on LP, Inteam ID 20 001. The front cover painting is by Ernst Fuchs and features a draped nude, being attended by a semi-nude woman and a headdressed man. The painting is interesting enough, if one likes paintings of voluptuous nude women posed in a surreal background. Fuchs is one of the best known living painters. He also drew the Inteam logo. Ernst Fuchs has not given up singing (see the Chris Karrer interview in AUDION #37) [The "singer" Ernst Fuchs just released a double CD on the German Calig label: "Mystische Lieder" -kdm]. The back cover has photos of KS, Rainer Bloss, and Ernst Fuchs, plus credits, all designed by KDM and Claus Cordes.

For Drive Inn, Inteam ID 20 002, the original front cover featured a photo of a "classic" car front grill (Bentley) by Claus Cordes. This cover is used for the Thunderbolt release CDTB 2.028, but the IC 710.103 CD uses a photo of a red sports car, side view, instead, by Michael Weisser.

The cover for the Angst soundtrack, Inteam ID 20 003, is art work by Claus Cordes, and this front cover is faithfully reproduced on the Thunderbolt CDTB 2027. The original LP also included four anxiety provoking color photographs from the film, not included in the CD package. The Thunderbolt CD has a translation of the original German text, describing the film's theme.

RICHARD WAHNFRIED PLAYS Megatone, Inteam ID 20 003, features the cover art of Alan Green. The back cover art compliments the front, but adds credits to the "cubes" as well as a photograph of KS' son Richard, which appears to be from the same photo shoot that produced the back cover for Tonwelle.

Beginning with Inter*Face, the CD and LP versions were released simultaneously, up through 1991's Beyond Recall, the last KS album on vinyl. I cannot comment in detail about these covers as I do not own both versions. Perhaps someone else would like to comment.

( Also during this time CDs became the dominant format. Of note is the fact that track differences began to emerge. On Brain's CD version of Dreams 831.206-2, there is an extra track, Flexible, that is not on the LP version, nor is it on Thunderbolt's CD version, CDTB 039, which also excludes the full credits to the album. Richard Wahnfried Miditation and Babel were released on vinyl with the music essentially intact. En=Trance was released as a double LP, and single CD. The LP version of Miditerranean Pads excludes the title track, and shortens the track Decent Changes by over five minutes. The LP version of The Dresden Performance is titled Dresden - Imaginary Scenes and includes only the three studio tracks, excluding the two live tracks. And finally, the LP version of Beyond Recall excludes the track Gringo Nero.

How does one locate an LP version of a KS album today? Look in Goldmine or Record Collector. Beware condition listings. Mint minus is the most misused category and can vary from almost flawless to dog eared. Call the dealer and ask for further details. Cost also varies widely.

In summary, the LP versions of KS albums offer a wide variety of cover art and photographs that you will not find on the CD versions. I am still exploring these horizons myself. Good luck in your visual journey.

A sincere Thank You goes (again) to David M. Cline, who found the time to research and to write the above.