R.I.P.: John Berg

I remember reading about him first when he retired decades ago, but no question the man was a master of LP-cover art. What’s particularly brilliant about his first triumph, Thelonious Monk Underground, is that it was all too easy to present the serious-looking Monk as a Great Artist, but that left out that there were huge currents of wit and playfulness in his work. That album was not a masterpiece, but the cover was an essential one for the player’s legacy. (Berg was also perceptive enough to realize that Bruce Springsteen’s too-serious or too-off-the-wall covers had been holding him back badly.)

And it’s flat surprising how many vivid covers Berg oversaw. And how unlikely it seems anyone else will ever have a chance to make such an impact in the music-package medium.

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