Whilst in New York it was a must that I find the tenement block that featured on my favorite and Led Zeppelin's biggest album Physical Graffiti. When I got back home I set about changing my photographic view to match the cover artwork. On the web (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Graffiti) it is widely known that the building is 5 stories high, but on the cover the building has only 4 stories. When I started to compare my photograph and the album artwork I soon realised that as well as the 4th floor being removed, artist Peter Corriston also added a number of further elements that include extra tiles, faces and sides of the building. Part of the top right railing balcony was left out for a whole window frame to be visible.
Artist Peter Corriston worked with designer Mike Doud to convince Led Zeppelin manager, Peter Grant</b>, that the cover art idea was a good one. Unlikely as it may seem, the concept was itself heavily influenced by the design for Jose Feliciano’s at http://www.discogs.com/José-Feliciano-Compartments/release/1786834 album, Compartments (1973). The new version was created by using a photograph of a New York apartment block, situated at 96-98 St. Marks Place. The building is still standing today. In the basement is a second-hand clothes shop. The name of the shop is, naturally, Physical Graffiti.
Although Physical Graffiti was originally designed to be the debut release on the Swan Song label, the album’s elaborate cover art, which features a New York City tenement with interchangeable images visible through the building’s die-cut windows, forced a delay. The release of Bad Company thus took the Swan Song debut honour all the way to the top of the Billboard album chart. Within six months Physical Graffiti also hit that peak, giving Led Zeppelin another number one album, in the week of March 22, 1975. The centrepiece of the album is a song called Kashmir. Despite the fact that Stairway To Heaven is the band’s best-known song, Kashmir is generally considered to be the ultimate Led Zeppelin track.
An eclectic gallery of celebrities and icons inhabit the building and they can be spied through the windows. Amongst the tenants therein are Lee Harvey Oswald, Neil Armstrong, Elizabeth Taylor, King Kong, Charles Atlas, Queen Elizabeth, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s portrait of Proserpine, the Virgin Mary and Laurel & Hardy. Perhaps I should do a second version with these figures in the windows or with the lettering.
Peter Corriston lives and works in the heart of Greenwich Village.