Last week, we saw an Instgram post by Scott Crawford (@saladdazed) which read, "Not sure who's doing these beautiful Blue Note-inspired Punk Rock album cover re-imaginings, but I love them," along with a blue-hued image of Hüsker Dü's Flip Your Wig. Crawford added the hashtags #bobmould, #granthart, #gregnorton, and #flipyourwig, along with the additional commentary, "looks like it's art by @stealworks." So, with a little bit of our own digital sleuthing, we learned @stealworks was, in fact, graphic designer John Yates. Stealworks: THE DESIGN PORTFOLIO OF JOHN YATES further details, "Stealworks is the nom de plume of graphic designer, trouble-maker, and tea drinker, John Yates." Yates owned and operated his very own label imprint, Allied Recordings and a sub-label, Dakota Records, between 1990-99 and served as the in-house graphic designer for one-time Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles. John Yates has designed iconic album covers for countless artists, such as Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, Be Well, D.O.A. Dead Kennedys, Good Riddance, Green Day, Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker, Lagwagon, Lifetime, The Menzingers, NOFX, Nomeansno/The Hanson Brothers, Operation Ivy, Riverdales, Screeching Weasel, and Wesley Willis.
"Meat 'N' P'Taters" John Yates has, additionally, worked on design campaigns for Stüssy, KR3W Denim, and Burton Snowboards, AK Press, PM Press, G7 Welcoming Committee Records, and more, all of which have been cataloged in his book, Stealworks: The Graphic Details of John Yates. It appears as though Yates' ambitious Blue Note-inspired album cover re-imagining series, better known as Punk Note, all started with an early rejected/draft design for Lifetime's 1997 album, Jersey's Best Dancers. Over the course of 20 posts, John Yates shared 200 re-designed @stealworks Punk Note covers for genre-shaping Punk Rock albums originally released between 1965-90 in homage to both Reid Miles & Francis Wolff's cover designs. We reached out to Yates over the weekend, who was kind enough to assemble a few lists based on and inspired by his Punk Note series: Top 20 Songs, Top 20 Singles, Top 20 Albums, and Top 20 Favorite Tracks. Here, you'll see John Yates Top 20 Albums list, with accompanying Punk Note re-imagined covers, as well as his Top 20 Favorite Tracks. We, then, took the latter list and retrofitted it into the sixth installment of our ongoing With The Quickness playlist column. John Yates' full 200 album Punk Note series (complete with out-takes!) is currently on display on his @stealworks Instagram page with additional design portfolios available online at Stealworks. Plus, our friends at NO ECHO recently conducted a great career-spanning interview with Yates himself.
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Punk Rock/Hardcore Purveyor
Top 20 Albums
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade (1984)
Discharge - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (1982)
Sonic Youth - Sister (1987)
The Clash - London Calling (1979)
Crass - The Feeding of The Five Thousand (1978)
Dead Kennedys - Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982)
Bad Brains - Rock for Light (1983)
The Ramones - Leave Home (1977)
Iggy & The Stooges - Raw Power (1973)
Gang of Four - Entertainment! (1979)
Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady (1979)
The Misfits - Static Age (1978/96)
The Undertones - The Undertones (1979)
Minutemen - Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)
Fugazi - Repeater (1990)
Butthole Surfers - Rembrandt P*ssyhorse (1986)
Big Black - Atomizer (1986)
Pixies - Doolittle (1989)
Minor Threat - Out of Step (1984)
The Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols (1977)
Top 20 Favorite Tracks
Hüsker Dü - "Something I Learned Today"
Discharge - "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing"
Sonic Youth - "(I Got A) Catholic Block"
The Clash - "London Calling"
Crass - "Do They Owe Us A Living?"
Dead Kennedys - "Halloween"
Bad Brains - "Right Brigade"
The Ramones - "Oh, Oh, I Love Her So"
Iggy & The Stooges - "Search & Destroy" (Bowie Mix)
Gang of Four - "Damaged Goods"
Buzzcocks - "Harmony In My Head"
The Misfits - "Last Caress"
The Undertones - "Teenage Kicks"
Minutemen - "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing"
Fugazi - "Repeater"
Butthole Surfers - "Waiting for Jimmy to Kick"
Big Black - "Passing Complexion"
Pixies - "Wave of Mutilation"
Minor Threat - "I Don't Wanna Hear It"
The Sex Pistols - "God Save The Queen"