The Nation’s Nightmare

This is my favourite cover of them all. It’s almost in a league of it’s own. It’s dark, it’s rough and fits the content perfectly. The drawings were made in 1951 to promote a documentary radio show on CBS called The Nation’s Nightmare, the work also made warhol win the Art Directors Club award a year later. To my understanding there were six episodes broadcast and two ended up being released on this album.

As far as i’m concerned this is one of the absolute rarest covers. It’s an extremely rare find on ebay and when it does pop up it sells for high, high prices with a record of almost $3500 a few years back and lately it’s been selling for $1000-1500. So, naturally this is a cover that i would have a hard time acquiring an original copy of.

So, it’s very lucky for me that i’ve come to get to know Richard Forrest. A couple of weeks ago he sent me quite a few new additions to my collection. As he has posted about here he initially planned to make copies of two other “impossible” covers – Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr. and Progressive Piano. When he told me about his plans i asked him if there was any chance he would also create a mock-up copy of The Nation’s Nightmare for me. And he was very kind to do so. And he didn’t just send me one copy but two and this is the best looking one. And it really does look amazing! It might be odd to say that it is in perfect condition, but it almost kind of is. The fact that that you can see some creasing and marks in the image from Richards original copy just adds to the “real” feel of the cover and is very charming i think. I’ve already thanked you for these many times Richard, but thanks again!

I’ve also recieved the audio from Frank Edwards a week or so ago. The cover promises “a report of crime in America in 1951 – documented with tape recordings from back rooms and front offices of the underworld.” And it sure does deliver. I’m a documentary junkie, most of my days at work and in my headphones when i go to bed i listen to any random episode of the swedish radio P1, P3, P4 or BBC’s documentary series. So this is very much up my alley. And the 50’s talk and language is just the icing on the cake, a great, great listen! Thanks so much for the audio, Frank.

I think the album was released by a sister label to Columbia called Columbia Special Products, or just CSP for short, and the catalogue number is XTV 15692. On a side note, CSP also pressed another rare Warhol cover – Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish released by Doubleday. According to this site there were just short of 3000 copies made and interestingly it also has 1953 as the year of release instead of 1952.
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11 thoughts on “The Nation’s Nightmare

  1. Great post, Niklas. The “Nation’s Nightmare” cover looks perfect! Columbia Special Peoducts was a subsidiary label to Columbia Records which pressed records that were comissioned by other companies. It was Doubleday who released “Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish” which was pressed for them by CSP. Exactly who commisioned “The Nation’s Nightmare” is unclear but the original radio programme was sent on CBS radio.

  2. I uploaded the full audio of both “The Narcotic Evil” and “Crime on the Waterfront” on YouTube. The narrator, Bill Downs, was one of Edward R. Murrow’s close hand-picked associates at CBS News during World War II, the Korean War, and onward. He did a couple of other radio documentaries. All I know for sure is that this one was broadcast on WTOP in Washington DC.

    I came across two copies of the album, but the covers seem more olive-brownish. It could also be the lighting, though: http://imgur.com/a/VkZVg

    • Hi DAK, thanks for the information and i’ll try and find your uploads on youtube. I know that another collector – Richard Forrest who runs the blog http://recordart.wordpress.com has speculated in that there might be two versions of the cover with slightly different color variations. But i don’t think anybody knows for sure, it could just be due to ageing and general discoloration.

      Do you have both the covers in your image? If so, big gratz! I’m sure you know but they sell for quite high prices on ebay if you should ever think about selling them.

      All the best,
      Niklas

      • I would like to sell one because I know there are plenty of collectors who would truly appreciate it. I may list it on ebay at some point soon — I’ve been tracking them, and they seem to pop up from time to time. The selling price fluctuates, though I’m not too concerned with the money. The narrator is my grandfather; he did the recording as just a quick broadcast. It’s fascinating to see such a bizarre album combined with some great and valuable cover art.

      • Hi again DAK, and thanks for your comment. I’ve sent you an email. And yes, it’s such a great cover with some really cool audio inside. 🙂

        Good luck with your sale, will be interesting to follow the auction.

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