One of the pleasures of the new collection of James Galway’s RCA releases is that each of the 71 CDs (and two DVDs) is packaged in an individual sleeve featuring the original album art. I’ve taken the liberty of selecting my ten favorite covers from among the many gems.
10. The Wayward Wind (1982)
While most of Galway’s covers show the soloist in formal duds for the concert hall, for this collection of pop tunes (which has a special place in my heart) we get the casual Galway, outfitted in flannel, jeans, and (as seen on the back cover) cowboy boots. “Relax,” he seems to say. “It’s Saturday morning. Pour a cup of Folgers, have a seat in the Adirondack chair, and let me treat you to a little number I like to call ‘Smoky Pines.'”
9. James Galway Plays Nielsen (1987)
Ready for the height of the yuppie era, Galway rocks a natty suit and poses next to a minimalist vase of tulips. (On the back cover, he turns and seems to serenade the flowers.) If Patrick Bateman owned a James Galway album, this would be the one.
8. Un-Break My Heart (1999)
Silver fox in full effect.
7. Mozart: The Two Flute Concertos (1982)
In this backlit portrait, Galway’s legendary golden flute seems to be emerging directly from his trachea.
6. Song of the Seashore and Other Melodies of Japan (1980)
The Great Wave Off Kanagawa can’t swamp Sir James. Psych!
5. John Corigliano: Pied Piper Fantasy (1987)
Galway got into character for the cover of this world premiere recording. Despite the family-friendly theme, this may be the most avant-garde composition in Galway’s solo recording career, a percussive and dramatic fantasy on the ancient legend.
4. Nocturne (1983)
It’s night time — but we don’t need to sleep, Galway seems to suggest as he leans against a balcony railing in front of a red-lit room, sporting a pristine white tux with his flute uncased and at the ready.
3. Wind of Change (1994)
Though his coiffure stays firmly in place, Galway’s jacket flaps out behind him as he plays his flute, thus doubling down on the literal depiction of this metaphorical album title.
2. Annie’s Song (1979)
The album that definitively established Galway as a crossover artist gets a psychedelic collage treatment, with flutes forming the stalks of flowers. Imagine what that blazer would run at your local vintage shop.
1. Sometimes When We Touch (1980)
“It was the music of Chuck Mangione that started this record turning,” explains Ralph Mace in a liner note. Feels so good!