Probably the Greatest Album Cover of All Time
Check out all its majesty:
I'll describe it for the visually-impaired.
The whole cover is a painting. At the top of the picture is the artist's name, "STEVE WALSH," in huge block letters in a font that would not look out of place on the side of a football helmet. Under that, bracketed by the tiny words "SCHEMER" and "DREAMER" is the man's face, lips slightly parted as he sings or perhaps concentrates on a distant moving object, his hair ruffled by the wind. A mountain range resembling the Grand Tetons stretches across the background, with a blanket of green trees covering its roots.
To the right of giant-Steve-face is a three-quarters, or "cowboy" shot of Steve singing. he is shirtless; in fact he wears only a pair of red short-shorts. His torso ripples with muscles. To the left of giant-Steve-face is another Steve of the same scale as singing-Steve which can only be called athletic-Steve. Athletic-Steve's entire body can be seen performing a vault of some kind, revealing athletic footwear and knee pads. His torso ripples with muscles. The short-shorts are the same.
(In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned here that the shorts-and-kneepads combo is what Steve wore for most or all Kansas gigs in the 70s. It wasn't a fashion statement, it was utilitarian; he covered every inch of that stage during a high-energy performance, and in fact used to do handstands on his keyboard--I've seen him do it as late as summer of 2000. It's amazing. He wore shorts because he would have sweat through his clothes in short order, and kneepads because of, well, knee protection. But you know what? Peter Gabriel and his band wore knee pads in the 1980s, and they had the decency to keep their shirts on for the concerts and album covers.)
At the bottom of the frame, stretching from side to side in the shadow of the mountains is the inside of a massive stadium, with the silhouetted figures of what appear to be roadies stacking rectangles of various sizes and shapes around a huge rock band setup.
But this is the best part: Dominating the picture, directly underneath giant-Steve-face and apparently in the middle of the stadium scene is a fourth, greatest Steve: NRA-Steve. Still shirtless, now wearing yellow shorts or pants, his hip cocked to the side to match his devil-may-care smirk, Steve is pointing not one but two massive handguns directly at the viewer, one of which has a scope of some sort on it (not really appropriate for a pistol). He's wearing sunglasses and, for safety's sake, ear protection. Yes, it would be a shame if he damaged his hearing from the sound of his enormous handguns blowing gaping, bloody holes in the fans who bought his album. His torso, of course, ripples with muscles.
Here's what the All Music Guide has to say about the cover:
"A great album cover should give an indication of the sound of an album, or at least its sensibility. Happily, that much is indeed true with Steve Walsh's solo debut, Schemer-Dreamer, which sports what very well could be the greatest album cover in rock history. There are no less than four illustrations of Walsh, all shirtless and in running shorts, with the point of focus being an image of Walsh in sunglasses towering over a stadium and pointing two guns at the viewer (thankfully, he's being safe and wearing ear protection); above it is a glamorous head shot silhouetted by a mountain range, with his hair looking appropriately wind-swept; to the right is a shot of him singing and to the left, he's engaged in an indiscernible athletic activity. It's a portrait of an id raging out of control -- it's the Dirk Diggler album brought to life!"
Don't ask me what Schemer-Dreamer sounds like. I haven't heard it yet and may never listen to it. I want to savor the mental image I have of what it should sound like, a sort of combination of "Hold Your Head Up," "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight," and "Trogdor." If there's another 1980 arena-rock machismo cliche that can be squeezed into the picture, I can't figure out what it could be or how it could fit in there.
Steve Walsh is a great singer, probably my favorite rock vocalist of all time. But this album cover is clearly his greatest contribution to civilization. Thank you, Steve Walsh, for the exercise in huge ego and horrible judgment that greets viewers of the cover to Schemer-Dreamer. #### "Dust in the Wind." Your place in the rock pantheon is secure.