My day job is doing traffic reporting on the radio in Canada’s capital. Whenever anything happens near the intersection of Sussex and Boteler, I always make some sort of reference to April Wine’s 1979 album Harder… Faster. The cover of the record shows what appears to be that intersection — it’s Boteler and something, anyway. My expert guess is Sussex. There’s actually a public-access traffic camera at that intersection, so sometimes you can almost re-create the cover. It’s even easier using Street View. It got me thinking about what other albums in my collection can be found using Google Maps.
The first one which comes to mind is Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. This is actually where I decided to place that meme of the masked, seated Bernie Sanders a few years ago — 96 St. Mark’s Place in New York City. It’s also where The Rolling Stones shot the video for Waiting On A Friend. Just up the street from there at the corner of St. Mark’s and 2nd Ave. is the location of the photo on the back of the New York Dolls’ first album. There are so many N.Y.C. ones … like the corner of Ludlow and Rivington streets where you’ll find the cover of Beastie Boys‘ Paul’s Boutique.
Ziggy Stardust is a fun one, except 23 Heddon St. in London is best viewed at night. You’ll actually want to go to 10 Heddon if you want the proper vantage point. I never thought to visit that one any time I visited London, but my first time there I was sure to check out 3 Saville Row (former Apple Records offices where the rooftop concert happened), Circus Road to see the Battersea Power Station from Pink Floyd’s Animals cover — and of course I had to cross the street at 2 Abbey Road. The Wish You Were Here album cover photo location in Burbank is actually an official national landmark. The GPS coordinates are: 34.147484, -118.338547.
Let’s look for some less obvious ones. The cover photo on the third Martha and the Muffins album, This Is The Ice Age, was taken by band member Mark Gane from his Bloor Street apartment. It shows First Canadian Place off in the distance. I can almost replicate it by farting around with Google Maps near the intersection of Bloor and Huntley streets.
I have loved Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection album since I was a little kid. Although it’s meant to look as Americana as it sounds, the cover and liner photos were shot at the old Sheffield Park Railway Station. The jacket photos of Elton and Bernie Taupin were from the Bluebell Railway platform. Look for the Google Maps photo location near the Gifts & Models gift shop.
Spotify convinced me I’m a Pond fan by repeatedly throwing their songs into my path via algorithmic patterns. Their 2017 album The Weather shows an early 1980s photo of the Hay Street pedestrian mall in Perth, Australia where they’re from. It has changed quite a bit, but I think I found it at 663 Hay St.
Three of my own Area Resident albums feature paintings by Ottawa artist Andrew King, which you can actually visit or look at via Google Maps. Two of them — the Richmond Motel on the cover of 2018’s Echolette and a block of early 20th century Preston Street row houses from 2020’s Jardinova — are places I drive by quite often. However, the mid-century modern home on the cover of my first album in 2016 is a real house in Palm Springs. I’ve only ever seen it on Google Maps.
The cover of Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush is an accidental photo. The original, full-frame image was cropped and reversed-to-negative. It originally showed Young walking with Graham Nash. It was taken at the corner of Sullivan Street and West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village, New York. Go to 245 Sullivan St. on Google Maps.
Joe Walsh’s 1987 album Got Any Gum? shows the now-closed Memphian Theatre in Memphis. The place had actually closed two years earlier, but remains in use today as The Circuit Playhouse. In the 1960s, Elvis used to rent the place so he could watch current movies with his friends — and without being harassed by fans. Look up 51 Cooper St. on Google Maps.
Little Criminals is arguably Randy Newman‘s best and most well-known album. The 1977 record shows the singer-songwriter on the 7th Avenue overpass above the Harbor Freeway — State 110. It’s a tricky one on Google Maps, because Street View keeps wanting to put your little (criminal) man on the highway, so try 1015 West 7th St., Los Angeles.
Finally, the cover of John Lennon’s 1975 album Rock ‘N’ Roll uses an old photo from The Beatles’ Hamburg days. The blurry people in the shot are actually Stu Sutcliffe, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. If you want to look for it, it’s the graffiti-assaulted door across from 19 Wohlwillstraße. Probably a bit surreal to stand there and recreate the famous Jürgen Vollmer photo from the spring of 1961.
My bucket list is long and nerdy.
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.