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“Spare”: Tim Berne and Steve Byram’s Limited-Edition Artifact

Crude elegance

Steve Byram and Tim Berne
Tim Berne and Steve Byram's "Spare" book/CD set

When alto saxophonist and composer Tim Berne was thinking about cover art for Fulton Street Maul, his 1987 debut for Columbia, he noticed the cover of a classical album, Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, sitting in the office of the record company’s art department. “It had this weird, Cubist-looking drawing/painting,” Berne recalls. “I said, ‘Wow this is great! Who did this?'”

Steve Byram, the artist in question, was considered the staff renegade, or as he puts it, “the weirdo art director.” By then he had already racked up design credits for Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill and Slayer’s Reign in Blood LPs. Berne knew Byram’s aesthetic would complement his music.

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