James O’Barr (The Crow) Creates “Beast for Love” Album Cover for Dance Hall Pimps

Lakeshore Records commissioned legendary artist and author James O’Barr, creator of the mega-hit franchise The Crow, to create the CD cover of the Dance Hall Pimps debut LP Beast for Love.

About James O’Barr

O’Barr has a long relationship with music. In the 1990s O’Barr was affiliated with the experimental metal band Trust Obey, which was signed briefly to Trent Reznor’s Nothing label before the band was dropped. Trust Obey released the album Fear and Bullets: Music to Accompany The Crow in 1993. The album was packaged with a special edition of The Crow graphic novel. More recently, O’Barr created a heart-stopping image for the Spanish metal band Here Holy Spain.

“When Lakeshore told us that James O’Barr was doing the CD cover, our jaws dropped,” says Dance Hall Pimps frontman RJC. “We’re into horror movies and comics and so are a lot of our fans. And we couldn’t be happier with what James came up with. It’s cool and it captures our horror themes as well as our upbeat roots rock and swamp sounds in a single image.”

O’Barr’s cover for Beast for Love incorporates visual imagery that combine all the musical references and style of the Dance Hall Pimps. In the haunting glow of a southern swamp, a beast approaches a lively dance hall. The beast sports a classic retro rocker look — motorcycle jacket and jeans.

He’s dragging a banjo behind him as he approaches the dance hall. Is the beast a musician? Or did he take the banjo from a victim? Is he motivated to find love and join the party? Or is he hunting? O’Barr makes a Grendel-esque suggestion in the beast’s demeanor that could imply a desire to be more than he is — to transcend his beastliness.

Subtle and intriguing clues within the image provide another layer of mystery. The sign above the dance hall reads “Darwin’s Dance Hall,” an evolutionary reference to the CD’s title cut Beast for Love implying that our drive to love is primordial. Darwin’s Dance Hall is also an allusion to the chillingly abandoned dance hall in the real Death Valley ghost town of Darwin, California. Neither O’Barr nor the Dance Hall Pimps will reveal the meaning of the phrase on the back of the beast’s jacket: Madcap Hellspin. “That’s for the audience to figure out,” says RJC.

The Dance Hall Pimps’ debut LP Beast for Love will be released March 6 on Lakeshore Records.

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