James Volpe and Kendall Schroeder reveal their Star Wars album cover mashups in this installment of The RetroZap Artist Series.
Recently the discussion began on the RetroZap board about mashups between Star Wars and classic album covers. We discussed ones we have seen on social media and what we would like to see. There were many great suggestions and here is what Kendall Schroeder and I decided to do for this Artist Series.
JAMES VOLPE “The Ska Geek”
The stars aligned for this mashup. I decided to combine the classic Rush shirt and the album cover for 2112 with Rebels and the Rebellion symbol. The Rush album came out right before Star Wars in 1976. It also depicted a galaxy-wide war. This war results in the union of all planets under the rule of the Red Star of the Solar Federation.
The red star reminded me of the Rebel logo so I changed the Temples of Syrinx star to the Alliance star bird.The 2112 goes along with the running theme is Star Wars of the number 2187. It refers to the short film 21-87, directed by Arthur Lipsett, a film that reportedly inspired George Lucas. I was going to replace the man on the cover with a Star Wars character such as Luke or Finn but we decided to stick with the original.
The Ashes of Jedha
U2’s classic album The Joshua Tree was written by Bono after visiting Africa. He saw people in poverty and their strong spirit. Then after spending time in America, he saw the example of the Joshua Tree in the desert. It too could survive even in harsh conditions.
The desert was a symbol to him and an inspiration similar to how the tragedy on Jedha became a source of inspiration for the Rebels. The Empire had taken everything from them but their resolve was very strong to stop their reign of terror on the galaxy. So I changed the members of U2 to the Rogue One crew with the landscape of Jedha in the background.
News of Cloud City
When The Ska Geek and I were bantering with the RetroZap team about album covers and Star Wars mash-ups, we just had to include Queen’s album News of the World. This album was released in October of 1977, the same year the original Star Wars was released. News of the World contains the iconic songs, “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are the Champions.” These songs and others helped to make this album Queen’s highest selling studio album to date.
But, it is the album cover that fascinates me. The original cover art is a painting by noted sci-fi artist Frank Kelly Freas. Members of the band commissioned Freas to do his own mash-up of a cover from the 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, which Freas painted to illustrate a story by Tom Godwin, “The Gulf Between.”
So, the ultimate mash-up of a mash-up began! One would think that replacing the robot with a droid would be the first and most obvious choice. However, this bald robot reminds me more of another hairless character in the Star Wars universe. I had to use Lando Calrissian’s right hand man, Lobot! Once this decision was made, the story started to take shape.
We Will Rock You
What would happen if the Empire took control of Lobot through his cybernetic implants and sent him on a killing spree on Cloud City? That would certainly be news-worthy, indeed! Vader and company had already made a deal with Lando, a deal that just kept getting worse, as we know. Therefore, just as Freas replaced the single dead man in his original painting with the Queen band members, I replaced the band with a few Star Wars characters of my own. Han Solo, Princess Leia, and C3PO were the obvious choices. I left Chewbacca out since, I feel, he would’ve been too smart to get himself caught by Lobot.
So, with a few photo references and models, I threw things together with on my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, using the Procreate app. I add a little noise to the overall artwork to give it an older feel. The result will rock you.
It’s a Shame About Rey
This heading was recently used by Entertainment Weekly writer Anthony Breznican in EW’s cover story of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The reference was noticed immediately by our RetroZap team. Breznican posits that Rey, our beloved scavenger from the planet Jakku, may not receive the warm welcome she hopes for upon meeting the myth, Luke Skywalker. Rey could be expecting Luke to jump back into the fight, especially now that he has his lightsaber back. However, all things point to the story not going quite in this direction. That is a shame for Rey.
The album, It’s a Shame About Ray, released in 1992, is the fifth by the alternative rock band Lemonheads and contains the song of the same name. The cover art depicts a woman and her car behind her. For the mash-up, this reference was simple. Rey had to be on the cover with the Falcon.
I’ve Never Been Too Good With Names
Referencing a line in the album’s title song, names play a big part in Star Wars, especially first names. When a character has a first name and no last name, we can’t stand it. We need know who they are, where they come from, who they’re connected to. The scavenger from Jakku intrigues us in this way. Who is Rey connected to? Is she Luke’s daughter? Is she a clone of Anakin? If we could see into her eyes, maybe we would see the truth.
Coincidentally, just as the Lemonheads album cover art depicts a woman whose eyes are hidden, the Star Wars character posters have a similar theme. Maybe this symbolizes loss or change. In Rey’s case, it may represent an unwillingness to accept that which is right before her eyes. Luke is not who she thought he was. I feel, this symbolism strengthens my depiction of the Lemonheads cover mash-up. Once again, the Procreate app serves me well in rendering Rey’s eyeless face. I’ve never been too good with names, but I remember faces.
James Volpe, aka The Ska Geek, is a life-long child of the Force. Born just before Star Wars hit the theaters, he first saw Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back at a drive-in double feature in 1980 as his first silver screen experience. Ever since then, Star Wars has been part of his life and inspires his art work and graphic design. His art work can be seen on the RetroZap network: Brews and Blasters logos, Ki Adi Monday shirts and promo video, Starships, Sabers and Scoundrels banner and various others. His podcast, The SKA GEEK Podcast, combines his two favorite things, being a geek and listening to ska music. Find him on twitter,, facebook and his website.