Crappy Album Covers #17 — Being somebody you’re not

The length of this article is a testimony to the degree and extent that people are trying to be somebody they are not. We know and accept that show business lends itself to phoniness, but many successful acts are from artists who try to find their centre, their muse, and who use that as the source for their creativity. These album designs are highly suggestive of people who haven’t yet found their muse, or who hired album designers that made them appear derivative or unnatural.
I am not sure what the title of Texans John Howard Abdnor Jr. and Javonne (Robin) Braga’s 1967 album “Elastic Event” is supposed to be getting across to listeners.

The record was released on the Abnak record label, owned by John’s father, John Sr., a Dallas businessman who started the label in the early 1960s. Abnak folded in 1971.

I suppose it is one of those titles that don’t have so much deep meaning after you’ve come down. Kind of like “Peanut Butter Conspiracy” or “Moby Grape”, for instance. Unless you are stoned, it just sounds like a dorky title for an album.

Or maybe they meant that there are songs about major deep-discount sales on elastic at Sears or Fabricland or, in those days, Woolco. Some people might get excited about that, you never know. They are probably waiting for a sale on fabric that is neither paisley nor tie-dye. A noteworthy track from Jon and Robin, called You Don’t Care, shows that the young duo were talented, but their sound was like many 60s bands of the day. The MP3 was taken from the Office Naps blog.

There is no information that I can find anywhere on the group Furr.This is their self-titled album (OK, so maybe they didn’t title it themselves).

I also have no idea even of the period this record came from, but it is a safe bet they were imitating ripping off tributing Kiss, so that places them later than 1975.

They would have made great Saturday Morning Cartoon superheroes. Superheroes that play in a rock band. OK, it’s a bit derivative, but they are derivative already.

The Destitutes, as their cover says, come from Idaho.

At the beginning of one’s music career, one may have to play all those venues that are filthy, full of graffiti, and frequented by a creepy clientele. The Destitutes here don’t seem to mind. And they don’t look too destitute themselves. They look more like the Beach Boys than Skid Row.

Once again, info on the genre is sketchy; although the cover says that steel drums are involved, along with the depicted guitar and sax. Jazz, maybe? An allmusic.com search on “Destitutes” brought me directly to their page for Destiny’s Child.

OK. Now, this 1979 album cover design is the one the record company didn’t want. This is an artist’s rendition of Orion (actual name: Jimmy Ellis) rising from his coffin to sing you a song, entitled “Orion Reborn”. After some thought, the art is not that bad, and doesn’t really qualify as crappy, but it meant to tell you a true story.

Orion sang a Jerry Lee Lewis song “Save The Last Dance for Me” anonymously in early 1979, which apparently made the top 20. This aroused speculation as to who the singer was. It was decided that Elvis must have rose from the dead to sing it (this was the conclusion on a TV episode of “Good Morning America”). But the cover which told the story was just too morbid for the sensibilities of their clients, so ….

This design from hell was the one they settled on. An Elvis lookalike without his requisite polyester jumpsuit that Orion was known to wear in concerts.

I liked the first design better. Here, he looks like an imitation of Batman. The mask over the eyes was apparently his trademark, and he is seen this way in nearly all of his publicity photos (at least the ones at allmusic.com).

After 1983, Jimmy Ellis finally took off the mask, and promised us he wouldn’t wear it again. Unfortunately (or fortunately) he has a voice that really does sound a lot like Elvis’s singing voice. It is simply a natural, uncanny resemblance. He was in fact trying to shed his reputation as an Elvis impersonator for a while.

While Bob McGilpin may have been big in the discotheques, and the title tune from this 1978 album “Superstar” filled the floors back then, that may have been because they didn’t see the album cover (Clicking on the graphic gets you to bizarrerecords.com, where this graphic originated).

This album cover, like many in this series, has been a staple of many crappy albums lists all over the internet. He looks like Weird Al Yankovic-meets-John Travolta! Where’s your accordion?

This record was put out a year after Saturday Night Fever, and all-white was how many males dressed for a night out at the disco. This is what the title track sounds like:

Arthur Fiedler and his Boston Pops Orchestra, of course, tried to cash in on the sensation generated by the movie Saturday Night Fever.

So, the album cover was meant to be humorous. I don’t understand, however, why so many tried to cash in on the music of the Beegeesus Heebeegeebees Bee Gees. It would seem to me that their fame was way overblown. I can only think that there was nothing better to fill the void. And there was (and in my opinion, there still is) a void in music that seems to be filled in by increasingly mediocre acts.

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