Crappy Album Covers #45 — Teenagers

Teenagers are a difficult demographic to reach, unless you don’t know anything about them. If you know nothing about the demographic, then it does’t pose a difficulty for you. I know that’s kind of like saying that if you don’t know anything about painting a portrait, then slashing the brush in any direction or color at random poses no problem to the painter. It seems that way, with the covers below. If your album overtly suggests that “This album is for teenagers”, I will guarantee you teens won’t buy them. On the other hand, if you say this is “R-rated”, and contains cuss words and sexual suggestions that would put a blush on a two-dollar hooker (you know, like Rap), and that young people shouldn’t buy them at all, then they will fly off the shelves and teens would be the biggest part of the market.

album-cover-crap-19_bizarrerecords_comCase in point, this realistic portrait of teenagers having a good time. I bet you already knew they were listening to this very record, recorded by Bobby Krane and His Orchestra, and distributed by Bravo! Records.

Look! The young lady in the foreground is saying it too! — Bravo! Bravo! At least that looks like what she could be saying.

Look at the photo and indulge in the fantasy that there is still a world where young teen girls don’t dress like sluts; the guys stay straight and sober (by “straight” I meant drug-free, but I guess it could also be taken the other way) and don’t dress like plumber-butt pimps. And the guys even ask the girls “may I have this dance with you?”

And then there’s Tex Ritter. Tex Ritter? And that’s when I woke up.

album-cover-crap-20_bizarrerecords_comThe TOPS record label, which previously warned us about the world ending, are shown here producing records of “12 Top Hits” so you can party like it’s 1999, or more to the point, like it’s 1959.

You have to admit that the one thing that stands out most about this cover is that the lady who is dancing is wearing argyle socks. I thought there was a law passed by Joe McCarthy’s HUAC banning women from wearing argyle socks. It was supposed to be a guy thing. It totally clashes with the pink blouse.  If this is a fashion statement, then she should be arrested by the fashion police for bad fashion grammar.

Once again, the cover consists of the tamest teenagers you’ve never seen. And I don’t think they existed in 1959 either. Even in 1959, teens got drunk, and they had sex. Perhaps the only worthwhile thing that the photo realistically illustrates, is that in 1959, the guys didn’t have the bad taste to wear plumber-butt pants or hoodies, which would have made the chick in argyle look like Elizabeth Taylor (I mean Liz Taylor in 1959, not in 2008).

To anyone born after the 1960s: HUAC = “House Un-American Activities Committee“. It’s sort of like Homeland Security against commies and hippies.

album-cover-crap-18_lp-cover-loverThese seemingly adult-age folks may as well be adolescent, since they are depicted in the way their parents would approve. “I Love Music” was a sampler sent to radio stations across North America from Capitol Records back in 1958. The album cover gives every indication that the HUAC would have approved of this album. Going by the cover, for instance, it is obvious that these two folks are not planning the overthrow of the proletariat, and of taking over the means of production.

The artlessness of these depictions are a sure symptom of the McCarthy era. I recall when I began collecting old issues of Mad Magazine (digested in paperback form) going back to the 1950s, the most boring and least funny issues were during the period of 1958-1963. It couldn’t have been a good time to be a satirist.

And there was one more I forgot to add:
tammy_casual-slack-080726Yes, this 12″ LP of hits, which by the cover seems to treat teenagers as younger than they really are, may not have been headed for any kind of landmark success.

A toy doll with a toy record goes to a toy jukebox to pretend to play music on it. And, what’s left? You can only sing along to the music you are pretending to play.

I must say that much of the advertising I see today parallels the kind of mentality depicted on all of these albums in today’s blog. There is a certain advertising these days that points to a certain clientele, or a certain lifestyle as we would like to see it. But it is made to look artsy, so that you can’t accuse advertisers of appealing to people that don’t really exist. Instead, it can look naive, even idealistically so.  Sticking to album covers, the Putumayo Collection, discussed earlier, is an example of album covers that are like this.

Crappy Album Covers #44 — Ye Are Used

If you click on the graphic, you will be sent to the page featuring this album, “Jesus Use Me” from The Faith Tones, from LP Cover Lover. The comments were so hilarious that I feel that I can’t add any original humour, except to say that it appears that they either are wearing wigs, or they have used up a truckload of hairspray. (OK, so that’s more of an observation and not exactly funny). The commonly-held suspicion that these are actually guys in drag has been bandied about so much in so many blogs, that I won’t add to that aspect of the discussion either. But I, along with thirty Helens agree, that they would not be out of place in a scene from Kids in the Hall.

In looking for information about these young ladies, who they are, where they are from and what they’re doing now, I came up empty-handed. However, I do believe I can make a blog regarding all the attempts to parody this album cover.

They have drawn comparisons to fellow crappy album cover makers “The Braillettes”. Except that The Braillettes have blindness as an excuse for bad hair. At any rate, a recent LP of “Jesus Use Me” has been rumored to have sold on E-Bay for $21.00. I see that as utterly exhorbitant.

Consider this blog entry to be the reverse of the “Joyce’s Head Pasted On Other People’s Bodies” post. Click on the graphic to go back to the original blog where these graphics originated.

In this post, it will be the heads of other people pasted on the Faith Tones’ Bodies. Sometimes they take liberties like they are doing here and not keep the hair. I would suppose it would not be Sarah Palin without the hair.

Once again, so much has been made out of Palin’s fanatical Christian views, ignorance about aspects of governing applying to the national scene, and her support of the gun lobby, and so on, that it is hard to add anything original, so I won’t. I think the picture says it all. I have to admit, however, it seems as though having Sarah replace the one in the middle is a surefire way to reduce hecklers and bring up ticket sales. Whether Sarah can actually sing is another matter. Note the similarity of my reasoning to our conventional reasoning about Palin in general: Sara is sure to get more people to vote Republican: whether she can govern — or even understand her role — is another matter.

Here is an attempt of three young ladies who go by the names of Becky, Lisa, and Emily to take a crack at fame and fortune by riding on the coattails of The Faith Tones.

Here, total respect was given to the trademark that makes the original Faith Tones famous — or rather not that famous: the hair. In photoshopping this photo, they were careful to preserve the hair.

I get the feeling that these ladies enjoy Jesus using them a bit more than is, uh, Christian.  The next album cover takes this idea to its ultimate futility.

Of course, pasting other people’s heads on their bodies is not the only possible modification to the album cover. You can also alter the title.

Just think of the possibilities of them praying for Jesus to bring along the Astroglide when he uses them. Just think of the possibilities….or not.

Crappy Album Covers 43 — The International Language of Bad Taste I

For this part of our tour, we go to France and across the ocean to Mexico.

So, I know a bit of French. The Brothers Jacques (a literal translation of “les freres jacques”) consists of, as the cover would suggest, four members, much like The Brothers Gibb, except that these folks are less well known.

The Brothers Gibb were better known by the name “The Bee Gees”. So, by that metric, that would make The Brothers Jacques what … the Bee Jays?

Let’s not go there. But of course to state the obvious, “Frere Jacques” is also the name of a child’s French nursery rhyme. Unlike the Brothers Gibb, none of these guys are named Jacques.

These much-mustachioed mavens of vocal music have the quality of essentially a barbershop quartet. Except, they often parody classical pieces, or offer humour and satire along with the occasional sad song.

In Mexico, even the females can be one-eyed bandits.

I suppose that some guys get turned on by a sexy female holding a gun. I think she would be a whole lot sexier without the gun. Also, it would help matters if she took a hairpin and moved her hair away so we could see both eyes.

Information on this record or on Los Bandidos was hard to pin down. It seems as if it is a popular name for some recent punk rock bands.

There is some evidence that this album might actually be either Spanish or Brazilian. I just can identify some Spanish words, and have taken the mention of bandits to be an attempt to play on a Mexican stereotype.

Crappy Album Covers #41 — Jackdaws II

And that’s all I have, folks! I have to take a break to prepare for work when September starts, and I will be taking a few days off of posting. I will likely fall back into my infrequent mode of posting as I have done in the past, since my work absorbs most of my time.

But it was enjoyable, and your response in terms of comments and hits to my site have been, in terms of my own experience, tremendous. Since I have started this series in the last week of July, I received more hits than in all of the months since February when I started my blog.

Crappy Album Covers #40 — Jackdaws I

I refer to anything I could not put into any specific category as a “Jackdaw”. I am aware that jackdaws are also a species of bird (C. monedula), but I have heard them use a lot by libraries to refer to uncategorizable books, and on the other end of the spectrum, primary source documents. In modern usage I see that the word “jackdaw” is used by some libraries to describe or give a name to their search engines.

We’re only down to a few crappy album covers, which I either felt little inspiration to comment on, or were just pushed aside in the search for an album cover that suited the theme of the day. That is not to say that these are obscure. Some are, but others have remained as common fodder by crappy album cover web pages all over the net, just as was the case in previous posts.

Crappy Album Covers #39 — Still More Gays

Paddy Roberts, whom allmusic.com claims is in the Rock genre, released this album in the mid-60s, probably the last decade where “gay” only meant “happy”. Likely not an album for queers. Not even queer dogs.In 2006, this album was re-released on CD, bundled with another album, “Funny World”. No detailed information on Paddy Roberts could be found anywhere.
Sticking to the 1960s, this was apparently one of a series of queer parody albums consisting of males singing in effeminate voices. These were released by the Camp Records label, and were advertised in a gay magazine called Vagabond in 1965. J. D. Doyle tells the whole sordid tale, at great lengt (with MP3s).You know this album will not be complimentary toward gays when you notice all of the stereotypes are in the artwork, along with the choice of color. This label had produced songs with titles like “I’d Rather Fight Than Swish”, “Florence of Arabia” and “London Derriere”.

But it has variously been called a “Queer stag” album, and other things. Nearly all of the credits are pseudonyms, and one name stands out: Rodney Dangerfield. That doesn’t sound like a pseudonym.The rest, it is claimed, are famous people, but being the mid-60s, no-one would reveal their names publically.

However, Doyle is doubtful that it is the same Rodney Dangerfield as that fellow Crappy Album Cover maker that got “No Respect”.

Jose Angel’s album “Madre Soy Cristiano Homosexual” translates (I think) to “Mother, I am a Christian Homosexual.” The date of release is unknown. Here is an MP3 of the title track.By all accounts, this is a story of a man who comes out to his mother, that he is a gay Christian. Imagine this confession takes place today. Of course the mother probably flips out. Not over being gay, but over being one of them “Christians”. With all those “Christian Right” people ruining the United States, how dare he come into the house and disgrace the family that he now cavorts with a band of greed-obsessed Jesus freaks?

This photo was taken after Mother disowned him from the family inheritance, and told him he is no longer welcome in their house until he kicks this Christian habit. Maybe living on his own would be good for him.

This is another Jackdaw. I have nowhere else to place the retro Swedish group Larz Kristerz (this link is in Swedish only). So, they are in this post for lack of a better place.It would appear that all of their albums are called “Stuffparty”, their titles differing only by the sequel number.

They seem to have the 70s kitsch mastered. Probably a little too well, right down to the tasteless hairdos.

I tried to get Google to translate “Stuffparty”, from Swedish, but to no avail.

Crappy Album Covers #38 — Sports people with something to sing about

Evel Knievel (1938 – 2007) needs no introduction. Motorcycle daredevil and religious convert, Robert Craig Knievel was also a reader of Napoleon Hill, a fellow crappy album maker, mentioned in an earlier posting. Wikipedia cites Hill’s book, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude as one of Knievel’s influences through life.

No daredevil has suffered more broken bones than Evel. The Guiness Book of World Records says that he had suffered 433 broken bones in his lifetime. He was a man who truly suffered for his art so that we may be entertained.

So, what the f**k was he doing making records? “Oh yeah, and before I jump, I’d like to sing you a song off my new album”. That would have raised ticket prices.

Muhammad Ali, originally Cassius Marcellus Clay, also needs no introduction from me. And here is Mr. Ali fighting Mr. Tooth Decay (with two album designs).

Now I only know one way to fight Mr. Tooth Decay that involves boxing, usually involving the loss of said Mr. Teeth. And I am sure that Mr. Ali has set a good example for us all by brushing his teeth and flossing.

There are some bars that try to kick out their clients near closing time by totally annoying them. But of course it backfires when the bartender discovers that everyone seems to know the Bird Dance, and it only increases the partying atmosphere. Did you ever wonder where they got that recording?

Well, wonder no more. This 1981 recording by the Polka players extraordinaire, The Emeralds, was a common example of what was chosen. And it was on the K-Tel label, so you know you have the guarantee of cheesiness of the highest standard possible. And the public thought so too. This version of the bird dance is the one that is most popular and recognizable in bars and pubs in North America. It has sold several million copies since it was first released in ’81. There are 139 other versions of this song (according to Wikipedia) that had not fared so well. Even versions by Walt Disney Records have flopped. But not so for K-Tel. This album cover has the standard lack of thought and artlessness that we expect from K-Tel. But don’t be fooled: this album was a goldmine, and K-Tel gets the last laugh.

Crappy Album Covers 37 — Self-help for the helpless

The first time I saw this album cover by Jimmy Jenson, I thought it was some kind of self-help manual on the care and maintenance of your household Swede. First and foremost, is the obvious crisis depicted on the album cover. There are nine chilren there, and I would imagine that either she is going to need her tubes tied, or he is going to need a vasectomy. The hatchet and the medical kit bag (which might just be a bottle of scotch) appear to suggest the manner by which this procedure is to be carried out.

But alas, there is no help in this album about living with your resident Swede. Jimmy Jenson is a singer who has had a number of albums in English.

Problem is, his English is apparently not very good. “Your” shouldn’t have an apostrophe. If the apostrophe were placed properly, the contracted “you’re” expands to “you are”, making the title into “Understand You Are Swede”. I think Jimbo meant to title it “Understand Your Swede.” It would appear as though he sings folk tunes, and has sung enough of them to produce three “Greatest Hits” compilations.

Napoleon Hill, this time, really was a self-help expert from way back, in the same league as Andrew Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale.

When I was growing up, I have seen more of these little statuettes in more bathrooms of more homes than I care to mention. All variations of these statues invariably had some smart-alecky message carved into the bottom part. Such as: “Near this point is where the most important decisions are made.” or the poem that begins “Here I sit broken-hearted …”.

Nowadays we are suspcious of these kinds of records. And since no one really believes you can become anything you can conceive of, nowadays we attach it to mysticism and call it “The Secret”, and blame our bad luck on bad thoughts which bring on bad energy. And once they start bringing in String Theory and theories on atomic energy, you know it is time to find something else to read (or watch if you got the DVD).

Now how do you like this…? Stop smoking without using your willpower…? It is a misinterpretation of the concept of willpower.

We need a will to live. There must be at least that. It is records like these that have contributed to a consciousness among the public that we can overcome any obstacle without the need for concentrated effort or mental exertion. This “easy way out” mentality has ruined a lot of lives and have contributed to increasing hopelessness and despair among people who sincerely wish to stop smoking, or to just give up bad habits in general.

All bad habits require determination and effort to break. Even the modern solution of “going on the patch” is only 7% effective without an accompanying willpower after you stop using the patch.

Crappy Album Covers #36 — Space, Religion, and Getting Down

Laverne Tripp is the sole proprietor of Laverne Tripp Ministries.

He preaches. He sings. Oh, does he sing! To date he has released 78 full-length albums of his singing.

Pardon the pun, but I find the cover kind of, …, well, … trippy. It plays with your mind, in a way.

It also looks like he’s falling. I hardly feel the impression of being “saved” or being “in God’s presence.” I don’t know if it was one of those ’70s attempts to bring God and religion into the Space Age.

Allmusic.com does not list a single one of his 80 or so albums, and does not mention anything about him. Surely, this is because of  the work of Satan.

Tripp still goes on tour around the Southeastern US, and has his own television program on various religious networks and affiliates.

This album is closer to the 1973 listing of the personnel playing in the Jazz group The Stellar Unit. This is either their website, or a fan’s shrine page. I can’t tell.

I think the story kind of goes like this: They were playing in local pizza parlours in Houston, when some guy said, “they sure sound like a stellar unit”.

Curtis Eugene Keen is depicted here with his two marionettes — oh, no, hold on — they’re for real. They are Joe Stroud and Neil Hecht. Their latest lineup adds a female — Peggy Kaye, playing the banjo.

So, we have a trumpet, keyboard, fiddle, trombone, banjo as possible instruments, along with two vocalists (Keen also sings). They play various jazz standardsin the southern US. I am not aware of them being played elsewhere. In fact, I am not aware of any other albums by them.

This 8×10 autographed photo of The Stellar Unit was listed on E-Bay for $3.99. “Shipping and Handling” (whatever that means for an autographed photo) brings the cost up to 10 bucks. I think the seller just wants ten bucks.

I would suppose that they are not sufficiently obscure enough for their paraphanelia to garner high prices.

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This next offering is from a supposed Elton John imitator named Dwayne Smith.

It is hard to get the feeling that you are going to make this album the cornerstone of your dance party with a title like “Get Directly Down”.

It is not known who he is or what he does these days. He could get confused with Jazz bassist Dwayne “Smitty” Smith, until you compare the photos.

Dwayne will play weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.

Crappy Album Covers #35 — Love, Peace, and Good Bodies

This is Cherone, and the cover could have easily been passed over at the record store by you, because it contains, well, nothing all that special. 

Yes, I know that it contains the requisite semi-nude female required by marketers, yes the lights are low and it looks intimate. However, there is a problem here in that there is nothing really distinctive about the album. The best I can say is that, for the most part, it is inoffensive.

When you want to get to know what makes someone tick, like say, your wife or husband, for instance … I don’t think that you mean that you will skin them alive and cut out their guts. 

But I take it that this is an educational record. John Burstein plays Slim Goodbody, the Superhero of health. He appears to be a Children’s educator and entertainer. He would tour around New York City, probably scaring kids with his costume. But he was given a contract by PBS to host the program “Inside Story” in the early 1980s, which this LP is named after. He currently tours and runs his own website.

Happy Louie, Julcia and the Boys put out this album called “Lots of Love and Peace”. 

I have to say that while Love and Peace are universal and should not be hoarded and be the social message for only certain groups, it still looks dumb, since it is strongly identified with the hippie generation of the 60s and early 70s.

Anything is likely, but all things being equal, do you see, even mentally, any of these people smoking pot? Are they the type that would tune in, turn on and drop out?

Now we are going from phony to insular. It is nice that the Murk Family will provide themselves to society as the model for a “Love for All Seasons”. 

It is difficult to write about families pulling together and providing a network of love and support. Most attempts I have listened to seem to always come out forced and hollow. But I think that is what they’re getting at.

Crappy Album Covers #32 — Gays and Lesbians

Kevin Rowland is actually a very good musician. His first solo album put out in 1988, “The Wanderer” is seen as a great, and highly accessible album from this former front man for Dexys Midnight Runners.

This album, released 11 years later, was panned by critics and was a general let-down. For one thing, the album contains all cover versons.

To be fair, this album was released after a bankruptcy and a long battle with drug addiction. He is probably still having “issues” when this photo was taken. He doesn’t look good in drag.

It is my understanding that Rowland has not relased a recording of a solo effort since.

I am as open-minded as anyone. I don’t mind depictions of homosexual romance. Like all pictures that exist, there are good depictions and bad depictions.

And, oh yeah, I forgot. The unintended depictions. Here are The Ministers Quartet, and their album “Let Me Touch Him”. It all started when Ron touched Larry. Then Doug touched Jerry. Then the photograher grew impatient and told them to behave. They all then all tried to pose innocently like nothing happened. This photo resulted.

The Minister’s Quartet hail from Indiana, and their faith has a fundamentalist bent. They still exist, with a few obvious personnel changes.

Click here if you want to sample their sound. Damn good harmony.

As if The Village People couldn’t ramp up the homo kitsch factor any more than they already have, here are those natives of Greenwich Village once again with a new look, way more makeup, and more exposed chest hair, with their album Renaissance. This 1981 album (the pink one) was a bad concept both with the cover art and the music inside it.

http://image.allmusic.com/00/amg/cov200/drf400/f400/f40045bm0s5.jpgThis (blue) album cover was a redesign of a 1998 Polygram CD re-release. I like this one better. Way more relaxed. It was the version of the cover that allmusic.com chose to display.

Unfortunately, it is still the same second-rate music inside. Much of their misrfortunes began with their involvement in the film “Can’t Stop The Music”, which not only bombed, it is the winner of two 1981 “Razzie” awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay. They were nominated by the Razzies in 5 other categories. In addition, they were nominated as one of 5 movies classified as the worst musical in the past 25 years (along with Xanadu and Spice World). That was won by the box office bomber “From Justin to Kelly”.

Knowing a good cashing-in opportunity when they see it, the members of Orleans decide they are going to out-gay the Village People (when they were still viable) with this 1976 offering, “Waking and Dreaming”, by taking off all their clothes. The photographer, the same one that photographed The Minsters’ Quartet (see above), told them to cover their weenies. They started to cover each other’s weenies (and one of them asked “What’s a weenie?”), so he just said “never mind” and as the guy in the middle was explaining what a weenie was, the photographer took a  shot above the waist. That left the top half of the photo empty, so that the designers filled it with a large “Orleans” logo.

The saving grace of this album, this time, is inside the covers (uhh.., the album covers). It contains one of the biggest hits of their career, and one of my personal favourites, “Still The One”, and is recognised as a fairly strong album generally, establishing Orleans as soft rock musicians of the first order.

Lesbians will be appearing in a separate post.

Crappy Album Covers #31 — Cliches per square inch

As an asside, I would like to know who bought these albums when they were a teenager, then pinned up the album covers on their wall, and threw away the record?

A Gruson & Turium Empty Cliche Checklist:
Topless chicks? Check.
Lit candles? Check.
Ballroom curtains? Check.
Piano to let the buyer know that this is a music album and not something else? Check.
Classy lettering in a colour that matches the piano? Check.
Title that connects in a suggestive way to the photo? Check.

There is no information on Gruson and Turium anywhere that I can find, or on the album “Silk and Satin”.

Candles which are carelessly placed just distrupts my suspension of disbelief. It only looks like they are posing.

Karab Empty Cliche Checklist:

Topless chick? Check.
Chick has blonde hair? Check.
Chick is wearing tight jeans? Check.
Chick has large gazongas? Check.
Her eye color matches her jeans? Check.
Scabs, wrinkles, bruises, pimples, and body hair airbrushed out of the photo? Check.
Chick is posing on a motorcycle? Check.
Chick is wearing minimum 3″ heels that match the motorcycle color and her lipstick? Check.
Her lipstick color matches her motorcycle? Check.
Her lipstick color matches the license plate? Check.
Font chosen for a “kinetic” feel? Check.
Title has a suggestive connection with the photo? Check.

Crappy Album Covers #29 — More Celebrities

This is a curious album, since Jimmy Carter is talked about, and does not appear on this 1977 album.

Preview Records is a company that keeps track of the history and lore of the song-poem industry. It is not known which company put this out, but it seems to be MSR Records of Hollywood (now defunct).

The song-poem industry is borne of all those tabloid ads you might have seen in the back pages among all those other word ads which Preview aptly refers to as “the human misery ghetto”. They are quite frank in their description of this industry. To quote spokesperson and historian Phil Milstein:

Song-poem music is a scam in which innocent people are deceived into paying to have a poem or song lyric they’ve written set to a tune and recorded. Although the song-poem company suggests in its promotional literature that it will support the finished recording, and that it therefore has a chance to become a smash hit, in reality once the record is completed and returned to the customer it is quickly forgotten about, in favor of the location and seduction of new victims.

Song-poem companies profit by doing volume business, and so must create a literal factory of music, with the songs being shuttled from melody-writing to fabrication on an assembly-line basis. It is the aesthetic clashes between the work of the amateur and often graceless lyricists and that of the professional studio personnel forced to work too hastily that sparks song-poem music’s unique pleasures. The genre has a long and colorful history, much of which is imparted throughout this website.

It turns out that in 1998, Jimmy Carter was in the studio of Boston’s NPR radio station WBUR-FM when the DJ played a song off of this album and piped the off-air feed into the studio Carter was sitting in. He reportedly liked the song, but said he had never heard it before.

Well, that is all the goofy “Democrat” covers I could find. If you have any suggestions, please send them along.

Now, to be fair, to be utterly fair and on the level … this John Wayne album cover doesn’t really qualify as crappy. Look at the depiction: Confederate-era hat, American flag, cowboy clothes. This is not crappy, because this is exactly what we expect to see from John Wayne.

It is with the same attitude that I refuse to spotlight almost all heavy metal album covers. There are just some albums that we expect will suck, and the fact that they suck is the very thing that makes people buy them.

I would rather that the tastelessness be un-intended, and the artists be serious and earnest. That, my friends, is a formula for disaster.

This disaster is a case in point.

In recent years (that is, some time since the 90s), I recall Kreskin offering a reward of 10,000 dollars to anyone who can prove the existence of a subconscious. The subconscious, it is thought, should be revealed by hypnosis. Kreskin swore up and down that all that was utter hogwash. Yet, here is a depiction of Kreskin supposedly putting the person in front of him under a hypnotic trance. And what does hypnosis have to do with ESP?

Known to his parents as George Joseph Kresge, Jr., The Amazing Kreskin  maintains his own blog and sells DVDs and other stuff. The website seems to keep the kitch factor to a minimum, to his credit.

Crappy Album Covers #28 — Bad Ideas

Here, the glam rock group Nelson provides the musical answer to the riddle “why do dogs lick themselves?”

Members Matthew and Gunnar, the twin sons of Ricky Nelson — who, in turn was the son of Ozzy and Harriet Nelson, have the distinction of belonging to a family that has had #1 hits in each of these three successive generations. This seems important enough to mention in the Guiness Book of Records, since they are the only family to have accomplished this.

This second album, “Because they Can”, released in 1995, five years after their first album, did not produce a #1 hit, and Geffen stopped promoting them.

Erotic Terrorism is the 1998 album produced by the British hip-hop group Fun-Da-Mental.

They have released seven albums since their inception in 1995. This album is their third, and the latest was “All Is War”, released in 2006.

I may be a little slow on the uptake here, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how depictions of violence and anger can serve the cause of peace. These can you buy generic viagra over the counter, where, what is product name people are purportedly against violence. Their website even has a “dollar ticker” representing the cost of the Iraq war. But it is just my word against a whole hip-hop/gangsta rap culture. To me, it just looks like immature and hypocritical grandstanding. Sorry, I simply don’t get it.

As for the terrorist angle, guns are now considered a relic of the 20th century. Nowadays if you are not a suicide bomber, all you need is an exacto blade and maybe other sharp office equipment, board a plane and hijack it! I saw that on TV back in 2001.

On a lighter note, there is no information on Foster Edwards, his orchestra, or his album which dates around 1966.

But it must have been a low-budget affair, since the band members worked for peanuts (now, you knew that one was coming).

They would even wear Beatle wigs to appear trendy to mid-60s fashions.

Crappy Album Covers #27 — More people who worry me

Steve E. King just wants you to know that if you don’t buy his album “Prelude”, he’ll personally come over and pop you full of lead.

There is no information I can find on Steve E. King anywhere. However, it is a bit suspicious that he has the same name as novelist Stephen King, who also has “E” as his middle initial. Stephen King also dabbles in music, according to his memoir “On Writing”.

Not much useful is known about “Songs for Swinging Mothers”, but much has been written in blogs about people who worry about this depiction of women engaging in risky activities (swinging while standing) while pregnant. Especially the one standing on the swing. What on Earth is she thinking?
Tino, another person who wants to be your friend.

Tino’s real name is Constantino Fernandez Fernandez. OK, we’ll stick with Tino.

I understand that “Por Primera Vez” translates from the Spanish to “For the First Time”.I could pursure this title for deeper meaning in the context of the picture, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that there are endless worst album cover lists that have this album.

It has been said that Tino has lost an arm in an accident some years ago.

The Soul of Kijana not only unfolds in his music, but women swoon upon beholding his presence. Bizarrerecords.com, the site this picture comes from, gives the impression that this hand-drawn album, like Kijana’s music career, may have been a front for a men’s hairstying salon which he was a part of. So, probably another vanity pressing.

He also shoots laser beams from his eyes.

Allmusic gives no connection to this record. However, there is someone who goes by the name Kijana, who is now much older and singing Easy Listening music. That album, called “Kijana Sings and Swings” was released in 2005 and has a more professional cover to it.

Crappy Album Covers #25 — Da Doktor's In Da House

This album was only released in England in 1976, by a Pop/Country musician from Missouri named Jimmy Payne.

Payne wrote hits for the likes of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (Remember “Woman, Woman”?), Charlie Pride, Glen Campbell, and Tammy Wynette, among others.

He still lives with his wife in Nashville, and he apparently is still recording music. His last CD was released in 2003.

I now have it on good authority that this album was a charity effort. He gave a concert to some high-risk psychiatric patients at Broadmoor, was well received, and gave a chunk of his album proceeds to the cause of mentally handicapped children in England. You would likely be aware that eight years earlier, Johnny Cash had released his album “Live at Folsom Prison”. Payne made his album in the same spirit as Cash. If you want slightly more info, scroll down.

Broadmoor is one of two high-security psychiatric hospitals in England. Broadmoor is located in Crowthorne, just west of London. “The other” famous psychiatric hospital in London, Bedlam, no longer serves high-security cliients, and I hear they no longer charge admission.

This is the kind of needle used to deliver strong anaesthetic, although I’ve seen something like this used to inject basting juice into the meat of turkeys as they cook.

The visual message here is likely to be that if the syringe doesn’t get you, the music will.

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Somethin’ Smith and The Redheads were a vocal group that had their heyday in the 1950s with the song “It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie” (#7 on Billboard), off the album “Crazy People”.

And here they are checking in for their treatment. The expressions on the faces of the nurses tell me they have been bad, bad, bad, naughty, naughty boys, and therefore require some special treatment. Very special treatment. The kind of treatment that involves the three of them being tied to a bench in straitjackets.

As part of your treatment, you are supposed to let the nurses muss up your hair.

Don’t ask me what the flagpole is about.

I would imagine that Rae Bourbon (was Ray Bourbon) (1892-1971), who died in prison on charges of murder, has a few stories to tell besides his operation.

Bourbon’s operation was the first sex change operation performed in North America. Newspapers told of the Mexican operation in 1956. Before that, he was a female impersonator, and had appeared in movies with Mae West.

Crappy Album Covers #22 — Disappeared Without a Trace

There are enough albums by imitation and tribute groups to fill the Grand Canyon. Like all of the groups in this post, there is no information on King’s Road, or the album.

But has anyone ever had the bad luck of buying a record you thought was by someone you like, which ends up being done by a bunch of third-tier imitators? I haven’t had it happen to me yet, but I live in fear of it happening one day. Once you get a record like this, they are hard to get rid of. At least King’s Road had the decency to put their name in relatively large type. Other such albums are not so nice. In some cases, the artist’s name is almost microscopic compared to the artist whose songs they are playing.

This kind of cover makes me think. It makes me think, how can Lenny Dee play the organ and navigate a raft at the same time? But if I look closely, I can see that he is tethered to a boat in front, like the lady in the foreground. I wonder if they both get to jump a ramp?

No info on the record, but allmusic gives info on Lenny Dee. Dee was signed with Decca from about 1955 to 1970, so this album, “Down South”, falls in that range. As you can tell, he is an organist who played mostly standards in an easy listening format. It is likely that this record didn’t chart at all, and is the reason it isn’t listed.

It is rather amazing to see yet another woman with multiple arms (see installment #10). Where are they finding these women? What are they like in bed? Who tailors her shirt? How does she get up to put on her shirt in the morning? Do people stare at her in the bus?

Well, as long as they let her play with the drum kit, she doesn’t seem to mind.

It turns out that some information exists on drummer Dickie Harrell. He originally played in the ’50s for Gene Vincent’s rockabilly band The Blue Caps (remember the controversial song “Be bop-a-lula”?). “Drums and More Drums” was released in 1962, according to a fan site.

Crappy Album Covers #21 — Celebrity Corner

All people who put out albums are celebrities. I am only talking about people who actually have no business making records.

Shaq O’Neal has been a superstar on the basketball court. On this offering, he exposes to us his skills as a rap singer. It was widely known that Shaq had modest talents in this area, yet he had inflicted upon us no less than five rap albums, extending all the way to 2001.

This is the cover of a single, (I Know I Got) Skillz off of his 1993 album “Shaq Diesel”.

A decade earlier, you may remember Tammy Faye and Jim Baaker, who had hosted the PTL ministries. PTL stands for “Praise the Lord!”. I recall how they came under fire for increasingly shady practices.

Tammy Faye, years before this, was actually quite attractive, and had shorter hair and a pound less makeup , closer to the population average for females. This is her in the early stages of her getting into this “makeup store casualty” chic. She seemed to have believed that makeup should be applied to the face no less than an inch thick.

Apart from the fact that she should stick to preaching and singing on TV, the cover shows her in her unfortunate makeup casualty stage. There was a time a few generations ago that a woman simply wearing that much makeup and hairspray would have been considered vain and sinful.

The late president Ronald Regan was born in 1911, in the days of the horse and buggy. If that was a 1938 picture of Reagan, then he was 27 years old there. His acting career started in radio, then went to movies (which could have been either silent films or talkies). He became president of the Screen Actors’ Guild, then later Governor of California, then President of the United States. Quite a career path for a middling actor, not known for ever saying anything particularly quotable (Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations does not list Reagan), unless it was something comedians could make fun of.
An album and album cover to be liked only for die-hard conservatives. There are 5 albums listed on allmusic.com credited to Ronald Reagan, but this is not one of them.
The next one is about Barry Goldwater’s recording of an acceptance speech, supposedly for winning the presidency against Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

And that is what makes this cover hilarious. The election was actually won by Lyndon Johnson, by a landslide (60%). So what was this guy trying to prove?

Another “Dewey Defeats Truman” episode. I can’t brag too loud for the Democrats, however, since it was Lyndon Johnson that escalated the Vietnam war, and by 1968, Americans had enough of him, and many began burning their draft cards in protest of the war.

History has shown that The Goldwaters, the accompanying campaign band for Barry Goldwater’s presidential bid, was the best thing that ever happened to Lyndon Johnson’s campaign. If all you do as a campaign organiser is get a bunch of amateurish but politically loyal musicians from local university campuses to show up with you on every campaign stop, you know you’re going to get into trouble.

The barely listenable music inside the album should cause one to re-title it: “Sing Folk Songs to Bug the Republicans”.

There are more of these kinds of albums which will be covered later, including albums by Democrats.

Crappy Album Covers #20 — Crappy for the Wrong Reasons: a Gallery

Stephen Hawking, by the standards of his peers, has only made a name for himself as a “great scientist” because of his disability, ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease). We, the buying public seek out his wisdom through his writings, but would probably be less willing to do so if he were not depicted contorted, and on a wheelchair, as he was in his first publically-available book “A Brief History of Time”.

Similarly, I would want to think that as a buying public of record albums, that it is best to think of anyone we put on our turntables as musicians, rather than as “disabled”. I want to hear your music first. Then you can brag about playing the piano without fingers, or whatever. The problem with each of the following records, the artists seem to want us to know that they have a disability before we buy the record. So, seeing their picture on the cover, one tends to feel slightly embarrassed for them, the way I do when I open my cover of Hawking. I like my music purchases to be more about music and not so much about records whose covers treat their artists as carnival attractions. Thus I have to admit that the only reason that other Internet sites (these are ubiquitous on a search for crappy album covers) find them crappy, it is because of who these people are, not because of some aesthetic misjudgement or other form of idiocy on the designer’s part. They are crappy album covers, but for all the wrong reasons.

The following record covers are offered without my usual smart-aleck comments. They are here, because they, like many of my albums, seem to be a staple of Crappy Albums lists. I just thought I would offer any striaght dope I could find on these people.

Roy Thackerson, or The Fingerless Fiddler, lost his eyesight in one eye and most of the fingers in his left hand at age 6 due to being too close to a blasting cap at the time of explosion. 

He apparently is quite the bluegrass fiddler, enough to say that he has been a judge for fiddling contests in Nashville over a 17 year period. He has also played at the Grand Old Opry.

When even Wikipedia says that this 1968 album by The Braillettes is often listed as one of the worst album covers of all time (with several references given), it is difficult to talk straight about this album. 

The young girl in the front, Maggie Liebniz, is the only one who is not blind. Her boyfriend and later husband, John Skoglund, took this photo of them. The names of the other two are Jackie Overalls and Kay Smith. It is likely that this is their only album. The three hail from Alameda, California.

There are no references to this album that I can find anywhere on this person, not even her name. 

There are, however, pages upon pages upon pages of Google references to this cover on “worst album cover” lists. I gave up after the third page.

The Addicts 1975 release, a Gospel album called “The Addicts Sing” is a collectors’ item, whose asking price on some websites hovers around $70.00, depending on the condition. The tan box between the two lads on the bottom of the cover is a quote from II Corinthians 5:17, a quote having to do with the Ministry of reconciliation. 

These guys are 9 former heroin addicts who, it seems, made the record while in prison, and presumably got early relseases after dropping their habit and turning over a new leaf.

UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! Yes! I now have the much -talked about and much grossed-out over back cover! It is one thing to say it’s gross, but it is much more effective to show you!

Crappy Album Covers #19 – More People Who Worry Me

It is worth repeating from the last post that you should ask nicely before playing someone else’s musical instruments. Gerhard Polt illustrates this point nicely. Having his head on a silver platter was apparently too good for him. Here, his head is served on a cheap Chinette dish with ham, pineapple and ketchup. Hey, maybe that’s not really ham (OK, I won’t go there).

There is a Wikipedia entry on Polt, however, I don’t know if it is the same Gerhard Polt as this one. The Wikipedia mentions that he seemed to have more than a passing interest in writing about Bavarian culture. Could that explain the album cover? Was it something he wrote?

Well, this isn’t really a crappy album cover, per se, precisely because one can sense that it is intentionally crappy. I guess that still makes it crappy.

The album cover shows the lead singer Gary Dalway (the human, not the pig) of the UK group The Handsome Beasts, getting to know his partner a bit better from their 1981 album Bestiality. This same album had been reissued in CD form in 1996 with 4 bonus tracks. They are still putting out records, the latest being in 2007. For the record, Gary Dalway has recently left the group, which may reduce the supply of future crappy album covers somewhat. Oh, well…

There will be even more people that worry me in future posts.