Crappy Album Covers have been a staple of this blog for over a year now. I think I may have posted over 400 album covers in that time, and I have particularly, but not always, targeted the unintentionally bad ones.
There have been certain themes/artists/genres I have avoided:
Metal: I’ve said it before that many metal/punk/hard rock bands release sucky/disturbing covers on purpose, because they know their audience will buy the record/cd. Picking on metal or punk bands would be like shooting fish in a barrel. I have made exceptions (Pantera and Stryken, notably) when the album crosses the line of bad taste to unintentional bad taste.
Bob Dylan: I’ve noticed on some blogs, many commenters pick on Dylan’s albums as a source of bad album art. Face it, folks. Nobody buys Dylan for the album cover, so no one cares. However, in a future post, I make a point that there is a Dylan album art concept that is getting a bit repetitive: the blurry-photo-of-Dylan-in-concert idea. Oh, and yeah, there was also that Starbucks promo CD I discussed earlier.
Nobody buys Leonard Cohen for his album art, either. Or Joni Mitchell for hers, even when she draws the covers herself in crayon (Ladies of the Canyon, and Court and Spark, I believe are two examples) .
Most “lounge lizard” acts and Gospel acts are the same way. For the most part, you tend to get a picture of the artist, the album title, and at least a partial track listing. The whole intent is predictability, and a total avoidance of any artistic risk-taking. Lounge acts start crossing the line, however, when they become too grandiose, or too “nerdy”, or show a total lack of thought in the photo/artwork.
This is at least a partial rendition of my thought processes when making these CAC entries.
|First, let’s talk about trophy animals.Kind of reminds me of the 1986 college radio smash hit “All I Got Were Clothes For Christmas” by Happy Flowers.
Also, looks like the musician is getting friendly with his trophy deer.
There is no info on who this person is or why he has the logo for the American Lung Association painted upside-down on his forehead.
|Everything was going romantically until Ethel noticed trophies of a beheaded blonde and redhead on the wall, and remembering she is a brunette, she concluded that George must be a collector. Things became tense after that.Yes, trophy women. That is, women’s heads as wall-mounted trophies. This should have been the album cover for Fine Young Cannibals’ “Hunters and Collectors”.
Elliot Lawrence was an American Jazz Pianist and band leader during the late 1950s. He won two Tony Awards for his compositions in TV and film in the early 1960s.
|The title of ths blog, “By his stripes we were healed”, is the last line of verse 53:5 in the book of Isaiah.
This tells me that Stryper has come to save us from, uhh …, what? Whtever it is, they had to bring out the guns and armoured vehicles for it. Something tells me that the anwer to our interpersonal conflicts should not involve the use of military vehicles.
|Clever title, Isabel. I actually like it very much. It says that I choose God for something I like, not for something other people are coercing me to like. You have to respect that.
No information exists on Isabel Baker that I could find, except that this blogger found an MP3 of her gospel singing.
This goes beyond categorizations of “Christian Rock.” She sounds more like a cross between Lydia Lunch and Diamanda Galas. While these latter two don’t qualify as Christian Rock, the resemblance between kinds of music was uncanny. I might even add Romeo Void.
By the end of that song sample, one would be led to think that she loves God just a bit more than is, uh, Christian. Where have we heard that one before?
… And both of them are from that Canadian group from Montreal called April Wine. This group was really big in Canada in the 70s and 80s, and they had some of my favourite songs that I grew up with. Trouble was, while their music was really good, their record covers consistently sucked greasy cheese balls. They were flat, cliche covers that made no impression whatsoever on the buyer. Here are two of, in my opinion, the worst album covers that April Wine had offered in this vein.
|This is their 1973 album “Electric Jewels”, which is cliche in every detail and screams to the buyer nothing more than “this is an album with music in it”. It totally belies what is inside the covers of this album. Well, there is “Electric” in the title, so you might be expected to play this one a little louder.
While just about every track on this record is a strong track, capable of getting you hooked, none of its three singles made the top-10 (Lady Run, Lady Hide (peaked @ 19, lasted 5 weeks); Weeping Widow (peaked @ 40, lasted 2 weeks); and Electric Jewels (never made the top 40)).
Both records in today’s posting could easily have been designed by K-Tel.
|The cover for “Live at the El Mocambo” embellishes the design on the backdrop of one of the stages of the landmark night club. The two palm trees were part of El Mocambo’s trademark. But this idea only works as an album cover backdrop if you live in Toronto. If you are from outside Toronto, or have never been in the night club, you are left scratching your head, wondering if they’ve adopted a Jimmy Buffett sound.
The ElMo, as it is known to us locals, is located on 404 Spadina, in the middle of what they call the Computer Ghetto in Downtown Toronto. Got changed to a dance studio a few years back, then re-opened again.
The Ramones played there. So did Lou Reed, Blondie, The Police, Black Flag, Jonhhy Winter, Charles Mingus, Rush, Elvis Costello, U2, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and even Marilyn Monroe. She played there in 1958. When April Wine recorded live for this album in 1977, they were opening for The Rolling Stones.
Just like a Canadian band to take all that tradition, and all those bragging rights, and make an album cover that is as lame as you can possibly make it. Believe it or not, their concerts were not lame, explaining why they recorded 7 live albums in their tenure. This album reputedly has a killer live version of Oowatanite. But who would know? By 1979, I remember noticing piles of these albums in the delete bin.
In total April Wine had released 35 singles by 1993, and 21 of them charted in the Top 40. 7 of them were hits in the U. S., with three of them peaking on Billboard in the Top 40: Could Have Been A Lady (1972), Roller (1979), and Just Between You and Me (1981). At least 3 of their albums went either platinum or double platinum.
|The Jay Gordon Concert Orchestra offers the album “Strictly for Lovers” off of the TOPS label, a CAC factory which was located at one time somewhere in the southwestern U. S. which has supplied my blog with a healthy number of CACs thus far.
There’s an attractive woman, whispering something into her boyfriend’s ear. Something like “I haff zee microfilm.”
Anyone who is not a lover should stay away from this record. Turn it off! Don’t buy it! Put it back in the remainder bin!
|TOPS made money actually selling radiation instruments, if readers of my blog will remember. This could make them part of the Military Industrial Complex. And while we are on the topic of war, here are the natives of Auburn, New York with their band Manowar, with their 1983 album (not found on TOPS, sorry), called “Into Glory Hole Ride”.
This cover has been fodder for many a CAC blog, mostly because of the overwhelmingly subconscious homosexual slant involving handlebar moustaches and loincloths. OK… maybe a little more than subconscious. I suppose they could have called their album “Hairway to Steven”, but the Butthole Surfers already have that album title.
Manowar is notable for owning their own label and distribution system. They are a true “Indie” band. Their label is called Magic Circle Records.
Wikipedia says that Manowar broke the longstanding record in 1994 for the world’s loudest rock band. Beating The Who by 3.5 decibels, their Hanover concert was measured at 129.5 decibels. Over the years, The Swans, Motorhead, AC/DC, Deep Purple, My Bloody Valentine, and The Rolling Stones have all surpassed this, breaking the 130 decibel mark. Manowar beat them all in 2008 with a Magic Circle Fest concert that measured 139 dB. Guiness Book has stopped making records of “loudest concerts” due to the prospect of encouraging hearing damage.
|I am glad that Greg Kendrick is sharing his saga of sexual abuse with us. Why keep it bottled up inside? Yes, Greg, we understand. The police are on their way to apprehend the guy who touched you. Cellmates will probably kill him when he goes to jail.
OK, so this is not the only album with this title. Four middle-aged guys called The Minister’s Quartet had this title, and it too has wound up in every “worst album cover” blog from here to heck, including mine.
|This is the one and only album for the Christian Metal/Glam Metal group, Stryken. First Strike, released in 1986, shows on its cover what you expect to hear inside. Here you see the four natives of Austin, Texas, all of whom don’t look so threatening as loopy, putting out an album, that takes the Christian metal genre to its ultimate futility.
The next year they were said to have been arrested for distrupting a Motley Crue show when they appeared in front of their stage wearing full armour and carrying a large cross. Few people remember Stryken anymore.
If you talk to God you are likely praying; but when God talks to Stryken, it is more likely because they hadn’t taken their meds.
This CAC must be the fodder for dozens of CAC blogs; and the singular most common reaction is something like: WTF? They just don’t get it. In Riot’s 1981 album, their third, is the head of a cuddly harp seal on the shoulders of some guy.
Those bloggers are totally off the mark. This is totally understandable. I believe it is a statement on the tendency of urban-dwellers to feel more the rights of animals than for the rights of humans.
If you are down-and-out, alienated, rejected by society, you will find this world a cold, harsh place. But if you walk around wearing the head of a seal, at least people will think twice before smashing your brains in with a club. Who knows, you might even score sympathy points with the chicks this way. At least more points than previously. Yes, I get it. “Fire Down Under” must be a tome about man’s need to overcome alienation by dressing up in cuddly animal costumes of those perceived to be endangered species. Yes, I am making excuses for this cover.
Riot’s expoitation of seals as a hobbyhorse even extends to 13th CD, “Army of One”, released in 2006. I noticed the motif in at least three of their albums.
|I have said several times on my blog that I had a policy of not listing metal covers due to the fact that ugliness is often a sales point with this music genre. I often delve into metal CAC blogs to see if I can find anything I could write about (in case there might be some howlers out there), and after 91 CAC entries, I have come up empty-handed. Now in CAC #92, I have found two CACs, both from the same group, Pantera. These are Pantera’s first two albums ever, “Projects in the Jungle”, followed by “Metal Magic.” This band from Arlington, Texas is still going with its own website, Dimebag is still there with his bro’ Vinnie, as they have been for the past 28 years.
Now, if there was some kind of “first law of metal album cover design”, it should be to never let yourself do the cover, and to never let someone’s kid do the cover.
|This next bit of adolescent artwork would have pleased his mother, but the next step should have been to send him to art school, not make metal album covers.
Here, we have Pantera, without pants. The albums give the impression of a low-rent band that would be considered “not bad for local”.
Pantera would have had to bave been together for 9 more years before they saw their first major commercial breakthrough, Cowboys From Hell, which established them as pioneers in the post-punk “Groove Metal” genre.
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 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.
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.
Turbonegro is a Norwegian punk band. As I understand it, their sub-genre is something called “death-punk”. It has also been called “glam-punk”, and so on. Many aspects of their brand of punk has been influenced by 70s arena rock bands such as Kiss.
I noticed in one of their more recent videos that each of these depressing looking characters plays a different “character”. One is a Hun, another is a military cop, another is a marine deckhand, one is neaderthal, and the other two … well, I don’t know what they are trying to be. But in a less “depressive” form, there is another 6-member group from the era of 70s arena rock that would appear to have similar taste in clothes.
Ah, yes. The Village People. There’s a cop, another navy guy, a biker, a construction worker, a cowboy and an indian. No neanderthals, though. I am not a fan of disco, but at least they are a little less preoccupied with thoughts of death.