OOC 013: Folkies and Rockers

bruce cockburn
Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn tried to stay back-to-the-land (and later political) in his music and public image for as long as he could. Born and raised in Ottawa, he has been penning songs for over 30 years along many themes, including religion, third world politics, love, friendship, and much more.

Apart from getting his Order of Canada in 1983, he also has several honroary degrees, is a Canadian Music Hall of Famer, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.  Many have covered him, like U2, Ani DiFranco, Barenaked Ladies, Anne Murray, Judy Collins, and many more.

Neil Young

Neil Young had a long and storied solo career, but had his origins in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Buffalo Springfield before that. He appeared with CSN&Y at Woodstock in 1969. Like a lot of 70s rockers, he is a native of Winnipeg – the Guess Who and BTO came from there – but to a greater extent than any other musician, always insisted on doing his own thing.

His 2009 induction into the Order of Canada was one of many ways that his accomplishments were recognised. He was also prominent on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on two occasions: once for his work in CSN&Y, and once more for his solo effort.

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Crappy Album Covers #322 — Pretentious Prog

On a faraway planet, children crawl out of their homes inside of outdoor toilets to greet the Sun God. They call their place the “Houses of the Holey.” 

Led Zeppelin’s 1973 classic “Houses of the Holy” yielded a minor single, D’yer Maker, but it did end up as one of the top 200 albums of all time, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and also won a Grammy in 1974.

The Korean version of this album is a lot crappier where the robot (or whatever it is) is fishing the band members out of a rusty trash barrel (or a busted rooftop, it’s hard to tell). 

This is the album containing the 1977 monster hit “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions”.


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Crappy Album Covers #307 — So Rockin’ it Hurts

This is a 1958 compilation on the “Waldorf Music Hall” record label, and was part of a series of cover tunes done by “middle calibre” acts of the time. This album featured The Ink Spots and Vincent Lopez.
Congo Mambo Mando & the Chili Peppers “On the Road With Rock and Roll”. Year unknown and not much else either.

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[Video Monday] A duet with David Bowie and Marianne Faithfull

Can you picture Bowie and Faithfull doing “I got you babe”? It would seem to be a union as un-convincing as they come. The bizarre, brazen outfits don’t make up for it either.


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Crappy Album Covers #205 — Covers that tell you to chill

Trevor doesn’t seem to be too worried about any trouble over Bridgewater. Just sitting there with his ale, smiling away. I think the reason he’s smiling is that he came up with the clever title (a play on the Simon and Garfunkel 1970 hit “Bridge Over Troubled Water”), decades before Half Man Half Biscuit did in 2000.

No other info exists on either Trevor Crozier or his Friends.

Tune In, Turn On excludes the “Drop Out” part of the Timothy Leary quotation which has become the battle cry of slackers everywhere, ever since the 60s psychedelic era. The exact quote gives it as “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, changing the order of the first two instructions of this Slacker algorithm.

This record appears to have a selection of “The Hippest Commercials of The 1960s”. Hear the jingle for Cool Whip; or what about the smash hit Alka-Seltzer jingle by The T-Bones, called “No Matter What Shape Your Stomach’s In” (Most of the members of the T-Bones became the soft rock quartet Hamilton, Joe, Frank and Reynolds).

There has got to be some metaphorical connection between ’60s advertising and a photo of an obnoxiously-coloured TV sitting on a barren mud flat. Hmmm…

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Crappy Album Covers #204 — Even More Big Heads

Decca records seemed to also have caught on to the “Big heads” aesthetic, and the resulting album cover is designed to catch your attention and make you buy it before it sinks in that the cover is ugly and, well…

I would place this record in the mod-50s to mid-60s. Fritz Schultz-Reichel (his real name) was born in 1921 and acquired his alter-ego of Crazy Otto in 1953. He was touted to do the same for Jazz that Victor Borge did for classical music, and that is to be its court jester, poking fun at many aspects of  the genre.

A reissue was made in 2008 on Apple ITunes on the Hallmark label with a redesigned cover and Otto’s big head again.

Neil Young should be commended for still making records these days. This is his 40th year as a musician and he’s still at it, with his 2009 album “Fork In The Road”.

No more pretty boy record covers for him, like Decade. No, he would play the part of an Amish farmer better than of a travelling troubador. So you do what Amish farmers do when they see something like a camera: you say something like: “what happens if I press *this* button?” SNAP! and there’s your album cover.

If we do a turn on an old ethnic joke: a <fill in your ethnic group> drives by and asks Neil for help. He can barely speak English:

Neil: Can I help you?

Ethnic: Me looking for a fock

Neil: There’s a cat-house down the road a mile-

Ethnic: I no look for cats! Meester, you no unnerstan’. I want a fock on the road-

Neil: I don’t know if any of them are into that. Sorry I couldn’t help you

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Crappy Album Covers #203 — Creepy Similarities IV

1972’s Exile On Main St was one of those Rolling Stones records that grew on the reviewers. It went from having lukewarm reviews in ’72 to being worshipped as Rolling Stone Magazine’s #7 of the 500 greatest rock records of all time in 2003. The Rolling Stones had no albums ranking higher than this. 

But what always creeped me out was that guy in the upper left, who has three large balls in his mouth. See it? Okay …

Reuben Wilson was ahead of his time in 1969 when he decided to depict a lady, with three balls in front of her. Although, we don’t get grossed out by seeing if she could fit them all in her mouth. 

As for the “hair”, they look more like fish scales.

A CD was issued with this cover in 1997.

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Crappy Album Covers #200 — Full of sound and Fury, Signifying nothing

“Empire of the Sun” is the name of a 1987 Stephen Spielberg movie, but it is also the name of an Australian musical duo consisting of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. The bombastic cover has them depicted as a cross between Michael Jackson and Adam Ant, but the music seems to have been received to warm reviews, and has charted well with the buying public. I have a problem with the title, though: “Walking on a dream?” How exactly does one walk ON a dream? Hmmm.AOL rates this cover as the 10th worst cover of 2009.
This 2009 cover by Ciara has her depicted as a comic book heroine. And this is part of what she wanted to portray, it appears. However, this reviewer gives her efforts spotty reviews, and AOL rates this as the 6th worst cover of 2009, even ahead of Neil Young’s new album cover.You can say it’s overdone, ostentatious, but I just think they could have done better. There was a DC alternate depiction I’ve seen, of the UK release. Much improved. There was also another one, a cartoon depiction of her alter ego (a kind of Wonder Woman goddess), which was even better. Sorry, can’t find the link to that.

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Crappy Album Covers (sidebar) — The (belated) Furr Shrine

Fans of this blog may recall that venerable, but enigmatic group of CAC makers from who-knows-where called Furr. As you can see clearly, they are pretty derivative, and the cover shown here dates back to 1977  (so I was close), according to this CAC blog.

Also, according to the same blog, some visitors categorized their music as bubblegum. Hmm… sounds believeable.

But their song titles (these guys have a track listing!) still sound like titles pulled out of the Kiss reject bin: “Sister Honky Tonk”, “Wow, yeah”, and “Goin’ Down the Road” are examples.

But if we are to believe their other links to Amazon (which I don’t), they are now called “The Furr”, hail from Winnipeg, and have a current 2007 demo released on places like Amazon and CD Baby, entitled “Furr is Murder”. CD Baby has a short bio of The Furr (if they are from Winnipeg, then why does the Canadian Amazon site list them as an Import?). It would appear from their bio that “The Furr” did not exist before 2005. Since this is a 1977 album, either the bio is wrong and they’re all old geezers (I wouldn’t want to be a geezer in all that getup), or we are talking about two different bands.

The Furr are also on Facebook. They have reportedly broken up. But, looking at a recent picture of Matt and Darcy (two of The Furr’s  former members), they don’t look a day over 25. They would have been born 5 years after this album came out. I rest my case.

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Crappy Album Covers #198 — Crappy album covers raised to high art

Yes, I remember paintings like this. Some of them hang in the National Gallery in Ottawa, with names like “Gray Square on Canvas” and sell for about a quarter million dollars CDN. The members of U2 saw this one, fell in love with it, and used it on their twelfth album released earlier this year, called “No Line on the Horizon”. Well…. it’s not exactly “in your face”, is it? At least it has that going for it. 

But to really convey a sense of “no line on the horizon”, you need to experience a Canadian winter, such as what exists in places like Iqaluit and Nunavut. There, you get whiteouts. The snow is so pervasive, that you can’t make out the sky for the ground. It’s all white. You need the other painting the National Gallery has, called “white square on white canvas”. (OK, so the latter painting doesn’t really exist, at least not yet, and not to my knowledge).

I don’t mind the cover, if this was some kind of prog rock album, but heck, this is Chet Atkins (1924-2001). This original 1957 album cover looks like the cover of some Trigonometry textbooks I’ve seen. The cover was re-designed sometime later (see this Wikipedia article) to be a little more suggestive of Atkin’s main genre, country and western music. There was a 50th anniversary reissue of this 27-minute recording in 2007, with 16 bonus tracks. 

Chet Atkins is a central figure in Country and Western music, helping to invent what has become known as “The Nashville Sound”, both as musician and producer. His influence extends into Rock and Roll. George Harrisson, Ted Nugent, Eric Clatpon, and Mark Knopfler all list Atkins as an influence. He has won over 14 Grammies along with a Lifetime Achievement award. After his death, he was finally inducted into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Crappy Album Covers #196 — Superstition and legend

The Incans were ahead of their time. Their legends may have given us the first samples of pornography. Voice of the Xtabay is a legend about a woman who has sex with countless men, then died with Xtabentum (fragrant flowers) growing on her grave. It has all the elements of a plotless porn film. All it needs now is bad acting in between the sex scenes.

Depicted is a very young Yma Sumac (1922-2008), a Peruvian soprano known for her 5-octave vocal range. For the Exotica genre that was popular in the late ’40s and throughout the 1950s, they don’t get more famous than her.

This 1950 studio album, and Sumac’s first, was produced by no less than Les Baxter, who also helped write two of the tracks. It features Peruvian rhythms, and of course, Sumac’s vocal range. The recording can be purchased in CD form through any number of online vendors.

Two Polynesian dudes are busy singing along, when all of a sudden both say: “Hey, who brought in the white chick?” This is yet another CAC from that veritable CAC factory, TOPS.

The composer was Robert Drasnin (1927-2015), at the time, a recent UCLA graduate with a Master’s in Music. In 1959, he was approached by the upper management at TOPS to produce an exotica record. On that record you will likely hear the piano of John Williams, who would later go on to write the musical scores of Star Wars and Jaws. Drasnin himself would later produce music for the small screen, most notably The Twilight Zone, and Gunsmoke. By 1977 he became the director of music for the CBS television network.

To date there has been at least two reissues of Voodoo on compact disc. To show that Exotica has not yet died, Drasnin recorded Voodoo II on CD in 2007 when he was 80.


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Crappy Album Covers #195 — How a CD was made back in the day

The Swedish group The Spotnicks made this album called Out-A-Space back in 1962. They were among the first really successful Swedish group to exist on the international scene, in the same way that The Ventures and The Shadows did in the late 50s.

Unlike The Ventures, I know of little indication of them making it big across the pond, but they did score many UK hits in their tenure. The space suit gimmick was part of their trademark, and they appeared that way in all their concerts.

Making a CD was hard work, back in the day. You take these metal tongs, clasp the CD in between, then hold them over this shaping tool, then you stick it in the fire until the metal starts to glow and get soft. Then you pit it for the audio tracks with a hammer and chisel.

Uh, a really small hammer and a really small chisel.

Hey, it’s a living.

Croatian Mišo Kova? was the biggest selling singer from the former Yugoslavia, selling over 20 million records, cassettes, and CDs to date. He had won the Yugoslavian Split Festival 5 times up until 1980, more than any other to that  day. While Wikipedia gives a detailed biography of him, it does not mention this single. Translated, “Za Tvoju Ljubav Sve Bih Dao” appears to mean roughly : “For Your Love I Would Give”. The other side of this single, “Tužno Srce Moje“, translates to roughly: “Sad My Heart”.


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Crappy Album Covers #194 — Cliche Clowns

See this clown? Look how much fun he’s had! Fun, fun, fun! So much fun, the entire circus collapsed around him, and now he’s having no more fun. His former employer sold the junk for scrap, and once in a while he comes over to the junk yard to rekindle old memories. Otherwise, he panhandles on a street corner downtown. No more fun! Boo hoo hoo!If they are going to entitle this record “A Day of Fun at the Circus”, then why in the h-e-double sticks was this picture chosen?
That’s the panhandler from across the street.  At least he bothers to crack a smile, with his album “When The Children Sing” (Cuando Cantan Los Ninos). The ultimate cliche hobo clown, smoking a stogie and looking dapper in his kid gloves, Red Skelton style.No other information was found.

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Crappy Album Covers 193 — Tackiness past and present

Other blogs have already commented on Brooke Hogan’s 2009 CD The Redemption, especially AOL Radio, who has declared this cover the #1 worst of 2009. True, it would look tacky on the side of a van, let alone a CD, but it has a trailer trash groove about it that befits the daughter of Hulk Hogan. 

This being Brooke Ellen Bollea’s second album, she has already made the cover of FHM (anyone surprised?), has had her own reality TV show where her father sometimes appears, and even has her own YouTube account, BrookeStarTV.

I had to rename this graphic so that I could remember that Don Elliott’s album “Music for the Sensational Sixties” was released in the 1950s. 1958, to be exact. Elliott was likely betting that, in two years’ time, they would be driving their Vespas through the Milky Way while listening to 5-time Downbeat award winner Don Elliott and His Orchestra serve some tunes that would go nicely with the space age. Coming at you, Jetson-style, in “Stereo-Spectrum”, whatever that means.

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Crappy Album Covers #192 — Non Sequiturs and Weirdness

Album_Cover_Crap_401_fischerspooner-the-entertainer Let’s  see if I can figure this out … Dusan Reljin Fischerspooner wears a top hat (of the vaudeville variety) attached to a metal cage extending the height of his forehead; the hat is somehow connected to two bungee cords which also are tied to hs neck; and finally the top of his hat is attached to what appears to be a circular flourescent lamp. 

This is as close as one can get to a Gary Numan imitation in Fischerspooner’s 2009 album, “Entertainment”. AOL Radio has rated this CD cover as the #2 worst cover of 2009.

Album_Cover_Crap_349 No information exists on these adorable, slightly mischievous children, and even less on the little girl plugging her ears. She doesn’t look too happy with the choir’s singing. Nevertheless, I am left scratching my head wondering why they chose that photo to promote the record?
Also, no info on the album “Merry (Music for) Christmas” either.

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Crappy Album Covers #191 — Slightly creepy

Album_Cover_Crap_403 I am not sure why it matters that a record album be advertised as “full color” high fidelity, but that is the kind of thing that comes with this compilation of “Rock and Roll Party Oldies and Goodies”, I suppose. 

I am not sure which is dorkier: the guy hopping up and down and not being sure whether he is actually enjoying himself; or the barefoot young girl parachuting down with her skirt fully airborne. I think the reason for the pained expression on the guy’s face is from the fact that they bailed out of a plane from 5 miles in the air without a parachute, and they are about to become sidewalk souffle.

Album_Cover_Crap_405_thunder-thighs-blowupdoll This one comes from Bunk Strutts, who posted it before I did. 

Thunder Thighs are a group of three British female backup singers who apparently were well-known in the industry. They decided to make a record of themselves, and got Lynsey de Paul to write their first hit single “Central Park Arrest” in 1974, which made it to #30 on the British Charts that year.

They had previously provided backing vocals to the likes of Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, and Jerry Lee Lewis.


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Crappy Album Covers #187 — Food on Vinyl IX

Album_Cover_Crap_343 Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen to the sub-series that never ends! FOOD ON VINYL!Martha and her ugly sister greta were in bed sleeping when they were awaken by a rumbling outisde their room. They followed the rumbling to the kitchen, when, suddenly, they were attacked by snacks! Marauding hamburgers, with evil eyes, flying through the air.This is a cover for the U. S. release of the 1981 album from Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, which was called “Ismism” elsewhere, but they thought “Snack Attack” would work better for North Americans. It yielded one top-40 single on Billboard: “Under Your Thumb”. The title track never charted.
Album_Cover_Crap_381 Gershon Kingsley is the composer of  this classic tune that no conscientious tacky ’70s synth collector should be without. He recorded it in 1969, where it broke wide open in Europe. Hippies and nerds alike copped to it. Hot Butter records it in 1972 and even kids as young as 5 got into it. And of course, it was of that certain genre of music that made it into more than one K-Tel compilation.The album cover could have been designed by Andy Warhol, but I doubt it.

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Crappy Album Covers #186 — A Parent’s Horror

Album_Cover_Crap_341 A parent’s horror: Ukuleles. On tour, no less. Pay admission, you get to hear a whole orchestra of them.Few people can make a ukulele sound good.  This is an elpee’s worth of toons from a group of classmates, possibly from Halifax, by Order of Canada recipient J. Chalmers Doane and a group of his pupils. This was Doane’s second recording, released in 1974, of a total of 9 albums of children and their ukeleles. This was reportedly recorded during a tour of Quebec and Ontario.
Album_Cover_Crap_345 Another horror: Babies crying! For forty-five solid minutes! Can you stand being in a room that long while this is playing? On a more solemn note, what did the guys in the studio do to make the babies cry? Take away their rattle? Slap them up’side the head? Electric shock treatment? You got to wonder.

Actually, you need not. These are recordings of  more than 20 different kinds of diseased babies, so that physicians can tell the kind of disease by the kind of cry the baby makes. Recorded in 1971 by a South African doctor, Dr. Eugene Weinberg. Hear babies with Chronic Asthma! Cystic fibrosis! Severe Pneumonia! Cri du Chat! Hydroencephaly! You’ll never mis-diagnose again!

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Crappy Album Covers #185 — Family Bands II

Album_Cover_Crap_346 Available for $21.00 on some websites, this 1977 album features siblings Rick, Jack, Toby, Jill and Carrie who hail from Minneapolis, and according to Bizarrerecords.com (click on image) they still are performing as grownups.
Album_Cover_Crap_342 Comedians John and VickiJo Witty are here with their album called “Family Portrait”. Not sure about their style of humour (haven’t heard of them), and info is hard to find online; although I have found this album for sale in some places. 


The Groucho glasses gag is old by several generations, and I hope that is no reflection on the originality of the humour within. I have found it on sale from a few places in my online searches.

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Crappy Album Covers #184 — The International Language of Bad Taste V

Album_Cover_Crap_336 In the multilingual universe that is the international CAC-o-sphere, we see three guys with pasty complexions and one chick sporting skin tones of a living being. 

Honestly — do we have to see the pasty complexions twice — once again in their reflections?

A direct translation of the title might be uninformative, but “Look To Paris”/”I Want You” seem to come out in Google.

Album_Cover_Crap_390 Cattus. That’s “Cat” in latin. Actually, that’s “Feline” in Latin. From Perez Prado and His Orchestra, from before the days of stereo.

Sorry. I succumbed to the lolcat craze. Enjoy.

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