I dropped in to visit my fellow reader and listener Teece a few weeks ago. As usual, he had a surprise in store for me – a collection of LPs each with a garish, lurid or just plain bizarre sleeve. My head reeled as we sipped our tea and nibbled on some tasty biscuits, would this latest stash of vinyl goodies finally take my readers over the edge or would they pounce on this offering with the same fervour I have come to expect from them after posting that series of ‘What The?’ covers. It’s time to draw in close now my friends, fire up the gramophone and let Teece’s very latest bit take you on a voyage through the stranger zones of his record racks;
My record collection has survived the cd revolution, the mp3 revolution, several house moves, an equal number of “it’s me or your records” ultimatums, and some heavy pruning in times of need. One bonus of the big 12″ format is of course the cover art. Here are a few of the more ‘inspired’ covers from my collection along with my interpretation of the stories behind them. See what you think – you may well come up with different ideas, which is all part of the fun.
Johnny Guitar Watson – A Real Mother
DJM/Vogue Records, 1977
As you can see, this cover shot gives us a literal interpretation of the album title, A Real Mother, featuring as it does Johnny’s real mother, Wilma (Wilma Guitar Watson?)! Wilma is taking Johnny for a walk in the park in his pimped-up perambulator. It reminds me of the resolutely DIY go-karts our dads used to make us as kids. Over on the back cover Wilma is nowhere to be seen. She’s probably had to go home to get the tea on. But look, she’s left Johnny in the care of three experienced baby-sitters, who look more than capable of taking care of all little Johnny’s needs…
Chet Baker & Art Pepper – Playboys
Vogue Records, 1959
OK, so this is one of those ‘fresh-faced, semi-naked girl holding sinister glove puppets’ type album covers. Quite how this relates to the cool jazz sounds of Chet and Art, I’m not sure. Looks more like a still from a lost David Lynch film to me.
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass – What Now My Love
A&M Records, 1966
What Now My Love indeed, as here we see Herb Alpert frozen on the cusp of what could well be a life-changing decision. His lady friend, clearly in a state of arousal, is whispering suggestions in his ear (probably reminding him of that jigsaw puzzle they still need to finish) and wants Herb to stay home and spend time with her. However, Herb has his trusty trumpet in hand and, look, there in the background are his boys from the Brass posse, itching to cause some Tijuana mayhem. Mates or girlfriend? It’s an age-old dilemma. So then… what now Herb?
Killer Dillers Volume 4 – Various
Rumble Records, 1993
So, you’ve put together an album of red-hot rock ‘n’ roll obscurities and now you just need some appropriate cover art to compliment those wild primal sounds. What do you go for? A leather–clad rocker wielding a flick-knife? A dangerous blonde in pencil skirt and high-heels, smoking a cigarette under a street-lamp? No, don’t be daft! What you go for, obviously, is a cross-eyed vampire poodle in leopard-skin accessories! Add some garish colours and amateurish fonts and there you have it – a truly awful album cover.