Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Artist: The Kinks
Title: The Kinks Present Schoolboys In Discrace
Label: RCA Victor
Catalog: LPL1-5102
Year: 1975
Genre: rock
Cover Design: Pat Doyle
Cover photo:  Mickey Finn
Grade: ***** stars

My wife and friends will tell you I have the sophistication and sense of humor of a 12 year old. I won't argue the point.  Fart jokes still make me laugh.  And that probably explains why I think this cover is so funny.  Admittedly Mickey Finn's cover illustration is not the most sophisticated concept you've ever encountered and it probably fails by today's hypersensitive set of PC rules.  Still, the cover makes me smile.

Sunday, December 29, 2019


So for 2019 I managed to post 45 album cover entries - admittedly I'm not exactly burning up the internet here.  Of course that was way better than 2018 where I managed to squeeze out an amazing 8 entries.

I'll try to do better in 2020 ...

As it turned out, one of my Christmas presents was a book by Michael Ochs - 1000 Record Covers.  Kudos the Ochs for putting this project together.  He's done way more than I'll ever accomplish in this realm.  

I've already spent way too much time pawing through the book.  It reflects dozens of fascinating album covers (including several that I'd previously listed). That said, the funny thing is how many of the 1000 covers aren't all that impressive.  

Does anyone think Joni Mitchell's "Mingus" is a stunning cover?  Admittedly Mitchell designed the cover, but so what  ...  Similarly, what's so special about the first James Taylor LP for Apple Records?

Clearly none of us are going to agree on what constitutes a great album cover, but those differences do makes for some interesting discussions.


Artist: Otis Redding
Title: The Otis Redding DIctionary of Soul
Label: Volt
Catalog: SD 1554
Year: 1966
Genre: soul
Cover Design: Ronnie Stoots
Cover photo:  Ronnie Stoots
Grade: ***** stars

I don't think I have  every heard a bad Otis Redding album and I've owned most of the catalog at one time or another.  The fact  this one has a cool cover is simply icing on  the cake.  It's just one of those covers that brings a smile to my face. Also, if you like music - any kind of music, buy a copy of this class album  !!!

I never noticed Ronnie Stoots was responsible for the album design.  Stoots  may be better know as the lead singer for The  Regents and The Mar-Keys, but he was also a talented designer.  He was responsible for the original Stax logo, as well as designing numerous Stax album covers.


Artist: Eddie Harris
Title: Come On Down
Label: Atlantic
Catalog: SD 1554
Year: 1970
Genre: jazz
Cover Design: Loring Eutemey
Cover photo:  Loring Eutemey
Grade: *** stars

Having just posted a Loring Eutemey cover as a favorite, why not another one?  

So, I'm not a gigantic jazz fan.  It's a genre I've tried to get into (just like I've tried to cultivate a taste for wine), but like wine, the results have been disappointing.  Beer please ...  

I guess my musical tastes are just too lowbrow to get most jazz.  That  said, this 1970 album us actually surprisingly funky - kind of a Stax-meets-jazz vibe on tracks like 'Don't You Know Your future's In Space' and 'Live Right Now'.  And the cover is just plain strange.  No idea what the concept was, but the juxtaposition of an orange on sax player Hariss' head was eye catching.  Did I mention how strange it was?


Artist: Archie Bell and the Drells
Title: Tighten Up
Label: Atlantic
Catalog: SC 8181
Year: 1968
Genre: soul
Cover Design: Loring Eutemey
Cover photo:  Loring Eutemey
Grade: **** stars

'Tighten Up' is one of my first musical memories ...  I was nine and most certainly heard it on AFN Europe, as my family was living in what was West Germany and the time.  I'm now in my early 60s and to this day the song remains one of the funkiest tunes I've ever heard.

Ironically I did not see a copy of the parent album until I was in college - I spotted it at a used record store in Blacksburg, Virginia and instantly grabbed it.  As much as I love the song, the late Loring Eutemey's stylized '60s cover was just as cool.  How can you not love a cover that shows a guy wearing a Nehru jacket?

Someday I'll have to do a little more research on the late Eutemey (he died in September, 2013 at the age of 88).  He started out as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, originally known for the dozens of jazz covers he designed in partnership with Atlantic Records.  By the early-'60s he'd expanded his horizons to include soul and pop covers.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Artist: The Bee Gees
Title: Odessa
Label: ATCO
Catalog: SD 2-702
Year: 1969
Genre: pop
Cover Design: unknown
Cover photo:  unknown
Grade: **** stars

The Bee Gees at their most over-the-top, 1969's "Odessa" is one of those albums that you'll love, or hate with a passion. Personally I'm a fan of their attempts to get deep and heavy.  Add to that, it was a double album concept piece - the title track's plot line apparently having something to do with the story of a disappearing ship.  Elsewhere there were all sorts of oddball detours, including a nod to Thomas Edison ("Edison")..

Anyhow, the reason this one makes the list has to do with the cover.  ATCO marketing must have a fit when the Gibbs decided they wanted to package this collection in a red, pseudo-velvet cover with gold imprints.  Yeah, it made for an impressive package.  Reissues did away with the velvet material.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


Artist: Chubby Checker
Title: For Twisters Only
Label: Parkway
Catalog: P 7002
Year: 1960
Genre: soul
Cover Design: unknown
Cover photo:  unknown
Grade: ** stars

I'm not a big Chubby Checker fan and didn't even realize I owned this album until I was filing away a pile of vinyl that had been sitting under my desk for a year.  Musically this set isn't anything to get excited about - just another entry in the seemingly endless caravan of early-'60s albums intended to ride on the Twist dance craze.  The album cover isn't really an better until you take a close look at the map and realize the designer apparently failed out of Geography 101,  Among the states missing in action - Mississippi, Louisiana, most of New England ...  Maybe twisters wiped them off the map?  Elsewhere state borders were simply realigned without much attention.  Who knew Maryland was such a big place?  Not sure, but it made me smile.

Saturday, December 14, 2019


Artist: Keith Jarrett
Title: Staircase
Label: ECM
Catalog: ECM-2 1090
Year: 1977
Genre: jazz
Cover Design: B. Wojirsch
Cover photo:  Franco Fontana / IKS s.p.a. Modena
Grade: **** stars

My wife will tell you that I suffer from a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disease (ODC) and there's probably some truth to that observation.  It may not be severe, but I certainly prefer things to be neat and tidy.  As an example, countertops should be clear ...   But living with a wife who doesn't subscribe to that outlook (to say nothing of having raised two sons who never saw a floor that shouldn't have junk tossed on it), means I've learned to set limits.  

Kind of like the Vietnam War, where the South Vietnamese and American forces basically gave up on certain regions of the country, I've given up trying to keep the whole house clean.  Instead, I focus on select areas; even though those are never ending war zones where I try to retain some semblance of order.

Anyhow, what's that have to do with this album?  Well Franco Fontana's cover photo appeals to the minimalist in me.  There isn't a  lot of clutter here - basically straight lines; just the bare bones structure.  Nice and clean !!!  Can't say I'm a big fan of Jarrett's keyboard heavy jazz riffing, but I like the album cover enough to keep it in my collection.


Artist: Jean Michel Jarre
Title: Equinoxe
Label: Polydor
Catalog: PD-16175
Year: 1978
Genre: progressive
Art Direction: Michel Granger
Cover art:  Michel Granger
Grade: *** stars

This is another album that I have one of those complex love-hate relationships with.  A college roommate had an affection for this kind of new wave/progressive stuff and played this album on a regular basis.  The fact he owned the stereo meant he controlled most of the music we heard.  In sharp contrast, I found the seemingly endless synthesizer washes cloying and outright irritating.  To this day the burps and bleeps remind me of an Atari game set on its final electronic legs.  Regardless, there's something frightening and fascinating in Michael Granger's cover art.  

For anyone fascinated by this one, YouTube has the album at: Hear Jean Michel Jarre's "Equinox"

Sunday, December 8, 2019


Artist: Jan & Dean
Title: The Best of Jan & Dean
Label: Liberty
Catalog: LN 10115
Year: 1981
Genre: surf
Art Direction: not listed
Cover art:  not listed
Grade: * star

So this was clearly a throwaway retrospective collection, perhaps meant to sell to the remaining handful of Jan &  Dean fans before they passed on to the great surfing competition that awaits in  the next life ...  Regardless, the album sported one of the most unimaginative covers that you could imagine.

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Artist: Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown
Title: Saying Something
Label: Wand
Catalog: 669
Year: 1965
Genre: soul
Art Direction: not listed
Cover art:  not listed
Grade: *** stars

Hard to believe that in the mid-'60s record companies were reluctant to release record albums that reflected people of color.  How else to explain Wand slapping this hysterically bland, MOR cover on  an album featuring two of soul's most gifted singers. 

Even stranger andmore disconcerting, why was the guy wearing white gloves?  Today you'd be concerned the guy was some sort of whack job who didn't want to leave fingerprints ...

Friday, December 6, 2019


Artist: The J. Geils Band
Title: Hotline
Label: Atlantic
Catalog: SD 18147
Year: 1975
Genre: rock
Art Direction: Peter Corriston AGI
Cover art:  Peter Corriston AGI
Grade: **** stars

I remember buying this one while in high school (at a local Korvettes); not that I knew anything about the J. Geils Band (this was before they became radio favorites), but largely for the cool, gimmick album cover.  Plus it was colorful and the old-school styled phone (what is that thing?), just struck a chord with my pedestrian tastes.

Sunday, December 1, 2019


Artist: Mick Jagger
Title: Primitive Cool
Label: Columbia
Catalog: OC 40919
Year: 1987
Genre: rock
Art Direction: Francesco Clemente
Cover art:  Francesco Clemente
Grade: * star

Seriously - the album cover was as bad as the album itself.  Yech and yech.


Artist: Jade Warrior
Title: Jade Warrior
Label: Vertigo
Catalog: VEL 1007
Year: 1971
Genre: easy progressive
Art Direction: not listed
Cover art:  not listed
Grade: **** stars

Jade Warrior is one of those bands that simply isn't going to appeal to a large audience.  Their unique niche melding rock, folk, progressive Asian, and kitchen sink influences is just too eclectic for most ears.  And I'm certainly not a hard core fan, though I'll admit there's a place for them on my Sunday morning playlist.  Matter of fact, I'm listening to this album on an early Sunday morning (through headphones so I don't wake up the rest of the family). In contrast to the grooves, the uncredited cover art is mesmerizing.  I'd love to know what  the Japanese characters on the sail mean.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


Artist: The Ray Charles Singers
Title: Songs for Latin Lovers
Label: Command
Catalog: RS 886 SD
Year: 1965
Genre: easy listening
Art Direction: Charles E. Murphy
Cover art:  D. Pezza
Grade: ***** star

I bought an album on-line and the seller included this album as a throw-away stiffener intended to protect the album I'd purchased.  Yeah, this kind of easy listening stuff doesn't hit my turntable very often, but  the album cover was enough to convince me to give it a spin.  And while the music was bland, MOR stabs at cool Latin moves, the cheerful cover continues to make me smile.  Now if I could only figure out who the artist was.  The liner notes have pages and pages of technical information on the recording process, but other than the artists name written in cursive on the cover, there's no information on the artist.  I've stared at the signature for a long time and still can't make it out.  Anyone out there ???

Friday, November 29, 2019


Artist: It's a Beautiful Day
Title: It's a Beautiful Day
Label: Columbia
Catalog: CS 9768
Year: 1969
Genre: psych
Design: Globe Propaganda (George Hunter)
Cover art:  Kent Hollister
Grade: ***** star

So here's another album cover that just exudes that unique '60s vibe.  This wasn't the only album cover that George Hunter and his Global Propaganda design company were responsible for (Quicksilver Messenger Service's "Happy Trails" and "Shady Grove", Canned Heat's "Hallelujah" and Danny O'Keefe's "O'Keefe" are just a couple.  That said, this is the best of the lot.  

Painted by the late Leslie "Kent" Hollister, the design was copied from American impressionist Charles Courtney Curran's 1912 painting entitled Woman on the Top of a  Mountain.

Perhaps because it harkens back to a less complicated time, there's just something pleasant and calming about the cover.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Artist: The Incredible String Band
Title: The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion
Label: Elektra
Catalog: EKS 74010
Year: 1967
Genre: folk-rock
Design: Simon and Marijke (aka Seemon Posthuma and Marijke Koger)
Cover art:  Simon and Marijke (aka Seemon Posthuma and Marijke Koger)
Grade: ***** star

If I had to pick five album covers that captured the mid-1960s zeitgeist (always wanted to use that word in a write-up), this would be one of them.  The cover is simply stunning.  Admitted the music is somewhat of an acquired taste (too folky for me), but the cover more than makes up for any musical shortcomings to my ears.  The Dutch artists are fascinating in their own way - I've included a link to the Wikipedia write-up on the pair.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fool_(design_collective)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Pilgrimage
Label: Decca
Catalog: DL 75295
Year: 1971
Genre: progressive
Design: Hipgnosis
Cover art: Hipgnosis
Grade: **** star

Love the unexpected color scheme and the interesting angle of the old tree.   


Artist: Jerry Lewis
Title: Just Sings
Label: MCA
Catalog: 510.042
Year: 1971
Genre: rock
Design: Jean Mulatier
Cover art: Jean Mulatier
Grade: *** star

Well known French illustrator Jean Mulatier was responsible for the bizarre cover art.  I can't even begin to guess why MCA's French marketing arm would have elected such a strange cover - course I'm not sure why they felt the need to release this album.

From what little I've read about Jerry Lewis, while the man was known as a comic, he was pretty uptight and had a rather volatile personality.  I'm guessing he didn't have much of a sense of humor when it came to his own personality.  He also seems pretty protective of his image.

Of course he was considered some sort of comic God in France, but I  still have to wonder what he thought of this 1971 French release?  

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Artist: Junie
Title: Bread Alone
Label: Columbia
Catalog: NJE 36585
Year: 1980
Genre: funk
Design: Carin Goldberg
Cover photo: David Michael Kennedy
Grade: *** star

Everyone tells me I have a dry, quirky sense of humor which probably explains why I think this cover is so funny.  The thought of someone having stacked hundreds of slices of bread around namesake Walter "Junie" Morrison just makes me smile.  

By the way, Morrison's best known for his keyboard work with George Clinton and the Funkadelic/Parliament extended family.  While "No Bread" has a funky edge to it, Morrison had a great voice and the album was surprisingly commercial and enjoyable.


Artist: Rare Earth
Title: Rare Earth In Concert
Label: Rare Earth
Catalog: R 534D
Year: 1971
Genre: rock
Graphic Supervisor: Tom Schlensinger
Cover Art: Curtis McNair
Grade: **** star

Nah, I'm not a military fanatic, but this gimmick cover replicating an Army backpack was simply too cool to ignore.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Artist: Hungry Tiger
Title: Hungry Tiger
Label: Magna Glide
Catalog: SP 3506
Year: 1977
Genre: rock
Concept: Stephen Saban
Cover art: Stephen Saban
Grade: **** star

The subject matter; the jarring color scheme - this one simply jumps out at you.

Moreover, if you've ever cruised the BadCatRecords website, you'll know that I have an interest in tax scam labels.  The Magna Glide label's particularly interesting to me in that it seems to have had some tax scam characteristics and was operated by bubblegum kings Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz's. The attached link provides a little bit of information on the label:  


Assuming they were a real band, based on the abbreviated liner notes on the album, Hungry Tiger featured the talents of brothers Denny (lead guitar and vocals) and Randy (vocals, guitar, keyboards) Davidson, drummer Michael Medeck, and bassist James Webster.  Given many Magna Glide acts were from Ohio, that's where I'd guess these guys were based. 

The group's link to Kasenetz and Katz goes back to 1968 when they produced a killer one-shot blue-eyed soul single for the White Whale label for the band:

- 1968's 'Fee-Fi-Foo-Fum' b/w 'Tic Tac Toe' (White Whale catalog number WWS 313)

Co-produced by Kasenetz, Katz, and Randy Davidson, musically 1977's "Hungry Tiger" offered up a pretty decent set of MOR pop with a heavy emphasis on ballads like 'Ten Miles Long', 'Forget About Tomorrow', and 'Small Craft Warning.'.   Randy was responsible for most of the material and most of the vocals. The other three members each handled one tune.  Randy was an okay lead singer, though his delivery was occasionally on the nasally and fragile side ('Can't Stop Breathing'),   Unfortunately the heavy emphasis on ballads gave the album a one sided flavor and on those rare occasions they took a stab at an up-tempo rocker, the results  were sabotaged by flat vocals - check out Webster's performance on 'Time To Love'.  They clearly were a talented outfit, but the absence of a strong lead singer was something they simply couldn't overcome.   

Let me add the back cover liner notes don't show the proper running order.  The information below has the songs in the proper sequence.

You can read the rest of the review at BadCatRecords:

Co-produced by Kasenetz, Katz, and Randy Davidson, musically 1977's "Hungry Tiger" offered up a pretty decent set of MOR pop with a heavy emphasis on ballads like 'Ten Miles Long', 'Forget About Tomorrow', and 'Small Craft Warning.'. Randy was responsible for most of the material and most of the vocals. The other three members each handled one tune. Randy was an okay lead singer, though his delivery was occasionally on the nasally and fragile side ('Can't Stop Breathing'), Unfortuntnately the heavy emphasis on ballads gave the album a one sided flavor and on those rare occasions they took a stab at an up-tempo rocker, the results were sabotaged by flat vocals - check out Webster's performance on 'Time To Love'. They clearly were a talented outfit, but the absence of a strong lead singer was something they simply couldn't overcome.    Let me add the back cover liner notes don't show the proper running order. The information below has the songs in the proper sequence.

Friday, November 15, 2019


Artist: Humble Pie
Title: Performance Rockin' the Fillmore
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP 3506
Year: 1971
Genre: blues rock
Concept: BRoland Young
Cover art: Roland Young
Grade: * star

Musically this double live set was their American commercial breakthrough, but it has always struck me as being kind of plodding.  For goodness sakes, the thing clocks in at almost an hour in length and it is heavy on covers - there's one original composition.  Admittedly, the band can mine a groove and there were a couple of decent performances - 'I Don't Need No Doctor'' comes to mind.  

As for the cover ...   YAWN !!!

Monday, November 11, 2019


Artist: Pam Windo and the Shades
Title: It
Label: Bearsville
Catalog: BRK 3497
Year: 1981
Genre: new wave
Concept: Bruce Marion
Cover art: Bruce Marion
Grade: * star

Song-for-song "It" may be one of the most irritating albums I've ever heard. The combination of Pam Windo's flat,Germanic-flavored vocals and the band's penchant for atonal song structures with plenty of honking saxophones was best described as headache inducing. Hard to provide an apt description, but imagine the worst of Nina Hagen  and James Chance and the Whites and you'll be in the right neighborhood.  Definitely an album that qualifies for clear-out-the-end-of-the-party status. The hideous Bruce Marion album cover certainly didn't help matters.


Artist: Les Hou-Lops
Title: Les Hou-Lops
Catalog: CJ-33-110
Year: 1967
Genre: garage
Concept: not listed
Cover art: not listed
Grade: * star

If I were employed in the design arena, I would use this cover as an example of everything done wrong.  

Black, white, and gray with a design that looked like it was ripped off some dive bar bathroom's wallpaper ... Seriously, could you come up with a design that was less impressive?  Well, at least the band's name was prominently displayed (though they may have wished that wasn't the case given how crappy the cover was).


Artist: Hotgun
Title: Hotgun
Label: Guinness
Catalog: GNS 36014
Year: 1977
Genre: rock
Concept: not listed
Cover art: not listed
Grade: **** star

I'm not a gun rights fanatic and I didn't pick this tax scam obscurity to make any kind of political statement.  I simply like the bright colors and the Roy Lichtenstein styled pop-art cover.  Like most tax scam labels, Guinness frequently didn't bother to credit the artists who recorded the music, so why would they bother paying anyone for cover art ?  Needless to say, the limited liner notes don't offer up a clue as to whom was responsible for the art concept, or execution.  Shame, since the art was far better than this clumsy collection of popular and less popular pop and rock hits - John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Wings, Starland Vocal Band Steppenwolf ...

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Artist: Hot Butter
Title: Popcorn
Label: Musicor
Catalog: MS 3242
Year: 1972
Genre: pop / synthesizers
Concept: not listed
Cover art: not listed
Grade: ***** star

I was 13 when this song hit the airwaves at it's one of my first "pop" radio memories.  I can actually clearly recall hearing it on AFN radio while my family loved in Germany.  The synthesizer sound was groundbreaking at the time - if you've never heard the tune, imagine early Atari game sound effects taken to the nth degree.

Ironically I didn't see a copy of the parent album until I was in my 20s.  I stumbled across a copy at a yard sale and was instantly taken by the low-tech concept artwork.  Yes, Musicor marketing took the time to glue a real popcorn box to the cover of each copy of the album.  

And if you haven't heard the tune, YouTube has multiple clips of the song, though this one's worth seeing just for the French dancers trying to figure out what to do with the bizarre track.  The panel of music "experts" at the end of the clip appear to be even more confused.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfdLh0MHqKw

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Artist: Climax Blues Band
Title: Tightly Knit
Label: Sire
Catalog: SASD 7517
Year: 1972
Genre: blues-rock
Concept: Hipgnosis
Cover art: Hipgnosis
Grade: * star

Having just picked a Climax Blues Band LP as a favorite cover ("Stamp Album"), I'll balance it out with this appalling and bland cover.  Yeah, the English design company Hipgnosis is known for their interesting album covers, but there's nothing interesting, or even appealing on this one unless you happened to be a major fan of Uncle Festus (of Adams Family fame).  This was another one where you had to wonder what the band's management company was thinking.  "Yeah, let's put a scary cover on the album and watch it sell like hotcakes ..."