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.