Category Archives: Music

Design: The 50 Worst Popular Album Covers

This would be easy to fill up if you were to include every bad Heavy Metal LP or half-assed Christian DYI record but the chore here is to award those with a bit of fame who should have known better. Also not included are those that were cool in their time but haven’t aged that well – *see almost every New Wave LP with special attention to the Duran Duran Patrick Nagel Albums. Apologies as this will probably be  super cynical, bitchy and judgmental but there you are. Please send your nominations for this prestigious honor.


1. Kevin Rowland – My Beauty  1999
Kevin’s solo effort between Dexy’s Midnight Runners LPs (Come On Eileen). What in Christ’s name was Kevin thinkin with this slice of ugly drag. The LP sunk like a stone, selling only 20,000 copies worlwide and KR’s been living it down ever sense.


2. Rolling Stones – GRRRR! – 2013  When in doubt put out another greatest hits package, but a happy gorilla with Stone logo lips and fangs?
3. The Cranberries – Bury the Hatchet – 1999    Hey Cranberries Pink Floyd wants their album cover back.


4. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – 1973   A classic.  A boring over used shitty classic
5. Nirvana – Nevermind – 1991     I just can’t get behind this cover, no matter how hard I try. Great LP, bad cover art.


6. Pearl Jam – 10 – 1991  Folds out to the awful “We’re in this together” pose. The ultimate high-five by a bunch of stand-up bros.
7. Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs – Mosquito – 2013  Ironic? Weird? Crazy? – Dumb!


8. The Strokes – Angles – 2011 – The Strokes are a bit dancier now – which is fine but this 80’s throwback cover is not.
9. Michael Jackson – Hits – Whatever

10 Black_Sabbath_Paranoid_coveralbum - Copy

10. Black Sabbath – Paranoid – 1971
I guess Sabbath just couldn’t be bothered. The most evil band in the world uses a triple exposure of someone’s’ fat uncle with a toy sword and motorcycle helmet. Laughs instead of screams.


11. Frank Black – The Cult of Ray – 1996  After the breakup of the Pixies, Frank Black aka Black Francis nee Charles Thompson recorded 2 great LPs w/ equally great covers then along came this. Terrible cover, terrible album.

12. Iggy Pop – Beat Em Up – 2001  C’mon Igg, what were you thinkin’?


13. Joe Henry – Trampoline – 1996  Joe Henry is a great singer/song writer and producer. His LPs are all consistently good. I don’t know what this one sounds like because I refused to buy it because of this cover.

14. Neil Young – Fork in the Road – 2009  “Hey guys, just woke up from my nap, lets do an album.”


15. Ron Sexsmith – Blue Boy – 2001   Another great singer/songwriter. Loved by many, championed by Elvis Costello. So why the naïf drawing and scrawled type?

16 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggy Style – 1993  Jeez man, just look at this thing! Beware the Dogg!


17. Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla – 1985   Starship was the remaining dregs of the 70’s band Jefferson Airplane who became Jefferson Starship and then simply Starship. Even though this was the design wasteland of the 80’s there is no excuse for this.

18. The Who – by Numbers – 1975  Oh look, it was drawn by the bassist – nice work John.


19. Queen – The Miracle – 1989  Pretty good Photoshop V1 work.

20. Europe – The Final Countdown – 1986    They’re Swedish. ‘Nuff said.

20 Take-A-Look-At-Those-Cakes-cover

21. James Brown – Take a Look at Those Cakes – 1978   “Goodness sakes. Take a look at those cakes.” Thanks James, you look good on that couch.


22. Body Count – Body Count – 1990  Ice T’s heavy metal outfit. The cover says Cop Killer which coincidentally is the song T caved in on and took off the LP at Time-Warners request.

23. CS&N – Live it Up – 1990  Hot dogs on the moon means…?


24. Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon – 1970    Ok first album design jitters.

25. Elton John – Capt. Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy – 1975   The title as well as the creepy drawing of Elton make this # 25


26. Velvet Underground – 1969 Vol 2 – 1974  Not really offensive or bad, just kind of …unh?

27. Mike Watt – “Hyphenated-Man” – 2010   He of the Minuteman, respected session player and collector of unexplainable ‘art’. Oh and nice use of Comic Sans type face.


28. The Roots – Rising Down – 2008   Really?  I mean really!?

29. Pantera – Metal Magic – 1983  Sweet pinkish panther thing with a wicked sword,  reflective hand drawn type and a stormy dark landscape. Beautiful.

30_600_millie jackson

30. Millie Jackson – Back to the S@#t – 1989  Voted the worst album ever on many polls (I just made that up). Millie took a chance, not only w/ an LP full of swearing and dirty songs but an appropriate cover to match. There is no other way to think of Millie Jackson than her on this cover holding that one shoe and in pain(?).


31. Scorpians – Lovedrive – 1979   The famous Gum-Boob cover.

32. Megapuss – 2011   Devendra Banhart and some other smelly hippy are Megapuss!


33. T Rex – Futuristic Dragon – 1976  Marc Bolan and T Rex’s last LP, before he crashed into a tree and died. A great artist w/ a terrible swan song cover (the music however is Bolan back to form).

34. Ted Nugent – Love Grenade – 2007  Thanks Ted – You dick!


35. Talking Heads – True Stories – 1986  Bored guys? Thanks for trying.

36. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light – 2011  Ditto


37. Marvin Gaye – In Our Lifetime – 1981  Heaven and Hell, blah, blah, blah. C’mon Marvin get back to the sexy stuff.

38. Joss Stone – Color Me Free – 2009    This is truly, truly bad. Is this a coloring book for serial killers?


39. Gin Blossoms – No Chocolate Cake – 2010    Didn’t you guys have a couple hits back in the 90’s? Oh wait, it’s the Loverboy cover with cake.

40. James – Hey Ma – 2008   They are the band that had one US hit w/ a song called Laid – remember? Me neither.  This is their come back album.


41. Rush – Hemispheres – 1978   God help us. Stupid Metal-Prog bullshit design that makes no sense. Did every Prog band in the 80’s see the same Dali painting or something.


42. Rolling Stones – Dirty Work – 1986    Hey it’s The Stones again! Good to see you boys.

43. Prince – For You – 1978  It’s all about the hair – and the girly type face.


44. Guns & Roses – The Spaghetti Incident – 1993   I really don’t understand the point of this cover. Is there a reference I’m missing or something? Plus it’s hard to read and the spaghetti looks awful

45. The Kinks – Low Budget – 1979  Low budget indeed. The once great Kinks take a taste break.


46. Whitesnake – Lovehunter – 1979  Kind of a typical Hair-Metal album but extra bad.

47. The Black Keys – Brother – 2011   Bad type choice on a lazy cover.


48. Hall & Oates – 1975  If you were to buy this LP because of the cover you’d expect a gay cabaret act – like Soft Cell or something. What you got was sweet boring MOR Philly soul.

49. Phish – Billy Breathes – 1996  Fuck these guys


50. Kenny Loggins – Return to Pooh Corner – 1994  Ok, this is a kids LP but c’mon. A unicorn! And why isn’t the child-like reflection Kenny Loggins wearing a serape. And why … oh never mind.

R.I.P. – George Jones

George Glenn Jones (September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013) George Jones, singer, songwriter, performer, drunk  and raconteur was considered by many to be the greatest living country singer – that is, up until this morning.

Throughout his long career, Jones made headlines often as much for tales of his drinking, stormy relationships with women, and violent rages as for his prolific career of making records and touring. His wild lifestyle led to Jones missing many performances, earning him the nickname “No Show Jones.” Jones had more than 150 hits during his career, both as a solo artist and in duets with other artists.

Jones recalled a story where his 2nd wife Shirley hid his car keys so he couldn’t drive to the nearest liquor store 8 miles away. She didn’t however hide the lawn mower key – Says George,  “There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine, a key glistening in the ignition. I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.” In her 1979 autobiography, 3rd wife Tammy Wynette ( and recording partner) recalled waking at 1 AM to find her husband gone: “I got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away. When I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. He’d driven that mower right down a main highway. He looked up and saw me and said, `Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she’d come after me.’






George and Tammy










Big Fan: Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

Big Sandy (nee Rusty Williams) and his Fly-Rite Boys. Formed in the late 80’s as part of the Southern CA Rockabilly Revival their sound has grown to encompasses folk, bluegrass, Western swing, Cajun, and mariachi influences. Sandy and the boys have recorded about a dozen albums of great roots sound. Start with the LP Jumpin’ from 6 to 6 and go from there. Each one’s a bit different but all have one foot stuck firmly in Rockabilly, country and western swing.

Big Sandy

Big Sandy

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys













His Name Was Liberace

Wladziu (or Vładziu) Valentino Liberace – (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) I remember thinking the first time I saw the Austin Powers movie, that the funniest line was when Mike Myers character wakes up after 40 years, and while reading a history book to catch up he says; “Wow, Liberace gay? I never saw that coming.” Nor did my mom or all the other women (and men) who loved ‘Lee’ Liberace in the 50s, 60’s and into the 80’s.
Liberace was not just the flashy boob he would become in later life, he was a classically trained and well respected classical pianist, forging a pretty good career for a number of years. It’s told that at one point in his young career he wore a white tuxedo on stage, something classical pianists would never do – ever. Along with changing his concerts to a touch of classical music w/ lighter fare, Chopin right next to Home on the Range, his career sky rocketed and he never stopped mixing things up. This guy was huge, HUGE. One of the first performers to actually turn a concert into a SHOW. (* Elton John was not the first gay piano player to dress up). As is often the case, he went to far and became a parody of himself. He would eventually be sued for palimony  by his gay chauffeur, Scott Thorsen, and eventually died of AIDS in 1987. As an aside Steven Soderburg just released his Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas as Lee and Matt Damon as Scott Thorsen called Behind the Candelabra.







A Young Vładziu Valentino Liberace

A Young Vładziu Valentino Liberace


M~ sun0227e-liberacerose

Lee & Elvis

Lee & Elvis



Liberace at the Las Vegas Hilton. 2-25-74.


Lee and Muppet Dog Ralph

Lee and Muppet Dog Rowlph



Happy St. Pats – From Ireland’s Favorite Son

Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan

NPG x30443; Shane MacGowan by Steve Pykeshane2shane111

Shane & the Missus - Victoria

Shane & the Missus – Victoria







Design: The Best Cover in Years – David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’

David Bowie turned 66 on January 8th and released his first LP in 10 years on March 13th – a cause for celebration. One of the things that make it so special is the cover – a simple rework of his 1977 LP, Heroes – or so it would seem. This type of artwork might suggest a greatest hits or a remastered version of the earlier album. Not the case at all. This is a totally new work and is fantastic. No need for a review, it’s the cover were talking about. This is so simple and so potentially misguided, it’s amazing that it works, and it does.

Artist Jonathon Barnbrook explains – “The Heroes cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is ‘of the moment’, forgetting or obliterating the past.”

“However, we all know that this is never quite the case, no matter how much we try, we cannot break free from the past. When you are creative, it manifests itself in every way – it seeps out in every new mark you make (particularly in the case of an artist like Bowie).”

“We worked on hundreds of designs using the concept of obscuring this cover but the strongest ones were the simplest – it had to be something that was in direct contrast to the image underneath but that wasn’t too contrived (we know all design is contrived, that is the essence of the word ‘design’).”

“It would have been clearer to many people if we had scribbled all over the cover but that didn’t have the detachment of intent necessary to express the melancholy of the songs on the album. Yes, having said all this, we know it is only an album cover with a white square on it but… often the most simple ideas can be the most radical.”


Bowie at 66

Bowie at 66

In the Studio (with a banjo?)

In the Studio (with a banjo?)


The cast of video "The Stars are Out Tonight". Tilda Swinton 2nd left

The cast of video “The Stars are Out Tonight”. Tilda Swinton 2nd left

David and Tilda - separated at birth

David and Tilda – separated at birth

Promo with photo of William S. Burroughs & Bowie

Promo with photo of William S. Burroughs & Bowie

Heroes - 1977

Heroes – 1977

With wife, Iman

With wife, Iman





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