All The Pretty Horses…

TRULY Dire Album Cover Art
August 8, 2006, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Listening

If you’re as unlucky as me, you’ll regularly receive one of those interminable email forwards linking to a set of the alleged ‘worst album covers’ ever. You know the ones – bosseyed, buckteethed hillbilly gospel choirs, martial arts-practising priests, corduroy-clad 60s family folk acts.

But I don’t think these really count – nobody’s doubting they’re awful, but they’re low-budget, doubtless sold very close to no copies whatsoever and it’s unfair to expect greatness from them really. What’s MORE appalling (or brilliant, depending where we are in our cycle of so-good-it’s-bad-but-no-it’s-really-bad-but-that-means-it’s-actually-REALLY-good cycle of PoMo bullshit) are successful and well-regarded albums with covers that really are absolute toilet.

A favourite of both mine and Ailsa’s is the MIGHTY Bill Withers Greatest Hits cover, like so:

I mean, that’s BRILLIANT. And the astonishing thing is, it was released in 1981. So while the cover is clearly supposed to be telling us that Bill Withers fans – or perhaps Withers himself? – are so sophisticated that only the finest things in life will do, it’s such a mid-70s image of sophistication that’s being painted. The theme continues on the inner and back sleeve (scanner not working or I’d share the joy) and reaches its zenith with a prawn. With its shell on. Now THAT’S classy, innit?

It’s like Beverley from Abigail’s Party was called in as design consultant to make sure everything was ‘just so’ for the suburban seventies bon viveur.

And this album sold MILLIONS.

(I’m building up to an indepth examination of Van Morrison’s career as seen through the prism of his album cover artwork. The horror.. the horror… )

NB: this post should not be seen as an attempt to besmirch the otherwise immaculate career of Mr Withers, who clearly is the fucking don. Live At Carnegie Hall has it all (including the riff for AC/DC’s Rock & Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution), and if you’ve never heard it I suggest you do so now.


14 Comments so far
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have you checked Paul Meme’s Dubstep version of “ain’t no sunshine?”

Comment by John Eden

Checked it? i’ve played it out, mate 🙂

Comment by dubversion

Ah. Does he know that? Are you two going to be chums on myspace?

Comment by John Eden

what’s he called? 🙂

Comment by dubversion

found him 🙂

he’s my special friend 🙂

Comment by dubversion

That’s just lovely. No, really!

Comment by John Eden

Have you ever seen the cover of ‘Underwraps’ by Chelsea (the album is from 86/87 and of course Chelsea were pretty dreadful when they started, let alone when they were limping towards the 90s)? It’s somehow so perfectly sad.

Comment by Paul

oh god, i’ve just seen it 😦

Comment by dubversion

It’s like a warning from God isn’t it? Awful.

I’m new to your blog by the way – really enjoying it so cheers for that.

Comment by Paul

The coloured cigarette with the gold filter on that album cover looks suspiciously like one my mate Lisa brought back from Egypt – and they were fucking disgusting, like smoking pulped old sock while being kicked in the lungs.

Comment by martin

PS – anyone got a link to the Chelsea front cover, as I can’t find it on Google anywhere…

Comment by martin

With regard to the Chelsea cover, try this link:, if that doesn’t work do a google image search for Chelsea Under Wraps and that should reveal the laughable monstrosity.

Incidentally by posting about this Chelsea LP I in no way intend to suggest that the Bill Wither’s sleeve isn’t fucking horrible, because it is.

Comment by Paul

Wow, imagine there might have been a time when men thought it was de rigeur to impress the chicks by bringing them back to a bachelor pad and showing off your chocolate brown bedsheets, a walking cane, a guitar (and mini-guitar shaped novelty object) – while wearing a SWAT cap and red neckerchief.

The Fall’s ‘Cerebral Caustic’ is really crap too (both the artwork and the record)

Comment by martin

Not in the same league as Withers’ effort, but Grover Washington gives it a decent shake.

I was born in the wrong era.

Comment by Jim

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