The Art Of The Bizarre Vinyl Sleeve

Easy On The Eyes Books 2024

Display of utter absurdity which adorn popular and forgotten sonics to visually enhance the listener’s perception – and lighten their mood.

The Art Of The Bizarre Vinyl Sleeve

Don’t believe this book’s title: very strange and unusual doesn’t cover what’s inside it. After all, could anybody deliver a more bizarre record cover than a completely white sleeve with an embossed band’s logo – the same band who were semaphoring complete nonsense on the front of their earlier album? But whereas that one isn’t featured here, rather famous others are, as there’s nothing sacred to Simon Robinson who annotated the reproductions of Steve Goldman’s vinyl stash and wish list? And “nothing sacred” should never be limited to S&S ribbing religiously themed platters – here, sarcasm and satire serve to highlight the hilarious and ridiculous aspects of artwork as the sole criterium for crossing a thin line between laughter-inducing and outright ugly specimens of such printed materials and landing on these pages.

No, “TAOTBVS” – let’s use the acronym able to give NWOBHM a run for its money spent on stunningly stupid pictures that are in an art class of their own and, thus, get ignored in the book, except for the study of BATTLEAXE’s “Burn This Town” and RIOT’s seal-adorned discography – has nothing to do with “The Worst Album Covers” lists dwelling on the WWW. You won’t find neither WASNATCH’s “Front To Back” nor Svetlana Gruebbersolvik’s “My Lips Are For Blowing” on these teasing spreads, as the former was released on CD, not on LP, and the latter proved to be a fake – although Robinson dedicated a micro-chapter to phony sleeves – yet Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night” and QUEEN’s “The Miracle” make the cut, as does “Bubbling Over” by Dolly Parton who considered her fountain—É photo awkward too. Yes, those took some pride to create, so Simon, himself a designer, and Steve, a discerning collector, reserve a bit of delicateness for the classics – unless the object of their giggles is a not-great CSN’s “Live It Up” – while going for the jugular of visuals that never wowed the masses. And their jeering goes beyond the blunders of the past, as the photo on Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” which grabbed a Grammy in 2022 doesn’t escape a gentle verbal spanking, unlike the harsh, if funny, critique aimed at images the pair single out for containing embedded doves, focusing on hairy knees and chests (the reason for snickering at Herbie Mann’s “Push Push” but not at Ted Nugent’s “Scream Dream” the idiocy of which lies elsewhere) or comprising multiple visages of the performer.

Naturally, uncomely people aren’t subjected to mockery in this tome, which can’t be said of uncomely coiffures, unfortunate face paint or sets of matching outfits that, in the ’70s, looked not too elegant even when issued in a quantity of one. But, with enough guffaw laid out here, in a few cases its compilers got in touch with musicians whose oeuvre has the dubious distinction of being buried under an infamous cover and delved into details of how the deed was done, so now we know the background of “Presenting…” by LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE and left wondering about “Notebook” from THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY. On a more serious note, Robinson’s expertise in the portfolio of minds behind the cardboard horrors and Goldman’s showcase-tested knowledge of artworks’ alternative variants – occasionally not much better than repellency they replaced yet sometimes possessed of slight allure and deservingly displayed in “Bizarre Vinyl Sleeve” alongside proper exhibits – render it quite educative and reveal its true purpose… beside providing pure entertainment, of course.

That’s why this book is so irresistibly special – or, in other words, bizarre.


April 9, 2024

Category(s): Books

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