A couple of years ago writer Rob O’Connor, penning a column for Yahoo Music, posted a dead-on article that related on a subject I have a true soft spot towards. Even after all the decades that have passed, it’s LP album covers. For those who don’t recognize the term or what these were, author Tom Schreck described it perfectly well:
“Note: For those of you born after 1980, an album was an archaic piece of vinyl that played music when spun in a circle with a needle attached to it…really.”
Ah, but I digress. Mr. O’Connor jotted down not a tribute per se on the topic at hand but instead threw light on a hard fact some of us realized long ago. Sometimes a vinyl’s artwork absolutely sucked:
“Inspired by the ugliness of the new Jane’s Addiction album, The Great Escape Artist, we here at List Of The Day (ok, just me and a bunch of friends with great suggestions) compiled a bunch of lists of album covers that are, in the technical sense, awful.”
You’ll find his graphically challenged catalog here:
I can’t say I disagree with any one of them listed there. Even the LP listed at the number ten slot. That’s saying something, me being a longtime Beatlemaniac and all. But the truth is the truth:
“10) The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour: Sentimentality makes it hard to realize just how terrible this album cover is. It appeals to small children, but weren’t the Beatles trying to get away from the teeny-bopper crowd? The U.S. version adds “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” to an album that already had “I Am The Walrus.” No need to turn it into a joke. The film is terrible but the album isn’t. But you don’t know that by looking at it.”
Easily, amongst all The Lads‘ album covers, this remains my least favorite in the art department — by the way, an array of Beatles covers examples can be found on this old article of mine. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this LP musically, however. I very much did. Reprising a segment from an old blog series, I’ll include what I said back in ’09 for two distinct album cuts:
FYI, I defined the categories I placed each in thusly: the only track — if I could only listen to one track, the best song that exemplifies the album, it would be this; and the one track — if I could pick a single track that doesn’t get either the play or the credit it deserves, it’s this one
My Only: I Am A Walrus - For this trippy album (the first six songs were originally for a one-hour British TV film) I’ve selected this hallucinatory and demented track by John Lennon. Brimming with audio layers, sound effects, and almost phantasmal vocals throughout, it is one of kind. It’s a perfect example for the album, and the late, psychedelic 60s.
My One: Baby You’re A Rich Man - just about the whole B-side of the album was released as singles (Hello, Goodbye, Strawberry Fields Forever, All You Need Is Love, and I hear Penny Lane almost more now on our Oldies radio station than back then). But this one, with its distinctive clavioline, deserves more play.
Still, getting back on subject — I didn’t mean to make this a Beatles music-related post, but there it is — Rob’s article, and the one I’ll link below, did inspire me to start another series of posts. This being the first to chronicle those LP Album covers I thought the most eye-catching, or just plain gorgeous to look at, growing up.
So, what shall I start with, you ask? Well, it’d be the exact same one from 1965 that Tom Schreck highlighted three years ago last month (he has it listed in his post from 1966, but it came out a year earlier):
Primarily known for the solid A Taste of Honey instrumental and Whipped Cream (a number that wasn’t a radio-hit but got surprising attention just for being the theme song used in ABC-TV’s The Dating Game), Whipped Cream & Other Delights was not their best LP. Tune-wise, in my opinion. Still, it proved popular (little wonder). While the group had an unexpected hit-filled run during that groovy decade, this record’s gimmick of food-titled songs (with some cover tunes) only went so far. Nevertheless, it was without question Herb and company’s coolest album cover ever, bar none. I can’t tell how many times I stared at this as a kid.
Who am I kidding? I still do. I hope you enjoy it as much as I :-).
Artist: Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass
Title: Whipped Cream & Other Delights
Label: A & M Records
Track Listing (and yes, they did have sides to these things and you did have to turn them over to listen):
A Taste of Honey
Love Potion No. 9
Lollipops and Roses
The entire series can be found here.