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Worst Ever Album Covers: An Occasional Series

Record cover archivist and LP enthusiast Vynl Sleeve has once again got down and dirty amidst the Royal Dorset Sound Archive's dustiest shelves to bring us another classic edition of the evergreen Worst Ever Album Covers feature. This ever-popular feature always proves popular with our readers. We are, once again, indebted to Mr Sleeve and to the RDSA's librarian Artie Kovver for their industry in digging out these otherwise forgotten gems!

Inspired by news of the recent passing at the age of 76 of Tommy Vaughan aka “The Dirty Cabaret Singer”, Vynl has curated a digital restoration [courtesy The Threadbone Corporations's Great Heaving Pro-Digital Restoration Facility] of the original artwork for Tommy's penultimate release - his greatest hits album [nb the hilarious typo] recorded live at the Chilfrome Social Club.



Regarded by most record cover enthusiasts as "somewhat outdated" even in 1986 [it was voted "poorest design choice by a major label" in Why Do They Do It Magazine's 1987 poll], the artwork for Tommy Vaughan's 4th release - his Greatest Hits - has not, says Mr Sleeve, "stood the test of time".

Background to the release:

By 1986, Tommy's career was on the second of several slides and Hornimint Records to whom he had been contracted after the none too successful Decca period, were keen to shift some stock as well as try to improve Tommy's. The greatest hits project was doomed from the start and the unfortunate typo on the first batch didn't help: "The Tit plays Tits" which some wag or other came up with stuck rather and it was hard to shake off the impression that things were going from bad to worse. In the end, the cover proved more memorable than the content of the album and it's for "that cover" he is chiefly remembered.

Technical Considerations:

Designed by the Hornimint in-house team of Utterly/Naff [Bill Utterly and Sid Naff] if features a high-resolution studio photograph filmed on Agfa-Gaevert Supercolour f1.7, 0.4 sec [note the browning of the image which was typical of the film type] with typography in a variety of Helvetica font weights. To say it was rather literal and, ergo, unimaginative, is to stray towards understatement. The rather ginger woman astride the piano [possibly a strawberry blonde for whom the characteristics of the Agfa-Gaevert did no favours] adopts a supplicant pose whilst Tommy's smile verges on the leering or at the very least the anticipatory and self-satisfied. The best that can be said of the image overall is that the left nipple is well-framed. The piano is a Yamaha - Tommy's favoured instrument of the time, a Steinway or Bechstein being well-beyond his means. Though a live album, the cover is clearly staged. Only rarely did Tommy's performances feature live nudes - even in the late 60s. these cost money he could ill-afford.


Graphic design enthusiasts will be intrigued to know that the team of Utterly/Naff went on to produce artwork for The Threadbone Corporation, notably for its brief foray into pest control. Whackarat was discontinued a year after going into production. None of the artwork survived the move to Great Heaving.


Next time:

CLASSICAL HOWLERS: Four covers that changed the industry

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