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!


A Surprising Departure


STOP PRESS: in a surprising departure from their normal modus operandi [see previous post for full translation], Vynl and Artie have engaged their personal time-machine to fast forward to a cover not yet seen by the public. In a sneak preview of the forthcoming Ziggy and the Snowflakes Christmas single, they bring us exclusive images of the printer's proofs, yet to be signed-off, we understand, by Hornimint executives. It offers, they say, striking evidence of the veracity of that old adage that "there's no crap from the past that the future cannot exceed and no crime against taste that can't be committed in yet more grievous fashion" [Professor Brian Thrupiece [1988] The Professor's Guide to Adages, Epithets, Old Sores and Old Dorset Sayings, The Threadbone Press].


#48 ZIGGY AND THE SNOWFLAKES: OH HOLY CRAP



Vynl Sleeve writes ... Likely to be regarded by most record cover enthusiasts as "somewhat outdated" even by the standards of the early 1950s, the artwork for Ziggy's latest release - his 2019 Christmas double-sided single - is unlikely to "meet with any significant measure of approval or stand the test of time". Whilst allowing that a deliberate degree of nostalgic irony is implied in the artwork, few collectors are likely to think of this as "good design", rather they will judge it "cheap, imitative, naff and even tacky".


Adherents to the current code of political correctness will also likely find cause for offence. Who, for example, in this day and age could contemplate for a second placing an image of a vulnerable woman removing the bandage from an injured wrist side by side with an older (and quite possibly predatory) man praying for "an opportunity to knock". Like sex in a multistory car-park, it is wrong on so many levels.


Background to the release:


With his undoubtedly popular music-making of the 1960s-1990s long overshadowed by [mired in? [Ed]] controversy, the increasingly frail Ziggy Osmington has become almost a stranger to the recording studios. His various bands have been depleted or have dissipated as the lead singer has sought refuge in a number of clinics, private houses and recreational drugs. The man who once boasted that he had "stayed up all night in 1978 and still managed a cooked breakfast at 9am" has become but a shadow of his former self, the reality of his life shrinking even as his legendary status has expanded. Never was the gap between the man and the myth wider, nor the implied fall from grace more marked.


In an attempt to put him once again before the public and to show him in the best possible light, Hornimint Records persuaded him to enter the studios once again in mid-November 2019 together with a pick-up band of former associates badged the Snowflakes. Any attempt at public rehabilitation may well be derailed by the inexplicable decision to record Adolphe Adam's [1803-1856] Oh Holy Night with altered lyrics. Oh Holy Crap. It will go on general sale on December 1st.


Technical Considerations:


Designed by the Hornimint in-house team of Clearly/Kluless [Ikanzee Clearly and Playne-Lee Clueless] it features a low-resolution studio photograph filmed on Threadbone Econocolour f1.9, 0.3 sec [note the narrow tonal range of the image which is typical of the cheap digi-film type]. Its typography is in a variety of semi-comic font weights with old-fashioned strokes. Font choice may be intended to reflect either retrospective pastiche or post-modern flippancy but whatever the intention, on any objective level it fails. The typo in "Snow[f]lakes may be a deliberate in-joke or perhaps a subtle double entendre but in either case, it will be lost on the record-buying public. The green tinsel or Christmas tree branch is stock clipart and adds little either to the composition or the narrative. To say the overall impression is aesthetically rather crude and, ergo, unstylish, is to stray towards the obvious. The amply endowed woman with the sprained wrists [possibly a brunette who's challenging characteristics stretch the Threadbone Econocolour to the limits of its technical capacity] adopts a "cheeky" pose suggesting a pluckiness under duress, whilst Ziggy's plainly inserted presence is taken from a recent photoshoot for Dorset Rock Magazine. The word incongruous springs to mind. Placing ZIggy in a bauble was probably intended to be bad design masquerading as good PR but runs the risk of making him look like a pious twat. The off-centre bauble which strays beyond the natural visual border looks as ill-placed as it is ill-conceived. The best that can be said of the image overall is that the unidentified female's lips are well-rendered. The yellow border is an afterthought and not a good one.


Addendum:


Graphic design enthusiasts will be intrigued to know that the team of Clearly/Kluless were also responsible for the artwork on the Ziggy and the Boners Greatest Hits Album Vol 3 - a cover which won the Thumbs Down Award in 1986.


Next time:


POP HOWLERS: Four more covers that changed the industry


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