Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yard Sale Bound Records of Yesteryear

While cleaning out my record collection for an upcoming yard sale I realized that I had been holding on to a handful of albums for many years solely because of the cover art, rather than the music within. I decided to give them all one last listen and then take a picture of the cover before selling/donating/burning the albums so that they may live on forever in the digital nethersphere. Enjoy! If you want to hear the music contained in these gems, just come to my yard sale and they can be yours forever...

Alisha (self-titled), 1985
The cover of this album is complex. Who is Alisha calling? She looks pensive. Is she considering something risky in her pursuit of "All Night Passion" (Song 1, Side A)? Would she dare put into jeopardy the reputation implied by her pearl necklace and gold four-poster bed? The answer is revealed on the other side...

Sneaking out?! Alisha, I'm shocked, but I guess it was bound to happen when one is "Too Turned On" (Song 1, Side B). The back cover also contains the haphazardly-placed neon triangles with drop shadows that were legally required in 80s album art.

Everyone's Welcome at Mrs. Mills Party, 1963
From the liner notes, it would seem that Mrs. Mills is a 60's version of Susan Boyle (or is Susan Boyle a 00's Mrs. Mills?), having her talent recognized in her 40's whilst serving as "the superintendent of the typing pool in the Paymaster General's office in London". This album contains exactly six medleys per side, each of which are made up of exactly three songs, which leads me to believe that Mrs. Mills clearly suffered from OCD. Everyone is welcome at Mrs. Mills party as long as they wash their hands exactly six times before entering without touching the doorknob.

Toyah - Love Is The Law, 1983
This image can only help us imagine the terrifying faceless future world in which Toyah struggles to make her music. The art director clearly had a good friend at the sporting goods store where he purchased the surplus fencing and football pads to create this terrifying "Dreamscape" (Song 1, Side B). But what news of the battle...?

Toyah is victorious, but still looks pumped up to "Explode" (Song 2, Side A).

Cocktails for Two, 1963
The tasteful blue tones and subdued typeface of the cover suggest propriety, but the luscious red vinyl record betrays the passion boiling just below the surface. Well done, 1960's art directors, I totally get it.

The Ventures, 1966
Why doesn't type design look like this anymore? I might actually buy some $7 artisanal pickles at the farmers market if the label looked like this. It screams "QUALITY!". Plus, we all know "Batman" and "Get Smart", but have you ever heard the theme from "Zocko"? I haven't either, but I'm guessing it is like every song -- vastly improved as a wordless surf guitar jam.

Bongos Bongos Bongos, 1959
Another type design winner. The "O" is like a bongo! Plus, it very clearly lets you know what you are going to hear: a hell of a lot of bongos. "Greensleeves", featuring bongos. "Bidin' My Time", tasteful bongo break. "Unchained Melody", ten minute bongo solo. It's all here, daddy-o.

The Nothin' Doin' Band, When does the fun start...?, 1983
An SAT music analogy --
self-deprecation : bluegrass as
_________ : rap
_________ : 90s ska
_________ : hair metal

The Time, Ice Cream Castles, 1984
You probably remember The Time as Prince's rival band from Purple Rain, or the "second-most-famous 80s soul-funk band from Minneapolis". This cover is like Cirque Du Soleil -- every single member is so incredible that your eyes bounce from one to the next in constant amazement. I would like to know the location of the magical Minnesota castle where this image was shot so that I may pay my respects someday and perhaps attempt a contemporary recreation with my extended family. 

Building Better Yearbooks Through More Sales, 1968
This album contains twenty highly-entertaining skits meant to be played over high school public address systems to convince students to buy a yearbook. Snappy track titles like "The Gal That Got Away" and "What's Your Name Again?" warn kids against the path of ostracism, depression, and regret that invariably results from not buying a high school yearbook. Like most people, I still look at my high school yearbook two or three times a week. While the cover text clearly tells us the content, the stark portrait of the speaker and the pink and fuchsia radial halftone suggest that this cover could just as easily be saying "duck and cover!".

Rappin', 1985
I have not seen the original motion picture for which this soundtrack was recorded, but beside the fly cover which features a cold lampin' Mario Van Peebles, I can also recommend the rap song "Rappin'". It's about rap, what happens when you rap, and how you feel when you rap. It also relates that, after rappin', impressions left upon your peers range from general positivity to amazement. It sounds like rappin' is pretty fun and I think I might try it.

Dolly Parton, 1980
This complex cover is clearly influenced by the bas-reliefs of ancient Rome, and that is where I would like to see this image of Dolly. Carved in marble so she may live on for the ages, working 9BC to 5,000AD.