Worst jazz LP covers ever

Jan 21, 2016: more updates! There seems to be no end to the supply of bad jazz covers. Keep them coming!

Most recent nominations added to end of post. Record number of LJC page views yesterday, must be the effect of holiday- TV re-runs schedules.  Gaining traction, not quite yet viral.

UPDATE: Newly added, my nominations for the worst Blue Note covers. My, you’re brave. Foolish really, but someone needs to say it. Just because 800 are brilliant doesn’t mean there aren’t a half dozen below the line) So, nominations closing shortly, poll will follow, all bad things must come to an end.
LJCsaysEverybody loves LP cover art. There are many sites like Birkajazz and LPCoverLover dedicated to the beautiful stuff. There’s also plenty of sites celebrating the awful stuff too, but too much of that cover art is intentionally tasteless modern, mocking religion or less advanced cultures, and isn’t 50/60s jazz. Our sights are set higher.

Truly bad cover art must be sincerely intended, just ineptly conceived or executed, or a bad idea that should never have reached production stage, but somehow got through.  Nominations from our esteemed readers, bulked up with a full shovel of cover-manure from me.

I’ve written some tasting notes for a number of the covers, why they strike me as deserving a place in the Jazz Cover Dungeon, but you are welcome to opine differently. I know someone, quite well as it happens, who operates on the ” you say first and then I’ll  disagree with whatever you said”  principle.  Contrarians, do your worst. I couldn’t find any website commenting on covers – they just post them up, like that’s job’s done. That’s the trouble with the Internet: sometimes the description  “shallow” is an exaggeration. It’s not that deep..

I welcome more nominations (artist,title and label) , before I go to the trouble of setting up a Poll and have usual suspects tipping up complaining “I can’t believe you’ve missed out (insert name here) after its done. You know who you are.


The first tableaux expands on our starter trio of nominations with some nominations of my own.

The Oil and Vinegar cover promotes the aphrodisiac qualities of green leafy vegetables, possibly Romaine, Chard or broad-leafed endive, one for the jazz vegetarians I think. The others are all pretty awful in their own way, though some may curry favour with a few people. The Petersen/Terry Pablo breaks the first rule of photographic composition, where you follow the direction of the  eyes, and both, at cross purposes, lead you out of the picture. Complete design car crash.

Mann’s hairy chest falls under the “Too Much Information” category, while the Australian Quartet shows how much the designer knows about Australia. Nothing, except they got kangaroos. Do kangaroos play jazz?

The Evans/Brookmeyer cover is  example of an idea that spun out of control. One of the most useful items in any designer’s office is a wastebasket. It’s frequent use is midwife to better ideas. This one wasn’t used enough.

Savoy’s abandoned trumpets, trumpeters all gone off to the pub, the designer should have gone with them. An empty room – the complete opposite of an exciting performance,  lazy, but cheap.

The Mel Lewis Gotcha is another pepper pun, seasoning the bird as it struts away, a mixed metaphor mangled. It might have worked given bolder execution, but it wasn’t.


Herbie Mann is in a class of his own. What is it about flute that “inspires” such artwork? The “Waterbed”!  Would you admit to owning this? Anyway, somebody must have it.

Girlie covers are pretty simple to execute, so a misfire like a bikini springing out of the shrubbery takes some doing. Looks to me she may have forgotten the bottom half. I just keep thinking, what is on the poor girl’s feet – Wellington’s?

The Mann in the Morning in pyjamas is a classic Prestige title which puts some of his other covers to shame. Still, at least he is wearing pyjamas, the alternative cover a point not to ponder any longer than necessary.


Jazz Eyes gets a nomination in both best and worst. Personally, I like it.

You just have to wince at some covers: imagine the sign-off meeting between the designer of Pepper Pot and the Interlude label boss.

“Let me see if I get it. Art Pepper – Pepper Pot, yup I got that, scantily-clad broad dangling a pepper..she’s in a pot…sheesh. What do I think?  It’s never wrong to have a half-dressed  girl on a cover…great! Print me another thousand”

I’m pretty sure that is a pepper she’s got there, banish any other thoughts.

The Parker Story throne has to be seen to be believed, an example of good intentions misconceived, and crass execution. Parker was “Bird”, not a Head of State giving an audience. It is wrong on so many counts you could write a book on it,  How Not to Design an LP Cover, People’s Exhibit 1.

Why are Lateef’s band all in hats and rain coats? It’s a sunny day and Rodin’s The Thinker is buck naked. Methinks this is a sly piece of 60’s Civil Rights humour. It’s either very good, or very bad, you decide.

Surf Ride? $50 says she falls off almost  immediately.


Many Savoy covers are horrors. People look wooden, posed, uncomfortable and ill at ease. Gum-chewing studio photographer:  “Mr Jones, make like you’re playing the piano, you know, like a piano player, not like a piano tuner. Umm, OK, whatever“.

Lateef’s Prayer to The East  puts you momentarily in striking distance of highly venomous hooded cobra, so a prayer might be something that might cross your mind.

Nostalgia‘s park bench looks like a Central Park crime scene.

Even the girlie covers are a car crash, How I Play Jazz Piano – “Lie on top, honey. Mr Mehegan, will it take her weight?”

Cannonball = cannonballs (shakes head) At least there are three balls  and not two, Ya know what I mean? as Adderley liked to say.

I don’t know Andre Hodair, and I think it unlikely I ever will, as a result of Savoy’s cover.  Dreadful. Photographer’s first task is to put subject at ease. Great photographers would even shoot twenty or thirty frames before actually putting film in the camera. Hodair looks so self-conscious, poor man, an era before selfies with their practised false smile

Savoy: “where bad comes fitted as standard”.


Another label synonymous with dreadful cover art is the 50’s Hollywood label Interlude. As well as Pepper Pot (which is so kitsch I adore it), Rudolf targeted a number of other Interlude titles. Poking around in their catalogue I discovered more bodies under the floorboards. Terry Gibbs Esprit de Jazz takes the French Foreign Legion to the Dance of the Seven Veils show, while Victor Feldman takes his mallets to the morgue. You have to admire the crossed legs, presumably tapping to the music ringing on its ribcage.

You would think they might eventually run out of  visual puns on pepper, Art Pepper,  Pepper Adams, but no, an inexhaustible supply of pepper props. Think of the disadvantage of musicians with a name like Jones. Jones? Which one?

Every designer faces the dilemma of where to set the type. Reid miles built covers around the type, but not this designer, he has a bad idea where to put it. The Legend of Frank Rossalino is a typograpy disaster “Mister Rossalino,  make yourself comfortable, relax, cross legs. Now, hold your jacket out please, on one side, full arm’s length. No, not both sides, just your right side. Open wide.  I know it feels silly Mr Rossalino, but trust me, I’m a professional.”

The piece de resistance however must be Eddie Costa Quintet, with Eddie cast as Rosemary’s Baby, complete with evil twin  mallets.


Amazing how many ladies are attracted to pianos. Pianists maybe, but pianos? Anyway, if in doubt, sit a girl on it. Fred Katz gets the girlie cover treatment, but why is he in his pyjamas, on the beach? One can but wonder.( Thanks to readers explanation, he’s playing on the LP with his “jammers”)

And as for Manny Albam’s “Drum Feast“, a bad idea executed with relish. It’s a turkey. Lionel Hampton strangely disembodied floating head but enjoying Paris by all accounts.

Dutch Sax, wholesome blonde in authentic “kraplap” (maid’s hat), with an album title that requires careful reading in order to avoid disappointment. Jimmy and Wes seem to be going Dutch on the sandwich.


More nominations for worst covers incoming, including some controversial choices some people may like. Me for instance, and Lou Donaldson’s  Blues Walk , but tastes differ, it’s not all about agreeing. The poll will settle that.

Kenny Burrell in New York’s floating awning, yes, I forgot how naff that looks, considering what a great live set it is. Clark Terry’s Spanish Rice, good choice. How many times have I seen that in stores. Can you imagine the expression on their faces if you took this to the guys at the counter? Barely concealed pity.

The Farrell/Hayes cover is simply unbelievable – a girlie cover epic fail, as is the Byrd/Gryce, looks like sheer desperation on the part of the record label.  Tom Scott is lying uncomfortably in a field with weeds growing out of him. The Artistry of Hubbard is a great album but why so glum and miserable, Freddy,  with tracks like Happy Times and Summertime?


Coltrane’s Expression – what can I say? It’s not so bad.

Doctor’s orders! The good Dottorjazz has given the thumbs down to a block of Miles building-covers, and a Dolphy which beggars belief: an artist of god-like stature like Eric and all they can think of is a girl spinning a ’60s craze hula hoop. I could weep.


A bit harsh on Miles Collectors Items, but that Porgy and Bess cover always makes me think – cystitis? May be that just me.

Bink’s bunged in a bundle of bozos, including creatures from the ’70s: Faerie Fusion gets a slap, deservedly so, Chick’s no longer chic. And we thought it was all so great at the time. Eddie Harris don’s the mantle of Herbie Mann, with some lemons oranges. What’s this? Sacré bleu! My favourite label that can do no wrong  (read that again, slowly)  takes another direct hit, on Lee Morgan’s Candy. First Blues Walk, now Candy.Anyone else think they are man enough to take on my favourite label Blue Note?


The Hubbard I find completely incomprehensible. The less said of the Miles, the better.

Home straight now, just a few dozen more.. a couple of Riversides I’ll  throw in. Blues for Dracula, neat idea but trying too hard, bat hanging off one stick, blood stained other. How’s he going to to keep time? Blue Mitchell Out of the Blue I’ve had for several years and I still can’t figure out what the  nut and bolt has to do with anything. May be the Organissimo forum  has a thread on it.

Red Mitchell’s  Rejoice! obviously a photoshoot out-take, mistakenly sent to the printers.  Elvin’s Summit  seems to have taken an overdose of laughing gas, or an exceedingly good spliff, while Dave Brubeck’s far eastern tour was clearly sponsored by an international  airline – just can’t think of the name of it at the moment. Delta… United .. It’ll come back to me.

Hot on the heels of Eddie Harris’s oranges, more fruit, from the hippest of pianists,  Jutta Hipp  (L&R 1980) Is there a Frankfurt connection I detect here?


Having laid down a challenge to find Blue Note’s worst, there are so many outstanding great covers, I did struggle. I pick my own least favourites, light blue touch paper and run, as its sure to cause offence to someone’s favourites.

The Lou Donaldson’s Goodness Gracious is a reader nomination. To my mind, from a ’60s cultural perspective, strictly non-PC,  it’s of its time. Men have always liked to look at curvacious ladies. Otherwise, many of us wouldn’t be here today.

All Mr Natural  needs is a chalk outline around the shadow, showing where the body of Stanley was found, sax still in his mouth. A bad idea is always a bad idea. For the rest, they have little or nothing to do with the music, just a missed opportunity to create  another great cover. Poor Joe Henderson gets sponsorship from Specsavers.


Airto’s Seeds on the Ground appear to be planted on quicksand, quick, radio for help. Hell, no hurry, contact the sheriff’s office when they re-open after the weekend.

Joe Harriot joins Freddie Hubbard in the ranks of  Les Miserables. Photo editors seem to have some difficulty distinguishing someone feeling blue from someone head in hands, despondent, and about to call the Samaritans.

More readers picks below, no shortage of bad ideas.Remember Saxophone Colossus?  See what they did with Rollins Falling in Love With Jazz.

The Joe Morello cover is a tad insensitive given Morello had eyesight problems from childhood, with cataracts so severe in adulthood he was effectively blind.

I’ve got it! said the Art Director,♪♫♪ Born to be wi-i-i-i-ld. Mount the bike Joe,  the big bike, it’s right in front of you.  You’re a drummer right? Hold these sticks, the snare’s in the saddlebags, on with the shades, now you look like you’re  Going Places. It’s a wrap, we’re done, call me a cab.


More late entries. That Billy Taylor, you have to ask what was going on in the designers mind. DGMono has thrown in a double helping of dross, including a pop at some dodgy Blue Notes which I had overlooked. Stanley Turrentine is not coming out well – are those red roses a romantic gesture or condolences? And what is that girl doing in Jimmy’s coffee? How did she get in there?


Some of DGmono’s cover picks like the Farmer/Byrd  are a guaranteed cure for insomnia, they are so dull. No fan of the quirky Don Martin Prestiges either. I’ve thrown The George Benson Cookbook in for the sheer pointlessness of assembling all those cookers. One could have made the point.


More Late entries. Bley’s Mr Joy looks sponsored by Nurofen.   I’ve called for a steward’s enquiry into Wes Montgomery’s Full House, as there is a possible case of mistaken identity, but by way of a placeholder I’ve chosen another Wes Montgomery title, Willow Weep For Me, from the  Department of The Bleedin’ Obvious.

Buddy Collette is cursed with the Herbie Mann jinx.  Unlucky with his designer, he gets the work experience intern and no budget. I’ve nominated Blockbuster myself, because it is so cheap. No studio lighting or props, just two chairs for group shot,  end of the hallway, under a ceiling shade. O.K everybody, I’ve borrowed a camera, now, look mean. As for the Swinging Shepherds I found two covers, not so much shepherds as monks,  Walk Like a Franciscan (hands shoo-ing front and back).

Les MaCann’s Jazz Waltz leaves me at a loss for words. Doesn’t often happen.


I thought we might have run out of bad covers, but you all seem to have come up with more corkers. Hint to any budding cover designers out there, a focus on food is almost always a very bad idea. Not that it stops designers from believing that their food idea is a sure-fire winner. Food is personal, ideas are much more broad-based.

Final Selection

Sweep up, editorial discretion applied. Tailoring doesn’t seem Ahmad Jamal strongest suite and Shelly Manne’s drum schtick is enough to put you off these albums. I have a copy of The Stinger which I got very cheap in a record store  because someone had stolen the cover – clearly not everyone thought it undesirable.  However I doubt if people would be queueing up to steal The Modern Jazz Quartet jacket, from the  still life school of portraiture, serious and wooden. Cal  Tjader looks like he as accidentally snagged his pecker schlong on the xylophone and just clubbed it with a mallet. Ouch! Horace Silvers’s shadow seems a pointless design artefact and adding colour to Peterson’s plugs is an example of applying life support to a seriously ill idea, Do Not Resuscitate.


I think we are done here now. Polling will  be finalised shortly. It is going to take a while to turn this number of nominations into a poll, there is only me and it may take a little while.

UPDATE: No, just one more found during a current research project on Contemporary Records (more on that shortly) . You would think if you had just won a poll of the greatest jazz musicians I America, the home of jazz, you might come up with something more impressive than a fairground ride?


Exploring the Scene! How embarrassing is that? Happy New Year.

UPDATE: 2016: New Year, New baad jazz covers

John Graas looks like he is desperately trying to remember the security code on that chastity belt.  (French horn. Oh, the irony). I’m sure he is a great swinger, but you can’t help feeling there was a moment when a bad  career choice was made

What’s it to be John: tenor, alto, or bari? Or how about French horn? Not many of those players, you could be the Number One (in a field of one). Number one? Great! I’ll go with French Horn.

The Marty Paitch cover simply defies description. I think it falls in the “so bad it’s good” category, but it has given me an idea, for a future post: Girlie Covers!



But not of the Jack McDuff variety. That’s gynaecology, not girlie, which is an entirely different train of thought.

More nominations welcome, as you like.


82 thoughts on “Worst jazz LP covers ever

  1. I realize that I’m hopelessly late to the party, but since nobody seems to have solved the Blue Mitchell mystery, is it not obvious that the cover is attempting to depict a BOLT out of the Blue?

    Also, the most cringeworthy cover this side of Mann might be “The Tatum Touch”, where the peerless pianist is seen perched atop a totem of human awkwardness. I feel embarrassed for him every time I look at it. https://www.discogs.com/Art-Tatum-The-Tatum-Touch/release/4237162


  2. To me bad cover art will not attract into purchasing a particular album no matter how good the material is on the recording. The one table that I think has the worst cover art is the Pablo label. I don’t understand their intent unless the photographer was desperately trying to imitate Francis Wolf’s work at Blue Note and failing badly. The cover photos have really bad composition and are not very flattering for the artist. There’s one where Count Basie’s sitting at the Piano in a wife beater with his “gut” hanging out. If I were Basie, I would have sued the label and have the cover changed.


      • Agreed the Pablo covers are terrible, but the quality of the recording for Pablo stands out as an oasis of quality against a sea of mediocrity. I am still shocked when I pop one on and it has the tingly freshness that had all but gone by that time in the ’80s. Bad covers I can forgive, bad recordings never. Pablo has good sounds.


  3. I am, at best, an accidental jazz record collector, others generously supplying me when they divested themselves of their vinyl. Beyond perhaps Bo Donaldson, Miles Davis, Jonah Jones and Herbie Mann, I’m not even sure who all belongs in the genre. ( Classic 60s Detroit-era Motown, that’s my specialty.)

    But Mann’s “Push Push” is in my collection, and as for the cover, I regard it as a historical artifact, proof there was an age before extreme manscaping to a damn near prepubescent appearance, or equally, a bygone era predating the irresistible drive to leave no two square inches of torso free of embedded ink. To 2017 eyes, Mr. Mann, at 40, looks remarkably sensible.


    • OMG … sophisticated what??

      From the scarce material existing on Youtube, I suspect that even the music is mediocre at best. It was a time when “straight” jazz rhythms were given up in favour of what was then considered “funky”. What a big mistake …

      (No, I don’t like “Sidewinder” either.)


        • Gentlemen, keep submitting your recommendations for worst jazz album covers. This is such a rich seam, it seems premature to close it down just yet. Some things are strictly a matter of taste – so bad it is good. What I want are covers which are simply awful, from every perspective. The John Graas I found are simply ghastly, so uncomfortable, like everyone involved has taken leave of their senses and just waive through a design that should have been strangled at birth.


  4. Two Tadd Dameron Lp’s deserve a mention methinks. Magic Touch on Riverside: Tadd not only looks incredibly uncomfortable but also extremely unhappy to see us, and Mating Call which loses extra marks for also being a fantastic Coltrane date – surely they could have found a more majestic image of our feathered friends?


  5. As the album that got me into Navarro I’ll always have a soft spot for the Nostalgia cover, i think it’s great, but now you’ve mentioned the horror aspect I can imagine the screams as the victim paints the letters…


  6. How about anything John Graas? The dude was in his 30s when Coup de Graas came out, and yet he looks like a 55 year old gym teacher with prior convictions. He can’t help but have the same silly face on his Jazz Lab release, and loves to showcase his french horn on his covers.


  7. Sadly too busy to go over my collection again so just the top 5 i can remember – all of them disastrous indeed :

    Horace Silver – Silver N Percussion
    Bennie Green – Walkin & Talkin (2nd cover, Liberty pressing)
    Cal Tjader Quartet / Fantasy 3-2279
    Kenny Burrell – Guitar Forms
    Modern Jazz Quartet – Atlantic 1265


    • Also, there are some really bad covers on Contemporary, don’t have any of them so can’t add any titles but i think the list wouldn’t be complete without some !


  8. Just a quick peek in my collection. What about?:

    Brother Jack McDuff, Moon Rappin’ (another ‘bad’ Blue Note, and dig the gatefold ‘poem’)
    Johnny Hammond Smith, The Stinger (Prestige: ah, so this album’s about blues-drenched organ jazz, that figures…)
    Lou Donaldson, Possum Head (Cadet: nicknaming is an important feature of jazz lore/practice, but this is a mockery; Bags, ok, but Possum Head? the unsharp picture clinches it)
    Wes Montgomery, Full House (Riverside: how to ruin a classic album with the ugliest drawing one can come up with)
    Les McCann and the Jazz Crusaders, Jazz Waltz (Pacific Jazz/Fontana, the woman with a dove on her head-cover: if it was a Charlie Parker record, the Pacific designers would’ve probably suggested the title of Bird’s Nest)

    Great post, no wonder comments keep comin’ in.


    • Francois, are you talking about the regular “Full House” cover showing Wes’s hands and guitar? It’s quite nice IMO. And I’ve seen no other.


      • Hi groovewear. Yes, that’s the one I mean. I’m trying to get it but I keep thinking it’s cheap and lacks imagination, certainly in comparison to the finest Riverside covers. A great live album like this deserves something more classy in my view. But different strokes… Probably like most I think some of the ‘worst’ are (if not ‘the hottest’!) pretty ok or great. What is it about the cover that you like?


        • Well, it’s a close-up of his unique, unorthodox way of handling the instrument – not a great cover, I admit, but still nice to look at.


  9. LJC is devoted to the classic jazz of the fifties (and sixties). It struck me that the hottest jazz covers are mainly from the classic fifties period and the crap mainly from the later sixties (and beyond) period, flower power et cie.


  10. After surveying the current nominations, I was struck by the number of ridiculous Jimmy Smith covers. So I might as well pile on with “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”


  11. Okay, before the voting starts, let me add a bunch more:

    Blue Note:
    Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers/Spotlight on Drums…What’s up with choosing a photo where his arm is casting a shadow directly over his face?
    Lou Donaldson, Here ‘Tis…such a random, pointless photo
    Stanley Turrentine, Dearly Beloved…insanely cheesy photo
    Horace Silver, The Jody Grind…horribly tacky
    Jimmy Smith, Plain Talk…why is there a woman in my coffee?
    Stanley Turrentine, Another Story…What??!
    Gene Harris (84423)…Whaaaaaat??!
    Donald Byrd, Caricatures

    JJ Johnson, Trombone by Three (7023)…why on earth are the musicians being portrayed as monks
    Miles Davis and Horns (7025)…random
    Art Farmer Septet (7031)…barf
    2 Trumpets (7062)…that gold “2”…barf
    Moody (7072)
    George Braith, Laughing Soul

    Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Blues (Columbia 9806)

    Also, can we pleeease include this Kind of Blue CD cover?? http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y154/nickrobotron/1250902-miles-davis-kind-of-blue.jpg
    I love how random this photo of Miles Davis is


    • Rich asked: “JJ Johnson, Trombone by Three (7023)…why on earth are the musicians being portrayed as monks?”

      I’ve no idea but I love it. I had to check to make sure it wasn’t the great Edward Gorey — and it isn’t: the cover art is by Don Martin, but I still like it.


  12. Billy Taylor Introduces Ira Sullivan (on ABC Paramount). A dead bird, a trumpet, a bow, glasses, paneling; I’ve always been confused by that cover.


  13. Yes, there are some really treasurable stinkers here — covers of such gross ineptitude it makes you wonder how they ever got made. But on the other hand, I probably wouldn’t put Mal Waldron’s THE QUEST or Lou Donaldson’s BLUES WALK amongst them. That seems a touch harsh…

    But I would put this: Paul Bley: Copenhagen & Haarlem. A terrific record housed in what can only be described as an execrable pre-Photoshop abortion of a sleeve. See it here: http://darkcloudstudio.com/psychedelia/?p=1081


    • Agree, The Mal Waldron shouldn’t be included. I really like that one (the music too!!).
      Personally I think Lateefs Prayer to the East is a very nice cover, although a cobra snake has nothing to do with the music……


      • Gentlemen, I quite agree, but I have learned it’s different strokes for different folks, which is why I have accepted these nominations in good faith, even though I disagree with them. The Poll will reveal the wisdom of crowds.

        Funnily enough I just found a Youtube by two smartarses discussing their nomination for the worst jazz album covers. Their choices are extremely innocuous, based on CDs not LPs, a very limited knowledge of the jazz field, and a pretty lame critique to boot. However I have stolen some of their picks.

        These guys get my nomination as the Worst Youtube on the Worst Jazz Covers. 400 views in 18 months. I feel we are ahead of the game. By several rounds.


      • Rich: the Waldron is not bad at all. I always liked this series by Schlitten on the rough white paper, a nice photo portrait and a different colour for each artist. Fourteen different albums were issued with this sleeve design.
        Blues Walk is very average, but not ugly.
        Anyway, protest votes are allowed, Exclude the two from your choice of ugliest albums..That is what I will do.


      • It is, isn’t it. Even Cook & Morton in the Penguin Guide to Jazz say it is one of the worst sleeves ever — but acknowledge that it is an excellent record which while reissued has never been reissued in its entirety as present here… I think the contents may be available on two different CDs and sometimes I have thought about replacing my 2-LP set….but then I relent and think, It’s horrible but it’s historic 🙂


  14. I would nominate “Very Cool” by Lee Konitz that LJC wrote about recently – those icicles are so uncool…

    On the other hand, I would nominate ” The Real Lee Konitz” on Atlantic as one of the best Jazz covers. It’ s got a better photo from the same sesion by William Claxton, and minimalist design & lettering which (I think) IS “Very Cool”…


  15. One of my favorite album covers of all time – Surf Ride. 3rd grouping, top left. Perhaps my aural sense is better then my visual. I had a Japanese issue of this, but had to have an original. Why? The music is fine, a bit repetitive sounding but fine, with the intro and tempo of Straight Life providing an amazing ZING!! But I had to have an original cover.
    “Harvey Ragsdale” in a cursive signing, gets credit on the bottom left front. That’s cut off on the Japanese version and some of the “originals” as well. And it’s laminated, bringing more glow to it’s subject. To some the surfer girl portrait may be too cheesy for cheesecake. She’s young – early teens, not really sexualized and there in the 1950s pre-Surf scene madness she’s riding as free from care as anyone has ever been. Innocence. And if she does fall off it’s all part of the fun.

    LJC – I’ll match that $50 and raise you $50 that she doesn’t fall (at least not off of my wall).


      • I got mine in a lot of about fifty Savoy/Regent albums at 89 cents each. They all happened to have a red stamp “NR” (no retail ?). I bought them from a list, no display of covers those days. I found the girl so and so, but fell in love with the music. It is now one of my favourite albums and I like the girl too. She is so airy, sans soucis. But, the design is horrible indeed.


        • Rudolf – that 89 cents purchase must have been back in the golden days. Deals like that in recent years are the stuff of dreams. Always wondered what NR stood for. Thanks.


      • OK LJC, all bets are off. She stays on. More then “innocence” I’d say she shows sheer joy. California before the 1960 census – less populated waves, plenty of non-smoggy sun (a fair ginger lass should be careful out there) and Cool Jazz. I got my Savoy at a pretty good rate as these glossies go. Rudolf got his for 89 cents. Record finds are not egalitarian.


  16. Chet Baker – The Most Important Jazz Record of 1964/65. Pretty good record (hyperbolic title aside), but Chet looks like he just broke wind at a party.


    • ditto for Kenny Clarke’s album on Savoy 12006, with a similar black and white picture cover, which was re-packaged as “Telefunken Blues”.


  17. Wow – so many wonderfully bad ones to choose from. Indeed, Herbie Mann deserves a section unto himself. Chick Corea also is deserving of some praise for his terrible artwork over the years. His run from ’75 to ’80 is the stuff of legend…hilarious, hideous legend. You have to see it to believe it. You’ve got some great ones on here, LJC. Here’s my list after cherrypicking some of yours:

    Herbie Mann – Push Push – The Heavyweight Champ and still undefeated.
    Chick Corea – The Leprechaun – enjoy looking at this one for hours on end.
    Chick Corea – The Mad Hatter – maybe more fun than the Leprechaun.
    Bob Brookmeyer/Bill Evans – The Ivory Hunters (I always hated this; the title is corny but the art is god-awful)
    Mal Waldron – The Quest (I was surprised to see this on the Best Of list, I personally always hated that cover. The pic of Waldron is great but contrasted by that terrible off-white and the bright green lettering; I always thought it looked mashed together at the last minute. Bad color clash…gives it a bootleg kinda feel).
    Julian “Cannonball” Adderley – The Savoy Cannonball album. Just…so…bleh. Cannonballs! Great Idea!!
    Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery – The Dynamic Duo (The hot dog thing…good lord).
    Miles Davis Sextet – Jazz at the Plaza – awful, awful cover, and bonus points for taking an almost un-listenable tape of one of the greatest bands in history and making me have to own it on principle despite it sounding like complete garbage.
    Freddie Hubbard – The Artistry… – I always thought he looked like he was in the depths of a heroin binge in the pic and the cover is so depressing I can’t enjoy the album. Never have. The color, the stupid title. It all adds up.
    Freddie Hubbard – Windjammer – wow, terrific.


    Lee Morgan – Candy – one of the worst Blue Note album covers ever, in my opinion. Ridiculous.
    Eddie Harris (Multiples) – The Tender Storm, Plug Me In, Free Speech, The Reason Why I’m Talking S–T, How Can You Live Like That (and basically everything after 1974).
    Miles Davis – You’re Under Arrest

    Oh so many more. I’ll stop there. Good fun.


  18. I think a clue to why Fred Katz is on the beach in his pyjamas can be found in the text provided at the very top of the cover, “Fred Katz and his Jammers”. You do have to wonder what type of coercion was required for Fred Katz to actually agree to this. Was he in debt to the Mob? Some kind of KGB brain-ray? It is nothing less than banality.


  19. from my collection:
    Teddy Charles: Guys and Dolls, Columbia
    Al Cohn: The natural seven, Victor
    John Coltrane: Transition, Impulse
    Miles Davis: Collectors’ items, Prestige
    Miles Davis: Jazz at the plaza, Columbia
    Miles Davis: At Plugged Nickel Chicago, Nippon Columbia
    Miles Davis: Jack Johnson, Columbia; awful car
    Eric Dolphy: Unrealized tapes, West Wind, the worst of ’em all
    Pat Moran: This is Pat Moran, Audio Fidelity (Scott laFaro plays on this one)
    Bill Potts: The jazz soul of Porgy & Bess, United Artists (red gown-pink shoes)


  20. André Hodeir was a musicologist (Conservatoire de Paris), musician and the leader of the “Jazz Groupe de Paris”. In the early fifties he made two 25 cm albums for Swing with Bobby Jaspar. A 1956 Paris recording for Véga was issued by Savoy (12113), in return he made recordings in NYC for Savoy with Bobby Jaspar and Idress Suliman (12104).
    André is most known for his study and analysis of the phenomenon of jazz “Hommes et problèmes du Jazz”, (au Portulan chez Flammarion, 1954). This book was ahead of its time, the analyses went much deeper than anything which had been written in the US or the UK on the subject. So the book was immediately translated into English and published in the US by the Beacon Press.
    He wrote the liner notes for vol. 5 of the Lennie Niehaus series for Contemporary (the Sextet). The only Niehaus Contemporary album not to have been issued in France.


  21. I must say, i agree with almost all of these, especially the fact that herbie mann inspired awful art wherever he went, with the following exceptions:

    “trumpets all out” hits the metaphor, but it isn’t good, since as you noted it suggests boredom, although i wouldn’t put it in chest-hair-herbie category. same with “jazz for the thinker”

    surf ride i like. i don’t know why. i feel bad about it. it is obviously bad, but i can’t help but like it.

    i think prayer to the east, jazzmen detroit, and nostalgia are where we differ HUGELY. i think those covers are kick-ass. jazzmen has that artsy collage style of the era that brings me right back to when the record came out when i look at it. prayer to the east reminds me of the eastern tinge in lateef’s music, and nostalgia just has a rainy, moody, artsy mood to it. parker’s cover is bad, but the alternate cover is MUCH better.

    as far as savoy goes, they also had some GREAT art, too. especially the early black and white covers. i also adore “jazz for playboys” by frank wess, kenny burrell, etc.

    surprised to not find some of the worst impulse offenders here as well: spanish rice, jazz goes to the movies, beverly jenkins… sigh. but they are also generally crappy records, too.

    what a fun idea. i also nominate coltrane’s “expression”, since the concept is so lazy, and for whatever reason, lou donalson’s “blues walk” always struck me as weird, since they chose to just layer the whole thing in that weird shade of blue, and showed him with his instrument CASE instead of the horn itself.


    • I like the Savoy covers as well…& those Lateef LPs are among the most treasured LPs in my collection. Maybe it’s hard for me to separate the covers from the music but i really like them.


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