From the unintentionally funny to the completely bizarre, Steve Goldman’s collection of more than 500 record covers, currently on display at the Williamson Art Gallery, is something to behold.
Collected over a seven-year period from charity shops and online marketplaces, Steve’s selection criteria is stringent: Is this one of the worst record covers in the world?
On what makes an album cover suitable for inclusion in his collection, Steve told Birkenhead News, “There’s so many forms of ‘bad’, but it just has to make me laugh!”
Steve’s current best worst album cover is a 1960s various artists album called Hand in Hand. The album cover photograph taken by Frits Gerritsen shows a group photo of eight of the nine musicians who contributed to the album. However, the ninth artist, Gert Timmermans, couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the photo shoot, so a black and white photo on an easel was substituted for him.
Looking through the exhibition you could be forgiven for wondering what the creative process was behind the ideas for some of the album covers. And, it is worth remembering that every one of these covers has been approved along the way by the band, the designer, the photographer, the marketing agency, and the execs at the record label, before finding itself in pride of place on the shelves of the record department at Woolworths.
Stefan and Harry travelled from Huddersfield to see the exhibition. Their favourite was a 1985 children’s album entitled Disco do Fofao which they described as “nightmarish” – a description of the character of the cover we could hardly disagree with.
Visitors will have the opportunity to have their say on which is the best – or worst – via a public vote to select a favourite. This is an exhibition which can be enjoyed by the whole family, and younger visitors can enjoy games and activities, including designing their own worst record covers.
The exhibition also marks the publication of Goldman’s book “The Art Of The Bizarre Vinyl Sleeve”, published by Easy On The Eye Books. The text is written by Simon Robinson at Easy On The Eye, who has produced many sleeve designs himself (happily none of which feature in Steve’s collection!) with a foreword written by comedian Stewart Lee.
Goldman is a stroke survivor and is staging the exhibition in aid of Different Strokes, a charity helping younger stroke survivors.
The exhibition is open until 27 January 2024 at the Williamson Art Gallery, Slatey Road, Birkenhead.