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July 19, 2013 12:58 PM   Subscribe

HuffPo presents the worst Canadian album covers

Despite various economic, demographic, and geographic factors, Canada manages to sustain an active and vibrant music industry, with many Canadian musicians achieving success internationally as well as at home. Some would argue that this success is mostly deserved, while others are less convinced (previously). What most would agree, however, is that this success is not due to the quality of album cover art. HuffPo has assembled a list of 40 of the worst examples, although they seem to have forgotten a few.
posted by TheWhiteSkull (84 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jeff Winger: Well he also listens to the Barenaked Ladies, go get their dumb asses to help you.

Troy Barnes: [everyone gasps in horror] Okay Jeff, you are clearly in a bad space today, but Pierce is our friend, and the Barenaked Ladies are triple platinum, are you?

Jeff Winger: Why does everyone leap to defend that band so aggressively and how much stuff do we have to go through this year before my friendship stops being questioned?

Annie Edison: Well maybe friendship is about going through a lot of stuff Jeff, and maybe BNL has two Billboard Awards to your zero!

Jeff Winger: Oh, okay, they're BNL now? We need a shorthand for the Barenaked Ladies. That's how fundamental they are

Abed Nadir: Fundamental.

Jeff Winger: You know what Pierce probably needs more than anything? Some space. Maybe I do too.

Britta Perry: [yelling angrily] You know what? Maybe we all need some space, to pull the knife out of the back of the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid 90s, you selfish, jaded, ass!

posted by Think_Long at 1:03 PM on July 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


That's a silly list. 50% of those album covers are not even that bad. The author could easily pair this down to 10 and make it a much stronger list. (Shatner deserves to be there.. Start there and you might make a real list).
posted by dogbusonline at 1:10 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Some of them were perfectly good, if not iconic. Bad list.

And oh man if I have to ever hear anything by bare naked ladies ever again... I'm not sure what would happen.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2013


This list left out a winner.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on July 19, 2013


I found this helpful to understand how much pop music is dominated by Canadians.
posted by destro at 1:17 PM on July 19, 2013


I was about throw the Dayglos out there as another example, then I see the OP already has it 'covered.' (Classic hardcore album though, and I suppose one might argue that the cover art depicting Ron and Nancy Reagan feeding on a human foetus slathered in jelly beans was perhaps intended to shock and to provoke dialogue)
posted by Flashman at 1:17 PM on July 19, 2013


come on, there's nothing on there that's remotely as bad as this lot, or this bunch (possibly nsfw)

well, maybe the hitchhiker one and the william shatner one
posted by pyramid termite at 1:19 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


akimbo alogo has a rad album cover
posted by KokuRyu at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2013


Decade? Come on. That's a perfectly acceptable album cover. So is the Joni Mitchell one, although they do get credit for the line "Life is a highway. So is Joni Mitchell's torso".
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The High Class in Borrowed Shoes album cover pretty much captures the weird essence of the band.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:22 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


What? Melville? That's an awesome cover!
posted by KokuRyu at 1:22 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


How could they not include the skinny yellow spandex monstrosity that is Universal Juveniles?
posted by rocket88 at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


How could they not include the skinny yellow spandex monstrosity that is Universal Juveniles?

I still say that album cover captures the weird, unhip yet totally cool essence of Max Webster, Canada's greatest forgotten band.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:28 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now that I have lived in the States for longer than I lived in Canada, sometimes I doubt my cultural cred as a Canadian. And sometimes I hear something like this
Britta Perry: [yelling angrily] You know what? Maybe we all need some space, to pull the knife out of the back of the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid 90s, you selfish, jaded, ass!
...and reflexively snap back, "The most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid 90s has got to be the Tragically Hip, do you not know things? Though Barenaked Ladies are also good too."

I really like that Bruce Cockburn album but I guess I will admit that the cover is not the best cover. On the other hand, that Rufus Wainwright album is just okay (Want Two is much better) but the cover is AMAZING.
posted by Jeanne at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some of them were perfectly good, if not iconic. Bad list.

Agreed, jeff-o-matic. The Shatner one, okay, it belongs on such a list. Point taken. But otherwise, what an odd, random-seeming selection.

Bruce Cockburn's cover art by Norval Morriseau is stunning, and a great choice for the content of the album. Some of the selections, Willie P. Bennett for example, just seem to be pointlessly mocking small-market artists for doing something basic. Some of these I quite like … some are mediocre or worse. But I have a shelf full of CDs here that say this particular generalization about Canadian album art is kind of lazy, uninformed and dumb.
posted by namasaya at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


And Forgotten Rebels - In Love With The System is a fine cover and an awesome, awesome album. Yay for Hamilton punk.
posted by rocket88 at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


This person has obviously never been to a music store in Newfoundland. Locally produced album covers here are remarkably atrocious.
posted by oulipian at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


All I know is is if I'm required to love the Barenaked Ladies and prove it on the Canadian citizenship test, I am so fucked.
posted by Kitteh at 1:31 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's a silly list. 50% of those album covers are not even that bad

I agree. I got about 15 covers in before I gave up. The Snow album cover is pretty much par for the course for that era, and Chromeo was doing an electro pastiche. Some of them are completely unremarkable; not sure why you'd go so far as to say "bad".
posted by Hoopo at 1:33 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


What a peculiar list. Decade looks great (love the font), and that Bruce Cockburn cover was a piece by the great Ojibway painter Norval Morrisseau, one of the most respected artists in the nation.

This late 90s grunge-by-numbers never-was is my candidate.
posted by metaman livingblog at 1:34 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


"High Class in Borrowed Shoes" just might be the best Canadian rock album ever. Max Webster never got the acclaim they deserved.
posted by davebush at 1:35 PM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


How can they put Fully, Completely on that list?? The full cd booklet, when folded out to full size, was one of my favorite in my entire teenage cd collection in terms of artwork. I also collected vinyl and I remember that booklet feeling the same as a gatefold lp cover.

(imo it's the only Hip album that's start-to-finish solidly great as well.)
posted by mannequito at 1:36 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, now I feel really bad for talking smack about the Bruce Cockburn cover!

(Yeah. I really have no Canadian cultural cred whatsoever. Consider me Slightly More Educated.)
posted by Jeanne at 1:37 PM on July 19, 2013


Yes, Kim Mitchell is wearing an OPP hat and he can still rock your goddamn face off any day of the goddamn week, you... you hoser.

I think this speaks more of the paint-by-numbers "List of X things I actually don't know much about but can fire off half-assed snarky one-liners" style of "content creation" that governs -- seriously -- about 75% of the crap I see on the Internet these days than to anything else.

I am really really really looking forward to the day that the "numbered list article" becomes a thing of the past. It's the "weird new tip" of 2012–2014 and I am sick to the ever-loving teeth of it.
posted by Shepherd at 1:42 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Indeed, bad list. That Drake album cover is in fact pure swag.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:43 PM on July 19, 2013


If Loverboy's Get Lucky isn't on there then I can't take it seriously.
posted by jonmc at 1:44 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Your favorite band is actually okay.
posted by KChasm at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing Canadians make for an easy & humourous target, somehow. What's rather interesting is the very high level of snark in the article's author comments on each album cover. Not much historical context taken into account.
posted by Sintram at 1:48 PM on July 19, 2013


KChasm: "Your favorite band is actually okay."

Lift the banner of poptimism high. May it fly forever.
posted by Gin and Comics at 1:49 PM on July 19, 2013


Yes, Kim Mitchell is wearing an OPP hat and he can still rock your goddamn face off any day of the goddamn week, you... you hoser.

I actually sought out an OPP badge and affixed it to a ball cap way back when. I was a true fan.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:50 PM on July 19, 2013


Here's the thing about the Barenaked Ladies. At first it was just a yellow cassette tape that had a funny song on it that everyone was trying to track down. Then they actually lived up to the hype with Gordon which was really quite good.

But then Old Apartment happened. And Steve stopped singing as much and Ed started singing more and more and every album since Gordon is progressively worse and now Steve isn't even there anymore and it just seems like Ed and his Ego are in a band together and I try to still love them on the strength of that yellow cassette and that red white and blue compact disc but it gets harder and harder all the time.

But I still love Gordon. You are crazy if you don't.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:50 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was eighteen, my Canadian boyfriend sent me the David Usher album with the fish on it because I had the biggest crush on David Usher. I was perplexed by the fish-holding, but I listened to the album in earnest, and by the time it was over I no longer had a crush on David Usher.

The boyfriend left a few months later, but no fish were involved.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:52 PM on July 19, 2013


I'm not sure why that Rufus Wainwright album cover is on the list. It perfectly matches the romantic, baroque, "chamber pop" spirit of his songs.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:52 PM on July 19, 2013


>prove it on the Canadian citizenship test

Actually, given the current regime's taste in music (which gave rise to The Scariest Photo on the Internet [Caution: Brain Bleach Required]) you might have to study something far worse.
posted by scruss at 1:52 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Melville is an awesome cover, as is Fully Completely's. Dancing in the Dragon's Jaw is beyond awesome.

There are some real dogs out there:

Trusted by Millions (54-40)
Where I started (Wide Mouth Mason)
Everything Grows (Raffi)
Kombinator (The Inbreds)
I Mother Earth (Scenery and Fish)
posted by jimmythefish at 1:53 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


(imo it's the only Hip album that's start-to-finish solidly great as well)

uh, that's like saying sgt pepper or revolver is the only beatles record that's start to finish solidly great
posted by pyramid termite at 1:54 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't forget Stuff (Holly McNarland)

Reversed band + album on the I Mother Earth above
posted by jimmythefish at 1:55 PM on July 19, 2013


Wow, metaman livingblog. That cover is amazing. I would really like to hear the music created by whoever thought that was a decent cover though, so in that respect I suppose it does its job.
posted by zoinks at 1:56 PM on July 19, 2013


I, too, like Kim Mitchell.

*goes for soda*
posted by jonmc at 1:57 PM on July 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


For those who might not know, Kim Mitchell's hat is not the kind of "OPP" hat people wore after the whole Naughty By Nature breakthrough hit. It's Ontario Provincial Police. Go for a soda because it's safe, and root for the cops. I guess that's rock, the safe Canadian way.
posted by Hoopo at 1:58 PM on July 19, 2013


This is the dumbest, wrongest list I have ever seen.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:59 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just had to Google and make sure Orleans weren't Canadian.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:03 PM on July 19, 2013


To be fair, I am sure there would be no shortage of Canadians who could rattle off 40 moronic HuffPo articles and/or headlines.
posted by lampshade at 2:05 PM on July 19, 2013


I still have my yellow tape, from one of the Vancouver shows, at the Gaslight, I think.

But BNL isn't the band you must to like as a Canuck of a certain age. That's Broken Social Scene, Sloan, Great Big Sea, or the Hip, possibly Stars, depending on what that certain age is and where you're from.
posted by bonehead at 2:06 PM on July 19, 2013


Why the fucking fuck is Hejira on there?! Not only is it perfectly evocative of the wintry minimalism of the album, but it's also one of Norman Seeff's most celebrated portraits of her.

The Making of the Hejira Cover (Rock Photo, 1985)
Hejira entry on Sleevage
Seeff's original portrait, 1976
posted by mykescipark at 2:08 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is missing 3Deep and B4-4, both part of a short-lived era of numerically named Canadian boy bands.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:09 PM on July 19, 2013


I have a bunch of these albums because I used to have a Canadian records audioblog and tumblr. Les Jaguars were a great Quebecois surf rock group. That's not even the worst Max Webster cover. The Drake cover reminds me of this or maybe this.

Now that you've seen some of the worst, here is the best. Delmer Dorey just does not. Give. A. Fuck.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:11 PM on July 19, 2013


although they seem to have forgotten a few.

original slideshow and TheWhiteSkull need to get something clear. Just because something is utterly offensive doesn't make it bad. By which I mean, SNFU and Dayglo Abortions are punk/hardcore outfits: their album art is supposed to provoke you on a visceral level. Those are both great album covers ... because they hurt, they intend to.

This on the other hand ...?
posted by philip-random at 2:13 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


A personal favourite: Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham.
posted by bonehead at 2:13 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tragically Hip's Fully Completely is actually really cool. They used a flatbed scanning printer which was a cool experiment for 1992.
Plus I'm not sure how they chose that Hip record over this.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:19 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, any Platinum Blonde cover. They're hilarious.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:21 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


(imo it's the only Hip album that's start-to-finish solidly great as well.)

No
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:24 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


One obvious mistake. Peaches is the BEST album cover of ALL TIMES!!!
posted by The Deej at 2:27 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some more choice covers:

Raymond Berthiaume drinks alone
Welcome to glamorous Saskatchewan
Moe Koffman, chillin' with Bach
The Harlequin Guide To Treating Eye Injuries
A girl tries to slip out quietly after a night with Southern Exposure
Streetheart dies in the desert
David Suzuki drops acid
Dagger is Not Afraid
"Thanks, but I'm gonna pass on that."
Oh, Quebec... (mildly NSFW)
Fishin' with The Downchild Blues Band (NSFW)
Saga's Stupid Human Tricks
There's a new Sheriff in town
Burton Cummings doesn't like what he sees
The Three Reeds are a horse's ass
Collars don't get any wider
Christopher Ward gets stood up
Georges Landford caught one thiiiiiiiiiiis big!
Nightmare fuel
Jack Hennig will destroy us all
Russ Gurr loves him some hogs
I'm pretty sure my dad is in this photo somewhere (mildly NSFW)
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:30 PM on July 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


To be fair, I am sure there would be no shortage of Canadians who could rattle off 40 moronic HuffPo articles and/or headlines.
First I would have to remember 40 HuffPo articles and/or headlines more than 5 minutes after I've read them.

Someone linked to this recently, and I'm reminded of that, in terms of "why Canadian?" Undoubtedly someone's already done a list of just bad album covers, but by making it Canadian album covers you've got a narrower target.
posted by RobotHero at 2:41 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Three Reeds are a horse's ass

that belongs on an all time worst album cover list
posted by pyramid termite at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


That Buffy St Marie Album cover is amazing, but not as amazing as this
posted by PinkMoose at 3:01 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does the inside picture count as sort of cover art?

Because the inside flap of A Farewell to Kings has LD50 amounts of mid-70s Geddy Lee.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:05 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's not even the worst Max Webster cover.

I love that cover! Back in the day, the cool kids called that album Toasted Blockheads.

Max Webster completely rocked. They were THE soundtrack of late-70's suburban-Toronto stoner teenage houseparties. I watched in wild-eyed awe as my older brother crammed our house full of strangers the second our parents left for the weekend. Armies of people in those plaid Scarborough (or Kenora) Dinner Jackets and Grebs, hair parted in the middle and 'feathered back.'
And my mom, on her return, bewildered at how all her stainless-steel knives were ruined.

Kim Mitchell seems like a nice enough guy but I always thought his solo stuff was truly awful and he plays it constantly in his weird self-promo DJ position at Q107; it's so masturbatory it's almost funny.
posted by chococat at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have vivid memories of some awesome Max Webster gigs back in the mid to late 70's (including my high school gym). There was no other band like them. Incidentally, their first three albums have been reissued by a UK label.
posted by davebush at 3:26 PM on July 19, 2013


Despite various economic, demographic, and geographic factors

Despite?! Whu??
posted by five fresh fish at 3:44 PM on July 19, 2013


Kim Mitchell seems like a nice enough guy but I always thought his solo stuff was truly awful and he plays it constantly in his weird self-promo DJ position at Q107; it's so masturbatory it's almost funny.

In all fairness, Q107 would be playing those same Kim Mitchell and Max Webster songs whether or not Kim himself was present. If anything, it kinda gives a weird legitimacy to the endeavour.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make a serious decision between Lager And Ale.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2013


If Loverboy's Get Lucky isn't on there then I can't take it seriously

Even as a nine-year old that cover horrified me. The content, the colors, and all that it evokes. If you want to explain to someone why the eighties suck, it's all laid out for you right there in a convenient 12"x12" square.

Gads. It just screams BAD COCAINE FEELINGS even now.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:02 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I meant by my comment earlier is that Fully, Completely was the only Hip album I ever owned (Up To Here, Trouble At The Henhouse, Phantom Power being the others) that didn't have at least a couple duds that I would skip past. But I never owned Day For Night and remember liking all the singles off of it, so I think I need to give it a listen now.
posted by mannequito at 4:07 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I meant by my comment earlier is that Fully, Completely was the only Hip album I ever owned (Up To Here, Trouble At The Henhouse, Phantom Power being the others) that didn't have at least a couple duds that I would skip past. But I never owned Day For Night and remember liking all the singles off of it, so I think I need to give it a listen now.

See to it that you do.

(slowly pulls finger away from button that triggers trap door)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:12 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh Canada, to try so hard and to achieve such a modest list.
posted by klangklangston at 4:15 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the record, that "Featuring Kim Mitchell" on the covers is the worst kind of retconning (of my youth). They had a great drummer in Gary McCracken, and the lyricist, Pye Dubois, contributed as much as any of the players, all of whom were good.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:56 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why on earth is the Rheostatics' Melville on this list?

And the cover of Leonard Cohen's New Skin For The Old Ceremony is awesome. And Decade? That's iconic.

Thank God they did not include The Unpopular Stompin' Tom. Probably because they'd never heard of it.
posted by mazola at 4:58 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I nominate 19 of 41, Les Jaguars as the best Canadian album cover of all time.

And my mom, on her return, bewildered at how all her stainless-steel knives were ruined.

That was a special time and place, man.
posted by ovvl at 5:03 PM on July 19, 2013


RE: Max Webster ...

Saw them a few times in the clubs in the late 70s, found them entirely painless ... but something went horribly, horribly wrong when Mr. Mitchell went solo, used his dubious pop pulpit to tell us to lay off the booze and reminisce about patio lanterns. One the more powerful arguments against Canadian content regulations.
posted by philip-random at 5:21 PM on July 19, 2013


I remember my first exposure to BNL being a PSA during Saturday morning where the little video was about a green guy with no arms getting harassed by the government. Could I remember the song? No. It was forever ago.
posted by Samizdata at 5:47 PM on July 19, 2013


Let's not forget that's MeFi's own Quartermass in the "others" link.
posted by RGD at 5:48 PM on July 19, 2013


Canada takes far better care of her mullet-rockers than the US does. Back in high school, my friend Frank was a fanatical Triumph fan. I liked them, but he was nuts about them. When I was 17, we went to visit my mom's parents in Vermont then we took a trip to Quebec City. After dinner, my folks let us wander. I found this biker/metal bar that didn't ask for ID and had a few LaBatts'. The video screen was playing the usual suspects-AC/DC, Kiss, etc, and everyone was enjoying them. Then Triumph's "Follow Your Heart," came on and the place went apeshit. My pal Frank was thrilled, but when I told this story to a Canadian MeFite years later, he said, "Oh Yeah, we take care of our own, Rik Emmett never needs to pay for his own drinks again, dude.

"I'm young, I'm wild and I'm free...."
posted by jonmc at 5:51 PM on July 19, 2013


Triumph is Rush, through a dark mirror.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:11 PM on July 19, 2013


That Celine Dion/Ann Geddes cover is just completely insane.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:12 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


With better harmonies and a singing drummer (and singing drummers are always impressive)
posted by jonmc at 7:12 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re: Triumph, I was never a huge fan, but you couldn't really avoid them here in the '70s.
Long hair moustache dude always seemed to be rocking that short, short, shiny Adidas shorts thing, too.
However, I was always partial to their 1977 version of Rocky Mountain Way, which in Canada is pretty much THE version.
(Caution, links to a way-80's live performance with striped tights and mullets aplenty. Also lightning bolts.)
posted by chococat at 7:26 PM on July 19, 2013


My submission for best Canadian album cover: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast.
posted by rocket88 at 9:05 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rocky Mountain Way yt , which in Canada is pretty much THE version.

... not if you're left of the Rockies
posted by philip-random at 9:24 PM on July 19, 2013


The album covers are nowhere near as bad as the commentary on them. Very very lame.
posted by Paris Elk at 12:34 AM on July 20, 2013


Missing some RUSH covers. Hell, even the band didn't like the Hemispheres cover. And 2112's looks like it was done in about 5 minutes. And that fucking owl and logo on Fly By Night looks like it was drawn by a 10th grader. I mean, they not only aren't on the list, but they should be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.

/Huge RUSH fan
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:37 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there any Rush covers that don't stink? Moving Pictures, maybe?
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2013


List does not include this, and therefore must rate as "epick fayle"
posted by e-man at 10:44 PM on July 20, 2013


Are there any Rush covers that don't stink? Moving Pictures, maybe?

Unequivocally Don't Stink (maybe not the greatest album covers of all time, but stink-free):

Moving Pictures
Presto
Permanent Waves
Roll the Bones


YMMV But I Like Them:
A Farewell to Kings
Archives
Test for Echo
posted by Shepherd at 10:27 AM on July 22, 2013


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