Dolly Parton fountain

I wasn’t able to get up to see Steve Goldman’s pop up album sleeve display in Huddersfield earlier in the year but it has now moved to the Spode Pottery Museum in Stoke on Trent (Elenora Street) until the end of June 2022. We were able to get over a few days ago and have to say it was one of the funniest exhibitions we have been to in a long time. It’s just a modest display space but they have managed to put around 150 covers up, including some hanging from the ceiling (not sure I would ever allow any of my LP covers to be treated like that!). The exhibition is being billed as The Worst Record Covers in The World, and the content is fairly random, so you just move from sleeve to sleeve with the feeling of WTF just growing with every new cover. Seen in isolation the covers might not generate too much comment, but assembled together like this just creates a real sense of amazement. Plus I don’t think I have laughed so much in an exhibition for years, so it was certainly a tonic after the last couple of years. Mind you I have the “It’s Hard Rock & All That” sleeve show above and would take issue with that being included!

Steve has numbered each sleeve and people are being asked to choose their favourite – or what they feel are the worst – three covers on show via a poll. I’m not sure if there is a prize for the winner! But frankly it is a fairly impossible task to choose just three, though we had a go. Just what were some of the labels and artists thinking of?
Steve was around so we had a good chat and it was interesting to get his reasoning for including some of the less obvious choices. I’m fairly familiar with the art form but at least two thirds of these covers I have not seen before, including some by well known musicians. So while I know Dolly Parton’s output, the sleeve where her head is floating in a fountain is both mad and new to me. Above, note how similar the floating head of Roger Whittaker is to Deep Purple’s Fireball sleeve!

The snaps here give an idea of the randomness of the displays and the sheer number of covers. The museum has set up an audio visual display projecting sleeves while playing the tracks, and this serves to further point up the strangeness of much of the packaging.
So I can thoroughly recommend a visit if you’re in the area and amazingly (given that this is all run by a trust) it is free to get in (though like us you will probably wish to pop something in the donations box). If you are interested in the history of pottery then that’s a big bonus obviously, with a big shop of vintage pottery to buy too. It is not an easy place to find even with our sat nav, and I know Stoke a bit. The exhibition banner for some reason is hidden away and cannot be seen from the one way street! There is a handy public car park on the left from what was the Spode factory itself so that might be an easier destination to set your sat nav to. Opening times are 10.30 to 4.00 Wed to Sun inc.

A big thank you to the staff for their hospitality, cups of tea, etc. Hopefully when they have finished their Worst Cover poll we can let you know the winner.

Easy On The Eye Books are working with Steve on a book based around his collection and we will pass on more details of that very soon. Not all the covers here will necessarily be featured in the book. An early front cover can be seen on their site.

Steve will be moving his exhibition around. The next confirmed venue is the Shambala Festival at the end of August, so if you are going keep a look out (it is a sold out event).

Oh, and that Dolly Parton sleeve? See what you think! 1973.

About simon robinson

Having worked as a graphic designer in the music industry, mainly in the reissue sector, I now concentrate on the design and publication of books about popular culture - and even write some of them.
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4 Responses to Dolly Parton fountain

  1. wibiwonders says:

    I quite like the Dolly Parton cover!

  2. I could easily imagine becoming depressed if I was there alone on a dreary day, but it looks like a fun excursion to share. This fascination with “bad” covers is extraordinary, isn’t it? Like, who decides? Are aesthetic principles invoked? What actually is taste? I have quite a few of the better known albums (Neil, Feat, Chick…). It’s interesting to sit with one’s own judgements. Why do I rather like Neon Parks tomato in a hammock but find Pet Sounds excruciatingly naff? Back in January, as I was warming up to 72 FROM ’72, I did a tongue-in-cheek album cover post entitled “12 Albums From 1972 You May Well Be Able To Live Without”. Several could have made this exhibition, for sure! I wonder who the winners from this exhibition will be?

  3. Simon+Robinson says:

    Yes, it is best to share with a friend! Even better to look with the curator as well! I have had a few people argue over Little Feat. The selection is by Steve but he has offered to listen to others. I liked the 12 Albums post too. By the way I have tried before to subscribe to your site and it just will not let me, I get very confused! Simon

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