Monday, December 14, 2009

2009 Best and Worst Album Covers - Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Like Metal Mark, I'll get the peeyoosah cover out of the way first and pin the award to Foreigner's Can't Slow Down. Despite the fact Agent Provocateur remains the band's best-selling album, reverting back to an abstract "F" logo isn't going to replicate the predecessor's success.

I mainly pushed play on the album out of loyalty to Jeff Pilson and the album isn't rotten, but it's not a heat-seeker, either, despite going the Wal Mart uber-packaging route like Journey and Kiss with a three-disc bonanza including an album of modernized redos and a live DVD. If you're talking the inner contents, then assuming you're willing to have the wool pulled over your eyes a bit, have a go.

This uninviting cover where the "F" is just one striking slash away between the red circle almost subversively hints avoid at all costs. Yes, you can see the open brackets within the circle which is Foreigner's way of saying they're not letting the notorious "buster" logo stamp them down, but it's a bit naive and good marketing only as announcement to their diehards they haven't yet left the scene. Of course, Foreigner is historically not well-known for investing much time in their art work, save for the devious Head Games and the pop art glee of 4.

I know half of you readers are going to be thinking about Ace Frehley's Anomaly as my choice for best album cover, what? Why? How? Is he insane? Did he blow his laser-healed eyes out to pieces looking at too much Dali? Well, perhaps, but there's two reasons I've giving the Spaceman his due with this album.

One, I absolutely love Ace's balls by making the chin drip cutting through the seventies and early eighties-toned celestial twinkle scape deliberately reminiscent of his Kiss persona. Given that Frehley's character in his old band is being adorned by someone else lately, Anomaly throws down a subtle "fuck you" snarl at Kiss (who of course released their own new product in the same year Ace makes his solo return after two decades), just like the song "Outer Space" on this album. It's like he told you, he came from outer space...

The other dimension to Anomaly's award for best cover of 2009 is well obvious if you own a genuine hard copy instead of lazing through a download. When's the last time you saw a CD cover unfold to be able to make a 3-D cardboard tower? The fact any album release these days gives you the chance to play with it deserves a nice honor.



Blogger Metal Mark said...

I am with you on Foreigner being a poor cover. They have a history of some fairly bad album covers, but this is even one of their worst.

I probably like the packaging of the Ace disc better than the actual cover art. The cover fits Ace though. It's kind of fun and doesn't take itself too seriously.

December 14, 2009 at 9:12 AM  

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