Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

A Stroll Through the ER Record Collection

I was reading an article at Pitchfork Media about the "world's worst record covers" and it got me thinking about my own record shelves. Did their selections have anything on the misguided audio visual atrocities sitting right within reach? No, they don't. Here are some of the high – or low – points of the ER Record Collection...

Dulcimer: Old Time and Traditional Music
Played by Ralph Lee Smith with Mary Louise Hollowell

This cover puts the "dull" in dulcimer by asking the question: What's more boring than playing the dulcimer? How about sitting there watching somebody play the dulcimer. Double threat Don DePoy both produced the disc and took the scintillating cover shot. Includes a booklet with chord samples, photos, lyrics, history and more. Oddly enough, this is not the only dulcimer LP that I own.

Here's to You from Polka Happiness
Phil Crysler Band

Polka band records feature some of the most uniformly awful and unappealing jackets you'll ever find, and this visual atrocity from the mean streets of Youngstown, Ohio is no exception. Photo looks like it was taken before or after a gig at the local tavern with backup members relegated to wearing matching sweaters and drinking from faux pewter tankards while Phil gets to wear whatever he wants and drink from a huge fricking glass mug. Photo doesn't do it justice but Phil is wearing a giant 'PHIL' belt buckle. I've had this LP for at least three years and just realized that the second person from the left is a woman. I wonder what the three band members relegated to the back cover photo only did to piss off Phil.

Watch Over My Little Girl
The Vibrators

Apparently, nobody at Green Dolphin Records saw the creepy irony of five guys – from a band called The Vibrators – crowded around a little girl at a playground. Just looking at this cover makes me all itchy skitchy and the liner notes by "fan" Paul Morrison are no less bizarre. The band is described as "mellow, rugged and exciting" with various members singled out for their "dazzling" fingerwork, "maniacal" drumming, and "masterful melodies." Among the songs savaged by these beefy Steel City amateur hour castoffs... "Jive Talkin'", "Why Can't We Be Friends", "Living for the City" and "The Way We Were." One of those thrift store masterworks that's as great to see as it is to hear. In fact, I'm listening to it right now and if you're good I'll post an MP3 of the mind-blowing title track in which a terminally ill widower begs the man upstairs to watch over his little girl.

Colonel Sanders' Tijuana Picnic
A George Garabedian Production

In my role as The Hungover Gourmet I've been busy collecting and cataloging food- and drink-oriented records for an upcoming installment of the zine and I'm pleased to report that the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken once produced delicious food and decidedly oddball LPs with alarming frequency. Now they do neither. This is one of at least four Colonel Sanders-themed slabs of vinyl that I'm proud to own and maybe the one with the oddest cover. I don't know about you, but it looks to me like the poor Colonel has fallen down in the park next to this family that has been hit with some sort of ray gun that's frozen them all in mid-motion! The then-76-year-old Colonel relays his thoughts about the LPs songs on the back cover, and he somehow works a KFC plug into each little nugget. As a bonus, the jacket features Colonel Sanders' Famous Picnic Menu which shockingly includes Buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken as well as six side dishes readily available from your local KFC.


Allegedly celebrating his "100th Week at Walt Disney World", the title of this LP is open to interpretation depending upon the punctuation mark you envision at the end. As does the cover photo which makes Iceberg – who is owed an apology by all the "Ices" that have followed – look like some sort of Steven Hawking wannabe captured in the midst of a painful seizure. Or at least a pinched nerve. The back of the LP is equally frustrating, with the text spaced out over thirty-two 1.75" x .50" white labels.

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