From The Stacks: Open Up And Say…Ahh!

This is a dangerous album cover.  When it was released in 1988 various churches and parent groups got all bent out of shape.  Oddly this was because they assumed that the there was devil worshippin’ a-goin’ on when what they should have been protesting is that it’s ass-ugly.

See that “Starship Records and Tapes” sticker up in the corner?  That’s the record store where I worked when this album came out.  The next door down was Wal-Mart’s.  They refused to stock this record because of the dangerous album cover that scared various churches and parent groups.  As a result the record label censored the cover by tossing a couple of black bars across it and making it even uglier:

 

This made Wal-Mart happy, so they and other easily brow-beaten retailers went back to stocking the album, which went on to sell several million copies.  People didn’t buy the censored version for the album cover but for hit songs like “I Could Care Less” and “Stick An Ice Pick In My Ear Rather Than Make Me Listen To This” and “For The Love Of God Please Make It Stop.”

I, on the other hand, bought my copy solely for the album cover, which explains why it still has the Starship Records sticker on it.  See, I had no need to open mine.  As long as it remained sealed the awful music could never leak out, and on top of that someday I could sell my rarity for thousands.  Surely this was my generation’s “Butcher Cover.”   With employee discount and sales tax I invested six bucks in my future.

A copy of the uncensored cover still in the shrink wrap recently sold on eBay for $25.00, which means that I’ve dragged this hunk of plastic all over the country with me for the last twenty-five years in order to make nineteen dollars.  So to recap:

  • Shitty album covers scare churches and parent groups
  • Churches and parent groups scare shitty retailers
  • Shitty retailers scare shitty record labels
  • I’m the wrong guy to ask for investment advice.

And on that note I officially declare Blame Music Week over. 

 

 

5 thoughts on “From The Stacks: Open Up And Say…Ahh!

  1. These American, “Family Values” protectors were right: an album cover changed my life… altered my path as a young adult. Unfortunately for them, it was veered toward opposing them and their deluded path.

    Jane’s Addiction’s, “Nothing’s Shocking” was beyond shocking to me. The music played upon my inner instrument. It harmonized with my personal chord like few others had. The album cover depicting sculpture of nude twin women, heads aflame, merged art and rock sublimely. An impressional youth, I was not just impressed but altered. The bar was lifted higher for personal expression.

    The endless wait for, “Ritual” was paid in full. Perry Farrel collaborative collage for the album art was astounding. Gazing at Peaches’ promo art was as if browsing the shelves of a French Quarter alchemy and majiks shop… interesting, uncommon, alluring.

    It was a joyous and crushing day when it first dropped. No beautiful artwork for me, or the other freaks that day. Nudity, ON A SCULPTURE, prompted the label to censor the art. Instead of caving, Perry changed the art to stark white, with Constitutional excerpts on the front, and personal message on the back:

    •ARTICLE ONE:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The back of the Amendment Version:
    •”Hitler’s syphilis-ridden dreams almost came true. How could it happen? By taking control of the media. An entire country was led by a lunatic? We must protect our First Amendment, before sick dreams become law. Nobody made fun of Hitler??!” –Perry Farrell

    Stealing my artwork… MY ARTWORK, art I wanted and was blocked from purchasing, set me on the endless path of Justice for Freaks, freedom of expression, and slacktivism of all sorts. More importantly, it started me digging… into history altered by textbook editors, alternative media, buried truth.

    Thank you, PMRC and your ilk, for setting my own head aflame.

    Artwork here: http://janesaddiction.org/discography/janes-addiction/albums/ritual-de-lo-habitual/

    • The Ritual case was particularly weird to me because the artwork wasn’t realistic. It felt a bit like getting bent over a cartoon or some such.

      You know, it just occurred to me that an unexpected outcome of the death of album art is that young people have one less thing that will engage them in civics. The PMRC was the political issue for my age group when that whole thing was happening. At 16-17 I would’ve cared less about Super PACs or corruption, but mess with my right to purchase a cool album cover? Then you had my undivided attention.

      • The art depicted three huddled plaster figures… one of which was displaying pubic bush. ««facepalm»»

      • Face palm is right. I was and remain a huge Jane’s Addiction fan. What was then side two of Ritual remains likely my most listened to sequence of songs to this day. The whole cover art controversy to me just seemed silly is all. Same with Nothing’s Shocking, which was simply beautiful.

        I’m trying to think of an album cover that makes me worry for my children’s health. Unless there’s an album out there that fires poison darts I think they’re safe.

  2. Maybe it didn’t quite pan out, but I think that was a good instinct to save the unopened album. I will now be sending you all of my investment questions :)

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