There’s the album cover with the band as rabbits, or the one with a harmony duo walking out of water dressed only in their underwear and ties, but surely the most baffling is the concert guitarist pictured in dinner jacket and no trousers.
Why? “I’ve no idea, sorry,” says Steve Goldman, who owns about 300 records that can lay claim to having some of the world’s worst cover art.
Goldman, 55, has been obsessively collecting the records for five years and this week shares them with the public in a display in Huddersfield, raising money for charity and asking visitors to vote for their favourites.
It is a collection that stems back to a 20-year-old Goldman coming across an album by a little-remembered band called Peter Rabbitt. Titled Roadstar, it featured the grinning band members’ faces superimposed on to rabbit pictures.
“It was such a bad cover that I bought it, I think for 10 pence,” he says. Goldman, a computer programmer, subsequently lost the album, and when the internet came along he tried to find another copy. “Of course, searching for Peter Rabbitt brought nothing but Beatrix Potter.”
Then he discovered the website discogs.com, found Roadstar again, and so began a mission. “I remember saying to my family: I’m going to start collecting disastrous LP covers. They approved.”
Goldman says he gets about half the albums via discogs.com and the rest come from him and his family rooting around charity shops and flea markets.
Top of his criteria, he says, is that “it has to be funny, it has to make me laugh”. Another rule is that the album is not self-published. “For example, there are plenty of American families from the deep south who in the 60s and 70s put out their own efforts, so I want a record company or a designer to be involved.”
Also, “there’s plenty of terrible album covers but a lot of them are sexist or racist or homophobic. None of them are in my collection,” he adds.
Goldman, who had a stroke 18 months ago, is staging the exhibition in aid of Different Strokes, a charity helping younger stroke survivors. It is proving popular – “we had about 250 people in on Saturday,” he says – and he hopes to tour the display in the future.
His favourites change day to day but high up is an album by Duduca & Dalvan titled Massa Falida. It shows Duduca and Dalvan walking out of water naked bar briefs and ties. In a triangle there is a girl dressed as an angel. “I really, really don’t know what is going on.”