So Bad It’s Good

There are several books of bad LP sleeves. They will be treated elsewhere.

45s and EPs compete, though they haven’t been compiled. See the “The Unwanted” section for some categories. 

Other records are one-offs, languishing in charity shops, never looked at. Some are so kitsch that they have to be picked up and checked out. Most of the lower (Avenue) end of budget recordings fall into this category. Embassy are collectable in their own right. Many Beltona and Waverley Scottish recordings from the sixties fall straight into the group. 

This is a tiny selection … see also Anti Songs (in preparation)

Grist Bendigedig: Janet Rees, Cambrian 45, 1972

Unintentional humour is often present. Janet Rees is captured on film in 1972 for Cambrian Records of Wales, and looks as if she’s at the chapel gate with a hymn book in her hand. The minister, Reverend Pugh, is perhaps going to give her a private lesson for confirmation class at the manse. Maybe he’s going to get her to bend down and dip her face in the font, while he checks the angle. I don’t speak Welsh, but I’m sure Grist Bendigedig does not mean ‘Gristly Bendy Thing’ nor was it inspired by the minister. The inclement weather of the Welsh countryside does not seem to have stopped a taste for extremely short skirts.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Father Sidney MacEwan, Philips EP, 1956

Ah! Is this Reverend Pugh with his seven inch?

Father Sydney MacEwan is backed by the George Mitchell Choir so at first sight it shouldn’t be any worse than the mall Christmas muzac which used to start in early November, but now starts soon after the schools go back after the summer holiday. However Father Ted, sorry Father Sydney, has that over-enuciated vocal style that died out in the early 1950s. Just listening, you can conjure up the elaborate mouth contortions required to spit this stuff out. Looking like Dick Emery’s comedy vicar doesn’t help. He was something of a star with several LPs and singles to his name.

Volare: anonymous artists, Gala EP, 1958

Enough of funny vicars. The Gala budget EP wins for the combination of soft-lipped sexy Italianate woman and a record of tinny covers which has only the thin connection of Volare being in Italian. Being Gala it’s pressed on the thickest vinyl you’ve ever seen, and in spite of looking pristine, every track sticks in the groove.

The Heart of A Man: Frankie Vaughan, Philips EP, 1959

Frankie Vaughan’s  soundtrack to The Heart Of A Man is a masterpiece of tinting, so much so that its romantic image is arguably simply “good.” The music is just what it says on the packet. In the film, Frankie manages to combine his talents for ballroom dancing and boxing, which is never an easy task. The odd thing about this one is Discogs records a “Highest” sale of £9. I did lights on Frankie Vaughan all one summer. He was actually a great singer.

Happy Hours With Jimmy Shand: Parlophone EP 1958

Happy Hours with Jimmy Shand is one of his dozen EPs on Parlophone and Waverley, every one a contender. On this one, it’s the combination of “happy hours”in the title with the photo of the lugubrious and somewhat seedy Shand with his squeeze box that gets it there. This cost 10p in 2010.

The Worst Record Show LP: Compiled by Kenny Everett, K-Tel, 1978
On puke green vinyl. 10 tracks a side so it’s thin and compressed

Music is also bought in the “so bad it’s good category” as Kenny Everett showed with his compilation, The World’s Worst Record Show. Pat Campbell’s The Deal sits on turquoise vinyl with a puke effect pattern next to Jimmy Cross’s I Want My Baby Back and Jess Conrad’s This Pullover, the eventual winner of the readers’ vote for the worst record ever made. 

I Want My Baby Back: Jimmy Cross, Wanted Records re-issue 1978

I Want My Baby Back was reissued after the programme in 1978 also claiming to be the world’s worst record. To most, Jess Conrad wins, as it was straight in intention. Jimmy Cross was always taking the piss with this hokey narrative about his ‘baby’ getting killed on the way back from a Beatles concert with crash sounds after they hit ‘The Leader of The Pack.’ He digs her up with creaky coffin sounds. 

The World’s Worst Record Show record label claims to be Yuk Records, but is actually K-Tel (which is not far off according to hi-fidelity enthusiasts). The twenty assembled by Everett in 1978 are hard to beat without cheating by admitting budget records into the category. Everett’s are all mainstream releases. It can’t simply be a singer you don’t like, or who is out of fashion. It has to be a deeply misguided concept. Everett’s one serious error is Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen, not only a garage band classic, but one revived in 2011 and sung by every seven year old in the land.

Lipstick On Your Lips: Ricky Valance Columbia 1960

Ricky Valance’s Tell Laura I Love Her was a candidate, but it’s beaten for me by the B-side of the follow up, Lipstick On Your Lips. This disc may have inspired Prince Charles to make that much lampooned phone call to Camilla. Valance expresses the desire to be the lipstick on her lovely lips, the polish on her fingertips, the ribbon in her hair, the high-heeled shoes she wears, and (when the nights get colder) the coat around her shoulders. The fetish continues unabated. He wants to be the belt around her tiny waist, the chocolate candy that she tastes (Valance was white, I hasten to add), the powder on (not up) her nose, and also her bracelet and her gloves. He tries to get gloves to rhyme with nose, but inevitably fails.