Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some unfortunate attempts to sex up classical music album covers: Saturday Music Club on Thursday

 ***Some probably NSFW imagery here, as you might expect...


Sometimes, a cover photo concept, whether high or low, just doesn't come off...


The tiny composer portrait clearly disapproves...

And one which would almost be kinda sorta tasteful/appropriate...if not for the Hercules/Tarzan costume on the guy:

And then there's the default attempt to make sexpots of every female classical performer:

Some take to it more enthusiastically than...well...anyone else...



 ...though not for the lack of trying on the part of some others:


...while some are just trying to keep up...

Below, the typical glamming up required of women in classical music, though I can sympathize with Benedetti's more blatant lack of enthusiasm than is usual in such situations...

But, then, some sleeve images can make one glad that one is about to enjoy an exclusively audio recording...

The Westminster Gold line is a prominent contributor to everyone's collection of this kind of bad packaging, though for what it's worth (not so very much), they were trying to be cute. Trying very hard. Sometimes more successfully than in the examples below, and their collection of recordings was pretty good...kind of a pity about (particularly) some of these early sleeves...




See if you can spot the flute or harpsichord in the photo below. Feel the saucy hilarity wash over you, much as it did the young women above.

It's the (1970s porn cliche) black socks that make it particularly...cheeky...

Scheherazade also comprises its own subcategory of bad classical album art, given the opportunity for cheap "naughty" exotica the covers offer. From remarkably bad makeup to employment of model Barb McCornfed, fresh from cheerleader practice, there are lots of ways to go wrong with this one. Including at least twice for the recording by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Ormandy.

Arguably, a rather more adept attempt at putting forth exoticized sexualization...if still rather blatant...and how young is this apparent kid?


  1. "Unfortunate attempts" is right. I know sex sells but these covers had to scare off potential buyers of classical music.

  2. Not to step up on some feminist soapbox, but I think it is sad that it's the (mostly young) women who bear the brunt of these marketing gimmicks. Henceforth, I demand equal time for the ladies (and Jean Pierre Jumez doesn't count). How about it, Joshua Bell? Alessio Bax? Jonas Kaufman?

  3. Walker, I think a few are scared off, but most either just revel in it, shake their heads, or fall somewhere in between.

    BV, it's certainly a feminist issue, since most of the men are expected to wear a tux or something similar and simper or smoulder...a few do expose the flesh in the manner of Vanessa-Mae and usually come off looking even goofier (at least the Westchester models were presumably actual models or selected as such--I have to wonder if Jumez actually posed for that himself). Also the case that even the older women are expected to Be Pretty for Daddy too often, but the younger ones are encouraged (if that's the word) to try to sell themselves thus...which I'd have less of a problem with (even though the most enthusiastic do tend to come off goofy-looking) if it was less compulsory. And, of course, I imagine there are women who find Bond as empowering or at least as lust-inducing as, say, the Spice Girls were...if they'd ever released an actual audio recording I could find, I probably would've included the rather sad spectacle of the "Naked Girls Orchestra"...

  4. While I don't like such covers, and some are actively nauseating, usually I try to pick my purchase based on the artists's skill with the music played. The exception is when the work is rare or unusual and only available by an out-of-the-way orchestra, in which case these types of covers rarely are used instead of the classic old painting cover.

  5. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, still, Rick...though in these days of the download, covers can be more ignored than they once were. Certainly most of these (or at least most of the Rimsky-Korsakovs and all the Winchester Golds) date from the 1950s through the 1980s (the WGs all from the early '70s, natch), and there were and are good photo covers I've ignored here, or at least less bad examples...though Entirely too many nearly as bad examples, even from artists such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, who early on decided she would not allow herself to be sleeve-Barbie, or at least would take a hand in to what degree she would be, without also getting on the pole. And occasionally a Rosalyn Tureck would not be pestered too much for glam after a certain point in her career, even for Deutsche Grammaphon, always willing to go for a gauzy image.

  6. And, of course, my point here is that the music is what they're selling...the sad attempt to make it fit in with the Swingin' Bach Pad is unhelpful...

  7. Todd, I didn't know classical music albums had covers like these. I haven't seen anything like it. Was it a ploy to sell the LPs? And what's "Scheherazade" like? I mean, is it music of the orient?

  8. Well, Prashant, all album covers are meant to help sell an album to one degree or another, but these were just a few of the bad examples I could gather (and it merely scratches the surface of all the bad examples available).

    Scheherazade is probably Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular composition, and while he was a mainspring of the Russian "Five," seeking to make an inherently Russian stamp on classical music in their time, he was interested in exploring some of the elements of Near Eastern music with which he was familiar (this composition was apparently something of a lark for him). Aside from listening to the LP we had around the house in my youth (and my folks still have), I also enjoyed its employment as the soundtrack to the version of the silent THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (with the very Iraqi cast headed by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Anna May Wong) that I've watched a few times...

  9. You don't mention Belshazzar's Feast, which offers even greater temptations.

    And I remember an LP with a dancing girl (or rather the chest of a dancing girl) in a bra with gold coins all over it

  10. I think I might've seen that latter one...and Ancient Grecian art allows for raciness and "class" (or is that klazz)!


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