Welcome to the final Five Favourites of 2021. It has been an absolute blast. See below my closing selections for the year:

Diana Ross – Eaten Alive (1985)

In addition to being an excellent album, Eaten Alive sports a rather unbelievable cover. Diana, afro sprawling, clutching her perls which are also in the mouth of stuffed tiger! At least I hope the tiger is stuffed or this might rank as one of the world’s most dangerous photo shoots. There’s something quite bizarre and wonderful about this cover.

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971)

… the front cover depicting a black woman buried up to her neck screaming in agony and back cover showing the same woman’s head, now become a skull. Vinyl District

Model Barbara Cheeseborough (real name) is pictured on the cover of this celebrated album, buried up to her neck in dirt and screaming. What more could you want from a cover? I am not sure whether this constitutes good cover art but it is quite striking in a way. The skull adds a delicious layer of existential distaste into the mix.

Rick James – Come Get It! (1978)

There is something about Rick James covers which is surreal to me. Frequently in knee high faux leather booties, Rick seems to tread the line of camp and glam rock/funk. He seems to use this to dispel any suggestion of homosexuality by pointing directly at a young lady who seems very uncomfortable on the floor, possibly in as much agony as Ms Cheeseborough. I hope she wasn’t too cold.

Prince – Prince (1979)

The simplicity of this cover is quite striking to me. Prince, young and moustashed, presumably nude as he was in the cover of Lovesexy, with a smattering of the colour purple, looking smouldering. What more does one need in an album cover? This is so simple but so effective – here is the artist before you, no embellishments, just Prince. There is an honesty here which indeed flows through the album, in which Prince plays every instrument (around 26 from memory) with virtuosity.

Grace Jones – Warm Leatherette (1980)

Grace Jones highly underrated by me

Cannon, formerly Saint, Nicholas Jenkins

Finally, Grace Jones’ excellent cover for Warm Leatherette. My vinyl has the blue cover. This was an excellent cover designed by Jean Paul Goude. This was the first of the ‘new Grace’ phase after three disco albums produced by disco legend Tom Moulton. This was the new look and the new sound, recorded at Compass Point studios with Sly and Robbie from Black Uhuru. A piece of history here, folks.

Warm Leatherette was the first Jones album with cover art designed by her then-boyfriend, Jean-Paul Goude, which presented the singer’s androgynous look for the first time. It featured a black and white photograph of Jones pregnant, with her signature flattop haircut, sitting with her arms crossed. Chris Blackwell praised it as “a very powerful image”. Wikipedia

See you next month!