Gustav Holst, you magnificent bastard. While entertaining a fascination with astrology, the composer wrote his masterwork, The Planets. That’s right–The Planets isn’t really about the planets so much as the human emotions influenced by those planets.
The finished product premiered in 1918, conducted by Adrian Boult, and must have been an immediate success. Recordings of The Planets date back as far as 1922, and it has been recorded several times per decade ever since. Boult himself conducted four recordings. The one pictured here was recorded in 1959, and over the next 17 yeas was reissued five times.
Which brings us to why we’re here today. Yes, you should listen to Holst and he’s awesome and blah blah blah, but I’m all about this 1970 pressing’s truly miserable cover. Sci-fi films were in vogue at the end of the ’60s, from camp fare like Barabarella and Mars Needs Women to more sophisticated, provocative work like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes. What reasonable record label wouldn’t cash in on that, and what better way than reprint an album they’d already paid for, but this time with a nifty sci-fi sleeve for the kids?
And so Holst’s masterpiece was re-imagined as the soundtrack to a film starring a sandal-wearing future German tourist and his companion, the Queen of Poker Chips. Their ray guns are awesome, too, but I think we can all agree that the real star of this album cover is the gratuitous Donald Duck crotch shot.
Sure, you can listen to The Planets online anytime you want, but for ten bucks (or maybe a dollar in a charity shop), you can add this cheesy sleeve to your very own Bad Album Cover Hall of Fame, and that’s money well spent in my book. Happy hunting.