You Used to Be Cool, Man

Somebody, somewhere thought this would be cool

An exhibit in Fullerton asks, "What were they thinking?"

The collection of 100 of the worst record album covers is at the City of Fullerton Museum. It's a look at what was cool -- or, at least, what somebody thought was cool -- in the pre-digital age.

A website of album critics served as the inspiration for the exhibit.

"I've always loved awful album art," said curator Jim Washburn. "As glorious as record covers are for being in that great 12-by-12 format that express so much of art, there's also marvelous trash there.

"We have examples of what was some marvelous art that then people would riff off of like a good jazz musician or a bad drunk."

Washburn noted that humor was the intent of some works, like a cover that featured Pat Cooper draped in spaghetti for "Spaghetti Sauce & Other Delights."

Other covers were intended to cash in.

"The target audience was parents buying for their kids," Washburn said. "They couldn't tell a Beatle apart from a non-Beatle. They'd see the real record for three bucks and the rip-off record for $1.80. It had long hair, a Beatle-like title. They'd buy it, take it home to their kids and they'd cry."

The exhibit runs through Oct. 18.


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