Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Great Album Covers: Trout Mask Replica

Sure, you can find innumerable lists of obscure, weird album covers from the 60s through the 80s on various websites and blogs, but by and large they are both weird and terrible at the same time. Not so for Trout Mask Replica, which I owned on CD for years and eventually had to buy on vinyl just to have a bigger version of its cover. That's because it is both weird and fantastic at the same time.

This cover is like a multi-layered puzzle you eventually figure out by listening to the album. Even then, questions remain:

1) Is that a light bulb or something sticking out of the top of his hat?
2) Is that actually Captain Beefheart on the cover?
3) Is that a real trout's head or a really good simulacrum?
4) Why is he cradling it in his hand as if to give it a jaunty "hello" mime?
5) OK, I get that it's a replica of a trout mask. But why would someone need a trout mask to begin with? Furthermore, does this imply that a trout mask uses a real trout, while a replica uses an aforementioned simulacrum?

Yeah, I know it's an absurdist, surreal picture that isn't trying to make sense. One of the things I love about album covers is that they can be vague or abstract and leave a lot up to the viewer. Trout Mask Replica is definitely this way, and I enjoy puzzling over it even though there are no answers to be found.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's actually a carp on the cover, not a trout. I know, my life was shattered when I noticed too.