Ever since Dave Tompkins had his storied collection of arcane vinyl mauled by a ruthless gang of wide-eyed jakes (see "Blazing Hip-Hop and R&B"), the esteemed hip-hop scribe has kept a "fire crate" next to his apartment door in case disaster strikes again. The vaulted contents in those grab-and-go boxes mostly consist of albums that he treasures for both musical and sentimental value, but we asked Tompkins what platters might make the cut on the merit of their artwork alone, regardless of how awful or amazing the actual tracks may be.
NEIL YOUNG, ON THE BEACH
"This is the one I wanted to use for my book [How To Wreck a Nice Beach] — I wanted to have a vocoder under a beach umbrella, and a balloon with Stalin's face on it coming out of the ocean. At least that's what I was going for — no one else wanted it."
E.V.I.A.N., TECHNO CITY (BY DARRELL DAVIS)
"This one has a sea horse with a skinny tie playing a keytar wearing ski goggles. We wanted to have a whole exhibit of Darryl Davis art at the LA reading — he's done tons of covers, including for Dr. Dre — but we couldn't get it together in time."
FREESTYLE, DON'T STOP THE ROCK
"You have these kids in BMX uniforms who look like they're floating underwater in downtown Miami, and a giant moon is setting behind them. That's what I'm talking about."
K-ROB VS. RAMMELLZEE, BEAT BOP (BY JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT)
"I wish this one was in my fire crate, but I don't own the original."
MC CHILL, S/T
"As far as hilariously bad album covers go, this is basically just him hanging out in the sand in winter wear and earmuffs with busted girls and giant beach balls."
AWOL ONE & DADDY KEV, RHYTHM
"Red skeletons are awesome."
SIR MIX-A-LOT, I'M A TRIP
"He's just popping up out of his sunroof and zapping some dude on the corner . . . and he's wearing plaid pants."
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (THE ANIMALS), SOUND COMMUNICATION BY THE BOTTLENOSED DOLPHIN