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Bad puns, regrettable costumes, and other joys of collecting kitschy album art

‘I think I’m maybe a trivial person in a serious world…’

The home of Robin Ash in Eggbuckland, England overflows with album covers that most people would find ugly, distasteful and often both. His collection of kitschy and campy album art from decades past includes such imaginative, perhaps regrettable images as a person in a gorilla suit playing accordion, a pop-up nativity scene and, for unclear reasons, the Bee Gees dressed in medieval garb as one of them holds a black moulded jelly. Although Ash savours the silly in these images, his passion for their peculiar displays of creativity is clearly one of genuine embrace rather than ironic detachment. The short documentary Sometimes Surface follows Ash as he searches for the record that accompanies his all-time favourite album cover – the easy listening/big band group Ray Ellis and his Orchestra’s Ellis in Wonderland (1957), which, of course, features an appropriately punny set of down-the-rabbit-hole costumes. Through his portrait, the US director Paul Szynol captures Ash’s joy in collecting and his bone-dry sense of humour, giving a view of his quiet life and quaint hobby in a rapidly changing world.

Director: Paul Szynol

7 April 2022

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