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The Annals of Rock Snobbery

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In the brief history of Snobsite, we’ve seldom had more response to an Annals of Snobbery item than to our request for any information about this album cover:


In a previous post, we explained that we’d found this curio on a site dedicated to the Worst Album Covers Ever, and speculated that it was “a self-financed vanity record, circa 1982, by someone named Joyce who looks remarkably like Dustin Hoffman circa Tootsie.” We were eager for explanation, clarification, and validation. Boy, did we get some.

Ed Davis of Flint, Michigan, is one of many readers to tell us that the U.K. newspaper the Guardian ran the Joyce album cover as part of a pictorial excerpt from a book called The Worst Album Covers in the World… Ever! by Nick Di Fonzo. The Guardian site also mentioned that the album was released in 1983 (so we were only a year off), that Joyce’s surname is Drake, and that among the songs is one called “I Get All Excited.” Writes Ed, “I’m curious as to just what it would be that would get Joyce ‘all excited.’”

We also received a fascinating hypothesis from reader Mark Newnham, an Englishman who lives in Denver. Mark thinks that “Joyce” is actually the British actress Maureen Lipman in character as the eccentric British stage comedienne Joyce Grenfell. He linked us to this bio of Ms. Lipman, which explains that the actress, whose aquiline nose and elongated face aren’t worlds away from Joyce’s, has long performed a one-woman show called Re Joyce, described as “her homage to her heroine Joyce Grenfell.”

So, is the lady Joyce Drake or Maureen Lipman in Joyce Grenfell drag? Signs point to the former theory being correct. Since the Worst Album Covers list was published, Joyce has turned into something of a cult figure of the ’Net, with this Prince fan site even going so far as to sponsor a “Joyce Photoshop Thread Contest.” It’s really quite amazing, the lengths to which Joyce fans have gone. Here’s Joyce on the cover of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home:


And here’s Joyce “doing” Prince circa Parade:


Here’s Joyce recreating Funkadelic’s classic Maggot Brain:


And here’s our favorite, Joyce hanging out with N.W.A.:


The most salient thing about Joyce’s being a cult figure is that she’s been repeatedly identified as “Joyce Drake.” Which leads to the most likely explanation of who this lady is. One of the many blogs and sites to examine the Joyce phenomenon is devoted to a polka band called the Polkaholics. On their site, one reader wrote in to comment, “Joyce Drake was the pastor’s wife at First Assembly of God in Sealy, Texas, when I was a little girl in the 1970s. She was really very nice. I don’t know of any other albums that she ever made.” A cursory Google search reveals that a Joyce Drake and her husband, Clyde, indeed did lead such a church in Sealy. Alas, the trail grows cold there, and we don’t know what’s since become of Mrs. Drake, nor do we have photographic proof that this Joyce and our Joyce are one and the same. Joyce, if you’re reading this, give us a jingle.

November 03, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »

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