Monday, April 7, 2008

Great moments in art history: Spotlight on Poland's TURBO

WARNING: The following post may offend our Polish readers. Please understand that I don't hate Polish people. I have been to Poland and I had a great time. My neighbors are Polish and very nice as far as I can tell. Also, I really like Turbo. "Last Warrior" is an ass-kicking record. Thank you.

Even though they didn't produce any artists, the Medici Family were essential to the growth and development of art in Florence during the High Renaissance. They produced 3 popes, but not a single artist. What they did do was sponsor some of the best of all time. The Medicis were basically responsible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They sponsored Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci amongst many others.

In the world of High Bad Cover Art in Metal Records, there's a "family" that has been sponsoring horrible cover art since 1981: Poland's Turbo. Sure, Poznan in no Florence, but great art always comes from unexpected places. Some may think that a comparison between Turbo's Wojciech Hoffmann and Lorenzo de' Medici is far-fetched, but believe me when I tell you, my friends, we owe both of these European men for a lot of great, great art.

Turbo started its great journey through the lands of second-rate shitty Eastern European Heavy Metal in 1980. (Trivial, but humorous fact: the band's 3 founding members were all named Wojciech...sorta like Mitch Harris and Mick Harris, except not at all like that). From the beginning of the band it was obvious that they were destined to play an utterly unimportant and forgettable role in Metal History. Turbo was, however, destined for greatness in Metal Inquisition History, which is, of course, way cooler. The fact that they are still together is so scary, I'm just gonna avoid that like I'd avoid a girl who's not that ugly, dresses OK, but has canker sores.

1982's "Dorosłe Dzieci" (in English: "Fag In Yellow Overalls") was their first full length record. Where to start? Well, the composition is a bit unorthodox, that's for sure. Why is there all that weird negative space to the right? I mean that: why? I guess next we should address the elephant in the room... yeah, the elephant that is gay and wearing yellow overalls. Sure, this idiot looks like a member of 'Kids Incorporated', but he's screaming for heavy metal freedom in 1980's Poland, so I guess we'll have to excuse his retarded attire. Counter-clockwise from there we have Poland's answer to Tony Orlando. He and the bass player are holding hands and stroking the neck of the bass together. Whatever rocks their Polish Heavy Metal boat, I guess. Onto the bass player himself: he wears a sleeveless denim number. I bet you this dude sold his 1977 FSO Syrena 110 to get enough money to buy the vest. I mean, we are talking about a soviet nation in the early 80's... Denim was like gold to these people. Oh, yeah, he also has a pearl bracelet from Tiffany's 1981 collection. The singer is also screaming for freedom, but he wants the freedom to leave this shitty band (which he did after this album). I think he was influenced by Nugent's 'Scream Dream' and in turn influenced Brutal Truth's 'Sounds of the Animal Kingdom'. This last dude I don't get. It's such an obvious Steve Harris impersonation, why bother? Well, the guy is not completely useless, he came in third in a Robert Trujillo look-alike contest at some Funkcore fest in Kiev in 1994.

Whoa! Hold the presses, we got a live one here! What a beauty! "Kawaleria Szatana" (in English "Down-Syndrome Ghost of Michael Jackson") was Turbo's third album. Like a 5oz. 80% pure Colombian emerald, it is not often that you find a gem like this one. Once in a lifetime type shit right here, gents. Study it for a few seconds. Let the beauty penetrate your heart...your soul. Let your eyes frolic through the beautifully rendered mountains or volcanoes or whatever. Admire the completely fucked perspective on the shoulders of whatever-the-fuck that is, enjoy the gift of the horrible see-though effect the artist blesses us with and rejoice in the puddles at the foot of the mountains that look like maxipads. The artist's name is Zbigniew Kosmalsk. It's in the liner notes. A normal human being would be too embarrassed to claim this piece of 3-day-old vomit as their own, but ol' Zbigy here seems to be proud of it. God bless his lost soul. I'll never understand Polish people... with their 8.5% ABV Tripel beer and those potato thingys they like... beyond me. Anyway, you know, it's the small things that usually make a record cover special. That little gold nugget the artist drops in hoping someone will find it and appreciate it. My dear readers, in this instance that nugget has a name... and it's name is "Rad Shoulder-Pads"!! Please hold your applause until the end.

The soviet government destroyed a lot of the records in the 80's, so the facts are a bit blurry. For what I can make out Turbo wanted a change of look for their covers as early as November of 1996. I guess Zbigy's work wasn't cutting it anymore or maybe Turbo wanted to go more in a ManOwar, Frazetta direction. For whatever reason, they hired Jerzy Kurczak. Maybe because his name reminded them of New Jersey, home of great artists like... like... whatever... Anyway, Jerzy did the artwork (I use the term loosely, here) for their next album, "Ostatni Wojownik" (in English: "King Arthur never came to Poland, but we saw ManOwar last week"). The cover features a sword in a rock (Fuck, these guys are SO original!) and wraped around it is a Wornake. A Wornake is a half worm, half snake type deal. They are very rare, but not as rare as the horrifying Tomctopus, which is half octopus and half Tom G. Warrior.

"Turbo Alive!" - Damn! What an original title! These dudes are super creative! Fuck, I wish I'd thought of it. The best part about the title is that the LP is fucking LIVE! Yeah, brilliant, I know. OK, the cover is a typical Frazetta-like deal. One huge difference, tho: I may be wrong, 'cuz I'm no Frazetta expert, but I don't think he ever painted a gigantic potato on a humongous termite hill as a background for any of his pieces. Oh, and there's the annoying little dude from Lord of the Rings on the left... No, not that dude, the other annoying little dude.

"Last Warrior" was a re-release of some other record or something. I'm not sure. I completely lost interest on their bio after a while. Anyway, you gotta LOVE this monkey-looking guy on the bad-ass horse. I wish it was breathing fire, tho. The Lord of the Rings dude i chillin' in the back. Well, he ain't really chillin', since he's in the middle of the fire. It's probably hot as balls in there. Maybe the monkey-looking guy should put down the sword call the fire department. Hmm, come to think of it, he's got his own problems. Check out the milky semen tentacles trying to trap the horse and shit. Battle on monkey-looking guy!

In the late 80's Poland was on its way to become a normal country, like America. Turbo was riding the wave of progress and released "Epidemic/Epidemie" in 1989. See? The title is in Polish AND in American! Anyway, onto the cover. We have a couple of naked muscular dudes giving each other back massages. I guess the WWE had gotten to Poland by '89. One of the guys is holding a Polish flag that drives our eye toward the castle. I don't think Edward Scissorhands is home. Below the archway we see: The Grim Reaper! The level of originality of these guys is simply uncanny!

The last cover we'll look at is 1994's "Dorosłe Dzieci i Inne Ballady" (in English "We Wish Polish Chicks Smoked Peyote") I don't know what to say about this one. Maybe my funny-tank is running low. Some say it's been running low since the mid-90s. Just look at the cover and laugh, ok?

So, here I leave you. There's 2 things you should take away from this post:
1. Communism is bad.
2. Turbo's music is actually not that bad. Seriously. Unfortunately the way they dress is REALLY horrible. Nice pants there, Comrade!



  1. I think you forgot the cover of 1990's "Dead end"...great art. Looks like the aftermath, the logical following to "Epidemic", which as seen above showed the mushroom cloud following a handful of multi-megaton warheads.
    Let's not forget eastern Europe people in the late 80's were frightened by yankees and their IMDB's...

  2. IMDB'S internet movie databases? Wow...the 80s were weird.
    the guys pants are sweet. they look like my mom's kitchen tablecloth.

  3. Ahahaha...sorry, I meant ICBM'S!!!


  4. Shit, now I really have to hear this band. By the way, Last Warrior = Ostatni Wojnowik in Polish, so I guess that's what it's a reissue of. Although I like your translation better.

  5. im sure if you look around in blogs all their albums are up for download. check them out. its not half bad.

    i cant believe no one has commented on the Tomctopus photo! this beast is freaking rare as shit and i actually got an image of one and no one seems to care!? damn you all... damn you all to HELLL!


  6. The dude with the nice pants looks like he wants to be the polish Eddie Van Halen.

  7. Anonymous Rating for this Post:

    ***** (5 stars!)

  8. point of note:

    the cover art of "Last Warrior" is the cover art of Gene Wolfe's book "The Sword of the Lictor".

    so the shitty art wasn't turbo's idea. BUT they did use it...