As far as album covers go, this one lands in the upper echelon of awesomeness. It says all there is to be said, yet poses more questions than answers. It lends itself to typecasting and easy judgements, yet begs for a listen. It plays off prejudices while challenging them through unabashed absurdity. Most of all, it’s funny as hell.
I don’t want to spoil the magic too much for you, so I’ll stick to the rules and discuss only the artwork. But if you need answers and you need them now, much as I did when I first came across the Altar Boyz, try clicking here.
The cover’s Altar Boyz banner and sunburst blue and white backdrop do their job (i.e., proclaim “God has chosen us to rock your soulz!” or something of the sort), but the real action lies in the portrait of the five Boyz. On the far left we have B-Boy, wearing a sideways cap, baggy pants, wristband, and open shirt. His accessories include subtle goatee and shiny jewelry. He’s tough but sensitive. Next we have Rico Suave, the only ethnic member of the group. He wears designer clothing and long, brown hair tucked mischievously behind his ears. Accessories: beaded choker necklace with cross; chest hair. He’ll wine and dine you, but not before saying grace.
In the center is Dream Boat, the frontman for the group and the one God likes best. He’s studly, buff, and likely the best smelling. He wears a massive cross around his neck and a nine o’clock shadow that suggests he’s been far too busy praying to shave. He’s here for the worship, and if any chicks get in the way, so be it.
To his left is Closet Case, the one who emphatically denies being gay despite persistent suspicion from his fans and bandmates. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t want to cause a stir and detract from the group’s mission; perhaps his religious beliefs conflict with his sexuality and therefore lead him to surpress it; or perhaps he’s not gay after all. Either way, Closet Case has a super voice and is an essential part of Altar Boyz.
Finally, we have Star of David, the only Jewish member, who wears his namesake proudly around his neck and sports a natural, casual look. David looks like he might feel a little left out, but sets his differences aside for the good of the group. Otherwise they’d replace him in a heartbeat.
Together they are the Altar Boyz, and they make for one rapturous album cover.
P.S. Check out an archive of past Sound by Its Cover reviews here.