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Quick Survey Time: Album Art

Ok, here's your chance to help me with a near-future blog post. Your dream come true, I know. After seeing this post over at Dustbury, I was inspired to get started on a mega=post about the lost art of album covers. Simply, I'd just like to know - for all you who actually have held an real, live album in your hands: Your favorite album art Album art you hate(d) for whatever reason Any really strange album covers you know about (and most of us have seen this link already) Enough responses, and I'll include a poll with the future post.


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My favourite has to be 'Number of the Beast' by Iron Maiden. It sums up the album perfectly. Honorable mention goes to Bruce Dickinson's Chemical Wedding.

Rubbish covers...too many to mention.

Some of my favorites:

Janis Ian, The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink (Verve Forecast, 1968)

It's a Beautiful Day (Columbia, 1969)

The Mothers of Invention, Weasels Ripped My Flesh (Reprise, 1970)

T. Rex, Electric Warrior (Reprise, 1971)

The Who, Who's Next (MCA, 1971)

Original soundtrack, Son of Dracula (Rapple, 1974; die-cut fold-out cover, vaguely cape-like, with "Bite me" inscribed in the corners)


- Iron Maiden, Live After Death or Number of The Beast.
- Metallica, Master of Puppets or And Justice For All

- Believe it or not , Led Zeppelin, In Through The Out Door. I hate that brown paper bag and the bar art isn't really "Zeppelin-y" Runner up - Led Zep, CODA. Terrible cover.

Random thoughts from a geezer

Good ones:
Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed: Great art direction

Big Brother and the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills - Turned me on to R. Crumb cartoons

Blood Sweat and Tears: Child is Father to the Man - putting the band's grown up heads on the the kids bodies was...disturbing

Blind Faith - not the cover that was released in the U.S., but the one with the ahem silver airplane

Traffic - Low Spark of High Heeled Boys: The sleeve was an octagon - always easy to pick out from the pile

The Clash - London Calling - That picture of Paul Simonon about to smash his bass on the stage represented everything punk was about- anger is an energy

Flat Dou Jets - Go GO Harlem Baby: cleavage

Beck- Odelay: the sheep dog jumping over the bar is the most random thing ever put on a cover

Rancid - Out Come the Wolves: just despair folks

King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King - that face still haunts me

Bad ones:

Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour - WTF?

Doors - Strange Days: Jim Morrison's pretension spill over on to the cover

The Moody Blues - EVERY SINGLE COVER - awful...just awful

I like the Led Zep cover with the old man with sticks on his back which some people call Led Zeppelin 4.
Quadrophenia by the Who has a good cover and an excellent bonus book of photos which illustrate the story.
The Beatles Sgt Pepper has an outlandish psychodelic cover to match the music inside, while their "White Album" has a stark minimalist cover which also matches the music.
Pink Floyd: "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals", obviously.

Dark Side of the Moon. It's a simple image, but the second you see it, you know exactly what it is.

Ornette Coleman - Free Jazz: The Jackson Pollack painting on the cover is a visual statement that exactly parallels the musical statement being made on the album.

Moving Pictures by Rush is clever, especially when you turn it over and see that they're filming the scene. Ha ha! Get it?

Lifetime achievement award for worst album cover art to Dire Straits.

I used to love all of the Yes album covers done by Roger Dean.
I even went so far as to have a half dozen posters of the album covers stuck on the walls of my dorm room. I had a "take it or leave it" attitude about the band, but I DID love those album covers!!

King Crimson immediately comes to mind, but since it's already taken, I'll have The Cars' first album - she's kinda spooky like an insane clown.

Classics include the first Santana album, with the lion's head made up of all those different people. I also loved the Passport albums from the mid-'70s: Hand Made, Infinity Machine, and Cross Collateral all had similar artwork. A similar thing went on with several Uriah Heep albums. Mott The Hoople had a cool early album with MC Escher art--the lizards and the Job rolling papers print.

Bad ones: nothing can beat that Julie's 16th Birthday cover that somebody posted last year.

I'll add my votes for the Yes covers, King Crimson, Dark Side of the Moon, and The Cars...but I have to add Candy-O to the list. It was pop, it was pinup.

Honorable mention goes to The Tubes for their "Remote Control." The baby in the carseat with the television with the nipple just sort of wrapped up my childhood for me.

I was going to mention Traffic's "Low Spark" -- one of the most distinctive, ever.

I still laugh my ass off at Frank Zappa's rip of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band": "We're Only In It For The Money" (1968). Still on the Zappa tip: the cover of "Roxy & Elsewhere" has, to my eye, the single most intriguing photograph in all of album cover art. It's a very slick double-entendre resulting from light and camera perspective, and since it happened live during the show, it's a remarkable achievement.

Crimson's "In The Court" is a goodie (a pal of mine lined his locker with that one in high school), but Johnny Winter's face on the cover of "White, Hot & Blue" leaves the scream implicit.

Andrew's right about the rubbish.

Who: Who's Next
Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
and, I don't know why, but I was fascinated by Nazereth's Hair of the Dog when it first came out.

Worst: The John & Yoko cover where they're both naked.

For the Most Creative Album Art Follow-Up Cover category I'd have to nominate Reo Speedwagon's Good Trouble. The album sucked, but I liked the way they followed up the HiInfidelity "story" the covers portrayed.

What are these 'albums' that you speak of? Do you mean the 'album art' window in iTunes? I keep it hidden usually.

3 quick entries

Overnite Sensation, Zappa/Mothers (don't overlook the picture frame - how did they get away with that?).

Quah, Jorma Kaukonen (symbolic of its time - maybe this belongs on the 'worst' list).

Wanted Dead or Alive, David Bromberg (David's music is always good for a smile too).

Wow. How cool. Lessee, I'm with Farmer Joe on DSOTM..instant recognition. Same with the Beatles White Album (not that it was impressive art).

Brainster, you reminded me of all those cool covers by Passport, I loved that art.

The NTSU One O'Clock Lab Band came out with some fabulous cover art in the 70s. The Satyr playing the flute on the 1975 album was memorable. The One O'Clock band produced some fabulous players, including Lyle Mays and Lou Marini. (Trivia. They're call the one o'clock lab band cause that's what time the class was held).

UK's "Danger Money", the guy with the french cuffs washing his hands in that fancy basin made you think "oh yeah, he just assassinated someone, and it was ugly".

And this

is a hilarious twist on an album cover that every guy my age loved!

wkg, remember Bromberg's band doing Mrs DeLion's Lament? Too funny.

the Devil say "now Stagger Lee, don't lose your self control. You can't shoot Bill DeLion no more, ain't room for no more holes"!

Rush - 2112. Of course, Rush had some cool covers.
Soundtrack to the movie Heavy Metal

Still love,still have Split Enz "Ego is Not a Dirty Word"and the Tubes "Remote Control"Also liked the drawing on Genesis "Wind and Wuthering"

Since most of the Albums mentioned above are pretty old, I thought I'd mention some more recent ones that have covers that I like.

Stereolab - Dots and Loops, Margerine Eclipse
Broadcast - Ha Ha Sound
The Sea and Cake - One Bedroom
Tortoise - Its all around you
Belle & Sebastian - Fold your hands, child
Imitation Electric Piano - Trinity Neon
John Zorn - IAO

Since half my vinyl is currently inaccessible (due to being surrounded by piles of software manuals and tax records), here's what I can find quickly --

Kate Bush The Dreaming
Elvis Costello Armed Forces
Dire Straits Making Movies
Brian Eno/David Byrne My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
Amy Grant Unguarded
Kansas Leftoverture
King Crimson Discipline
Klaatu Klaatu

Rather disturbing:
Foreigner Head Games
Ides of March Vehicle
Keane Brothers Keane Brothers
Don McLean American Pie

Oh yeah, I'm with Shawn. But I liked Moving Pictures because it integrated a bunch of the great ole Rush covers.

Other favorites were Journey and Boston that seemed to use the same artist throughout.

Can't say I was a fan of all those evil Iron Maiden ones though.

All the album covers Hugh Syme did for Rush were outstanding - clever, visually interesting, unmistakable. "Moving Pictures" is great, as is "Roll the Bones" (love the kid playing kick the can with a human skull), but my favorite is "Grace Under Pressure" - Salvador Dali would be proud.

I can't believe Zeppelin 3 hasn't been covered!...no pun intended. The moving wheel making the some of the pictures on the album move was a nice trick.

Another good one from Zeppelin was Houses of the Holy.

Iron Maiden stuff was always neat.

An honorable mention has to go to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Street Survivors"...the first one before the plane crash.

Okay..yeah...I'm a southern redneck. ;)

My favorite is Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising. The music on the album is very eerie, haunting and autumnal. So the album cover with the flaming pumpkin head scarecrow adds some kind of almost evil ambience to the album as a whole. The fact the NYC skyline can be seen in the background adds to the effect.

Worst album cover:

I'll be blasphemous and say The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers. Everybody knows this album cover sucks ass, but most don't want to admit it.

Roxy Music's Country Life is a great cover. Women! Hips! Naughty bits! I know why the Major remembers Roxy Music in '72!

Beastie Boys' wraparound Joe's Boutique was the last "new" vinyl I bought.

Most of 4ad's records had great. Even if the band was forgettable/forgotten, the look was great. Xymox, Lonely is an Eyesore, Cocteau Twins, all those blotchy images that found their way into Nine Inch Nails videos. Ultra Vivid Scene's album art is some of the best ever.

But if anyone else has seen Troy Cory's The Closest I've Ever Come cover, take heart. You could do worse. The music is even worse.

Alice Cooper's "Schools Out". Looked like an old wooden school desk; the desk top lid lifted to reveal the record tucked into a pair of pink panties. Kinda fun.

Without a doubt, one of the best was the Stones 3-D, hologram-like 'Santantic Majesty's Request.'

Warhol's cover for the first Lou Reed/Velvet underground with the 'peelable' banana is cool as well.

and what about the clear-plastic cover with the real head x-ray film on KrafWerk?

The ones that have worn the best for me have been the entire series of the Alfred Lion produced Blue Note recordings of 1950's & 1960's jazz.

The basic design concept was simple, hip, and cost effective, leaving Alfred and Rudy Gelder (the legendary recording engineer) to consentrate on getting the music down right, by having extra rehersals and more studio time.

On the rock side, I think the Grateful Dead covers, as a whole, come close to the Blue Note series. Zappa's covers were always fine as I remember, and seemed seamless with the creativity of the man himself.

There is very little that I have thought really bad, though most of them now have blurred together in my memory.

I refused to buy the album, but I was impressed as hell by the Jackson's "Victory" album cover. I've always been a sucker for Michael Whelan's sci-fi and fantasy paintings; the man is INCREDIBLE.


I liked:
Steppenwolf Gold, the one that unfolded and it was the girl with long hair and "love beads".
Alice Cooper, Schools Out, came with a pair of panties over the album.
Very best of the best: Cheech and Chong, can't remember the name of the album, but it came with HUGE rolling paper, that yes, we did use!

I still remember having that rolling paper painstakingly explained to me. Wish I still had it.

For collector's purposes only, of course.

Big Black, Songs About Fucking

The pre-ban sleeve for Guns 'n Roses Appetite for Destruction ("the robot sleeve") was pretty good if you go in for that sort of thing. Great fuck'n album in any case.

Favorite Maiden cover: The Trooper

Oooh, here's another one: Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Brain Salad Surgery". H.R. Giger's treatment for that record was pre-reminiscent (there's a concept) of Ridley Scott's "Alien" seven years later. That's only natural, given Giger's work on the film. It's as distinctive as anything Roger Dean ever did (whose work I also admire a lot) and one of the most memorable album covers I ever saw.

I really liked Rush, Moving Pictures; Clash, London Calling; the original Star Wars double LP, and Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

Awful: I haev to agree with Beatles, Sgt Pepper's

I have my old phonograph plugged into my pc's sound card which is fun, since I now have mp3s on my computer from albums not on CD

Sniff the Glove by Spinal Tap:

It's like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.

Sesame Street Fever!

OOPS, that should be Smell the Glove.

I liked the original concept better, no matter how much success The Beatle's had.

Can't believe I'm the only one who liked the Jimi Hendrix Experience album covers:
"Are You Experienced"
"Axis: Bold As Love"
"Electric Ladyland"
"Rainbow Bridge"
"Smash Hits"
etc etc etc


It was Cheech & Chongs BIG BAMBOO! I was going to mention that, but I forgot--maybe lasting effects of using the liner. ;-)

"Bambu" Cheech & Chong's "Big Bambu".

And, in my experience, it took nearly a quarter ounce to roll that thing.

For me, this style of artwork (for Kansas's Song for America) was the definitive Seventies style. I can't think of many more examples of it (aside from Jefferson Starship's Dragon Fly), but it seemed it was on every third T-shirt in existence. These two albums were painted by the same artist, Peter Lloyd, who of course has a web site now.

Other good covers, Supertramp's Breakfast in America and Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell (Yeah. You wanna make sumthin of it?).

Nazareth "Hair of the Dog" had a great cover (the album wasn't that good, but some of the songs still show up on the Classic Rock stations.)

Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (with the flaming guy, burning the frame of the photo) was fascinating.

Genesis "Nursery Crimes"

Cocteau Twins "Blue Bell Knoll"

Cocteau Twins "Treasure"

Black Sabbath "Black Sabbath"

Peter Gabriel "Third Album"

I've got to agree with the people who've mentioned London Calling. One of the best album covers of the 80s. I've also always dug the cover art for Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. I once read that the image was the graphical measurement of the energy output from a supernova.

One of my favorites was a picture of "Eddie" in a partially shreded straight jacket, with chains around his neck. My brother was more into the music, but i thought that cover was cool. (can't remember the name of the bank, it was a metal band)

One that was pretty weird, yet again, can't think of the band (metal again). My brother had the album. The cover was a giant robot holding his hand out. He was holding people. A person was actually impailed on his finger..and I believe there was one falling. geesh...that image sticks with me.

One of my favorites was a picture of "Eddie" in a partially shreded straight jacket, with chains around his neck. My brother was more into the music, but i thought that cover was cool. (can't remember the name of the band, it was a metal band)

One that was pretty weird, yet again, can't think of the band (metal again). My brother had the album. The cover was a giant robot holding his hand out. He was holding people. A person was actually impailed on his finger..and I believe there was one falling. geesh...that image sticks with me.

MJ's thriller album. It came out when I was still young, but I distinctly remember scrawling all over the inside jacket with my crayons. Dad was pissed. however, I figure any album art that stirs a muse inside of a toddler (whose brain is basically pudding) must be worth something.

XTC had quite a few good covers as well. In my experience the quality of the cover does come down to the artist involved. Derek Riggs (Iron Maiden), the bloke who did all those Yes covers are some of the best.

This is an ironic discussion since my band (Growing Old Disgracefully) will be needing a cover for our album in about 5 or 6 months. Anyone with artistic skill wanna take a crack at it?

Kiss albums always had good cover art in the 70's. How could you go wrong with that image? Every Kiss album up until Alive II was a piece of art, especially Hotter Than Hell and Destroyer.

Nerwen -- in re the robot cover, I'm pretty sure that you're thinking of Queen's "News Of The World".

in re the robot cover, I'm pretty sure that you're thinking of Queen's "News Of The World".

The artist who created that piece - Frank Kelly Freas - died last week.

Speaking of Queen, my favorite was Jazz

Ok, the outside cover wasn't so great, but the inside cover had a hundred naked ladies on bicycles. The late 70's / early 80's were a great time to be male and have raging hormones!

It's not really relevant because it's neither an album cover nor art, but I once bought a Pet Shop Boys CD (used) solely because it came in a jewel case that looks like a big orange lego. I don't think I've ever played the actual CD, but the case is kinda neat. On point, I find that most of the album cover art I liked in the 1970s now screams "Dude, just what were you smoking at the time?"

King Krimson owns it! They are, by far, the best covers. Funny thing, the older I get the more Fripp is a genius. Inside and out.

Pink floyd gets a top vote from me too. Meddle anyone?

Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is among the best I've seen.


Kansas - Point of Know Return (just a classic piece of art)

Styx - Equinox (the melting ice block) and Cornerstone (gave a tweener plenty to explore at the time, cool layout)

ELO - Out of the Blue (the whole 70s spaceship thing)

Queen - News of the World (the golem's bloody digit)

Toto - Toto (the sword logo that had nothing to do with the little rat dog)

America - Greatest Hits (we miss you, Phil)

and, of course, the ultra-rare (by that I mean non-existant) Spinal Tap's Smell the Glove (the original cover, not the infamous "black album")

Journey and Boston both had great album art in the late 70's. Too bad the music inside didn't age so well. David Lee Roth's "Eat 'Em And Smile" cover is another great one, as over the top as DLR himself.

Rush's "Exit... State Left" is a classic for me, not least because it's an artful compilation of all their previous covers.

The "Men Without Hats" debut still pisses me off, inside and outside.


Rush - Permanent Waves (That girl is sooooooooo hot!!!)
Supertramp - Breakfast in America (Even more nostalgic now)
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (Looked just like it sounded)
REM - Life's Rich Pageant (No idea, I just love that cover)
Inspiral Carpets - Revenge of the Goldfish (The only thing that could make this cover better would be to make it a holograph)
XTC - English Settlement (The best minimalist cover, ever)
Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish (Sorry, I just love old train art)


Absolute, number one, worst ever cover, of all time, for all history...

Orleans - Waking and Dreaming (If you don't believe me, go to http://www.cenedella.com/images/album4e.jpg)

Less than honorable mention:

REM - Out of Time (Photoshop amateur hour)
REM - Green (Try "orange" dumbass)
Nirvana - In Utero (Our strange, mythological symbology forces you to take us seriously!)
Rush - 2112 (How to Piss Off Religious Fanatics 101)
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon ("I'm out of ideas, what about that science experiment we did in 5th grade?")
Steve Miller Band - Book of Dreams (Just because I was forced to paint it in 7th grade)

I feel compelled, for the sake of completeness, to mention Mom's Apple Pie. Ick.

I am SO glad I am not the only one who misses album cover art. 3×3 pieces of paper rob people of the total music experience.

Spyro Gyra - Morning Dance
Asia (with the pyramid)
Men At Work - Cargo
Stevie Nicks - Belladonna

Those are the only ones I can think of at this time. I hate Asia's music, but I bought the pyramid album for the sole reason of the cover. I still think its beautiful.

Of course, there's also the Black Album by Spinal Tap - Smell the Glove!

Mark and Billy, YES! That was the Cheech and Chong album.
And it did take alot of dope to fill it to make a party joint, but at the time where I lived, a lid was 5 fingers, 10 bucks. Inconceivable. Still don't know how we survived those years.....good times.

Heh heh, Donna said "LID!" I haven't heard that term in 25 years! In Juneau Alaska, we had to pay $20 for four fingers.

Sadly, I was only about 13 when I got my Big Bambu, and I filled my paper with pencil shavings. A year later, when I had a lid of the real stuff, papers like that were nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, the crap we got when I was a teen was nowhere near as potent as the stuff out today. Today, a BIG BAMBU would kill anyone other than, say Snoop Dogg or Woody Harrelson.


Mother's "Weasels Ripped My Flesh"
King Crimson's "Larks Tongue in Aspic" (many to choose from)


John Cale's "Slow Dazzle"