Thanks to downloadable music, the one thing missing from this modern age of music is album art.
Even before there were music videos, there were album covers. Perhaps the art then was what current marketers would see as modest means to peddle the band or musician’s wares.
The days of album covers are deteriorating faster than a teenaged music fan’s attention span.
In order to keep the memory of these album covers alive, while the future generations lose interest in visual art, here are my Top 25 covers. Honourable mentions go to Van Halen’s 1984, Fleet Foxes’ self titled album and Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick.
|25.||Album: (The Album)
Musical Artist: Wilco
Cover Artist: Autumn de Wilde (photographer)
Why: Camel in a party hat. Win.
|24.||Album: Breakfast in America
Musical Artist: Supertramp
Cover Artist: Mike Doud
Why: Using cafe utensils to illustrate New York City is classic. Plus, there’s comedy in using Doctor Detroit‘s “Mom” as Lady Liberty.
Musical Artist: Yes
Cover Artist: Roger Dean
Why: Nothing screams ’70s like lime green on shit brown. Still, the trippy Stanslaw Lem influenced universe created by Dean is okay in my books.
|22.||Album: Fly By Night
Musical Artist: Rush
Cover Artist: Eraldo Carugati
Why: A Superb Owl on the cover. Nothing could be more Canadian than that snowy bird of prey.
|21.||Album: El Oso
Musical Artist: Soul Coughing
Cover Artist: Jim Woodring
Why: The Monkey Bear, drawn by Frank artist Woodring, stands out on the yellow background.
|20.||Album: Led Zeppelin
Musical Artist: Led Zeppelin
Cover Artist: George Hardie (design)
Why: The Hindenburg going down in flames. A homage, if you will, to how the band’s name came to be, thanks to Keith Moon.
|19.||Album: Molly Hatchet
Musical Artist: Molly Hatchet
Cover Artist: Frank Frazetta
Why: Will Eisner Hall of Famer, Frazetta, illustrated most of Molly Hatchet’s album covers. This one though was one helluva way to make a debut.
|18.||Album: Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy
Musical Artist: The Refreshments
Cover Artist: Jeffrey L. Schultz
Why: Not too many people remember the Refreshments. But I do. I also remember this album cover, a homage to bombshell art.
|17.||Album: Costello Music
Musical Artist: The Fratellis
Cover Artist: Sam Hadley
Why: Sam Hadley‘s throwback to the burlesque days smacks of Vargas, but that’s a good thing. The band carried the theme over for the video to “Flathead“.
Musical Artist: Duran Duran
Cover Artist: Patrick Nagel
Why: Nothing says ’80s pop art like a Patrick Nagel print. Nagel was the Warhol of the ’80s, in my opinion, and Duran Duran capitalized on his popularity.
Musical Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Cover Artist: Herbert Worthington (photographer)
Why: There’s a startling quality to a black and white photograph on off-white.
|14.||Album: Gold Medal
Musical Artist: The Donnas
Cover Artist: James Jean
Why: Another soft spot, this time for all-girl punk band, the Donnas. I like the salute to the ’70s with this cover.
|13.||Album: Bat Out Of Hell
Musical Artist: Meat Loaf
Cover Artist: Richard Corben
Why: Legendary Heavy Metal artist Richard Corben pulled out all the stops on this horror-inspired cover from one of the greatest years in rock music: ’77.
|12.||Album: Dark Side of the Moon
Musical Artist: Pink Floyd
Cover Artist: George Hardie
Why: I’d have “Brain Damage” if I didn’t include this on any list for covers. Simple, yet iconic. Alan Parsons, eat your heart out.
Musical Artist: Steppenwolf
Cover Artist: Jerry Edmonton
Why: Reflecting skull, sans mandible. Simple, elegant and macabre all in one shot.
|10.||Album: Electric Warrior
Musical Artist: T. Rex
Cover Artist: Hipgnosis
Why: Marc Bolan never looked cooler than in this moment at Albert Hall, Nottingham.
|9.||Album: Book of Dreams
Musical Artist: Steve Miller Band
Cover Artists: Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse
Why: A pegasus with parrot wings. Almost on par with a unicorn shooting fricking laser beams.
Musical Artist: Steely Dan
Cover Artist: Hideki Fujii (photographer)
Why: Simple contrast at its finest.
|7.||Album: Wish You Were Here
Musical Artist: Pink Floyd
Cover Artist: Storm Thorgerson
Why: Everything gelled with this album from the music to the lyrics to the cover art emphasizing the empty gestures we make in society. This is a winner in every aspect.
|6.||Album: Out of the Blue
Musical Artist: Electric Light Orchestra
Cover Artist: Kosh / Shusei Nagaoka
Why: Fold out album that was incredibly cool. My dad had this, and I used to play it all the time on the roundtable.
|5.||Album: Brain Salad Surgery
Musical Artist: Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Cover Artist: H.R. Giger
Why: H.R. Giger, of Alien fame, for the win.
Musical Artist: Boston
Cover Artist: Roger Huyssen
Why: Earth destroyed and spaceship guitars sending the planet’s survivors into the icy reaches of outer space.
Musical Artist: ZZ Top
Cover Artist: Tom Hunnicutt
Why: No other car has become a benchmark of a band like the famous red, customized 1933 Ford Coupe.
|2.||Album: Loud ‘N’ Proud
Musical Artist: Nazareth
Cover Artist: Dave Field
Why: From the man who also brought you the cover designs for Razamanaz and Thin Lizzy’s Night Life, I give you the strutting peacock on Loud ‘N’ Proud.
|1.||Album: Point of Know Return
Musical Artist: Kansas
Cover Artist: Peter Lloyd
Why: Kansas has had a lot of provocative covers during their 40 plus years of performing. Monolith, Leftoverture and Two For The Show are favourites, but this one, this one’s the ultimate.