I am a sucker for album art. In fact, sometimes I will buy records based solely on whether or not I like the cover. This doesn’t say a lot about my integrity as a rock n’ roll critic, or perhaps it does. For what’s it worth, I’m not making that claim anyway. Let’s move on. Album art is like the gateway drug of the deaf man’s rock-life soul. Any lists that try to encapsulate the best of all time are inherently stupid and meaningless. So with that said, here is my pointless and futile list of the top 7 album covers of all time
The Black Crows – Amorica
The cover of this album is just a close-up of a female’s nether regions. It shows a skimpy bikini bottom, clad in American flag regalia, with some coarse, dark pubic hair sticking out the top. I think the shock value of this photo says a couple of things. For starters, I think its inclusions is an attempt to override the fact that the music on “Amorica” wasn’t that great. But it did it’s think I guess, namely pissing off Wal-Mart and giving the Black Crows some publicity. The symbolism behind the play on words of “America and More” and the corresponding album art was a little too obvious for my tastes. Nonetheless, the image has been firmly burnt into my memory banks and that says something.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Speaking about obviousness, this selection takes the cake. If you scoured the entire internet looking for lists on the best album covers, I’m sure that this album would land somewhere on at least 72% of them. The cover, of course, included dozens of famous people including Marlene Dietrich, W.C. Fields, Bob Dylan, Sigmund Freud, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Allan Poe, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Marlon Brando, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and Lenny Bruce. With that said, this is a totally classic album cover and I love it.
Pink Floyd – Animals
For a band who based its entire career on artistic integrity, it’s hard to pick just one from their catalogue. But since I had to (I had to, I really did), I pick Animals. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what the significance of the giant pig balloon floating over the factory is supposed to mean. It just looks rad. I guess if I thought about it and listened to that album on hard drugs while I stared at the cover for nine hours straight I could come up with an answer, but I like “it just looks rad” better. Deal.
Yes – Fragile
Most people hate Yes, I am not one of these people. I have a few friends who think that they’re too punk rock (whatever that means) to give Yes even a friendly listen, but those dudes are pretentious assholes and they aren’t my friends anymore. I understand the genius of Yes and my appreciation starts with their great album covers. Like Pink Floyd, but more “to a fault,” Yes seemed to ONLY care about art. This made for some pretty horrendous albums, I will admit, but it also made for some pretty awesome album covers. Fragile is a picture of an earth-like planet being circled by a hang-glider type aircraft. It looks cool.
John Lennon – Two Virgins
Some may say that this butt naked photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono is hardly great and more along the lines of really creepy, but not me. I like the “fuck you” attitude that Lennon had in those later years. He was a Beatle, that’s true, but he’d be damned if he had to act like one. Sadly, I can’t say the same for most of Lennon’s post- Beatle music. Oh, and Yoko Ono has a huge a fucking bush.
Attila – Attila
This one is my wildcard. Most people have no idea who Attila is. If you took a random poll of the general public, I’m pretty sure that less than 1% would recognize the name of this late 60’s band. And for good reason. Attila was a drums and organ duo who played jazz-fusion with heavy metal undertones. The only reason, and I mean the only reason, that anyone has heard of these guys is because their organist was Billy Joel. But forget that for a second. Please do me a favor and go look at this album cover (http://www.raw-tcsd.com/images/joelatt.nl.26282.jpg). You won’t be disappointed.
Nirvana – Nevermind
I realize that this choice is so blatantly obvious that it’s almost downright stupid, but I don’t care. I haven’t come across an album cover that not only looks cool but also sums up the sound of an entire movement. I loathe the term grunge, but the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind says “grunge” way more than any flannel shirt. I don’t think I need to verbalize the symbolic element or the connection between the band and that picture of the baby swimming towards a hook with a dollar bill on it. I’ll just say this: that picture looks exactly like Nirvana sounds.