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Top Album Covers of All-Time
2005-07-29 21:02
by Scott Long

Legendary blogger TFD had some great music ideas he sent to us, recently, so here is the first in a continuing series.

TFD chose Billy Joel's The Stranger as the best album cover of all-time.

TFD: "This cover really represented a point where I first realized that there was something behind these covers – a purpose. The simplicity, darkness, slant of the face, and boxing glove still linger."

Scott's Top 10

Achtung Baby and War- U2

"Achtung Baby" is my favorite cover of all-time, with its mix of black and white and color photos creating a great collage which hinted at the new sound inside. The face of the boy in "War" powerfully shows the mixture of innocence and anger that being young on the streets of Belfast was like circa 1983. U2 has had great covers on almost all of their releases.

Sticky Fingers and Some Girls- The Rolling Stones

In 1971, rock and roll was seen as just another part of the artscene, with Andy Warhol designing the zipper cover to "Sticky Fingers". Another great inventive cover was the Stones in drag, using a cut-out cover on "Some Girls". By the way, "Exile on Main Street" falls just off this list.

Meet the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper's- The Beatles

Bands today are still trying to look as Mod as the "Meet the Beatles" cover demonstrates. "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" is a part modern art piece, part psychedelic trip, but still hasn't been topped in today's world of photoshop.

Honey- Ohio Players
Country Life- Roxy Music

These two are the sexiest covers in rock music history. I can remember being an 10 year-old boy in a small-town in Iowa, perusing the albums of my local department store, looking at Ohio Players records. I had no idea of what was inside the covers, as there was no funk in Newton, Iowa, but the beautiful bodies of the Ohio Players' models made me want to learn. Take me on a "Love Rollercoaster".

London Calling- The Clash

Echoing the great self-titled Elvis Presley cover of 1956, the "London Calling" cover says rock and roll more than any other.

Cheap Thrills- Big Brother and the Holding Company

I've never cared for Janis Joplin or her hippie jam band, but the great R. Crumb's comic strip art puts it on my list.

Honorable/Dishonorable Mention

Get Lucky- Loverboy
All the Eddie covers- Iron Maiden
Holy Diver- Dio
Blackout and Animal Magnetism- Scorpions

I'm not sure these are good or bad album covers, but they are all memorable to me. Crossed fingers in front of red leather pants, which singer Mike Reno's bloated carcass couldn't even fit an ankle in anymore. Freakish zombie-like monster named Eddie who becomes a band's mascot. An animal-headed devil, unleashing a long chain wrapping around a drowning priest. Holy Diver indeed. Finally, the "Blackout" cover with forks in the eyes of the straight-jacketed whackjob says Heavy Metal more than anything I've seen, while "Animal Magnetism" sports a misogynistic cover that is more ridiculous than anything Spinal Tap ever thought of.

2005-07-30 02:48:03
1.   Another Tom
I absolutely agree with the Achtung Baby cover. And they released the cd in a tri-fold that was even more amazing.

I also like the Joshua Tree cover. Having grown up outside LA and near the high desert where all the joshua trees are, I know how ridiculously difficult it is to find a wide long shot with only one joshua tree. For most people it has no meaning, but to find just one joshua tree - that was very cool.

2005-07-30 05:03:20
2.   Blah Blah Blah
Not sure how you define great, but I can add two really memorable ones:

Exile on Main Street
Velvet Underground and Nico (original cover)

2005-07-30 06:50:51
3.   RickM
As the owner of an original (with working zipper) copy of Sticky Fingers, let me give you a personal favorite. Danny O'Keefe's Breezy Stories. You can look it up at Not only does it have the retro blonde on the cover, but also a song called Mad Ruth/The Babe. I actually have this on vinyl, looking forward to CD or Bittorrent.
2005-07-30 07:29:58
4.   Smed
How can you forget the pinwheel cover of Led Zeppelin III - THAT was the best cover ever!!! I used to be mesmerized with that cover when I was a kid.

Also, Ummagumma can freak you out a bit.

2005-07-30 10:11:22
5.   Scott Long
The worst cover from a great band is Zeppelin's Presence cover. Never understood the thing and I think it's one reason that the album is considered lesser than their others, even though there is a lot of kickass music on it.

My favorite Pink Floyd cover is "Wish You Were Here".

2005-07-30 12:16:08
6.   Borchard504
I am sorry, but - These two words cannot ever go together in the English language, 'great' & 'Billy Joel'.

Anyone want to see a great album cover, I refer you to "London Calling" by The Clash.

2005-07-30 14:29:15
7.   Anthony
#6...On behalf of all of Long Island, I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.

But seriously, if you grow up on Long Island, you have to love Billy Joel. He's an icon here.

2005-07-30 14:55:58
8.   Smed
Nah - Scott - Presence is a great cover.

Meddle is a great cover as well - so is Obscured By Clouds.

And I'm from Indiana - but I'm not a Mellencamp fan - just because you're from somewhere doesn't mean you have to like someone.

2005-07-30 18:03:27
9.   Hank
How 'bout Nirvan's "Nevermind" with the naked baby swimming for the dollar bill? The photo caused quite a stir at the time, even before the stir that the band would eventually cause.

But really, there can be no question about the best of all time -- London Calling. The Stranger? I once owned that album, and I like it, but I can't imagine how the cover can make the top 100...

2005-07-31 09:02:52
10.   Ray Davies
Is it wrong that the first cover I thought of was "Whipped Cream and other delights" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass?
2005-08-02 09:17:10
11.   MikeK
No mention of Pink Floyd. Come on. I'm not much of one for covers, as I keep all my discs in caselogics and the original cases tend to fall by the wayside. But multiple floyd covers deserve recognition. I'm also a fan of The Grateful Dead's "Terrapin Station" and Sublime's "40 oz. to Freedom"

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