Album covers are an interesting thing. Some artists choose to not put a lot of time into them and just throw any old picture of themselves on there (Bob Dylan). Others try and go for the shock factor by being wildly offensive (Death Grips), while others either hire an artist or come up with a concept themselves. Storm Thorgerson was a graphic design artist responsible for some of the most legendary album covers of all time, including ones for Led Zeppelin, The Muse, Mars Volta, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel and most all of Pink Floyd’s album covers (yes, including the infamous prism cover for Dark Side of the Moon) as well as many more. Sadly, Storm passed away last week, and in his honor we bring you the following list. And no, our #1 has nothing to do with the fact that Storm designed it, we just love it that much. This list was fun because there are so many album covers we loved and wanted to include, but also hard because there are many albums we left off but wanted to include. I guess we will just have to do a sequel to this one some day. Onto the list:
10. The Strokes – Is This It
One of the sexiest album covers of all time was actually banned in America soon after the albums release. Stupid American censorship laws really know how to put a damper on a good thing.
9. Pink Floyd – Animals
Storms first entry on our list, but not his last. This was tough to decide between Wish You Were Here and Animals, but at the end of the day, we felt the Animals cover had more to say. Namely to avoid capitalism and cities like London or Detroit.
8. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Still to this day the most star-studded album cover to exist. Not only does this album cover contain all four Beatles and a barrage of +60 other famous people including actors, actresses, presidents, writers, artists, etc., but it is also loaded with riddles. I remember as a child, going through the albums artwork deciphering all the clues that lead fans to believe Paul was actually dead. Quite the loaded album cover. I always thought it ironic they chose Paul for that prank, as he will certainly outlive Ringo and be the last Beatle standing.
7. Madvillain – Madvillainy
An album cover that will scare the hell out of you the longer you stare ate it. I especially love how you can just barely see the one eye glaring at you through the left socket of the mask.
6. A Tribe Called Quest – Low End Theory
We at LxL are a sucker for the female figure. This album cover seems to fit all ends of the spectrum. Seductive, mysterious, bright and dark at the same time, and even doubles as one of the greatest album titles ever.
5. T. Rex – Electric Warrior
An album cover that exudes the badassery of rock and roll. Just a man and his electric guitar in front of a ginormous amp stack, exuding electric vibes. Simple, yet brilliant.
4. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
It is fairly easy to get caught up in psychedelic album covers if you let yourself. But when it comes down to it, most of them are just gaudy works of art to pander to the typical stoner that is trolling through the isles of a record store while already blazed. This album cover is different in the respect that it isn’t just colors and weird imagery for colors and weird imagery sake. It is actually a beautiful work of art. One that also represents the albums ability to slowly brew like a storm a create very well.
3. The Allman Brothers Band – Eat A Peach
A very simple, pretty, comforting album cover. Nothing to hide here right? Just a giant peach, waiting to be ravished. Until you open the album up and realize this is all some trippy southern version of Oz …
2. The Clash – London Calling
One of the most iconic album covers all time, because it’s one of the greatest. Representing rock/punk music with the swift motion of a violent smash. Joe Strummer poured everything he could into music, and this snapshot is a great example of that. It’s also a clever play off what Joe and the rest of the gang considered to be one of rocks first true punk albums. Elvis’ debut:
1. Led Zeppelin – Houses of The Holy
Storms magnum opus. If I were to ever pick an album cover that has a twisted story imbedded in it, this would be the one. I want to read this as a book, or see it adapted into some twisted Terry Gilliam film. I want so much more out of this album cover that it drives me insane. I want this story told. It has the ability to evoke so many emotions. It is certainly a weird move to have an album cover feature naked children on it, and it is almost like they are trying to compete for something. Almost as if this is the Hunger Games being told years before the Hunger Games existed and in a much more twisted manner. Then you open the album cover and lose your mind:
The “Just Missed Our List” List:
Wes: Blur – Think Tank
This was a hard one to keep off the list, but there was just not 11 spots. Wes held true to an album cover that he was pushing for very early in the race, but just didn’t quite make it.
Austin: Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III
Austin’s pitch to get this on the list was simple. Yes, there is a lot of rappers who chose to use the baby photo as their album cover (Notorious BIG, Nas, etc.) but Lil Wayne was the only one who went the distance and put tattoos on his baby. Obviously these aren’t real tattoos, but it is a good point nonetheless.
Todd: Sonic Youth – Goo
I really wanted to go with Sleigh Bells’ Reign of Terror that features a real photo of a drop of blood on Alexis’ Keds after a concert. But at the end of the day, the comic book themed creativity behind Goo won out. It is a great concept and one that has been imitated many times since. All of the concept art behind this album is great, and I love the way that it is told through the Sonic Youth narrative.