To start off with this is not a list full of facts but my personal opinions and likes. As you’ll see I’m more in to rock and punk music so the list will be full of those kinds of albums. I’m focusing just on the front cover illustrations. If the album doesn’t feature an illustration it doesn’t qualify. The list is in no particular order.
Feel free to share your favorite album cover illustrations in the comments below if you wish.
Velvet Underground & Nico – Velvet Underground & Nico – Andy Warhol
This wouldn’t be a list of album illustrations if this weren’t on it. This Andy Warhol print was a sticker on some early versions of the album that could be peeled off to reveal a flesh colored banana underneath. The original run of the LP with the sticker still in tact is very rare these days.
Guns n’ Roses – Appetite for destruction – Billy White Jr.
This one is kind of controversial since it’s not the original cover of the album. The original featured a strange multi armed creature and a robot rapist that’s about to get punished by the creature. Well… Needles to say this was not received with open arms by the retailers and the album was changed to the one we know today. It’s based on a tattoo design and in my opinion it’s an iconic album cover that shaped the Guns n’ Roses image.
Queen – News of the world – Frank Kelly Freas
It was a tough choice between Innuendo and this but this is one of my all time favorites. I still have my dads old LP of this album and I remember staring at it as a kid. I don’t know what drew me to it so much but I know I wasn’t scared of it like Stewie Griffin. Latter I found out that the strange creature is a robot that was first featured on a painting by Frank Kelly Freas. The robot is a child, puzzled at the fact that he just killed a human. Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor liked it so much the band asked the artist to repaint it for their album cover.
Frank Turner – Tape deck heart – Heather Ann Law
Frank Turner is an up and coming musician that is getting better with each album. Most of his covers are illustrated but this one was done by a tattoo artist. Fitting as 2 of the songs on the album feature themes to do with tattoos and Frank himself is covered with them. I can’t say this a revolutionary album cover but it struck a chord with me. It’s retro but timeless at the same time.
Offspring – Americana – Frank Kozik
Well… This one I was disgusted by when I was a kid. Probably because I don’t like bugs too much. The illustration is pretty disturbing to say the least. Even more so if you look at the back of the cover with just the leg brace left. No child in sight… It has a 50’s feel to it so it’s kind of contradictory to the 90’s California surfer punk music on the album. Later on I learned to apreciate it because it did just what it was suppose to do – Shock.
Millencolin – Machine 15 – Erik Ohlsson
This one I just simply like. Especially because the bands guitarist designed all the bands album covers and promo designs. I like bands that are involved in most if not all aspects of their bands presentation. The design is a complex machine that represents the bands 15 year history.
Billy Talent – Dead Silence – Ken Taylor
This is a strange one. The theme for the cover is taken from the song “Swallowed up by the ocean” that’s featured on the album. The song is sung from the perspective of planet Earth and it’s sadness and disappointment over the human race that brought upon the apocalypse.
Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The magic of youth – unknown
I don’t own a physical copy of the album and I couldn’t find any info on the artist that did this cover. I like the cover just for the fact that I’m a fan of this style of illustration. Also even though there are a lot of characters on the cover it’s still simple and very minimalistic. If anyone has the name of the artist I would really like to know.
Iron Maiden – Powerslave – Derek Riggs
I don’t really listen to Iron Maiden that much even though I own the vinyl LP. That said this is an awesome cover. It’s full of detail and Eddie the head is depicted in a different way than just as a terror in the dark. The thing that strikes me the most is that the scene is set in daylight. I don’t think any other Iron Maiden album cover is other than “Somewhere back in time” that is basically a different take on this very cover.
Pink Floyd – Dark side of the moon – George Hardie
There is a whole complicated story behind this one but I’ll make it short. Story is that the band got over 30 suggestions for the album cover but they chose this one because it was simple and to the point. I agree. It’s simple, to the point and it’s visually pleasing to look at. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most iconic album covers ever.