Remember those? The cool art work that adorned a record cover, 8 track, cassette or CD.
A week or so ago, I was farming. Big fun. I have a bluetooth speaker that I use in the tractor and on the gator. It plays tunes from my phone. Depending on the song, the album cover shows on my iPhone for each song. Some of these are memorable, some forgettable, some are just out right art and others served their purpose as a marketing tactic. I bounced around in the Big John 4640 thinking about writing a blog about album covers. Then, I got off the tractor and forgot about it.
Then I got a text from a loyal reader in western Kansas. Kratzer, I mean you. He texted me a pic of one of the best album covers of all-time. Ironically, it was the same album cover that showed up on my phone that made me think about this stuff. Let’s rank them. Will that one be #1? Let’s see.
Honorable mention–let’s get started with some cool stuff!
Just because you have to—The Beatles with Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Well, we got that out of the way.
NWA–Straight Outta Compton This album was huge and is still bringing it. The pic of the group circled up is iconic.
Blink 182–All the Small Things OOOOOOHHHHH that picture of the nurse!!!!!!
Green Day–Dookie Classic cool art work.
KISS–lots of cool stuff on album covers
Duke says anything with Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings is cool.
Def Leppard with Pyromania and Hysteria. Times two. Cool, cool artwork.
Aerosmith–Get A Grip Holstein cow udder. Classic!
Beastie Boys–Licensed to Ill. One of the best cassettes that I ever owned. The image of that plane tail still evokes happy thoughts with me.
Iron Maiden–The images always looked hard. The skeleton called Eddie became their calling card on album covers and at their concerts. But those dudes could play and Bruce Dickinson could sing. They were hard but good. Their lyrics normally had a message. But Eddie on their album covers steered people one way or the other.
#10–I was in college when this band hit the scene. Their music took over MTV, Katt radio and everything else. Their second album cover had to be Edited. Nirvana was the bomb and their album Nevermind with the naked baby swimming towards a dollar was NOT Wal Mart appropriate. The edited version had the little pecker blacked out. Ten seems a little low for this one.
#9–Simple, cool and fits the music leads us to Pink Floyd with the “Dark Side of the Moon”. That album is one of the best selling albums of all time–any genre, any time, anywhere. It was released in 1973 and is still selling. The album cover has been on millions of t-shirts. The ray of light into the triangle prism with the rainbow coming out the other side is common. So common, we don’t think about it.
#8–The album cover was cool, edgy and the inside liner notes of this record was even scarier. Guns ‘n Roses (there is your goat tie in) with their inaugural album “Appetite for Destruction” was and is one of the best music compilations of all time. The artwork held up to the music. Cool stuff!
#7–Simple, straight forward, no nonsense and one of the best rock records of all time. The album cover was single color–just black. But with the band’s name in a slightly lighter shade of black in one corner and the “don’t tread on me snake” in the same lighter shade of black in the opposite corner, the “black” album cover of Metallica is wicked cool.
#6–The behind the story makes this album cover even better. One of the top selling records of all time had an original cover that the band did not approve of. But, there was a deadline. A trash bag, a spray bottle of water, a finger writing in the wetness and the Bon Jovi album called “Slippery when Wet” had a bad donkey album cover. I’ve actually got a story that involves Bon Jovi, the Kentucky Derby and Shattuck, OK. Cool deal.
#5–Any album cover with Shania Twain on it. Specifically, “the woman in me” album cover was a monkey wrench kind of deal. You see it, you hear it, you like it and well, some nuts get tightened up.
#4–Here it is at #4. RUSM? #4. I will not argue if you want to put it #1. This is the album cover that had me thinking and Kratzer texting. Van Halen with 1984. That kid with angel wings, looking over his shoulder while holding a lit cigarette and a couple of packs of smokes in front of him. Classic. It fit the band, fit the time and that is one of the first two cassettes that I ever owned. I still get in a better mood when tunes from that album hit the speakers. GREAT ONE!
#3–Maybe the best record of all time with an absolute wicked album cover that just fits. That’s it. It just fits. Like a jigsaw puzzle or a lego kit. This cover is the right piece for the band, the songs, the times. AC/DC with the Back in Black record. Simple, easy to read, straight forward–heck it even makes for a cool tattoo. This deal is time tested. It was released in 1980 but is still selling because of the quality of straight forward songs. Four decades worth of kids recognize the album cover and the songs.
#2–Great collection of legendary performers, songwriters, etc. Bad, bad, bad donkey album cover. It is hard for me to put this one #2. But, here it is. It looks like a wanted poster from the old west. It has pictures of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessie Coulter and Tompall Glaser. They look like criminals. The songs were great. And then, there is a song on the album with two more criminals–Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Great album with a great album cover. Put another log on the fire cuz we ain’t quite done yet.
AND #1 album cover of all time——
This is an easy #1 for me. While looking through albums in TG&Y in Woodward, OK back in the 80s, there was always one that caught my eye. It was eery. I always wanted to buy the record just because of the artwork. It always made me look. Appeared to be hard rock, almost demonic. But the artwork was exquisite. The artwork fit the title. It was and still is bad ass. I never bought it. But as I got older, and tied the music to the artist to the album cover…..well, I was amazed. Great vocals, lyrics and the backup singers and music is unreal. The music has held true to the test of time. Hard rock–NO! Pianos–yes. Great album cover that also had great music.
Meat Loaf–“Like a bat out of hell”. No doubt–the #1 album cover of all time. Yes, it is just my opinion. But, I am right. Almost always.
On a side note, I just learned that they used to give an award for “Best Cocker of the Year” for the dude that had the best fighting chicken of the year in Oklahoma. I have a chicken story or two. But I do not have a trophy for best cocker of the year.