Cover art has always served its purpose – a visual representation of an artist’s music. Here is our list of the 15 most iconic vinyl covers.
1. The Beatles: Abbey Road
Abbey Road is the 11th studio album released by The Beatles. It is their last record album, although Let It Be was the last album released before the band’s dissolution in 1970. The album was released amid tensions within the band. Since its initial reception, the album has been viewed by many critics as The Beatles’ greatest work and is ranked by several publications as one of the greatest albums of all time. The Album itself is 12x Platinum in the US with sales/shipments of 12,000,000 and it has reached platinum, gold and diamond worldwide.
2. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the 8th studio album by The Beatles. Released in 1967 it became a worldwide critical and commercial success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK Album Chart and 15 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200. A seminal work in the emerging psychedelic rock style, the album was critically acclaimed upon release and won four Grammy Awards in 1968. With an estimated 32 million copies sold, it is one of the world’s bestselling albums. The album received 11x Platinum in the US and received platinum and gold status worldwide.
3. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols
Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols is the only studio album by the English punk rock group Sex Pistols. It was released in 1977 through virgin records. Fans and critics alike generally regarded it as an important album in the history of rock music, citing the lasting influence it has had on subsequent punk rock musicians, as well as other musical genres that were influenced by such punk rock artists. The album received Gold status in 1977 and then Platinum status in 1988 in the UK, US and gold in the Netherlands.
4. David Bowie: Aladdin Sane
Aladdin Sane is the sixth album by David Bowe, released by RCA Records in 1973. It was the first album he wrote and released as a bona fide rock star. While many critics agree that it contains some of his best material, opinion as to its quality has often been divided. The cover finds the father of glam rock shirtless, embracing his rock star status, with a red lightning bolt painted across his right eye. Despite the bold cover and songs, the album only managed to receive Gold status in the US.
5. The Clash: London Calling
London Calling is the third studio album by English punk rock band The Clash. It was released in 1979 through CBS Records, and in the US with Epic Records. The album represented change in The Clash’s musical style, featuring elements of ska, funk, pop, soul, jazz, rockabilly and reggae more prominently than in their previous albums. This album received Gold status in the UK and Platinum in the US.
6. Green Day: Dookie
The Richie Bucher illustration of a bomb dropped on America is one of the more memorable covers of the nineties, and was an accurate depiction of the power over the country that the album had with the band ushering pop-punk to the masses. Dookie is the third studio album by Green Day. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Dookie at 193 on the list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
7. Nirvana: Never mind
Imagined when Kurt Cobain was watching a show on water births with Dave Grohl, the image of a baby already corrupted by money is one of the single graces images to grace an album cover and spoke volumes to the mindset of the band and the social commentary in the music. Never Mind is the second studio album by the American rock band Nirvana. Despite love commercial expectations by the band and its record label, it became a surprise success in late 1991, largely due to the popularity of its first single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The album received 2x Platinum status in the UK, Diamond in the US and platinum, gold and diamond worldwide.
8. Led Zeppelin: I
This image of the Hindenburg disaster served as a clever take on the origin of the band’s name. The album first received negative reviews, it was commercially very successful, and critics have come to view it in a much more positive light. In 2003, the album was ranked number 29 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album received the status of 8x Platinum in the US and 2x Platinum in the UK.
9. Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon
The Dark Side Of The Moon was an immediate success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. The album has received Platinum recognition worldwide with a 9x Platinum in the UK and 15x Platinum in the US.
10. The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
The classic tight blue jean crotch-shot alone is an attention-grabber, but the Andy Warhol designed cover also featured a working zipper that revealed white cotton briefs stamped “THIS PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE-ETC”. Sticky Fingers is the ninth British and 11th American studio album by The Rolling Stones. The album went 3x Platinum in the US and Gold in France.
11. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico
This classic also featured an Andy Warhol print of a yellow banana in the middle of a white backdrop on its cover. The earliest copies of the vinyl allowed fans to pull off the sticker to reveal a flesh-coloured banana beneath the peel. The album was a commercial and critical failure upon release, the record has since become one of the most influential and critically acclaimed rock albums in history, appearing at number thirteen on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
12. AC/DC: Highway To Hell
The last album to feature Bon Scott, also features their best cover. As the rest of the band looks menacingly at the camera, Scott is chuckling, offset from the rest of the band, at lead guitarist, Angus Young; dressed as the devil, with tail in hand. It is the sixth studio album but AC/DC released in 1979. The album received Gold and Platinum status worldwide with Gold in the UK and 7x Platinum in the US.
13. The Ramones: The Ramones
The blank stare of the punk icons against the brick wall in stark black and fashion makes their debut’s album no frills cover one of the most distinctive. The album reached number 111 in the United States on the Billboard 200 chart and was ranked 33 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
14. Beastie Boys: License To lll
The Boeing 727 on the cover was displayed crashing into the side of a mountain, with the logos from the band and Def Jam joining the phrase “3MTA3”, which looks like ‘eat me’ when viewed in the mirror. This was the debut album by the Beastie Boys. It was the first rap LP to top the Billboard album chart. It was one of Columbia Records’ fastest-selling debut records to date and eventually sold over 9 million copies in the United States.
15. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
Rumours is the eleventh studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. The record peaked at the top of both the US Billboard chart and the UK Albums chart. This album was Fleetwood Mac’s most successful release; along with winning the Grammy award for Album Of The Year in 1978.
Written by Amy Watson