The Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground & Nico (1969)
The Velvet Underground, the debut album of the dusky American anti-hippies, did not achieve commercial success, which did not prevent it from taking an honorable place among the most important records in rock history. According to legend, every owner of the cherished vinyl, who heard this strange, dark and sullen music in 1969, founded his own band. The album cover shows a huge yellow banana with the inscription: “Slowly take off your skin and watch”. This is the work of the famous pop art master Andy Warhol, who was the manager and producer of The Velvet Underground. In early editions of the record, a banana sticker was glued to an envelope, and underneath it an image of a peeled banana was found printed on the envelope itself.
The Rolling Stones. Sticky Fingers (1971)
Andy Warhol again! At a New York City party in 1969, the pop art guru hinted to The Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger that it would be great to put a real zipper from the jeans on the cover of another record. A year later the crazy idea was realized in the design of the Sticky Fingers album. The whole envelope was occupied by a photo with a real zipper that could be unzipped and tightly fitted to the hips of a man’s width. Of course, there were problems with such a radical design: during transportation, the zipper was pressed into the album, the vinyl and records that lay in the stack were scratched. Except for the scandalous width, the new logo of the band – a cheeky stick out scarlet tongue – was painted on the album’s envelope for the first time.
Pink Floyd. The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
The Dark Side Of The Moon (The Dark Side Of The Moon), a suite about birth, madness, and time, performed by British rock cousins Pink Floyd, has long been a classic. The cover of the album is forever included in the canon of modern design. Visitors of Hipgnosis studio have placed on it a prism refracting a light beam (and for simplification of design from the spectrum was deliberately removed indigo color). On the back is a prism that produces a convergence of the spectrum (this doesn’t happen in nature, but you can’t do it for the sake of the effect!) In addition to the magnificent envelope, two posters were attached to the record. One of them was printed concert photos of the band, on the other – photos of the pyramids in Giza, taken under the full moon. Pink Floyd members insisted that including the posters in the design would not increase the price of the vinyl.
Blur. Think Tank (2003)
To decorate the cover of the seventh album, Brit-pop heroes Blur used a mysterious (at that time) street art artist Banksy, whose witty stencils cover walls all over the world from his native Bristol to Palestine and Los Angeles. For the project Think Tank, Banksy depicted a series of graffiti on the walls and doors of London, which is slightly different from what the audience usually expects of him. There are no provocative messages in these works, and their heroes are children and romantic couples. It’s true that they all wear bulky diving helmets. True to his principles Banksy did not take money for the work, but in 2007 the original cover was sold at auction for 75 thousand pounds.
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band — Doc At The Radar Station
Don Van Vliet, known in rock circles as Captain Beefheart, often placed his work on the covers of his own albums. His project never had much commercial success, but his influence on the new wave of punk and post-rock is considered to be very strong. The album cover of Doc at the Radar Station symbolizes the difficulty of communication between a man and a woman. In the luggage of the Captain a dozen personal exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe, and the price of his paintings at auction is measured in tens of thousands of dollars.
Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The original cover shows naked West lying on a blue sofa holding a bottle in his right hand and a winged woman with no hands on it – because of her shops and refused to sell the album. As a result, George Condo created five entire covers for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In 2011, the album cover was ranked 34th among the best album covers of all time by the readers of the online edition MusicRadar.
Sonic Youth — Goo
The basis of the seemingly simple cover is a photograph of Maureen Hindley and David Smith on their way to a hearing on the “Swamp Killers” of Myra Hindley and her partner Ian Brady. There is also a stunning inscription on the picture that reads, “I stole the boyfriend from my sister, we killed our parents and went on the run”. Raymond Pettibon’s basic techniques are graphics and collage, and most of his early work is in black ink. The cover of Goo was not an exception: for it the artist made two monochrome illustrations glued to the album with scotch tape. The main drawing immediately caused a powerful public outcry because of the dramatic prehistory associated with it.
King Crimson — In the Court of the Crimson King
The outer side of the colorful cover shows the so-called Schizoid Man, and the inner side shows Crimson King, whose eyes, according to the band members, hide incredible sadness that reflects the mood of the album. The creator of the cover was Peter Sinfield’s friend, programmer Barry Goldberg. Alas, it became his only artwork: Barry died of a heart attack 5 months after the album was released at the age of 24.
Pink Floyd — The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
On the cover of the album, fully recorded by Sid Barrett, is a photograph of the band members taken by Vic Sine with a stroboscope and prismatic lens, which became an absolutely unique feature of the cover. The lens softens the colors of the image, and you need bright, catchy colors to keep the photo from getting dull.
Bob Dylan — Self Portrait
A self-portrait of the famous bard is immortalized on the 1970 album. Bob Dylan is not unknown as an artist: a lot of paintings of his gallery were created on the basis of sketches and sketches, which the musician made in the period from 1989 to 1992, and the exhibition “Asian series” raised a lot of excitement, because Dylan was accused of plagiarism and “appropriations”. Ironically, the album was released during the so-called creative crisis and turned out to be a commercial failure.
Led Zeppelin — Mothership
The cover for Led Zeppelin Mothership’s hit compilation was created by Shepard Fairy, who specializes in public art and graffiti. It is a slightly modified and redrawn in the style of pop art photo of the 1937 blimp Hindenburg, which is also depicted on the front side of the band’s very first album. The musicians couldn’t help but notice this popular author, famous for his HOPE poster for Barack Obama’s election campaign. Nowadays, Fae is a recognized talent associated with both mass culture and the underground. His works are kept at the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution.
Little Feat — Sailin’ Shoes
The author of this extremely surreal cover is Martin Muller, an outstanding artist better known as Nion Park. It is known that his inspiration was Rossellini’s film about Louis XIV. Subsequently, Nion Park worked on all the covers of the blues ensemble Little Feat, which, by the way, was one of Jimmy Page’s favorite bands.
Iggy Pop — Preliminaires
The album of the famous artist was recorded under the clear influence of jazz, including the works of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. According to Iggy Pop, he was inspired by Michel Welbeck’s novel The Island Opportunity. And, of course, such trends couldn’t help but affect the look of the record itself and the cover. They are decorated by the original Franco-Iranian artist Marjan Satrapi.
The Rolling Stones — Still Life
It’s a British band’s live album, recorded during a tour of America in 1981. Artist Kazuhide Yamazaki not only created the cover but also developed an equally vivid design of the stage on which the musicians gave concerts.