Friday, November 26, 2010

The 10 worst album cover designs


The day after I posted this blog, I heard from Mom's Apple Pie by email - the very band mentioned in the blog post - thanking me for the publicity. I love the Internet, and I love - ahem - Mom's Apple Pie!

1. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Two Virgins

I've looked at love from both sides now. And I feel a little sick. 

Coming out in 1968, the Beatles still together, this album cover was a surprise departure to say the least. Released in a brown, paper bag in the U.S. in the few stores that would stock it, the album united music and non-music fans alike in its ability to make one and all feel nauseous.

2. Mom's Apple Pie

A matronly woman presenting us with a dripping slice of apple pie, which reveled itself on close inspection to be a vagina. Classy and clever!

3. Blind Faith

Who among Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker thought it would be a good idea to put a topless, prepubescent girl on the cover of their only album?

So reviled in its day, the album was called back to the record company and reissued with a somewhat more tame photo of the band.

Afterward, it was revealed that the girl was the photographer's 11-year-old sister, who was paid about $50 for her trouble. The cover led to all manner of protests and led to the urban legend that the band kept the girl chained up as a sex slave.

You can't buy publicity like that. Thank God.

4. Boxer, Below the Belt

Below the belt. Get it? Another shitty album, another shitty album cover. Release, recall, reissue, repeat.

5. Prince, Lovesexy

In 1988, we learned that Prince's own, personal vision of Heaven is everyone else's own, personal vision of Hell. Nothing "lovely" or "sexy" about it, the flowers sued for sexual harassment - and won!

6. The Beatles, Yesterday...and Today (original cover)

The most valuable Beatles' collectible is also the most stomach-churning: the boys in blood-smeared butcher smocks, raw meat, and plastic dolls.

The Beatles, apparently, had had enough of Capitol records "butchering" its British albums for their American release and decided to use subtle wit on their next album cover to express their displeasure. The irony was lost on retailers who sent the records back to the record company, making an unsealed copy worth $20,000 or more - that's a lot of steaks and plastic baby heads.

7. Kevin Rowland, My Beauty

The greatest love of not the Come On Eileen dude's decision to appear on his album cover in heavy makeup and drag.

Appearing in the same getup at Glastonbury and Reading music festivals, Kevin Rowland was pelted with garbage and sold a reported 500 CDs - worldwide! - for his trouble.

After, Rowland put the knickers away, and they were never seen again - except on YouTube, where his cover of the Greatest Love of All has an incredible 1,600 views.

8. Scissor Sisters, Night Work

The thong remainth the thame - but the wedgie?

This might be a tribute to Loverboy's Get Lucky, Springsteen's Born in the USA, or Eagles of Death Metal's Death by Sexy, or it might just be a dude with a wedgie. Which may explain the falsetto...

9. Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland (British cover)

Released in England, and promptly redesigned for North American release, the sleeve is a collector's item much in the same way as the Beatles' butcher cover.

The Hendrix family has resisted attempts to repackage the album with the original cover, preferring the swirling, fiery Hendrix head to the ladies of questionable repute, for some odd reason.

10. Foreigner, Head Games

I want to know what love is, I want you to bl... aww, forget it.

Back in 1979, everyone's favorite MOR band decided the way it wanted to package its music was by featuring "a worried young woman in men's toilets" on its cover, as Wikipedia nicely describes it. 

Featuring the hits "Head Games" and "Dirty White Boy," and protested far and wide, it was only two years later the band suddenly found its romantic streak with "Waiting For a Girl Like You," followed by "I Want to Know What Love is," and "Say You Will."


  1. I proudly count Lovesexy in my collection. However, I nominate Spike by Elvis Costello to be included in that list.

  2. Wow... you got a real bunch of "winners". I think the lesson learned here is gratuitous nudity won't make the album any better. With that said, I would be interested in seeing the ten best album cover designs.

  3. The ten best? Easy! To be continued...

  4. Ken..

    Thanks for the publicity on MOM'S APPLE PIE.

    Stay in touch !

    Larry Patterson

    manager MAP

  5. The Hendrix cover bares a striking resemblance to my usual Saturday night entourage.

  6. I think you forgot the "Holy Grail" of tasteless banned album covers:
    The Scorpion's original "Virgin Killer" LP featuring a totally nude frontal photo of a 8 year old girl looking like she just had an orgasm!!! An overlay of simulated broken glass which discreetly covers the vaginal lips only adds to the symbolism of loss of virginity....of a child!!!
    Back in the early 70's it seems, just about everything was ok...
    I doubt if this cover could even be shown in this blog!


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