100 Obscure and Remarkable CD Covers

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While recording artists and bands are busy recording their albums, a separate effort is usually being made behind the scenes to plan for the launch, promotion and circulation of the new tracks. The creation of CD cover art is an intergral part of this process.

Some CD covers feature heavily edited and airbrushed vanity photos of the musicians or recording artists. Thankfully, others are much more creative and work to create a cover image that reflects the mood, attitude or feel of the music it promotes. The most striking designs are those that capture both a buyer’s attention and the essense of the music.

The CD cover art designs and concepts featured in this showcase present dramatic, quirky, unusual or unique artwork. This type of cover art can make a big difference when a little-known band releases an album. Captivating or iconic cover art can make a band instantly recognizable, which increases sales, which in turn boosts airplay and subsequently demand for the music. Mainstream marketing is rarely this attractive, and the wide variety of beautiful CD cover art makes browsing CDs an enjoyable experience that reaches far beyond the music.

It must be noted that a collection of this nature is never complete, and the value of art is very personal and subjective. While we may love the familiar cover art of some classic favourites because we love the bands and the music, a critical look at the cover art can often be a disappointment. For the purposes of this cross-section of remarkable and obscure cd cover art we have chosen to ignore the musical genius of the albums in favor of showcasing brilliant cover art.

You may also enjoy this previous article:

100 Obscure and Remarkable CD Covers

Rush – Power Windows (1985)
This strange cover seems to be showing a mirrored world, where we sit and watch a window, surrounded by televisions.

Rush - Power Windows

Osaka Popstar – Rock’em O-Sock’em Live! (2008)
This gruesome cover is meant to be humorous, but may err on the side of bizarre. What look to be dollish little men have lost their heads, and perhaps some sales opportunities as well.

Osaka - Popstar

Neutral Milk Hotel – The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998)
Vintage-looking and abstract, this beautiful coverart begs for an explaination.

Screenshot

Tool – Ænima (1996)
One of many brilliant cover art designs for Tool, this one is also a stunning optical illusion.

Tool - Anemia

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
The street-art feel of this cover art is both comical and slightly unsettling.

King Crimson

Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue (1977)
This ELO cover art is classic and unforgettable.

Screenshot

Jerry Goodman – Ariel (1986)
Who doesn’t love flying fish? This cover art is confusing without being annoying. Someone might pick up this CD just to try to figure out what is going on with the cover.

Jerry Goodman - Ariel

Daydreamer – Dialogue (2008)
Bold slpashes of gold and red are used on this cd cover, which features a clever typography image. Haunting eyes peek out from beyond a mass of golden words that serve as hair.

Daydreamer - Dialogue

Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1992)
A little bit of everything was thrown into this odd but intriguing cover art.

Nick Drake - Pink Moon

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog (2007)
Pop art is featured on thie cd cover. Bright colors and an abstract image are combined to create something visually stunning.

Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute (2005)
This cover art photo is organized confusion that might make would-be listeners curious about the music.

New Order - Blue Monday

Pixies – Doolittle (1990)
With a name like Pixies, you might expect sweet, innocent looking cover art. This is not the case.

Pixies - Doolittle

Mimo – Hello Let’s Be Friends
Like a trainwreck, it may be hard to look away from this cover. An alien-esque creature would like to be your friend. Would you pass it up?

Mimo - Hello Let's Be Friends

The Roots – Things Fall Apart (1999)
This album was released with five different covers, each depicting a social disaster. The most striking of the five, seen here, shows African American teenagers being chased down a street in Brooklyn during the Civil Rights era.

Screenshot

Rivermaya – Buhay (2008)
The art on this cd cover is a bit perplexing. The mostly monochromatic design comes to life with a pop of red and yellow. As the eye is drawn into the picture, the oddities become evident.

Rivermaya - Buhay

Unkle – Never, Never Land (2003)
The hand-drawn art on this cover is stark, simple and unique.

New Order - Blue Monday

Story of the Year – Page Avenue (2003)
The title and art on this cover work beautifully together.

Story of the Year - Page Avenue

The Mothers of Invention – Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1988)
The cover art of this cd colorfully mocks the title.

The Mothers of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Circa Survive – Juturna (2005)
This moody cover art grabs attention and doesn’t let it go.

Circa Survive - Juturna

Matt Elliott – Howling Songs (2008)
This strange, scary and truly original cover captures attenton and perfectly reflect the music’s essence (experimental rock and folk).

Screenshot

Circa Survive – On Letting Go (2007)
Two years later, Circa Survive released a new album with this cover, which seems caught between a dream and a nightmare

Circa Survive - On Leting Go

Thom Yorke – The Eraser (2006)
This cover, with it’s simple black, white and red hand-drawn design, is captivating.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Black Light Burns – Cruel Melody (2007)
Taking a more classical route on this cover art, Black Light Burns manages to catch a browser’s eye.

New Order - Blue Monday

KMFDM – Hau Ruck (2005)
Harsh, abrupt, and loud, this KMFDM cover art gets in your face.

KMFDM - Hau Ruck

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Some say no collection of cover art is worth mentioning without this cover.

The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

As Cities Burn – Hell or High Water (2008)
Both Hell and high water make their appearance in this album cover by As Cities Burn, and the heavy relief styling mated with macabre humor do well to quickly catch your eye.

Bring Me the Horizon – Count Your Blessings (2006)
Good photographic composition draws the viewer’s eye to the little girl immediately in this cover from Bring Me the Horizon, only to then take it on a tour all over the picture.

Deftones – Deftones (2003)
Relaxed and friendly typography tops this self-titled album’s cover art, while perfectly over-contrasted colors surround the skull in the center. This cover stands out anywhere.

Massive Attack – Mezzanine (1998)
The idea of such a limited color scheme and so much white space may seem boring on paper, but the execution of this album’s cover art was flawless and the image has been burned to memory for millions of fans world-wide ever since.

Frank Zappa – Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch (1995)
This cover combines a silly title with a Swedish-looking font and an imaginatively simple drawing that, once we’ve read the title, really does look like a drowning witch and a ship’s keel.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Coil (1997)
This album cover, while very full of activity, manages to pull off a gorgeous, monochromatic glow that draws the reader in from the start.

The Rippingtons – Modern Art (2009)
While the typography on this cd cover could be much better, the “cool cat” and his art seem to make up for it.

The Rippingtons - Modern Art

The Van Buren Regulars – 14 Minutes ’till 3 (2007)
Beautiful lighting and a good setting make the photograph in this cover art perfect for what it’s been used for. The title of the album serves as a seat to the band-name and the reader feels relaxed, as though peering over the railing and looking down the stairwell like a child might.

Norma Jean – O God the Aftermath (2005)
Like viral marketing, Norma Jean’s album is made to stop a browser in their tracks and force them to wonder what happened on the cover. Did somebody write on it? Is this a used cd? This kind of extended attention is exactly what album art should get.

Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown (2009)
Warm and grungy, this cd cover art also captures a tinge of teenage angst.

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown

Lemon Jelly – Lost Horizons (2002)
Looking for a lost horizon is exactly what the viewer winds up doing when looking at this album cover, due to the flow given it by the artist.

Out of Enemies – Into the Darkness (2009)
Good use of artist rendering here shows a surrealistic scene in modern manga-style illustration. We don’t know what’s in the woods, or why the hero needs to enter. We just know he’s Out of Enemies.

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (1988)
This cd cover art is unique and interesting, and with a pink robot, how could they lose?

New Order - Blue Monday

Adagio – Archangels in Black (2009)
Dark and moody, this cover art composition was designed to highlight key features. Mystery and anquish draw the listener to this cover.

Adagio - Archangels in Black

The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation (1995)

The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation

Sepultura – Roots (1996)
Hot colors with a tribal infusion decorate this cd cover. The disconnect between the head and neck make this image even more interesting.

Sepultura - Roots

Junkyard – The Birthday Party (1982)
This cd cover art is macabre and humorous at the same time. There is a little bit of everything in the image, and with each look one might see something that went unnoticed before.

Junkyard - The Birthday Party

Caged
A budding artist created this image in hope that it would be used as cd cover art. It’s frightening and striking at the same time. The two faces could represent may things and may make an excellent cover image for the right band..

Caged

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero (single, 2009)
Some covers totally mess with your mind. This is one of them. The bright blue eye seems to be staring out from a pair of shiny red lips. This is an unexpected composition, to say the least, and has helped propel the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s from unknown independents to household names.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

Muse – Origin of Symmetry (2001)

MUSE - Origin of Symmetry

Anew Revolution – Rise (2008)
This cd cover art is simple and basic, yet incredibly striking. The edges look charred already, while a hand holds a match in the foreground. While the overall color scheme is subdued, even cold, the flame is embellished to give the illusion of heat.

Anew Revolution - Rise

Further Seems Forever – Hide Nothing (2004)
Matching the cover in metaphor to the name of the band is a common trick in album art, but the more abstract the band-name the more difficult it becomes to accomplish. This cover managed to do pretty well in its attempt.

Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On (2008)
A startling image, front and center on this cd cover commands attention. The red and black contrast also serve to draw eyes. However, a human heart clenched in a fist may be a bit too strong, and many potential listeners may keep walking.

Eagles of Death Metal - Heart On

Ninja Academy – bra’ka dOm (2005)
Ninjas are rarely seen, and conjoined-twin ninjas are even more of a rarity. The pair gaze into a crystal ball in an attempt to determine if this cover art will be of any interest to potential listeners.

Ninja Academy - bra'ka dOm

The Gossip – Live in Liverpool (2008)
This cover is simple, bold and effectively conveys the message in an instant. The dirty laundry pictured is a clever play off the band’s name.

Gossip - Live in Liverpool

More Skin With Milk-Mouth – Giraffes? Giraffes? (2007)
Nothing seems to make sense here, yet it works on this cd cover. More flying fish, an invasion of ladybugs and a Roman statue all fit together in this intriguing, colorful mess.

More Skin With Milk-Mouth - Giraffes? Giraffes?

Alpha Rev – The Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Learned (2008)
Another approach to grunge is seen in this cd cover artwork that succesfully combines a retro feeling and a modern touch.

Alpha Rev - The Greatest Thing I've Ever Learned

Cuerpo Meridian – 69 (2006)
The artwork here is so beautifully abstract that we hardly notice the psuedo-twins crouching at the bottom. A deeper look reveals more embedded messages within this cd cover.

Cuerpo Meridian - 69

RIDE! – The Last of the Bad Men (2008)
This is another example of simple, yet striking cd cover design. Colors and effects were expertly applied to create artwork that is stunning enough for a frame, yet is used to promote another form of art instead.

RIDE! - The Last of the Bad Men

faux pas’ – europa (never released)
This interesting cd cover brings the unexpected into the artwork. While not conventionally attractive, it is interesting and worth a closer look.

faux pas' - europa

Systemania – I Say Yeah (2007)
Black with white and red usually make for a stunning visual combo. This cd cover uses black and white photography with red accents to create a masterpiece.

Systemania - I Say Yeah

Systemania - I Say Yeah

Mark Cool & the Folk Stars (2007)
This charming folk-art cover works perfectly for this folk music cd.

Mark Cool & the Folk Stars

Destruction – Release from Agony (1988)
This cs cover has more creep factor than a vintage horror flick, yet is strangely fascinating.

Destruction - Release from Agony

Coldplay – Viva LaVida (2008)
A vintage French battleground is the scene for this cd cover. Smear and splatter bring it to life.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Motorhead – Orgasmatron (2006)
A cd cover that could inspire nightmares is not quickly forgotten. This Motorhead cd cover features an image that makes an impact.

Screenshot

A Perfect Circle – Mer de Noms (2000)
Simple and elegant artwork can also make a great cd cover. This design is particularly attractive because all of the elements work together perfectly to create a memorable and uncluttered cover.

 A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
Completely vintage in appearance, this Arcade Fire cd cover art is nearly monochromatic and simplistic in design.

Acarde Fire - Funeral

Arcade Fire (2005)
The creative use of typography and white space sets this cover art apart.

Screenshot

Evanescence – The Open Door (2006)
A moody and romantic tone is set with this cd cover art design. The mystery lies on the other side of the door.

Evanescence - The Open Door

The Postal Service – Give Up (2003)
This extremely simple cd cover design is also extremely memorable and effective. Soft focus on the background photo give the cover an understated elegance.

The Postal Service - Give Up

Bjork – Medulla (2004)
Bjork covers are generally extremely eye-catching. Rather than straight glamour shots, her cover art generally reflects a unique style that is all her own.

Bjork - Medulla

Bjork – Wanderlust (2008)

Bjork - Wanderlust

Bjork – Cocoon 2 (single, 2002)

Bjork - Cocoon 2

Cocteau Twins – Treasure (1991)
The music on this album has been described as sensual and timeless, and the cover art also falls in line with that description. Its simplicity allows it to withstand the test of time.

Screenshot

Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
The music on this album is about machines dehumanizing people, and the cover art seems to touch on the speed and technology of modern life.

Screenshot

Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
Taking the rainbow theme to task, the artist used an interesting background and multi-colored text with random keystrokes inserted to create this cover art.

Radiohead - In Rainbows

She Wants Revenge (2005)
This self-titled album made a splash with this striking cover art.

Screenshot

She Wants Revenge - back

Wet
Striking and self-explanatory, this cd cover art stands out in a crowd.

Wet

Shoutin’ – Don Wilkerson (1963)
Classic art from the Miles Davis era, when great cover art was in its infancy.

Shoutin

New Order – Blue Monday (1988)
New Order departed from its usual style of cover art in favor of this symbolic design for Blue Monday.

New Order - Blue Monday

Hard-Fi – Once Upon a Time in the West (2007)
A new approach to cover art from Hard-Fi. This is pretty self-explanatory.

Hard-Fi - Once Upon a TIme in the West

Fucked Up – Year of the Rat b/w First Born (2009)
The combination of the image, colors and use of white space make this cover hard to resist.

Fucked Up - Year of the Rat

Pixies – Come on Pilgrim (1987)
This bold and shocking imagery appeared on the cover of the Pixies’ 2003 release, Come on Pilgrim.

Pixies - Come on Pilgrim

Supertramp – Breakfast in America (1979)
Classic cover art no collector should be without.

Supertramp - Breakfast in America

Orbital – In Sides (1996)
Chaotic and colorful cover art decorated the cover of this Orbital cd.

Orbital Insides

Baroness – The Red Album (1988)
This gorgeous cover art was created by Baroness lead singer John Dyer Baizley. Baizley does all of the band’s artwork and has also worked on art for other bands.

New Order - Blue Monday

The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
The cover art on this cd looks vintage, but was produced for the 1995 release of this much-loved album.

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie

The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
This album took place during confusing time for the Beatles, when they were in a state of flux and trying many new things; this cover art conveys the idea of just that.

New Order - Blue Monday

Pink Floyd – The Darkside of the Moon (1973)
Voted and declared on many lists internationally as the greatest album cover art in history, The Darkside of the Moon stands the test of time as it’s still wildly popular in its simplicity.

Pink Floyd - Darkside of the Moon

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)
Joy Division, being known for their commitment to music, as well as being very dark, are personified in this very minimalistic cover.

New Order - Blue Monday

Chevelle – Wonder What’s Next (2002)
This cover shows a glass of milk crashing to the floor, the title Wonder What’s Next leads the reader to think of the proverb.

Chevelle - Wonder What's Nextts Next

Devin Townsend – Ziltoid the Omniscient (2007)
This extremely humorous cover mimics classic sci-fi B-movies. Someone browsing the record store might stop just to see if it’s a misplaced DVD. Covers like this serve to pique curiosity, and often succeed.

Keane – Under the Iron Sea (2006)
Using the old imagery of the “Iron Horse” in this cover, Keane manages to make both the name of the album and the cover art flow together as a complimentary pair.

Lee Morgan – The Rumproller (1965)
Using extreme distortion on the typography in this cover art causes the reader to pause and pay attention, only to be greeted by the full artist and album information off to the side.

Marylin Manson – Mechanical Animals (1998)
Always one for shock value, Marylin Manson made sure he would grab eyeballs with this album cover; the cover was so effective that it had to be altered just to be taken off ban-lists.

Menomena – Friend or Foe (2007)
This clever album cover actually housed a several-disc set, and depending on which disc was placed in front, the art would change accordingly, with the disc number visible in the strange being’s hand.

The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
Always out to make a statement, the Sex Pistols used this album cover to not only get a laugh out all who came across it, but also to raise brand-awareness. If you’re going to self-title an album, this is a good way to go about doing it.

Tiger Lou – Partial Print (2008)
Typography carries this with creative vignetting, as Tiger Lou catches the reader’s attention instantly.

Beck – The Information (2006)
The album was issued with a blank sleeve and booklet and one of four different sheets of stickers for fans to make their own album art. Beck explained to Wired magazine he wanted no two copies of the CD cover to be the same: “The artwork is going to be customizable. The idea is to provide something that calls for interactivity.” However, because the unique album art concept was seen as a gimmick to bolster retail sales, The Information was deemed ineligible to enter the UK Albums Chart.

Beck: The Information by Big Active and you

Opeth – Ghost Reveries (2005)
Opeth wants to haunt you in this album cover, to make you stop and think, and wonder. It’s hard not to, as it’s very artistically done so as to draw your attention.

Sila – Imza (2008)
Normally a photo shoot of the artist winds up somewhat plain; Sila does things differently in this shot, as it barely looks real. The feathers reminds us more of a cinematic trailer for a fantasy movie or video game, the brightness draws us into the center where her eyes anchor the canvas.

The Darkness – One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back (2005)
Wraparound covers, while not quite rare, aren’t common either. So when a good one comes up, it’s always a nice thing to see, and this one is simply amazingly well done.

The Who – Then and Now (2004/2006)
This album art showcases the fact that The Who have been around since before most of us were born. The vintage styling makes every piece of information “pop” and the whole thing comes together to look like a concert poster.

Tool – 10,000 Days (2006)
While the cover itself is not amazing, it’s what Tool have done with the packaging that makes it worth a mention. Tool raised the bar with digipacks by including a set of stereoscope glasses to view the accompanying artwork.

Tool: 10,000 Days

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – It’s Blitz (2009)
Doing what they do best, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s give another great example of how to turn heads. Upon seeing this, most everyone tends to stop and look.

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Gerri Elder is a content producer and social media strategist who has worked full-time on Internet development and marketing since 1997. Her current projects include ChicagoNow, GreenBiz and ProspectMX. Gerri can be reached on Facebook or Twitter and is often found on the Web under the username "absolutelytrue".

  1. 1

    Obscure indeed! I love the one from Keane, Under the Iron See.
    the Marylin Manson one is definetly a classic.
    The DIY kit from Beck was clever.
    Yey! F1rst!

    0
  2. 2

    HAHAHAHA!!!! TOOL’s “ANEMIA”!!! …LOL… they should eat more!!!

    -3
  3. 3

    Where’s Aphew Twin ?

    1
  4. 4

    Cool! some of my all time fav albums are on that list.
    ROCK ON!

    0
  5. 5

    This is freeeeaking aawwweeesome collection! SM ROCKS!

    0
  6. 6

    As soon as I saw the list title, I knew that the Aenima album from Tool would be on. All these are amazing!

    0
  7. 7

    Where’s Abbey Road?
    Where’s the Beatles self-titled (white) album
    Where’s Nevermind?
    Where’s In Utero
    Where’s
    Where’s
    Where’s . . .
    hahah,

    ad nauseum

    anyway, “It must be noted that a collection of this nature is never complete, and the value of art is very personal and subjective.”

    so, yes.
    you guys are safe

    good job!

    0
  8. 8

    Nice list, save a few. (Steve Vai? Really?) I would have liked to have seen some more Blue Note covers, though.

    0
  9. 9

    Where’s Matt Elliott’s “Howling Songs”? Awesomest cover art EVER.

    0
  10. 10

    Good to see Muse there ^_^

    Anyone know what font is used on the “Sila – Imza” cover?

    0
  11. 11

    Peter Greathead

    May 13, 2009 3:20 pm

    On the Zappa cover, it should be “ship’s bow approaching the witch’s hat.” The ship’s keel is underwater.

    1
  12. 12

    What a great collection! Thanks!

    0
  13. 13

    the mimo link is just a link to some guys myspace.

    here’s the actual link:
    http://www.myspace.com/mimo_tv

    0
  14. 14

    What about Zeitgeist by Smashing Pumpkins?

    1
  15. 15

    You should totally check this photographer out if you liked Sıla’s album cover shot.
    http://mehmeturgut.deviantart.com/

    0
  16. 16

    I like Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” Pic

    0
  17. 17
  18. 18

    The Van Buren Regulars – 14 Minutes ’till 3, kind of a alternative view from one far better.Talking about “Swing the heartache: the BBC sessions”, by Bauhaus.

    And well, “i care because you do” – Aphex Twin, “Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun” – Dead can Dance, and actually, most of the 4AD editions, along with all those alternative 80′s record companies….but that’s me ;)

    0
  19. 19

    I really miss a cover from porcupine tree in the list. There are really some great covers. Check out lightbulb sun, in absentia (the guy on the cover is the actual creator of the cover) or fear of a blank planet. Especially the last one freaks people out though its only a boy in blue light.

    Also need for inclusion is a cover from Genesis. Their early albums have beautiful painted covers and resemble the stories in the song well. Same as with the early albums of Marillion who are also painted (but in a very different style).

    And as someone commented earlier, the Bitches Brew album from Miles Davis is very good too.

    Dream Theater have some nice covers aswell.

    1
  20. 20

    what about the strokes room on fire, or their album is this it.

    0
  21. 21

    Death leprosy: link

    0
  22. 22

    Sorry, but lots of largely uninspired covers amidst this 100 (some classics though) and couldn’t help but feel that many were chosen for their music rather than the quality or merit of their design.

    BTW they’re album covers not CD covers! Lots of these were released on LP (vinyl) and would originally have been designed for that format.

    /pedant ;)

    0
  23. 23

    It should be noted that Osaka Popstar’s “Rock’em O-Sock’em Live!” album art is an homage to The Garbage Pail Kids Link. And Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown Could also be seen as a reference to “The Watchmen”.

    Points for including Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta.

    0
  24. 24

    Joe Brightwell

    May 13, 2009 5:53 pm

    Fully agree with Cole. The music genres tend to be biased towards rock n roll and metal as well.

    0
  25. 25

    Since when is Power Windows, Out of the Blue, Anema, or 10000 Days obscure?

    0
  26. 26

    Apparently I was suffering from the delusion that Rush, Tool, Beck and The Who were something less than “obscure.”

    Good collection nonetheless.

    0
  27. 27

    With all the gothic covers here, I’m surprised there’s no mention of the cover from Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery”, with art by H. R. Giger.

    0
  28. 28

    Wow, truly amazing covers!

    RT

    0
  29. 29

    This just in from somebody who, uh, was born before 1964: Junkyard’s “The Birthday Party” pays homage to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Look him up. He created some classic art in the 60′s – all by hand, of course.

    Thanks for the interesting collection.

    0
  30. 30

    Not a single hip hop album cover. Disappointing. (Not to say that these are no good, most of them are pretty amazing)

    0
  31. 31

    You have my favourite on here so 10 points. The King Crimson. And don’t forget when some of us bought it it was an LP cover – looks great at the large size!

    0
  32. 32

    Those “dollish little men” on the Osaka Popstar album are Garbage Pail Kids. I think that album cover is 20 or so years too late. ;)

    1
  33. 33

    Nice list – Thanks to Last.FM I recognize more than half of the list. Although, you are missing out a bunch :/

    0
  34. 34

    The Zappa cover featured a drawing from the Droodles (drawing/doodle) series by Roger Price which was in the newspapers and books in the 50′s. The simple drawing illustrates the silly caption. It was big at parties many years ago. Little kids love ‘em.

    Check out droodles.com

    0
  35. 35

    the pixies ep “come on pilgrim” was released in 1987 not 2003. please do your homework. also to the comment about the birthday party album cover “junkyard” being inspired by ed roth…it is, uh, ed roth. anyway thanks for the remarkable although by no means obscure images. great picks all around.

    0
  36. 36

    Hey! what about Steely Dan’s first album? “Can’t Buy a Thrill” 1972
    http://crocmusic.com/images/albums_large/634/steely_dan_cant_buy_a_thrill.jpg

    and yes, like the guy way above said, what about x and x and y and z and all the others ;)

    0
  37. 37

    This seems to be a list of your favorite 100 albums, nothing to do with good cover art. What a cop-out

    0
  38. 38

    Looked through the list again, and decided I have to amend my previous comment.

    Multiple entries for Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and Bjork? What, these were just the first 100 CDs the author grabbed off her shelf?

    Fail.

    0
  39. 39

    Seems to me the authors idea of good cover art is intrinsically linked with their taste in music. 90% this music generally fits in the same genre and has good indie cred. I would bet this collection rather mirrors the authors music collection, and I suspect more than a couple of these were added just because the music is good.

    Wheres the Pop, Country, and Hip Hop cover art? Definitely underrepresented.

    0
  40. 40

    Not much in the way of obscure here. Remarkable, also questionable. Most of these don’t stand out thrown against even a dozen other pieces of cover art from their respective albums. Guess I was hoping for too much from the title. Smashing is really starting to slide of late.

    A note on the Osaka Popstar cover — it’s a throwback to Garbage Pail Kids, so it’s a stretch to think that it would somehow adversely affect sales other than people crying “kitchy, but unoriginal”.

    And as for this Yeah Yeah Yeahs comment:
    “This is an unexpected composition, to say the least, and has helped propel the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s from unknown independents to household names.”

    Unknown? Really? What CAVE are you living in? They are one of my favorite bands, but it’s hard to call you unknown when you spent the last 3 albums with your face plastered all over music magazines.

    0
  41. 41

    Missing all Captain Beefheart’s covers, a few more from Zappa, the Blind Faith album cover, the Faith no More Angel Dust cover/backcover, sorry not be helpfull before.

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  42. 42

    Carlo Castillo

    May 13, 2009 9:22 pm

    @MattChandler, I bet the author hasn’t even heard of Rivermaya. “Buhay” (Life) is an album from a Filipino band. They actually have good stuff, if you should come across them

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  43. 43

    theres 100 album covers you could say are missing and 100 people could say the same thing and the list still wouldnt be complete. iconic album covers would be a somewhat easier task (not really). lets just enjoy that someone is showing us what they like.

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  44. 44

    I really think the Job For A Cowboy and Chimaira album covers should have been on this list.

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  45. 45

    Please do something about the “CD” categorizing. They are ALBUM covers. Hello, Beatles, “Revolver” and, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” were originally released on vinyl. But they shouldn’t be called “Record” covers either. Albums are a collection of things, be it photos, songs, etc. So it’s more sensible to call them “Album” covers.

    Just my two cents.

    JDR

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  46. 46

    Great covers, but no way Sgt. Pepper is obscure!! I think you need another adjective.

    0
  47. 47

    if you include Postal Service’s album, then might as well give credit to their singles series which feature a very cute series of covers in cartoon/comic style

    also, Keane’s singles series off “Under The Iron Sea”, which follows the same design as the album

    0
  48. 48

    You can also add “King for a day” from “Faith no more” to your un-finishable list.

    0
  49. 49

    Baroness “red album” is released in 2007 not in 1988. (great great great album!!!) :)

    0
  50. 50

    And not even one Mastodon album cover? I would suggest their classic:
    Leviathan

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  51. 51

    Well, some of them are creepy indeed… but I don’t know what’s got Lemon Jelly’s cover to do with obscure…
    About the UNKLE album, this is just a revamped version of the hand drawn artwork of their first album (Psyence Fiction).

    And damn… I can’t believe you don’t know that the Viva La Vida “vintage french battleground” is indeed a superfamous Delacroix painting named about the French Revolution… You have it right there in wikipedia, but really, you must have seen it before…

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  52. 52

    Well, some of them are creepy indeed… but I don’t know what’s got Lemon Jelly’s cover to do with obscure…
    About the UNKLE album, this is just a revamped version of the hand drawn artwork of their first album (Psyence Fiction).

    And damn… I can’t believe you don’t know that the Viva La Vida “vintage french battleground” is indeed a superfamous Delacroix painting named “Liberty guiding the people” about the French Revolution… You have it right there in wikipedia, but really, you must have seen it before…

    (double post I think, stupid connection)

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  53. 53

    You forgot this cover cover, reminds me of that national geographic picture

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  54. 54

    Some decent covers here, but by all means … obscure ??

    http://www.entity.be/entity/releases/NTT041.jpg
    http://www.entity.be/entity/releases/NTT033.jpg
    http://www.entity.be/entity/releases/NTT032.jpg

    And these are only just from one netlabel …

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  55. 55

    We should mention the artists behind those covers. One of the best is Travis Smith (presented here by at least 2 album covers): http://www.seempieces.com/display.php. Another name worth mentioning is Andreas Marschall.

    Great list. Thank you!

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  56. 56

    awesome collection…Bjork and Tool my favourites, unique music seeks for unique cover

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  57. 57

    I am really amazed by the list, a lot of covers I have never seen before, but I am really sorry for not seeing anything from primus, and their covers are great….so here are some some and some more some more.

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  58. 58

    I’d just like to point out that European release of “Tool – Aenima” does not have the supreme album cover – just a plan, stupid one. If you live in Europe, order Aenima from Amazon.com (.com! not co.uk or whatever) because any good designer must have that album.

    Tool Lateralus also has amazing cover, however, Tool – SALIVAL has entire awesome designed box with it.

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  59. 59

    I miss the album cover of Disturbed – The Sickness. ;)

    Good collection!

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  60. 60

    Now I think of it, Peter Gabriel really has some weird covers. PG 2 (scratch) and PG3 (melt) are very interesting and artistic covers.

    0
  61. 61

    Great Albums, great cover artworks… I miss my favourites: The Black Angels with PassoverPassover and Directions to see a ghostDirections to see a ghost

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  62. 62

    If you’re gonna include Baroness, you gotta include Johnny Truant. And I’d say the most recent Bring Me The Horizon album has better art than this one. That said, superb list. Great variety.

    0
  63. 63

    really nice post

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  64. 64

    Poul Foged Nielsen

    May 14, 2009 12:09 am

    Is it me, or is the Orgasmatron – Motörhead cover ()
    stolen directly from this () old amiga demo?

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  65. 65

    Where’s my pants? I left them around here last evening .. hmmm …

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  66. 66

    As soon as I read the intro the two that immediatley popped into my head were the Darkness “One Way ticket to hell…..and Back” as that is amazing, both the cover art and the track listing was designed for it’s LP layout. My second thought was the three Bat Out Of Hell albums.

    I am amazed that none of the Bat Out Of Hell covers are mentioned as that is another example of a classic albums with classic artwork, more so then some that made the list.

    Again Led Zeppelin I – IV or Houses of the Holy or all great examples of obscure artwork, again designed to be viewed as LP front/back covers. Iron Maidens covers are both obscure and remarkable

    And if hard-fis “once upon a time in the west” is there as obscure why isn’t Metallica’s 5th album there (“The Black Album”) so obscure no one knew what to call it!!

    Far too many of the above are unremarkable and “normal”

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  67. 67

    Come on, don’t recycle parts of older posts!

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  68. 68

    Very very smashing collections … aging a lot of inspiration whit my coffee :)

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  69. 69

    Nice collection!
    Tool artworks are awesome but I prefer the Lateralus cover art.
    Nevertheless good selection. Still no Iron Maiden cover? =]

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  70. 70

    Again smashing dose of inspiration whit my coffee. tnx SM

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  71. 71

    Christopher Anderton

    May 14, 2009 1:07 am

    Nice to see some of my dad’s old albums in the list. I remeber when i was about 5 and how i loved to browse my dad’s record collection. The covers was my first encounter with graphic design that still today inspire me.

    0
  72. 72

    I was looking at the Frank Zappa – Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch cover, and I couldn’t help but wonder… What exactly is a “Swedish-looking font”?

    0
  73. 73

    Weyhey! That Joy Division one has seen better days!

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  74. 74

    LOL yes, this post is in relation with author’s taste but… how could he know and remember a cover if he never listenned to the album ? The author just can’t put some Hip Hop covers if he doesn’t listen to hip hop, He will not go and look the album in virgin if he don’t like… And I’ve got to admit that metal covers are often like the music : more powerfull, more worked and more complex than any other genre (a pop album cover is for 90% made with a photoshoot of the artist^^)

    Here’s a cover I really like, I bought the album without listenning to it before (discovered later that it was a fuckin good album :D) ’cause the cover really catched my attention : http://www.gothtronic.com/Goth/img_/Music1/sub/theogonia_promo_7.jpg

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  75. 75

    It’s a shame that a lot of these bands/albums will never be heard by the average joe. A lot of amazing stuff in there.

    0
  76. 76

    you should look into some of the releases from the sending orbs label…they always have beautiful art. this album (secede – tryshasla) has some of my favorite cover art:
    http://www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=458658

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  77. 77
  78. 78

    Where’s October Project and Screaming Trees?
    I wouldn’t call this 100 OBSCURE…just 100 Remarkable.
    Then again, in these times with these younguns, I guess almost all may be obscure…except Marilyn Manson. That ain’t obscure. Just crap.

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  79. 79

    Great stuff, you could have done a 1000….how about Red, they have great cd cover art.
    http://www.redmusiconline.com/

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  80. 80

    You could have listed quite a few Pink Floyd albums on there.

    By the way, it’s Dark Side of the Moon.

    0
  81. 81

    Kinda like this one:

    Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther

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  82. 82

    awesome collection :D
    wonderful artworks from all genres and all decades

    …coldplay was the most boring though…

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  83. 83

    Not really obscure, but some of them are really remarkable.

    What do you guys think about the cover of alony // dismantling dreams ?

    0
  84. 84

    Yeah, KMFDM!
    I think the author has a good taste of music. ;)

    0
  85. 85

    Cool post!
    another good one… ‘The Bronx’ by The Bronx

    0
  86. 86

    Nice list, brought back some memories. I did notice that Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” is erroneously listed as being released in 1988; it was actually 2002.

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  87. 87

    Great artworks and reviews, although I wonder why Tool’s 10,000 days isn’t considered amazing…

    I do have a question though. Why is the cover of “Out of Enemies – Into the Darkness” considered manga-style? I really don’t see why this was labeled manga, as it could easily be a style coming from the west.

    Other than that, this is a pretty cool post.

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  88. 88

    Wow! Some of these remind me of Neon Park, RIP.

    0
  89. 89

    I’d love to see more of this kind of posts! Great selection and a good chance to discover new artists… smashing!

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  90. 90

    Awesome list. I’m glad I saw some TOOL love.

    Also, nice to see Anew Revolution on the list! I’ve worked with them quite a few times in my concert promoter days. Great guys, and good musicians!

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  91. 91

    Cool post!
    Look at this album cover “Miles Davis Bitches Brew”

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  92. 92

    All of Mastodon’s covers are awesome … Leviathan … Blood Mountain … the new and insanely awesome Crack The Skye …

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  93. 93

    Ignatz Horowitz

    May 14, 2009 5:57 am

    Another typically lame-o post. Something original next time,maybe?

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  94. 94

    I think someone is confusing the word “obscure” with “mainstream”. Most of these albums are on major labels. Of the indie labels represented, most are owned or distributed by a company owned by a major label. There are some good album covers here, but obscure? I don’t think so. Several of these albums had top 40 hits on them. Supertramp’s Breakfast In America had FOUR top 40 hits on it! Two of them in the top 10!
    This should be done again, with albums that are actually obscure. There’s some amazing stuff out there.

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  95. 95

    Love these kinds of posts, keep them coming.

    FYI, the Joy Division cover you have pictured is actually a reimagined version (though it is lovely). You can see the original here.

    And regarding the Cocteau Twins CD above, it’s always nice to see the work of v23/Envelope 23/Vaughn Oliver featured. Those old 4AD covers are some of my absolute favorites.

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  96. 96

    This falls really short for me. Very subjective and some seem to be in here because of the ALBUM itself and not the cover art. Half of this list could EASILY be tossed. It seems lazy.

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  97. 97

    Thank your for this grat list!

    PNick Drake and Iron & Wine are my favorites!

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  98. 98

    Great article! Thanks for the collection :)

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  99. 99

    I think by “obscure” they refer to the style of the art rather than the bands/music which they represent.

    There are a lot of great covers here. Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere In Time” would fit on it.

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  100. 100

    Great stuff! Obscure though???

    Sadly, as vinyl is out and CD’s are following (being replaced by downloading), the art of the cover is truly being lost.

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  101. 101

    oh, #2…Osaka Popstar… Seriously? Do you guys really not know what Garbage Pail Kids are? Hardly original, but still a fun cover.

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  102. 102

    Where’s Addek’s hip hop 9/11 cover??!! Blows half of these away and is pretty obscure. Underground Hip hop.

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  103. 103

    Great article, except one mistake – The Red Album, by Baroness, was released in 2007, not 1988. (I should know, I was the editor for their music video).

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  104. 104

    I vote for Dugong’s Hat Danko album for something rather unique. http://beta.bombedout.com/discography/bomb013 – linking to the label’s beta site as the image is larger.

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  105. 105

    somtimes I feel like smashing magazine is losing it’s touch with these kind of posts, I mean it seems like you guys are just spamming God knows how many album covers and hoping it contains some worth mentioning? AND most of the covers are for the same music genre. I don’t really get the point of posts like this one …if I want to get spammend with album covers I’ll use Google images.
    So my advice… Less quantity More quality! I know you can do it

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  106. 106

    Nearly anything by Hipgnosis is stunning.

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  107. 107

    Garbage pail kids on a cover, how cute. :3

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  108. 108

    Rage Against The Machine self-titled first album

    1
  109. 109

    i like this album cover a lot, it’s a mix of manipulated photos and illustrations:

    http://blog.mojavemusic.ca/blog/preorder-crows-funeral/

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  110. 110

    No Metallica – ‘…And Justice For All’ ??
    No Metallica – ‘Master of Puppets’ ??
    No Iron Maiden – ‘Piece of Mind’ ??

    Yet Bjork is listed 3 times?

    Very odd indeed. They are not obscure but, definately remarkable.

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  111. 111

    definitely thought I was going to see more Pink Floyd – ‘momentary lapse of reason’ is one of my favs of all time, ‘wish you were here’ is a classic too…cool list though – oh yeah, and its Dark Side of the Moon, not Darkside :)

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  112. 112

    I LOVE TOOL !!!

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  113. 113

    I think my favorite is the Iron and Wine one.

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  114. 114

    FYI – the Joy Division one is a Homage [by me] to the original and not in fact the proper sleeve. I’d say you need to do a bit more picture research. Actually – any research at all might have fleshed out this overblown, yet revelation-thin bloat list.

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  115. 115

    OBSCURE?! I don’t think so. Very few albums on this list or their art would classify as obscure.

    I think you should definitely rethink the title of this article. And look up the meaning of obscure.

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  116. 116

    Tisk tisk

    Any of the mid era — hot water music — covers

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  117. 117

    Fabulous list! Thanks for publishing! :-)

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  118. 118

    XTC Go2

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  119. 119

    Great collection! Pink Floyd – Darkside of the Moon and any Beck are always great choices. A lot of bands go with the same style or artist throughout the majority of their career; and it seems the more progressive bands always have great album art.

    Thanks as always Smashing.

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  120. 120

    Pink Moon by Nick Drake was released in 1972, not 1992. Those descriptions of yours lack any meaning, they seem quite random to me, just like the collection itself.
    But hey, just another meaningless “The best 5000 whatever” on digg. Congratulations, now I know that smashing *had* been a magazine somewhen, but isn’t not anymore.

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  121. 121

    Cool list!

    “Cassette” by Public Image Limited would have made a nice addition.

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  122. 122

    Cool collection. I was happy to see Further Seems Forever – Hide Nothing made the list. That cover art was my desktop wallpaper for well over a year. Amazing album too.

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  123. 123

    Pixies + Nick Drake – you nailed it bud.

    I’d like to have seen Maximo Park covers for the consistent branding and simplicity. Good Job though

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  124. 124

    Wow – very comprehensive list, with more of an emphasis on the “cool” than the “obscure”, in my opinion. As someone who makes his living promoting the works of the talented designers, illustrators and photographers who create the imagery for new music releases, I’m always happy to see that fans still value these works (and, sometimes, value them more than the music they package!).
    I also write a column based on interviews I do with these artists about the inspiration behind the images they’ve created. In fact, my latest column is about “the making of” the cover for The Pixies’ “Doolittle”, which is featured high on your list. If you’d like to read it (and some of my more-recent postings), please visit my blog at http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/
    Keep up the good work – Mike G

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  125. 125

    I’m with RickO, missing Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery”, maybe also “In Search Of The Lost Chord” by The Moody Blues, “Nursery Cryme” from Genesis – but i fully accept that this list cannot contain them all =)

    Matching great Video: Cover Wars

    EDIT: The Video is called “Cover Wars” (i thought it would display as the link caption but it didn’t)

    Best regards

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  126. 126

    Well, I don’t know about the list or the descriptions, but it’s always nice looking trough some album covers. I especially like the Perfect Circle cover. I wonder how many of you guys noticed the 3D circle in the design.

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  127. 127

    What about Puzzle by Biffy Clyro? And The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow.

    Otherwise a great list!

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  128. 128

    i think the opeth album art was actually part of a contest for fans to create an illustration for ‘ghost reveries’.

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  129. 129

    Why don’t you include Hard Format? It’s full of wonderful designs!

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  130. 130

    Wow. This is just awful. I used to LOVE these lists, but lately they seem to be suffering from a lack of editing. Smashing Magazine, I think you may need to say “no” to some of these writers. Some of these artists are certainly not “Obscure.” Many of the art is not “Remarkable.” I could live with that. I can’t live with the fact that there is barely a sentence for each entry, and what is there is inane. (“With a name like Pixies, you might expect sweet, innocent looking cover art.” Are you kidding me? Maybe we could discuss how the cover fits with the music?) Art, particularly commercial art used to sell a record is more than just interesting to look at. It needs to convey something of the musical artist and genre. Many of the examples here do that, but it seems as though it was simply a happy accident that your writer picked those.

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    • 131

      Hi! I really agree with you about the comments.. Plus do you know the Tromple le monde album from Pixies? They worked a long time with Neville Brody a very famous graphic designer… So as a fan of Pixies and graphic designer i felt like “only this that a mag has to say about Pixies?” I think they should mention the cover artist and try to figure out the context and the relation art-music… no? Cheers and keep on fighting
      Nuno, Portugal

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  131. 132

    Craptacular.

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  132. 133

    this is stupid. nothing obscure about any of this.

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  133. 134

    This is just going to get lost in the comment-spam, but I’ve always felt that the album covers that Douglas TenNapel (the guy behind Earthworm Jim) did for Five Iron Frenzy are at the top of my favorite album covers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FiveIronFrenzy-OurNewestAlbumEver!.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ProofThatTheYouthAreRevolting.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FIFEndIsNear.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Theendishere.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FIF-Quantity_Is_Job_1.jpg < If you only look at one, make it this one

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  134. 135

    shame trio wasn’t on the list, the cover

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  135. 136

    Hollis Bartlett

    May 14, 2009 2:37 pm

    Considering the genre of most of the music portrayed in this list, I’m surprised Black Sabbath’s debut album was not on the list, along with Bat out of Hell, but they’re hardly obscure. Of course, there are probably thousands of more obscure album covers just devoted to dark art – think every Cradle of Filth album, nay every black metal album ever made pretty much. But the Black Sabbath one would be the grand daddy that started it.

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  136. 137

    Farnsworth Bentley

    May 14, 2009 5:01 pm

    How can any list such as this be considered complete with not one cover from The Blue Oyster Cult, Masterful covers.

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  137. 138

    Yo, how ’bout the album art of Talk Talk!?

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  138. 139

    Check out the LP artwork for Monolith by Kansas, if your lucky enough to see the inside fold you will be blessed with some great artwork!

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  139. 140

    There are some great artworks it this list and not all of them are obscure. I wish a couple of Meatloaf arts were included too.

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  140. 141

    I knew Breakfast in America would be in it, just amazing work for the time it was made :D Also, if you guys want to know the photographer responsible for Sila’s album he’s in deviantart http://mehmeturgut.deviantart.com/ :)

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  141. 142

    You forgot
    Darkest hour – deliver me
    Awesome coverart right there!

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  142. 143

    wooow un muy buen trabajo imiagino que debio de costar trabajo juntar todos las portadas, la verdad se agradece mucho, muchos no los conocia… im a fan of you people… and yes smashing magazine rocks at Tijuana mexico

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  143. 144

    Pretty big job done here, but the author comments are childish, yet unnecessary.

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  144. 145

    Great collection but maybe there is a few that’s missing:
    - Nirvana: Inutero
    - Tool: Lateralus (much more deeper)
    - System of a down: Steal this album
    - Pennywise: Straight ahead or Land of the free
    - Rage againts the machine: self-titled
    - Rise against: Appeal to Reason
    - Defonest: Adrenaline
    - 311: Don’t tread on me
    - The Offspring: Americana

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  145. 146

    What no Clash london calling?

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  146. 147

    Great list!
    In a post on my blog i’ve collected 10 cover of progressive rock also focused on italian scene…

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  147. 148

    Though I would hardly classify the majority of these as obscure, it is a decent collection. The problem with lists like these, though, is that people remember what is recent. The 60′s – 90′s are woefully underrepresented. The obscure is woefully underrepresented. There are so many great album covers from independent labels, Hip Hop artists, and Jazz artists that haven’t gotten any mention. I understand that this is a completely subjective list, but this is my completely subjective comment.

    Oh yeah, I think Sgt. Peppers is boring.

    Good job, nontheless.

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  148. 149

    Great List.
    I actually have the Rush – Power Windows LP framed on my wall. Pretty cool it’s at the top of your list. There are many great Rush covers.

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  149. 150

    Hey, where’s Metallica with their Load / Reload Blood & Semen / & Urine covers? May not be pretty, but definitely original :-) And the epic Master of Puppets cover, naturally.

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  150. 151

    I would have thought Santana’s Abraxas would have made the list. It features Mati Klarwein’s 1961 painting, Annunciation, and definitely represents an era.

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  151. 152

    slint – spiderland

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  152. 153

    I guess we don’t have the same meaning of “obscure”. At least, put the real cover…
    The Joy Division one came from Flickr and is part of a collection of someone re-interpreting album covers.

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  153. 154

    I was actually really happy to see some of my favorite artists on the list! I was hoping it wasn’t just going to be a bunch of mainstream CD covers with good lighting or something!
    I have always respected Bjork for her art and music and when I need inspiration, I turn to her! Likewise, I really like Joy Division, The Mars Volta, The Cocteau Twins, and KMFDM – it’s great to see them be appreciated! :)

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  154. 155

    Sweet collection and another great post on SM. The Pixies Trompe Le MondeTrompe Le Monde, with its sliced-(not quite human)eyeballs-cover, could be included with the other two in the list (replacing another eyeball cover: Zero.)

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  155. 156

    Same old same old. Predictable choices that mostly don’t live up to the title for the most part.

    You could’ve plundered any typical music mag “best albums of all time” feature for a fair proportion of those, and just skimmed back over the last few years of guitar band releases for a lot of the rest.

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  156. 157

    Very nice, I like a lot of the music, and a bunch of the album covers are really cool.
    HOWEVER, if anyone is interested in seeing some more really amazing album covers that didn’t make this list, (but judging from what did, the author would like some of this music too) go check out any and all Nine Inch Nails album covers. Every single one is a work of art.

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  157. 158

    Disposable_Hero

    May 15, 2009 9:37 am

    A few points to hit here…
    1. I think the author meant the elements in the album artwork are obscure, not the band or the album itself. Just because the band is mainstream doesn’t mean they can’t come up with a very obscure idea.

    2. Obviously there are exceptions, but I feel the reason there aren’t many pop/hip hop/country albums in this list is because most of the covers in that genre consist of pictures of the artist. I mean really, how many hip hop covers *don’t* include a picture of the artist showing off, whether it be with “bling”, half-naked women, or both? One of the first paragraphs of this article basically states that they will *not* be featuring glorified images of the artist. Sure rock does it too, but more often than not, a rock album will feature some kind of creative artwork.

    3. I’ve never understood why artwork purposely made to look badly done is considered good art. I’m sorry, but the Frank Zappa album doesn’t do anything for me. The idea is kind of funny, but does it have to look like it was drawn in Microsoft Paint?

    Otherwise, great list! I do have several additions to it, but like it was stated in the article, a list like this is never complete.

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  158. 159

    Jerry Goodman – Ariel (1986)

    Fishes? Reflections?
    M.C Escher maybe…????

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  159. 160

    The cover for Iron & Wine’s “The Shepherd’s Dog” is not pop art by any stretch of the imagination. Can you explain what aspect of pop-culture Sam Bean was reacting to when he painted the album cover?

    Other than that, most of the things on this list are excellent! (With the obvious exception of Green Day, etc.)

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  160. 161

    tom@plasticprinters

    May 15, 2009 11:58 am

    After i read the title of the post I had a feeling green day was going to be on the list. I thought Dookie might have made the list over 21st Century though. No Zeppelin, odd.

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  161. 162

    The photo of the Joy Division cover is not the original cover.
    Better look at this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unknown_Pleasures

    The Treasure-album from Cocteau Twins is from 1984 and not from 1991.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_(album)

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  162. 163

    Here it is another one: http://rocknrollmusic4ever.blogspot.com/2009/01/os-dez-melhores-discos-do-rock.html , by Titãs, a rockband from Brasil.

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  163. 164

    hey! I was expecting to see something from My Chemical Romance they have really great art in their covers… anyway the selection was pretty cool

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  164. 165

    This seems more like a list of your favorite music, as though it has little do with the cover art. Some of them are truly remarkable, such as Dark Side of the Moon, and In Rainbows. At the same time, quite a few of them are rather bland and uninspiring of any emotion whatsoever. Breakfast in America being a prime example. Try again after you expand your musical horizons a bit.

    -1
  165. 166

    I think it’s pretty cool that you featured Rush’s Power Windows. That cover was designed by Hugh Syme. I had the pleasure of meeting him. His work is phenomenal and would fit it with this post. Check out his portfolio Hugh Syme

    0
  166. 167

    One word…..Bizarre

    0
  167. 168

    Where’s Violator, by Depeche Mode?

    0
  168. 169

    Fascinating! Som many covers i have ever heard.
    Bookmarked for “inspiration needed” moments.

    0
  169. 170

    some good picks, but the reasoning behind them are pretty limited or not there at all. Muse’s album has nothing to say. it seemed very rushed and half-assed at times and there was a lot of “stretches” to the reasoning behind these. still, some good picks, but a re-write about each album cover would be nice. saying “it was balanced well” isn’t really reason to why this made a list of the top 100.

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  170. 171

    I’m sure many can think of one of their favourite album covers that wasn’t listed or be uninspired by some of these examples presented, probably because you’ve seen them many times before or that artistic style doesn’t float your boat. But i’m pretty sure this isn’t meant to be a definitive list, just a fantastic collection of great album covers. I found it inspiring as well as a nice trip down memory lane. Thank you.

    0
  171. 172

    Daphne DeAmore

    May 17, 2009 6:19 pm

    I love Supertramp – Breakfast in America (1979) excellent Album and Album cover. this is a great collection! Thanks

    0
  172. 173

    Sila’s cover is created by Mehmet Turgut http://www.mehmetturgut.com/

    0
  173. 174

    not to mention adam jones (guitarist for tool) won a grammy for the packaging of 10,000 days

    0
  174. 175

    I was suprised to see only 1 Pink Floyd cover.

    1
  175. 176

    I thought the Enigma Album “Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!” should of been in the list.

    0
  176. 177

    I love the cover selection, but I wouldn’t call bands like Radiohead, Zappa, Tool, The Beatles obscure!

    0
  177. 178

    “This cover combines a silly title with a Swedish-looking font and an imaginatively simple drawing that, once we’ve read the title, really does look like a drowning witch and a ship’s keel.”

    That would be a bow, not a keel. A ship’s keel is under the water.
    Nice list, reminded me of a few albums I’ve been looking for.

    0
  178. 179

    No Dead Kennedys or any cover by Winston Smith. Shame on you.

    0
  179. 180

    Great collection!!!… yet I would had included more Classic Jazz covers, some of them display fantastic typographic uses. On the other hand I personally like the concept that “The white stripes” present in every album!…

    Great job guys!….

    smashing as usual.!!!…..

    0
  180. 181

    I should add
    “Never for Ever” – Kate Bush (1980)

    0
  181. 182

    Very interesting post. Here is the link of a cover I made for a swiss classical music ensemble that I would like to share quai d’oz

    0
  182. 183

    The album “Power Windows” can be considered obscure if you don’t know what a power window is in the first place, Neil Peart (Drummer from Rush) explains it quite nicely. Neil basically explains that it’s a boy has a power window from rush and reality, or something along those lines. As Neil says it, “Abstract, but simple”

    0
  183. 184

    I don’t see anyone else pointing this out, but you have your credits reversed on the Birthday Party album. Birthday Party is the name of the BAND, not the ALBUM. “Junkyard” is the name of the album. Birthday Party were Nick Cave’s old band before he went and started recording with the Bad Seeds.

    Also, totally agree with the above poster who is shocked to not see any Hipgnosis album covers on your list. You could pretty much make a full “Obscure, Weird 100″ list just from their album covers of the 1970′s and 80′s…

    0
  184. 185

    I would say that Michael Jacksons 1991 album Dangerous would fit in this collection aswell. Really cool and artistic cover.

    0
  185. 186

    There are a few inaccuracies in descriptions and some are a little vague, a nice collection of artwork nonetheless.

    0
  186. 187

    have you been scanning my cds collection? :P

    0
  187. 188

    The positive review is that Power Windows was a great choice. The critical one is that Steve Vai`s Firegarden isn`t on the list. That`s a great, complex and artistic cover. The Ultra Zone is another one which conceptualizes the songs from the album it graphically represents.

    0
  188. 189

    HAHAHAHA. Is this a joke? I came here in hopes of seeing some interesting covers.. this was the definition of a yawn-fest. So dull, so trite, so boring.

    0
  189. 190

    Where is Black Sabbath # 1 cover album ?

    0
  190. 191

    A very nice collection … some of my favourite songs are in your compilation but i think the cover of the new lost.minds ep TWO is absent.

    P.S. it isn’t “Giraffes? Giraffes?” but “Giraffes? Giraffes!”

    0
  191. 192

    i mean the lost.minds ep TWO

    sorry for the second post but in the first this part was remove

    0
  192. 193

    Greg: In reference to Osaka Popstar…they’re a band made up of some pretty famous punk guys from NY and Jersey, believe me they know what Garbage Pail Kids are.

    0
  193. 194

    Where’s the album Virgin Killer from Scorpions??

    1
  194. 195

    Where’s Black Sabbath’s debut and Marillion’s Fugazi? By the way, all Marillion covers from Fish era are, at least, intrigant.

    0
  195. 196

    Here is a list that I think are interesting as well…(that have not already been mentioned)

    1 Jane’s Addiction – Ritual De Lo Habitual
    2 R.E.M. – Chronic Town
    3 Alice In Chains – Dirt
    4 Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine
    5 Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues
    6 Cars – Candy-O
    7 Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
    8 Police – Ghosts In The Machine
    9 The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
    10 The Smiths – Meat Is Murder
    11 U2 – Boy
    12 Midnight Oil – Diesel And Dust
    13 King’s X – Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
    14 Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
    15 Porno For Pyros – Porno For Pyros

    I know that most are not that obscure but I like them.

    1
  196. 197

    I thought this was a pretty cool list, but I’m pretty bummed out by a lot of the comments. I’m hearing a lot of metal requests(especially in the way of Mastodon covers), but I really don’t see anything too weird about metal covers, just illegible letters and gruesome pictures(I’m sorry to all the metal fans, maybe I just don’t get it, but that’s just the way I see it). I also saw some stuff about this being very mainstream, but first of all, I don’t see how that would be relevant to the artwork being obscure at all. 2nd there’s a Giraffes? Giraffes! album on here(which I love, by the way. That was probably my personal favorite thing I saw on the list) and that definitely isn’t a mainstream band. 3rd, mainstream bands are almost more likely too have obscure covers because they have a lot more resources for artwork then your typical garage band, an obscure band is more likely to have more obscure ideas for a cover, but still, a lot of them are lacking in resources to actually produce that idea. The last thing I didn’t really agree with was the whole “Metal is more complex than any other form of music” deal. That isn’t even close to true, there’s a link to the Giraffes? Giraffes! MySpace on this page, if you believe that then you’d better follow that link right now and experience your first taste of Math Rock, you’ll be happy you did(again, sorry to all the metal fans, but mastadon isn’t more complex than Tera Melos, or ent).
    On the other hand, there was definitely some cool stuff people had to say, I’m liking all the Tool love throughout all of this, I did see one reference to my favorite, who I’m sure anyone who’s made it this far knows who that is, and I do agree that an Iron Maiden cover could have been cool, they are definitely an exception to the stereotypical metal covers, and I’d be down for a Rage Against the Machine self-titled on the list, but I still like the list with the exception of the Zappa cover, I agree with one of the comments I saw that said how they didn’t get the whole purposely bad album covers. But yeah, I liked the list, hope to see more posts like this, it was interesting to look through

    0
  197. 198

    Nice list, though several are far from obscure. still, excellent.

    0
  198. 199

    I feel like I just read the list of a 13 year old who maybe saw a few of his or her parents’ albums, was inspired to create a list and then threw in a bunch of their not-so-obscure “indie cred” albums of the 2000s, with a smattering of REALLY popular artists. What the hell was this, seriously? I mean, I have to imagine you might be young if you didn’t even realize that cover was depicting the Garbage Pail Kids.

    I know art is subjective but the art isn’t even the problem here. It’s that you think the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bjork and The fucking Beatles are obscure. Maybe one TENTH of this list might be considered obscure to anyone who has more than a passing interest in music.

    Please… try again.

    0
  199. 200

    thought on the “obscurity” aside, my real problem with this is that a lot of these covers seem to be very mundane to me. sure, there are a few gems in there that undoubtedly do have remarkable artwork. but a lot of the others seem either completely uninspired, boring, or way overproduced.

    though i am sure a lot of the major labels would agree with this list.

    my point is, i think i could find 100 albums at home that have much more “remarkable” and “obscure” art than this.

    i mean, i like the sex pistols as much as anyone else, but there is nothing special about that cover. it’s actually rather boring except for the bright colors.

    also, the fact that you picked that particular album for the who over something more interesting, like say, tommy, shows that the “remarkable” side of this is focused more on gimmicks than art. “ooooh, a cover that looks like a concert poster, wow!”

    @patrick: i really don’t think the quality of album art depends at all on how many resources a band has. if you have great ideas, you will find some way to make them happen. they might not end up being pristine and you might not make too many copies, but it can be done (and is all the time actually).

    i look at some of these covers and see a cover that seems to be made by a band that sat around for hours trying to figure out what would make a cool cover for the new album. the she wants revenge cover is a perfect example i think…that is the dumbest cover i have seen in awhile. my teenage brother could have easily done a better job.

    0
  200. 201

    Of all the Green Day covers to pick, you picked the worst one…
    ‘Kerplunk’, ‘nimrod.’ or ‘American Idiot’ all had much more striking covers…

    1
  201. 202

    Seriously,
    If you’re going to post a album cover that is a Garbage Pail Kids trading sticker imitation then how about mentioning that is what it is. if the writer is unaware of the Garbage Pail Kids…shame on you, do some dam research.
    Again with the Junkyard cover. Obviously a homage to Ed ‘Big daddy’ Roth yet no mention of his name.
    Not sure if this was intentional or the writer is just ignorant but I’m not at all impressed with this ‘list’.

    4
  202. 203

    Some good covers, a lot of shitty piece of design.
    At the point of the selection, just a couple catch my attention.
    Mostly are just ugly teenage designs.
    BTW, coldplay viva la vida, is not only a vintage french battleground, is a delacroix man…
    If you want a shocking cover, strart with that old rolling stones record with the tiny nude girl uncensored.
    never mind your taste.

    2
  203. 204

    david M Schoen

    May 26, 2010 5:32 pm

    Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 1
    Magical Mystery Tour 2
    Abbey Road 3
    Revolver 4
    Dark Side Of The Moon 5

    Those are my favorite album covers
    (As You Can Tell, I am a BIG Beatles Fan!)
    By the way: Nice pick of album covers, boys and girls!
    Keep rocking guys! And: BEATLES FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0
  204. 205

    More Than A Thousand are missing ;)

    0
  205. 206

    If your going to put up a Circa Survive cover art, I’d HIGHLY advise checking out their newest cd, “Blue Sky Noise”. The art on that cover is not only colourful, lucid, but it also manages to add a frighting tinge to it. “On Letting Go” and “Juturna” are definately interesting (as is all of Circa Survive’s art that I’ve seen), but personally, i think “Blue Sky Noises” cover is one of the most creative and entrancing.

    0
  206. 207

    If your going to put up a Circa Survive cover art, I’d HIGHLY advise checking out their newest cd, “Blue Sky Noise”. The art on that cover is not only colourful, lucid, but it also manages to add a frighting tinge to it. “On Letting Go” and “Juturna” are definately interesting (as is all of Circa Survive’s art that I’ve seen), but personally, i think “Blue Sky Noises” cover is one of the most creative and entrancing.

    Here’s a link a wallpaper veiw of the cover:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_jSlhgqnbxeg/TQVcW2FNz1I/AAAAAAAAAJ4/__n40QUe3ks/s1600/circa-survive-blue-sky-noise-wallpaper-2.jpeg

    *also, I’m not sure if I’ve posted this before, and if so, I’m very sorry, my internet connection can be a bit strange at times : /

    0
  207. 208

    I’d agree with 80% of those. But no Janes Addiction “Ritual De-Lo Habitual” cover? That was a physical work of art as well as an album cover (as was its predecessor Nothings Shocking).

    Deserves to go at the top of that list

    0
  208. 209

    SILA best !! :D

    1
  209. 210

    It would be an oversight to overlook Royal Trux’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’, the album cover that successfully freed them from their Geffen deal, cemented their legendary outlaw status, and caused me to dry heave in Tower Records.

    0
  210. 211

    And Michael Jackson’s Dangerous? THAT is a masterpiece.

    0
  211. 212

    It doesn’t look like anyone caught this (I didn’t read all of the comments so I could be wrong) but the album cover for Osaka Popstar – Rock’em O-Sock’em Live! (2nd album from top) is an homage to Garbage Pail Kids. They made it look exactly like the hilarious and disgusting cards from the 80′s. That one was fantastic!

    0
  212. 213

    Hello there! Cool post! But the blog is loading incredibly slowly.

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  213. 214

    Very nice insight into what cover art is about. Some comments b*tch about what you did or didn’t include. Too bad they didn’t understand why you wrote the article. I found this doing class research and I will cite this for my assignment as it tells me what I really wanted to know and that is “why” cover art.
    Thanks again for this posting it was quite useful and insightful.

    1
  214. 215

    On Coldplay’s Vival LaVida the vintage battle scene is “Lady Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix. It’s a very famous french painting.

    1
  215. 216

    ha there is some funny ones

    0
  216. 217

    Seriously cool, but no love for this?

    http://titans-of-old.bandcamp.com

    One of my favs

    0
  217. 218

    Nas – streets disciple
    Kasabian – velociraptor
    Eminem – recovery
    Foster the people – torches
    Snoop dogg – doggystyle
    Oasis – what’s the story morning glory
    Kanye west – late registration

    Some of my fave artworks :)

    0
  218. 219

    And what about “GI” by the Germs? It has one of the most conceptual covers ever..
    And Velvet Underground debut album with Andy Warhol’s peelable banana on it?..

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  219. 220

    I have just created a cool album cover that could make this list. ROAD KILL Designed by Guy Tasker.. March 2013
    http://2cooldesign.co.za/portfolio/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/how-to-create-a-cool-album-cover-design-cool-album-design-by-guy-tasker1.jpg

    view more of my work @ http://2cooldesign.co.za/portfolio/album-covers/

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  220. 221

    Josue Rodriguez

    July 22, 2013 8:36 am

    The Fall of Troy definitely needs a feature here check out their album covers

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