100 Obscure and Remarkable CD Covers


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 Windows3 (1985)
This strange cover seems to be showing a mirrored world, where we sit and watch a window, surrounded by televisions.

Rush - Power Windows4

Osaka Popstar – Rock’em O-Sock’em Live!5 (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 - Popstar6

Neutral Milk Hotel – The Aeroplane Over The Sea7 (1998)
Vintage-looking and abstract, this beautiful coverart begs for an explaination.


Tool – Ænima9 (1996)
One of many brilliant cover art designs for Tool, this one is also a stunning optical illusion.

Tool - Anemia10

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King11 (1969)
The street-art feel of this cover art is both comical and slightly unsettling.

King Crimson12

Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue13 (1977)
This ELO cover art is classic and unforgettable.


Jerry Goodman – Ariel15 (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 - Ariel16

Daydreamer – Dialogue17 (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 - Dialogue18

Nick Drake – Pink Moon19 (1992)
A little bit of everything was thrown into this odd but intriguing cover art.

Nick Drake - Pink Moon20

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog21 (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 Dog22

The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute23 (2005)
This cover art photo is organized confusion that might make would-be listeners curious about the music.

New Order - Blue Monday24

Pixies – Doolittle25 (1990)
With a name like Pixies, you might expect sweet, innocent looking cover art. This is not the case.

Pixies - Doolittle26

Mimo – Hello Let’s Be Friends27
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 Friends28

The Roots – Things Fall Apart29 (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.


Rivermaya – Buhay31 (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 - Buhay32

Unkle – Never, Never Land33 (2003)
The hand-drawn art on this cover is stark, simple and unique.

New Order - Blue Monday34

Story of the Year – Page Avenue35 (2003)
The title and art on this cover work beautifully together.

Story of the Year - Page Avenue36

The Mothers of Invention – Weasels Ripped My Flesh37 (1988)
The cover art of this cd colorfully mocks the title.

The Mothers of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh38

Circa Survive – Juturna39 (2005)
This moody cover art grabs attention and doesn’t let it go.

Circa Survive - Juturna40

Matt Elliott – Howling Songs41 (2008)
This strange, scary and truly original cover captures attenton and perfectly reflect the music’s essence (experimental rock and folk).


Circa Survive – On Letting Go43 (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 Go44

Thom Yorke – The Eraser45 (2006)
This cover, with it’s simple black, white and red hand-drawn design, is captivating.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser46

Black Light Burns – Cruel Melody47 (2007)
Taking a more classical route on this cover art, Black Light Burns manages to catch a browser’s eye.

New Order - Blue Monday48

KMFDM – Hau Ruck49 (2005)
Harsh, abrupt, and loud, this KMFDM cover art gets in your face.

KMFDM - Hau Ruck50

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band51 (1967)
Some say no collection of cover art is worth mentioning without this cover.

The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band52

As Cities Burn – Hell or High Water53 (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 Blessings55 (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 – Deftones57 (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 – Mezzanine58 (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 Witch60 (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 – Coil62 (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 Art64 (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 Art65

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 Aftermath66 (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 Breakdown67 (2009)
Warm and grungy, this cd cover art also captures a tinge of teenage angst.

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown68

Lemon Jelly – Lost Horizons69 (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 Darkness70 (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 Robots71 (1988)
This cd cover art is unique and interesting, and with a pink robot, how could they lose?

New Order - Blue Monday72

Adagio – Archangels in Black73 (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 Black74

The Prodigy – Music for the Jilted Generation75 (1995)

The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation76

Sepultura – Roots77 (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 - Roots78

Junkyard – The Birthday Party79 (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 Party80

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..


Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero83 (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 - Zero84

Muse – Origin of Symmetry85 (2001)

MUSE - Origin of Symmetry86

Anew Revolution – Rise87 (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 - Rise88

Further Seems Forever – Hide Nothing89 (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 On90 (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 On91

Ninja Academy – bra’ka dOm92 (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 dOm93

The Gossip – Live in Liverpool94 (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 Liverpool95

More Skin With Milk-Mouth – Giraffes? Giraffes?96 (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?97

Alpha Rev – The Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Learned98 (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 Learned99

Cuerpo Meridian – 69100 (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 - 69101

RIDE! – The Last of the Bad Men102 (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 Men103

faux pas’ – europa104 (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' - europa105

Systemania – I Say Yeah106 (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 Yeah107

Systemania - I Say Yeah108

Mark Cool & the Folk Stars109 (2007)
This charming folk-art cover works perfectly for this folk music cd.

Mark Cool & the Folk Stars110

Destruction – Release from Agony111 (1988)
This cs cover has more creep factor than a vintage horror flick, yet is strangely fascinating.

Destruction - Release from Agony112

Coldplay – Viva LaVida113 (2008)
A vintage French battleground is the scene for this cd cover. Smear and splatter bring it to life.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida114

Motorhead – Orgasmatron115 (2006)
A cd cover that could inspire nightmares is not quickly forgotten. This Motorhead cd cover features an image that makes an impact.


A Perfect Circle – Mer de Noms117 (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 Noms118

Arcade Fire – Funeral119 (2004)
Completely vintage in appearance, this Arcade Fire cd cover art is nearly monochromatic and simplistic in design.

Acarde Fire - Funeral120

Arcade Fire121 (2005)
The creative use of typography and white space sets this cover art apart.


Evanescence – The Open Door123 (2006)
A moody and romantic tone is set with this cd cover art design. The mystery lies on the other side of the door.

124Evanescence - The Open Door125

The Postal Service – Give Up126 (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 Up127

Bjork – Medulla128 (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 - Medulla129

Bjork – Wanderlust130 (2008)

Bjork - Wanderlust131

Bjork – Cocoon 2132 (single, 2002)

Bjork - Cocoon 2133

Cocteau Twins – Treasure134 (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.


Radiohead – OK Computer136 (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.


Radiohead – In Rainbows138 (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 Rainbows139

She Wants Revenge140 (2005)
This self-titled album made a splash with this striking cover art.


She Wants Revenge - back142

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


Shoutin’ – Don Wilkerson145 (1963)
Classic art from the Miles Davis era, when great cover art was in its infancy.


New Order – Blue Monday147 (1988)
New Order departed from its usual style of cover art in favor of this symbolic design for Blue Monday.

New Order - Blue Monday148

Hard-Fi – Once Upon a Time in the West149 (2007)
A new approach to cover art from Hard-Fi. This is pretty self-explanatory.

Hard-Fi - Once Upon a TIme in the West150

Fucked Up – Year of the Rat b/w First Born151 (2009)
The combination of the image, colors and use of white space make this cover hard to resist.

Fucked Up - Year of the Rat152

Pixies – Come on Pilgrim153 (1987)
This bold and shocking imagery appeared on the cover of the Pixies’ 2003 release, Come on Pilgrim.

Pixies - Come on Pilgrim154

Supertramp – Breakfast in America155 (1979)
Classic cover art no collector should be without.

Supertramp - Breakfast in America156

Orbital – In Sides157 (1996)
Chaotic and colorful cover art decorated the cover of this Orbital cd.

Orbital Insides158

Baroness – The Red Album159 (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 Monday160

The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness161 (1995)
The cover art on this cd looks vintage, but was produced for the 1995 release of this much-loved album.

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie162

The Beatles – Revolver163 (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 Monday164

Pink Floyd – The Darkside of the Moon165 (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 Moon166

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures167 (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 Monday168

Chevelle – Wonder What’s Next169 (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 Next170

Devin Townsend – Ziltoid the Omniscient171 (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 Sea172 (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 Rumproller173 (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 Animals174 (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 Foe175 (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 Pistols176 (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 Print177 (2008)
Typography carries this with creative vignetting, as Tiger Lou catches the reader’s attention instantly.

Beck – The Information178 (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 Reveries179 (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 – Imza180 (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 Back181 (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 Now182 (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 Days183 (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 Days184

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – It’s Blitz185 (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.

Further Resources


  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/03/35-beautiful-music-album-covers/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/24/billboard-top-40-design-showcase/
  3. 3 http://www.rockline.si/forum/viewtopic.php?t=108&start=15&sid=be3020c4fa9e0709773fdb9fe0d6dc92
  4. 4 http://www.rockline.si/forum/viewtopic.php?t=108&start=15&sid=be3020c4fa9e0709773fdb9fe0d6dc92
  5. 5 http://www.poundart.com/art/cds/OsakaLiveCoverRGB_72.jpg
  6. 6 http://www.poundart.com/art/cds/OsakaLiveCoverRGB_72.jpg
  7. 7 http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/5758-in-the-aeroplane-over-the-sea/
  8. 8 http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/5758-in-the-aeroplane-over-the-sea/
  9. 9 http://sleevage.com/tool-aenima/
  10. 10 http://sleevage.com/tool-aenima/
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  18. 18 http://chengis.me/
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  39. 39 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/85/32.jpg
  40. 40 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/85/32.jpg
  41. 41 http://www.discogs.com/Matt-Elliott-Howling-Songs/release/1518195
  42. 42 http://www.discogs.com/Matt-Elliott-Howling-Songs/release/1518195
  43. 43 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/81/Onlettinggo.jpg
  44. 44 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/81/Onlettinggo.jpg
  45. 45 http://likeonlymusiccan.blogspot.com/2008/07/thom-yorke-eraser.html
  46. 46 http://likeonlymusiccan.blogspot.com/2008/07/thom-yorke-eraser.html
  47. 47 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  48. 48
  49. 49 http://www.gamespot.com/pages/forums/show_msgs.php?topic_id=26516683&page=0&prev_button=1
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  67. 67 http://productshopnyc.com/htdocs/mccainpalin/
  68. 68 http://productshopnyc.com/htdocs/mccainpalin/
  69. 69 http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Horizons-Lemon-Jelly/dp/B00006C77O/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242244742&sr=1-1
  70. 70 http://www.amazon.com/Into-Darkness-Out-Enemies/dp/B001EWOK6S/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242245887&sr=1-3
  71. 71 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  72. 72 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  73. 73 http://www.7sdesign.com/index2.html
  74. 74 http://www.7sdesign.com/index2.html
  75. 75 http://www.flickr.com/photos/exquisitur/2551756359/
  76. 76 http://www.flickr.com/photos/exquisitur/2551756359/
  77. 77 http://www.flickr.com/photos/heavy-metal/1346898715/
  78. 78 http://www.flickr.com/photos/heavy-metal/1346898715/
  79. 79 http://angryfix.blogspot.com/
  80. 80 http://angryfix.blogspot.com/
  81. 81 http://www.flickr.com/photos/azredheadedbrat/145482178/
  82. 82 http://www.flickr.com/photos/azredheadedbrat/145482178/
  83. 83 http://www.culturebully.com/yeah-yeah-yeahs-zero
  84. 84 http://www.culturebully.com/yeah-yeah-yeahs-zero
  85. 85 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  86. 86
  87. 87 http://kochrecords.gluenow.com/images/cover%20art%20RISE.JPG
  88. 88 http://kochrecords.gluenow.com/images/cover%20art%20RISE.JPG
  89. 89 http://www.amazon.com/Hide-Nothing-Further-Seems-Forever/dp/B0002M5UGA/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242244238&sr=1-2
  90. 90 http://www.zmemusic.com/rock/new-eagles-of-death-metal-album-art-for-heart-on/
  91. 91 http://www.zmemusic.com/rock/new-eagles-of-death-metal-album-art-for-heart-on/
  92. 92 http://www.ninjaacademy.com/goods.php
  93. 93 http://blog.justswell.org/
  94. 94 http://www.girlieaction.com/thegossip/
  95. 95 http://www.girlieaction.com/thegossip/
  96. 96 http://lovesinheatrecords.com/releases/more-skin.htm
  97. 97 http://lovesinheatrecords.com/releases/more-skin.htm
  98. 98 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbdh/406005590/
  99. 99 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbdh/406005590/
  100. 100 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossinabossio/303218805/
  101. 101 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossinabossio/303218805/
  102. 102 http://www.flickr.com/photos/55378591@N00/2405105383/
  103. 103 http://www.flickr.com/photos/55378591@N00/2405105383/
  104. 104 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizfox/1061562257/
  105. 105 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizfox/1061562257/
  106. 106 http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotologic/2514443832/
  107. 107 http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotologic/2514443832/
  108. 108 http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotologic/2513618971/
  109. 109 http://www.flickr.com/photos/9921959@N02/2345612244/
  110. 110 http://www.flickr.com/photos/9921959@N02/2345612244/
  111. 111 http://www.flickr.com/photos/heavy-metal/1346898947/
  112. 112 http://www.flickr.com/photos/heavy-metal/1346898947/
  113. 113 http://blogs.villagevoice.com/statusainthood/
  114. 114 http://blogs.villagevoice.com/statusainthood/
  115. 115 http://www.flickr.com/photos/heavy-metal/1347786230/
  116. 116 http://www.flickr.com/photos/heavy-metal/1347786230/
  117. 117 http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/213498
  118. 118 http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/213498
  119. 119 http://www.mp3.com/off-topic-discussion/best-album-cover/topic/15-123272/msgs.html
  120. 120 http://www.mp3.com/off-topic-discussion/best-album-cover/topic/15-123272/msgs.html
  121. 121 http://cdn.pitchfork.com/media/453-arcade-fire-ep.jpg
  122. 122 http://cdn.pitchfork.com/media/453-arcade-fire-ep.jpg
  123. 123 http://blog.news-record.com/staff/musiccan/archives/evan.jpg
  124. 124 http://blog.news-record.com/staff/musiccan/archives/evan.jpg
  125. 125 http://blog.news-record.com/staff/musiccan/archives/evan.jpg
  126. 126 http://www.yorkblog.com/teentakeover/img/Barnes%20%20Noble.com%20-%20Image%20Viewer%20Give%20Up%20The%20Postal%20Service%20CD.jpg
  127. 127 http://www.yorkblog.com/teentakeover/img/Barnes%20%20Noble.com%20-%20Image%20Viewer%20Give%20Up%20The%20Postal%20Service%20CD.jpg
  128. 128 http://www.thetripwire.com/tag/bjork/
  129. 129
  130. 130 http://eil.com/shop/moreinfo.asp?catalogid=429062
  131. 131 http://eil.com/shop/moreinfo.asp?catalogid=429062
  132. 132 http://www.bjork.fr/IMG/jpg/cocoon_cd1.jpg
  133. 133 http://www.bjork.fr/IMG/jpg/cocoon_cd1.jpg
  134. 134 http://www.evo.org/html/wrap/CocteauTwins.Treasure.cd.jpg.html
  135. 135 http://www.evo.org/html/wrap/CocteauTwins.Treasure.cd.jpg.html
  136. 136 http://thatgirlkate.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/radiohead-ok-computer-87768.jpg
  137. 137
  138. 138 http://hitsonglyrics.blogspot.com/2008/02/radiohead-in-rainbows-album-lyrics.html
  139. 139
  140. 140 http://cdn.pitchfork.com/media/7843-she-wants-revenge.jpg
  141. 141 http://cdn.pitchfork.com/media/7843-she-wants-revenge.jpg
  142. 142 http://a940.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/93/l_9c0640bf370051f694dfaf8880d03c5b.jpg
  143. 143 http://www.alphabeticadesign.com/storage/Wet_Album_Art.jpg
  144. 144 http://www.alphabeticadesign.com/storage/Wet_Album_Art.jpg
  145. 145 http://media.photobucket.com/image/Reid%20Miles%20Blue%20Note/ladylexx/nbn2144.jpg
  146. 146 http://media.photobucket.com/image/Reid%20Miles%20Blue%20Note/ladylexx/nbn2144.jpg
  147. 147 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  148. 148
  149. 149 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  150. 150 http://sleevage.com/xtc-go-2/
  151. 151 http://www.matadorrecords.com/fucked_up/
  152. 152 http://www.matadorrecords.com/fucked_up/
  153. 153 http://quimby.gnus.org/4ad-pics/Pixies.ComeOnPilgrim.lp.jpg
  154. 154
  155. 155 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Supertramp_-_Breakfast_in_America.jpg
  156. 156
  157. 157 http://www.maniadb.com/album.asp?a=179654
  158. 158 http://www.maniadb.com/album.asp?a=179654
  159. 159 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  160. 160
  161. 161 http://dingle.vox.com/library/posts/tags/smashing+pumpkins/
  162. 162 http://dingle.vox.com/library/posts/tags/smashing+pumpkins/
  163. 163 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  164. 164
  165. 165 http://www.worldinmotion.net/neworder/discography/singles/1988/BlueMonday88.jpg
  166. 166
  167. 167 http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlepixel/3388123008/
  168. 168 http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlepixel/3388123008/
  169. 169 http://i34.tinypic.com/n2l301.jpg
  170. 170 http://i34.tinypic.com/n2l301.jpg
  171. 171 http://www.amazon.com/Presents-Ziltoid-Omniscient-Devin-Townsend/dp/B000P2A4FY/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242243823&sr=1-1
  172. 172 http://www.amazon.com/Under-Iron-Sea-Keane/dp/B000FBHT1C/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242244403&sr=1-1
  173. 173 http://www.amazon.com/Rumproller-Lee-Morgan/dp/B00000K4GN
  174. 174 http://www.amazon.com/Mechanical-Animals-Marilyn-Manson/dp/B00000AFGM/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242244863&sr=1-1
  175. 175 http://www.amazon.com/Friend-Foe-Menomena/dp/B000LP6KKS/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242245133&sr=1-1
  176. 176 http://www.amazon.com/Never-Mind-Bollocks-Heres-Pistols/dp/B000002KIE/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242245300&sr=1-1
  177. 177 http://www.amazon.com/Partial-Print-Tiger-Lou/dp/B001EI5OHQ/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242246884&sr=1-2
  178. 178 http://www.amazon.com/Information-Beck/dp/B000HIVO64
  179. 179 http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Reveries-Opeth/dp/B000AA7D8C/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242245754&sr=1-5
  180. 180 http://www.sonymusic.com/
  181. 181 http://www.amazon.com/One-Way-Ticket-Hell-Back/dp/B000BP86OG
  182. 182 http://www.amazon.com/Then-Now-1964-2004-Who/dp/B0001IXTMW/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242246756&sr=1-1
  183. 183 http://sleevage.com/tool-10000-days/
  184. 184 http://sleevage.com/tool-10000-days/
  185. 185 http://www.amazon.com/Its-Blitz-Yeah-Yeahs/dp/B001UJIMF0/ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242247260&sr=1-1
  186. 186 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/03/35-beautiful-music-album-covers/
  187. 187 http://www.sleeveface.com/

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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

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

  2. 102

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

  3. 203

    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).

  4. 304

    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.

  5. 405

    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

  6. 506

    Nearly anything by Hipgnosis is stunning.

  7. 607

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

  8. 708

    Rage Against The Machine self-titled first album

  9. 809

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


  10. 910

    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.

  11. 1011

    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 :)

  12. 1112

    I LOVE TOOL !!!

  13. 1213

    I think my favorite is the Iron and Wine one.

  14. 1314

    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.

  15. 1415

    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.

  16. 1516

    Tisk tisk

    Any of the mid era — hot water music — covers

  17. 1617

    Fabulous list! Thanks for publishing! :-)

  18. 1718

    XTC Go2

  19. 1819

    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.

  20. 1920

    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.

  21. 2021

    Cool list!

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

  22. 2122

    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.

  23. 2223

    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

  24. 2324

    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

  25. 2425

    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

  26. 2526

    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.

  27. 2627

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

    Otherwise a great list!

  28. 2728

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

  29. 2829

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

  30. 2930

    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.

    • 3031

      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

  31. 3132


  32. 3233

    this is stupid. nothing obscure about any of this.

  33. 3334

    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:FIF-Quantity_Is_Job_1.jpg < If you only look at one, make it this one

  34. 3435

    shame trio wasn’t on the list, the cover

  35. 3536

    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.

  36. 3637

    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.

  37. 3738

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

  38. 3839

    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!

  39. 3940

    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.

  40. 4041

    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/ :)

  41. 4142

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

  42. 4243

    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

  43. 4344

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

  44. 4445

    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

  45. 4546

    What no Clash london calling?

  46. 4647

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

  47. 4748

    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.

  48. 4849

    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.

  49. 4950

    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.

  50. 5051

    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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