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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 Link

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 – 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 King9 (1969)
The street-art feel of this cover art is both comical and slightly unsettling.

King Crimson10

Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue11 (1977)
This ELO cover art is classic and unforgettable.


Jerry Goodman – Ariel13 (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 - Ariel14

Daydreamer – Dialogue15 (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 Moon16 (1992)
A little bit of everything was thrown into this odd but intriguing cover art.

Nick Drake - Pink Moon17

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 Mute18 (2005)
This cover art photo is organized confusion that might make would-be listeners curious about the music.

New Order - Blue Monday19

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 Friends20
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 Friends21

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.


Rivermaya – Buhay22 (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 - Buhay23

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 Songs24 (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 Go26 (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 Go27

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 Melody28 (2007)
Taking a more classical route on this cover art, Black Light Burns manages to catch a browser’s eye.

New Order - Blue Monday29

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 Band30 (1967)
Some say no collection of cover art is worth mentioning without this cover.

The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band31

As Cities Burn – Hell or High Water32 (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 Blessings34 (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 – Deftones36 (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 – Mezzanine37 (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 Witch39 (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 – Coil41 (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 Aftermath43 (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 Breakdown44 (2009)
Warm and grungy, this cd cover art also captures a tinge of teenage angst.

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown45

Lemon Jelly – Lost Horizons46 (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 Darkness47 (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 Robots48 (1988)
This cd cover art is unique and interesting, and with a pink robot, how could they lose?

New Order - Blue Monday49

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 Generation50 (1995)

The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation51

Sepultura – Roots52 (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 - Roots53

Junkyard – The Birthday Party54 (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 Party55

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 – Zero58 (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 - Zero59

Muse – Origin of Symmetry60 (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 Nothing61 (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 On62 (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 On63

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 dOm64

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 Learned65 (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 Learned66

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 Men67 (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 Men68

faux pas’ – europa69 (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' - europa70

Systemania – I Say Yeah71 (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 Yeah72
Systemania - I Say Yeah73

Mark Cool & the Folk Stars74 (2007)
This charming folk-art cover works perfectly for this folk music cd.

Mark Cool & the Folk Stars75

Destruction – Release from Agony76 (1988)
This cs cover has more creep factor than a vintage horror flick, yet is strangely fascinating.

Destruction - Release from Agony77

Coldplay – Viva LaVida78 (2008)
A vintage French battleground is the scene for this cd cover. Smear and splatter bring it to life.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida79

Motorhead – Orgasmatron80 (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 Noms82 (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 Noms83

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 Fire84 (2005)
The creative use of typography and white space sets this cover art apart.


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 – Medulla86 (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 - Medulla87

Bjork – Wanderlust88 (2008)

Bjork - Wanderlust89

Bjork - Cocoon 2

Cocteau Twins – Treasure90 (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 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.


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 Revenge92 (2005)
This self-titled album made a splash with this striking cover art.

She Wants Revenge - back94

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


Shoutin’ – Don Wilkerson95 (1963)
Classic art from the Miles Davis era, when great cover art was in its infancy.


New Order – Blue Monday97 (1988)
New Order departed from its usual style of cover art in favor of this symbolic design for Blue Monday.

New Order - Blue Monday98

Hard-Fi – Once Upon a Time in the West99 (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 Born100 (2009)
The combination of the image, colors and use of white space make this cover hard to resist.

Fucked Up - Year of the Rat101

Pixies – Come on Pilgrim102 (1987)
This bold and shocking imagery appeared on the cover of the Pixies’ 2003 release, Come on Pilgrim.

Pixies - Come on Pilgrim103

Supertramp – Breakfast in America104 (1979)
Classic cover art no collector should be without.

Supertramp - Breakfast in America105

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

Orbital Insides

Baroness – The Red Album106 (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 Monday107

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 – Revolver108 (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 Monday109

Pink Floyd – The Darkside of the Moon110 (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 Moon111

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures112 (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 Monday113

Chevelle – Wonder What’s Next114 (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 Next115

Devin Townsend – Ziltoid the Omniscient116 (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 Sea117 (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 Rumproller118 (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 Animals119 (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 Foe120 (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 Pistols121 (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 Print122 (2008)
Typography carries this with creative vignetting, as Tiger Lou catches the reader’s attention instantly.

Beck – The Information123 (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 Reveries124 (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 – Imza125 (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 Back126 (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 Now127 (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 Blitz128 (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 Link

Footnotes Link

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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!

  2. 2


    May 13, 2009 2:23 pm

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

  3. 3

    Where’s Aphew Twin ?

  4. 4

    This is freeeeaking aawwweeesome collection! SM ROCKS!

  5. 5

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

    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!

  6. 6

    John Turner

    May 13, 2009 3:40 pm

    I like Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” Pic

  7. 7

    santi banks

    May 13, 2009 4:35 pm

    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.

  8. 8

    Joe Allison

    May 13, 2009 8:54 pm

    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.

  9. 9

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

  10. 10

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

  11. 11

    Squire Suzuki

    May 13, 2009 2:36 pm

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

  12. 12

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

  13. 13

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

  14. 14

    Good to see Muse there ^_^

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

  15. 15

    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.

  16. 16

    What a great collection! Thanks!

  17. 17

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

    here’s the actual link:

  18. 18

    What about Zeitgeist by Smashing Pumpkins?

  19. 19

    You should totally check this photographer out if you liked Sıla’s album cover shot.

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