Amidst masses of cheesy to tacky to plainly ordinary album covers you can find a few that stand out. The concept of album cover art isn’t as old as music albums. At first it was all very plain. Then one day in 1938 a graphic designer called Alex Steinweiss thought it was time to step up the ladder and introduced the concept of album art. He is officially the inventor of album covers or cover art and the designer of about 2500 album covers. Since then numerous artists (and others) have had a go at this branch of art and here and now is a collection of the most extraordinary and artistic album covers ever created.
I like to remind people that the concept of beauty and experience of art are highly subjective, and so is the idea of something being extraordinary or worth mentioning. So, I hope you enjoy my personal and very subjective selection of artistic album covers.
1969 King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King
A debut album no less. Progressive rock, extra-ordinary album cover, extra-ordinary music too! This one is a winner all the way around.
Artist: Barry Godber, who died of a heart attack (at the age of 24!) shortly after the album was released. The cover is now owned by Robert Fripp, the guitarist of King Crimson and according the the Rolling Stone magazine one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
“Peter brought this painting in and the band loved it. I recently recovered the original from EG’s offices because they kept it exposed to bright light, at the risk of ruining it, so I ended up removing it. The face on the outside is the Schizoid Man, and on the inside it’s the Crimson King. If you cover the smiling face, the eyes reveal an incredible sadness. What can one add? It reflects the music.”
1975 Klaus Schulze: Timewind
Klaus Schulze’s fifth album. The genre is described as electronic music or space music, though it seems too limiting of a description for Klaus Schulze’s creation, as labels so often do.
Artist: Urs Amann, a Swill surrealist painter who is best known for various album art for Klaus Schulze.
1994 Pink Floyd: Division Bell
The 14th and last album by the legendary Pink Floyd. Again progressive rock.
Artist: Storm Thorgerson, an English graphic designer who frequently worked with Pink Floyd. He erected the two large metal heads, composing the third head, in a field with a cathedral in the horizon and photographed it. The sculptures were devised by Keith Breeden and constructed by John Robertson.
The above three album covers are, for me, definitely the top covers of all time, but there are many more that deserve an honorable mention. Here are some of them.
1988 Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Artist: Derek Riggs
1975 Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
Artist: Storm Thorgerson
1969 Beatles: Abbey Road
Artist: Idea by Paul McCartney, photographed by Iain Macmillan.
Do you think it’s virtually a crime I failed to mentioned any particular album art? Feel free to use the comments box below for your suggestions….