While the music on an album is of upmost importance, the sleeve that holds the record gives artists a space for artistic expression. This has always been the case; from the first microgroove long-playing phonograph that was released in 1948, through the vinyl era and the many CDs that you see in music stores today.
However, which is the greatest album cover that has ever been created? Print management software specialist United Carlton has attempted to find out by drawing up a shortlist of six standout examples.
Take a look at each pick and then visit the firm’s Twitter page to give your thoughts on the best of the bunch, or offer your favourite that didn’t make the list:
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
(Cover can be seen here: http://www.thebeatles.com/album/sgt-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-band)
What better way to kick off our list than with the cover of a Grammy-winning album that was created by art champion and director Robert Fraser? The sleeve was a combination of work by designers Jann Haworth and Peter Blake and saw more than 70 artists, writers, thinkers and figures who inspired The Beatles featured. As a subtle nod to the end of the Hard Day’s Night-fueled Beatlemania era, the cover also saw the iconic British band as they were in 1967 standing alongside their younger selves.
The Beatles – Abbey Road
(Cover can be seen here: http://www.thebeatles.com/album/abbey-road)
The Beatles are the only band to make our list twice, though it shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you consider that the two album covers featured are those for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road. For the latter, the famous foursome chose to part ways with simulations and instead feature themselves walking across a zebra crossing in a typical British street. It is a scene that has been replicated countless times ever since.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
(Cover can be seen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/gncz/)
Legendary designers Hipgnosis were the brains behind the cover for Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side Of The Moon, with a single beam of light shining through a prism and forming a rainbow on the other side creating a simple yet bold look. This image was used to convey the band’s stage lighting as well as the lyrics some of the album’s songs. It also speaks volume that despite the sleeve having no words, most people instantly knows its name and the band behind it.
Nirvana – Nevermind
The cover for Nirvana’s album Nevermind was apparently conceptualised after Kurt Cobain watched a programme about water births. After hiring photographer Kirk Weddle to bring the sleeve into reality, the result was an innocent baby swimming underwater towards a dollar bill that was hanging from a fishhook. The rest was history.
Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell
(Cover can be seen here: https://www.discogs.com/Meat-Loaf-Bat-Out-Of-Hell/release/2831488)
The songs featured on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell were crazy in a good way, so it was fitting that the sleeve of the record was just as brilliantly wild. Conceptualised by Jim Steinman but actually created by comic book artist Richard Corben, the cover saw a motorcycle powering out of a graveyard while a giant bat loomed menacingly over the tombstones in the background.
Queen – Queen II
(Cover can be seen here http://www.queenonline.com/music)
Music fans are likely to recognise the sleeve of Queen’s album Queen II, as it also features in the music video for the band’s hit single Bohemian Rhapsody. The cover is a simple one, with the four members of Queen standing in a diamond formation upon a black background. Rock, who had enjoyed work with the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, has since being quoted as saying: “It made them look like much bigger a deal then they were at the time, but it was a true reflection of their music.”
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