35 Beautiful Music Album Covers

In: Graphics|Photoshop|Site Feeds|Tutorial

10 Aug 2008

By Ashley Ringrose and Smashing Editorial Team

Album cover art is often considered to be one of the “extincted” fields in modern graphics design. In times when digital copies are cheaper and quicker to get, album covers have somehow lost their importance as less and less customers actually buy CDs and LPs in the stores. That’s a pity because album covers can be extremely expressive and convey the message of the album in a number of creative ways. This post attempts to prove exactly that.

Music and art go hand in hand. And the best way to get a potential buyers’ attention is with an eye catching album cover. We all know you can’t just judge a book by it’s cover but it doesn’t hurt to give a CD a spin based off a sexy piece of art.

Below we present 35 excellent examples of beautiful, creative and impressive album covers that will certainly inspire you to head down to the local record shop and start browsing through records and labels. We have tried to address various cover designs and present both CD covers and LP covers from 60s to 2000s, however some excellent album covers are definitely missing. Please let us know about them in the comments to the post!

This post was updated. Thank you for the comments!

Album Covers

The Mars Volta “Frances the Mute”

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers

Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers

Michael Jackson: Dangerous by Mark Ryden

Michael Jackson: Dangerous by Mark Ryden

Devil’s Gun – Raising The Beast

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers - Devil's Gun - Raising The Beast

Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist by Shepard Fairey

Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist by Shepard Fairey

Keane: Under The Iron Sea by Sanna Annukka

Keane: Under The Iron Sea by Sanna Annukka

Kisschasy: United Paper People by Debaser

Kisschasy: United Paper People by Debaser

Editors: The End Has a Start by Idris Khan

Editors: The End Has a Start by Idris Khan

Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Coldplay - Soul Wax - Nite Versions

Ground Components: An Eye for a Brow, A Tooth for a Pick by Jonathan Zawada

Ground Components: An Eye for a Brow, A Tooth for a Pick by Jonathan Zawada

Arcade Fire: Funeral

Arcade Fire: Funeral

Kool & the Gang – Still Cool

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Kool & the Gang - Still Cool

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon 1973

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon 1973

Gallows: In The Belly of a Shark by Dan Mumford

Gallows: In The Belly of a Shark by Dan Mumford

Muse – Origin of Symmetry (thanks, Paul)

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers - Muse - Origin of Symmetry

Linkin Park – Reanimation

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Coldplay - Soul Wax - Nite Versions

Lemon Jelly: Lost Horizons by Airside

Lemon Jelly: Lost Horizons by Airside

Tool: 10,000 Days

Tool: 10,000 Days

Circa Survive: On Letting Go

Circa Survive - On Letting Go

The Last Goodnight – Poison Kiss

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- The Last Goodnight - Poison Kiss

Pink Floyd – The Division Bell

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Pink Floyd - The Division Bell

Thom Yorke: The Eraser by Stanley Donwood

Thom Yorke: The Eraser by Stanley Donwood

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (thanks, yaara)

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers - Muse - Origin of Symmetry

Architecture in Helsinki: Places Like This by Will Sweeney

Architecture in Helsinki: Places Like This by Will Sweeney

The Chemical Brothers: Push the Button by Tappin Gofton

The Chemical Brothers: Push the Button by Tappin Gofton

Rolling Stones – Forty Licks

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Muse - Absolution

Rafale: Rock It, Don’t Stop It by Akroe

Rafale: Rock It, Don't Stop It by Akroe

Dream Theater – Scenes from the memory (thanks, OverZero.it)

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers - Muse - Origin of Symmetry

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction

Relayer: Yes

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Relayer: Yes

Coldplay – Viva La Vida

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Coldplay - Viva La Vida

New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
Designed by one of today’s most influential designers Peter Saville (thanks, Shaun)

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers - New Order - Power, Corruption and Lies

Soulwax – Nite Versions

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Coldplay - Soul Wax - Nite Versions

Pixies – Doolittle

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Pixies - Doolittle

Deerhunter – Cryptograms

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Deerhunter - Cryptograms

Hot Chip – The Warning

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Hot Chip - The Warning

Muse – Absolution

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Muse - Absolution

The Police – Ghost In The Machine

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Muse - Absolution

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers

Wow – Moby Grape

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Wow - Moby Grape

Genji Siraisi: Censorsh!t by Razauno

Genji Siraisi: Censorsh!t by Razauno

Radiohead – Hail to the Thief

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Radiohead - Hail to the Thief

VHS Orbeta – Bring On The Comets

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- VHS Orbeta - Bring On The Comets

Van Halen – 1984

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Muse - Absolution

Fort-Minor – The Rising Tied Front

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers - Fort-Minor - The Rising Tied Front

The Roots – Game Theory

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- The Roots - Things Fall Apart

Led Zeppelin – Mothership

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Bon Jovi - Have A Nice Day

Nick Drake – Pink Moon

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Muse - Absolution

The Cribs – Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- The Cribs - Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- Muse - Absolution

XTC – Drums and Wires

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- XTC - Drums and Wires

Queens Of The Stone Age: Era Vulgaris by Morning Breath Inc

Queens Of The Stone Age: Era Vulgaris by Morning Breath Inc

Beck: The Information by Big Active and you
“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

Merzbow – Frog: Remixed and Revisited

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers

Last Click

The World’s First Album Cover
Alex Steinwess, a then 23 years old designer, convinced Columbia’s suits to create the first true album cover. Until then, 78s were sold in generic sleeves. Please notice that there is the word “smash” on the cover.

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- The World's First Album Cover

Showcase of Beautiful Album and CD covers- The World's First Album Cover

About the author

Ashley Ringrose is better known as Mr Truffle and editor of Sleevage a music design blog. He occasionally plays with Mr Potatoheads and dresses up in costumes. He is also a founding member of Soap Creative an Australian based digital agency.

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