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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!
Michael Jackson: Dangerous by Mark Ryden
Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist by Shepard Fairey
Keane: Under The Iron Sea by Sanna Annukka
Kisschasy: United Paper People by Debaser
Editors: The End Has a Start by Idris Khan
Ground Components: An Eye for a Brow, A Tooth for a Pick by Jonathan Zawada
Arcade Fire: Funeral
Gallows: In The Belly of a Shark by Dan Mumford
Muse – Origin of Symmetry (thanks, Paul)
Lemon Jelly: Lost Horizons by Airside
Tool: 10,000 Days
Circa Survive: On Letting Go
Thom Yorke: The Eraser by Stanley Donwood
Architecture in Helsinki: Places Like This by Will Sweeney
The Chemical Brothers: Push the Button by Tappin Gofton
Rafale: Rock It, Don’t Stop It by Akroe
Dream Theater – Scenes from the memory (thanks, OverZero.it)
New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
Designed by one of today’s most influential designers Peter Saville (thanks, Shaun)
Genji Siraisi: Censorsh!t by Razauno
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.”
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.
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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