10 of the most Iconic Album Artworks
What does it take to create an Iconic Album Cover? In rock, pop and rap – Album artwork defines a band or artist and can often leave a legacy which is greater than the music.
We chart our Top Ten: Iconic Album Artwork from some of the World’s most acclaimed musicians. How did we do?
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane
A singer, songwriter and actor, David Bowie was a man of many talents. As an artist who challenged convention, he gained a reputation as one of the World’s most inspiring creatives. David Bowie’s discography is a hefty archive of 27 studio albums, 27 video albums and over 50 compilation albums – which represent both David’s and Ziggy’s musical and visionary prowess.
‘Aladdin Sane’, Bowie’s sixth studio album featured a portrait. Photographed by the legendary, Brian Duffy. It was this album which catapulted David Bowie into success and the album artwork, an image of David Bowie in all his stardust glory with lightning bolt in-tact cements an incredible image in most music-fans minds, of an artist and album, which remains iconic.
The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
It’s October 1977 and Britain’s most controversial band have released their first and only studio album. Despite many record stores refusing to stock the album, due to its ‘offensive’ title – The Sex Pistols album remains one of the most iconic album covers of all time. It defines everything that was significant about the anti-establishment, punk movement.
The Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McClaren claimed that “The only real thing about Never Mind The Bollocks was that it had to look ugly…we came up with the ugliest cover we could think of; that in a sense would attack the idea of super-graphics. I wanted to make ugliness beautiful.”
The Who – Quadrophenia
Released by The Who as their sixth studio album and second Rock opera, Quadrophenia provided the ultimate soundtrack for the film of the same name. The album followed the narrative of a young man living amidst the Mods and Rockers rivalry of the 1960’s. The album cover was the idea pf Roger Daltry but was taken by Graham Hughes – featuring the moped with the portaits of the band members reflected in mirrors.
This album cover may not necessarily be recognised as one of The Who’s most creative album artwork examples, but it succeeds in evoking the theme of the mod culture which the band, so passionately embraced.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ album artwork by Pink Floyd is perhaps one of the most recognised graphics in the music industry. Released in 1973, as their eight studio album, it explores progressive themes of conflict, consumerism, time and mental illness.
The artwork was designed by George Hardie and depicts a triangle prism, dispersing three beams of light. These light beams are said to represent three fundamental elements in the concept and performance of the album – lighting, lyrics and bold design.
The Beatles – Abbey Road
Everyone has a favourite album by The Beatles. Revolver, Let it Be, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Yellow Submarine – just the mention of these albums brings to mind, striking examples of The Beatles ever-changing and ever-extraordinary style.
However, Abbey Road will remain our favourite, as a prime example of not only The Beatles collective fame and talent, but also their individual roles and personalities as part of the mammoth movement which is, Beatlemania.
Madness – One Step Beyond
Ranked 90th in the 100 Top British Albums of all time ‘One Step Beyond’ is a National treasure. The 1979 debut by Madness, provided a significant introduction into the Ska movement which was about to grip the UK. ‘The Nutty Train’ shown on the album sleeve, showcases the band in all their bonkers glory, a photo taken by singer-songwriter Cameron Andrew McVey’.
The Clash – London Calling
Shot by NME photographer Pennie Smith, the vision of Paul Simonon driving his bass guitar into the stage of the New York Palladium during The Clash’s 1979 US tour – is one that defined the energy of Punk. This snapshot of the bands angry, anarchist aesthetic, provided an iconic images that we all now associate with the bands third studio album, London Calling.
Nirvana – In Utero
‘In Utero’ is Nirvanas third and final studio album. Released in 1993, it was regarded as a return to form, following the commercially successful Nevermind. The artwork features an anatomical mannequin with super-imposed angel wings – designed by frontman, Kurt Cobain.
This image created in collage and photographed by Sub-Pop’s own Charles Peterson, has become synonymous with grunge and Nirvana’s final days as one of Rock’s most influential bands.
Roxy Music – Country Life
Recognised as a band, who formed the ‘art-rock’ genre, Roxy Music have many iconic and controversial album covers under their belt. Their 1972 debut featured a retired bond girl and their second release showcased Salividore Dali muse, Amanda Jones.
However, it was their fourth studio album ‘Country Life’ with gained status. Featuring two huge Roxy Music fans, semi-naked in a garden, this release was deemed as too sexual for the US market and was re-issued in other countries.
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Said to have been ‘one of the most important albums ever made’ by Mick Fleetwood, ‘Rumours’ Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh studio album is perhaps their most iconic.
Depicting Fleetwood and Nicks in their stage persona, the portrait was taken by the late Herbert Worthington – an influential photographer of rock and roll superstars. The rumours album artwork is in many ways, very simple but wholly significant to the bands iconic identity.
Got any album artworks you’re particularly in love with, whether it’s particularly iconic or not? Drop us a comment below and let us know your favourites!