For when ‘The White Album’s stark simplicity just doesn’t cut it, here are 20 gloriously surreal album covers to twist your melon.
20 Crosby, Stills & Nash – ‘Live It Up’
Though ‘Live It Up’ was a commercial flop, the cover image of this strange piece of album artwork was nothing if not perky. Unfortunately, if you don’t own the record, it’s currently out of print, so you’ll have to admire petite men clambering aboard sausage-topped picks on the moon someplace else.
19 Rolling Stones’ – ‘Let It Bleed’
Delia Smith baked the cake on this famous cover, which is topped with both delectable cherries and miniature band members. A nice idea in theory, but we’re not sure that a tiny Keith Richards would have very much nutritional value.
18 Miles Davis – ‘Bitches Brew’
Davis’ pioneering 1970 album saw an injection of electronic sounds enter his jazz arrangements, and this idea of fusion plays into the swirling imagery of the album cover. German artist Mati Klarwein also worked on Hendrix and Santana album covers.
17 Airborne – ‘Curved Air’
How many vital organs does it take to make a prog album? Seemingly not many, as Airborne’s cover for ‘Curved Air’ featured them as floating heads and arms, suspended in space. The record, however, was a commercial flop and one of the last of two albums featuring multi-instrumentalist Stewart Copeland, who soon joined The Police.
16 Supertramp – ‘Breakfast In America’
Designed by Mike Doud, the through-the-window style cover depicts actress Kate Murtagh enthusiastically carrying a glass of orange juice. Behind her lays a white cityscape made up of egg cartons, an ashtray and various pieces of crockery. We’ll just stick to a bacon sarnie, if that’s alright with you Mike.
15 Yes – ‘Relayer’
This icy, reptilian landscape was the work of Roger Dean, who was in high demand as a sleeve artist during the progressive rock era. You’ll find some of his other mystical landscapes on album-covers from Gentle Giant and Ramases.
14 Holy Ghost – ‘Dynamics’
The 2013 album cover – which features two human/tiger hybrid people passionately kissing – is a copy of artist Robert Longo’s piece ‘Strong in Love’. The artist is renown for capturing power and movement and wrestling them into 2D formats.
13 Nick Drake – ‘Pink Moon’
Island records picked the artwork for Nick Drake’s third and final album, which was actually completed by his sister’s friend Michael Trevithick. The sleeve features a floating teacup, a rocket hitting a cheese moon and what something that looks like an abstract drawing of a uterus with the face of a sad clown. Instant classic.
12 David Bowie – ‘Diamond Dogs’
The 1974 concept album from the controversial pop chameleon David Bowie initially featured a bow-wow-Bowie hybrid on the cover, complete with canine genitalia. RCA records withdrew the record, however, and demanded that the controversial ‘addition’ be airbrushed out.
11 Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’
It was hard to pick one of Pink Floyd’s captivatingly bizarre album covers, but ‘Wish You Were Here’ features a flaming guy in a suit, which is always a winner. Storm Thorgenson was the man in charge again here, and has also worked with legends including Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin and The Mars Volta.
10 Biffy Clyro – ‘Puzzle’
The Scottish rockers’ fourth album features a pretty glum looking man – although you’d hardly be jumping for joy if your skin were falling out by the chunk-load. The cover is thought to be a visual translation of lyrics from the track ‘Glitter and Trauma’: “Your skin will break into jigsaw shaped pieces of meat”.
9 Grace Jones – ‘Slave To The Rhythm’
Jean-Paul Goude, who views Jones as his muse, designed the album cover – an iconic sleeve that’s equal parts scary and surreal. The distorted face and gaping mouth of Jones is the result of using a montage technique on a single photograph.
8 Muse – ‘Absolution’
We’re not sure if the figures are ascending, descending or simply floating on Muse’s third album, but whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it pretty strikingly. Design legend Storm Thorgerson, who worked on ‘Absolution’, also conceptualized the artwork for 2006’s ‘ Black Holes and Revelations’.
7 Bilal – ‘A Love Surreal’
Apparently, the solo artist took inspiration from surrealist darling Salvador Dali for this album, both musically and visually. A fitting album cover for the title of Bilal’s third studio album, ‘A Love Surreal’ features the neo-soul singer looking suave next to a woman who’s seemingly half-female/half-flower.
6 Frank Gambale – ‘Thinking Out Loud’
This jazz-fusion record opens with a song entitled ‘Magritte’, probably in homage to the surrealist painter. And, like ‘Thinking Out Loud’’s cover of a drifting guitar, Magritte the artist also liked to have all varieties of paraphernalia floating around in powder-blue skies.
5 The Doors – ‘Strange Days’
Ever the difficult rock star, Jim Morrison refused to appear on the cover, leaving photographer Joel Brodsky to photograph some NYC street performers instead. With few personnel available, however, he ended up using his assistant as a juggler and paying a cabdriver five bucks to pretend to play the trumpet. Thrifty.
4 Joni Mitchell – ‘Hejira’
The famed folk singer looks surprisingly calm and collected considering she has a highway shooting through her midriff. The backdrop of the photo, meanwhile, is a frozen lake that Mitchell stumbled upon whilst on tour in Wisconsin, America.
3 Traffic – ‘The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys’
Tony Wright designed the sixth album cover for the band, with the multifaceted cube apparently mimicking Traffic’s multi-dimensional approach to musical genres. Both parties also seemingly favoured a multi-dimensional approach to pretentious descriptions – handy.
2 Yanni – ‘Keys To Imagination’
Self-taught pianist Yanni’s album cover depicts a background that wouldn’t look out of place on one of those 80s sweaters that feature a bunch of wolves in front of some mystical backdrop. Just a little idea for a side-project if you’re reading, Yanni.
1 Jefferson Airplane – ‘After Bathing At Baxter’s’
Artist Keiichi Tanaami designed the Japanese version of the psychedelic band’s third album in 1967. The graphic designer is renown for his eye-wateringly bright, contorted cartoons – and the erotic undertones of his work must have come in handy when he became art director of Japanese Playboy a couple of years later.