40 outrageous banned album sleeves


Album covers get banned for all sorts of grisly reasons, and in Beady Eye’s case in 2013 the reason it was pulled from supermarkets was a simple nipple. Liam said: “It’s not porn, is it? It’s classic, man. Classic nipple.”


Artist George Condo painted a lovely picture of ol’ Kanye having a nice bottle of beer and some sexy times with a naked phoenix women with a spotty tail and all the squares freaked out. It’s almost like Kanye was trying to be provocative, but that’s not like him.


BEATLE WANG! John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Two Virgins’ was distributed in a brown paper bag so that people would be spared looking at a naked picture of what Lennon admitted were “two slightly overweight ex-junkies”. This is also an early example of a ‘selfie’, taken on a timer. They’d have just snapchatted it these days.



In November 1968, some record stores banned the Jimi Hendrix Experience‘s ‘Electric Ladyland’ because of gratuitous album cover nudity. Funnily enough, Jimi also hated it, saying the cover had “nothing to do with him.”


Many supermarkets disapproved of Bat For Lashes’ 2012 album cover even though Natasha Khan had gone to extreme lengths to cover up by draping a human man over herself. Supermarkets felt a sticker was also required.


The Black Crowes’ third album ‘Amorica’ was released in late 1994 and swiftly banned from some American chain retailers like Walmart and Kmart due to its cover art, which was taken from the cover of a July 1976 Hustler magazine, and which ended up creating a hairy situation for the band.


The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday and Today’ cover, released in 1966, marked something of a watershed in that it was the first time the band were widely criticised by the press. After advance copies had been sent to journalists, uporoar was so strong their label Capitol recalled 750,000 copies.



‘Marilyn Manson as crucified Christ with missing jaw’ is obviously an image designed to be censored, and Manson owned up to this, saying: “My jaw is missing as a symbol of this very kind of censorship. This doesn’t piss me off as much as it pleases me, because those offended by my album cover have successfully proven my point.”


Bryan Ferry talked Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald out of their clothes and onto this Roxy Music cover. Prudes were shocked.


Here’s that cheeky, naked scamp Prince sitting on a flower. That thing with the pink crown is only a stamen, but many shops sold the album in a black bag just to be on the safe side.


‘Nothing’s Shocking’ declared Jane’s Addiction in 1988, although they later found out that a pair of naked conjoined ladies with their heads on fire is, in fact, shocking if you run a chain of record stores.



The motherly figure on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Mother’s Milk’ cover may have a rose and a Kiedis to protect her modesty, but that wasn’t enough for many shops.


US shops like Wal-Mart and K-Mart were so unhappy about the baby wang on the cover of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ that eventually the band placated them with a sticker that read “Featuring ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘Lithium'” over the genitals.


TIN WANG! David Bowie’s short-lived side-band Tin Machine had to have their metal penises airbrushed out for American distribution.


The Strokes’ cover – which may or may not have been inspired by Spinal Tap’s seminal banned ‘Smell The Glove’ cover – was itself banned and replaced on some covers by a close-up of particle collisions. But what’s wrong with being sexy?


In what now seems a bizzarely puritanical move, the Rolling Stones’ ‘Beggars Banquet’ cover was banned for featuring nothing more offensive than a toilet. A plain ‘invitation’ cover was used until 1984.


Pink Floyd’s 1975 ‘Wish You Were Here’ cover was banned by many shops for being “too violent” – which is mad when you can clearly see the two men are not at all alarmed that one of them is on fire.


Those naughty scamps Nirvana were back in trouble with their ‘In Utero’ album art, not least the presence of the song title ‘Rape Me’ on the back. A new version for Wal-Mart and Kmart was released with model fetuses removed and the offending (unchanged) song now listed as ‘Waif Me’.


The original cover for Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ shows the child star over an image of massed ranks of attacking rats, which Motown Records not unreasonably decided might scare the living beejeezus out of his young fans. The rats were removed.


Is that Death Grips’ album cover for ‘No Love Deep Web’ or are they just pleased to see us? So explicit we still can’t show it here, the image featured a male appendage with the album title written on with a Sharpie.


WAIT A MINUTE. That ‘Fenix’ looks suspiciously like a cock and balls! Oh those Tenacious D boys have done it again!


As a spin off from their ‘Heavy Petting Zoo’ (see what they’ve done there?) album art, NOFX’s ‘Eating Lamb’ single got even more explicit and even more banned.


Slayer’s 2001 ‘God Hates Us All’ cover shows a bible with nails hammered into it, the word ‘Slayer’ burnt in, and splattered with blood. More tea, vicar?


The original 1989 cover of The Offspring’s ‘The Offspring’ featuring this guitar playing stomach-dweller clearly modelled on ‘Alien’ was banned for being too grotesque and an entirely tamer cover appeared on reissues.