It’s really no surprise that some album covers became so iconic, at times almost as iconic as – if not more than – the music itself. Some album covers are so emblematic because they not only represent the songs encased in them, but a social state or anarchism.
Any form of art is a vehicle in which the artist is given the ability to vent out and express themselves. And evidently, such albums were no different as they echoed what society needed and wanted at the time.
This is probably why they had such resounding success. We here at Olimpus know there are a multitude of such albums, which is why we decided to provide you with an extended list of some of the most memorable album designs of all time.
Houses of the Holy
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Designer: Aubrey Powell/Storm Thorgerson
Few can deny the strength and coolness of this album’s effort, for the mighty Led Zeppelin. Location? The natural wonder of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Surprisingly, the series of spooky-looking fair children on the basalt columns crawling up towards a distant light, was actually created using multiple-exposure shots of only two actors. The inspiration? A novel called Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, where children climb off the end of the world. Ominous, enfolded in mythology and extremely cool – textbook Led Zeppelin.
Artist: Pet Shop Boys
Designer: Mark Farrow/Pet Shop Boys
Mark Farrow had been the Pets’ image man for most of their career, with an incredible portfolio of prominent work to match their sensibly cultured image and bravura. Whereas the art for Please and Actually was stark minimalism, on Introspective, Mark Farrow opted for a bold and attention-grabbing set of columns, which looked striking in its original 12-inch form.
Designer: Robert Fisher
The legendary image of an innocent baby swimming towards a dollar bill on a fishhook is one of the most identifiable in musical history, worthy of the extremely powerful breakthrough album that was Nevermind. Kurt Cobain allegedly came up with the idea after watching a TV program about water births, and a photographer was soon hired, with the dollar bill being added later. The significance behind the image has never been revealed, and never will be, adding to the intrigue, and coolness of the cover.
Artist: Elvis Presley
Photographer: William V. ‘Rd’ Robertson
An album that changed everything, and a photograph that captured Elvis on the brink of greatness. Taken at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 1955, the photograph shows Elvis aged at the tender age of 20. Arguably the world’s first palpable image of a rock ‘n’ roll star – propelled him to immortality.
The Velvet Underground & Nico
Artist: The Velvet Underground & Nico
Designer: Andy Warhol
The fact that the album itself would become a cult classic and hugely influential helped, but that Andy Warhol banana print could have been the cover of practically anyone’s debut album and still been considered an iconic album image. Early copies of the album instructed its owner to “Peel slowly and see” allowing them to peel back the banana skin to reveal a flesh-coloured banana underneath.
While it’s true that nowadays we very rarely purchase music albums, we simply cannot deny the fact that the past has seen a great many albums that quite literally took music history by storm. And like the music itself, an album cover is (or perhaps more precisely, was!) in itself an art form in its own, well-deserved right. Then there’s always the barrage of recollections that make us enjoy the nostalgic trip down memory lane.
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