Home > Features > Favourite Album Covers

Favourite Album Covers

Jo Cox

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.

Maria Turauskis

Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

A true punk album cover in every sense of the word. At first glance it simply has a vague, sense of cold, oppressive, unknown violence – lots of black, a little white, and a huge plume of smoke is the preliminary impression. Ultimately the image is *only* a row of cars burning out, but the air of tolerance and even an understanding of such acts of mindless nihilistic aggression on behalf of the artist (and by proxy the band themselves), is rather unnerving – a vibe that every genuine punk act should surely aspire to.

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash

This is such an iconic album cover – incredibly atmospheric, dirty and romantic, just like The Pogues themselves. Released in 1985, the cover to Rum, Sodomy and the Lash is based on the painting The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault, with each band member’s face subtly daubed over the original. The Gericault painting was based on real-life survivors of a shipwreck in the 19th centaury, who had to ensure starvation, dehydration and eventual madness and cannibalism before being finally rescued. Another marvellously overdramatic metaphor for the band’s collective consciousness.

Roisin Murphy – Overpowered

Roisin Murphy – Overpowered

A fantastically witty, subtly humorous album cover that exudes aesthetic intuition. The juxtaposition of your average greasy spoon café against Murphy’s outlandishly creative and gratuitous outfit is simply marvellous.

Emily Bruce

Björk– Homogenic

Björk – Homogenic

Homogenic is one of my favourite records ever and its cover is no less brilliant than the album itself. It’s unsurprising really, given it was designed by no other than the wonderful late Alexander McQueen. Björk stated that with the cover, in keeping with the record’s themes, she wanted to depict a woman that “had to become a warrior. A warrior who had to fight not with weapons, but with love”, and as such she’s dressed up as a kind of ‘warrior woman’ on the front of the album; except not your typical warrior – one clad in McQueen’s stunning décor, no less, complete with claw-like nails. She looks beautiful yet tough; like the record itself, which is one of strength and fighting back in the face of adversity. The cover manages to capture the record’s atmosphere perfectly – exactly what a good album cover should do.

Hole – Live Through This

Hole – Live Through This

This album has a fitting cover in that it sports a just-crowned beauty queen crying with joy on it, tying in immediately with the song Miss World, which mocks the type of women that compete in beauty pageants and emphasises the fact that achieving ‘perfection’ in society’s eyes doesn’t always bring you happiness as well. Indeed, Live Through This as a whole is an album that mocks female clichés and stereotypes, arguing that women should fight to be seen as more than mere objects. Speaking about the cover, Courtney Love explained that with it she  “wanted to capture the look on a woman’s face as she’s being crowned…this sort of ecstatic, blue eyeliner running, kind of ‘I am, I am – I won! I have hemorrhoid cream under my eyes and adhesive tape on my butt, and I had to scratch and claw and fuck my way up, but I won Miss Congeniality!’” With this cover then, Hole were continuing the theme of many of the songs on the record by parodying of the type of women that aspire only to be seen as beauty queens.

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.

Without a doubt, one of the most iconic album covers of all time. It goes perfectly with the album title, of course; the backdrop of an American flag, with a shot of Springsteen from behind, clad in the national colours – blue jeans, white shirt, red baseball cap tucked into his back pocket. It’s not as patriotic as it may seem at first glance, however; just like the title song, which – to many people’s surprise when they haven’t properly listened to the lyrics – is actually about the Vietnam war and the poor treatment of its veterans (it has often been misinterpreted, no thanks to Ronald Reagan using it in his presidential campaign of 1984.) Bruce said of the artwork: “We had the flag on the cover because the first song was called Born in the U.S.A., and the theme of the record kind of follows from the themes I’ve been writing about for at least the last six or seven years.” The cover reflects the average American working man, which is one of The Boss’ favourite subject matters, especially on this album.

Mimi Black

Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You

I’ve adored these guys for years, and, with their newest album already clinging to me like a fever that just won’t shift, their album covers have always fascinated me. Even if it’s a simple piece of art, there is something captivating about a Blue Bottle fly sitting upon a pill, where the album title is engrained. Almost symbolic. RHCP always think outside of the box, and Damien Hirst (artist) was a wise choice with regards to collaboration.

Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions

The vibrant colours of the material stand out to me at first, and then how flimsy they are in the wind, almost trying to escape from their owners. The cover for this is genius, and again, is not your typical cover art. I still haven’t come to a conclusion about the burning table in the background, if it’s symbolic, making a statement, or because they thought it was a ‘cool’ thing to do, but again, it’s not an everyday album cover.

The Killers – Sam’s Town

The Killers - Sam's Town

I like this photo, even as posed as it is, seems very trailer-trashy, natural, and kind of dirty (in a non-sexual way!). Black and white photography, especially B&W photography with a random splash of colour. There is no logical reason as to why I think it’s a great piece, but it is nonetheless!

Siobhanne Beattie

The Strokes – Is This It?

The Strokes

In 2001, I was 15 and impressionable looking for something other than the bubblegum pop that the UK Charts seemed to be force-feeding me when I discovered The Strokes via their debut album, Is This It? The Strokes came at a time when guitar bands where on the decline in Britain and they injected a level of excitement and energy that I hadn’t felt since I first discovered Oasis 5 years earlier.
The controversial sleeve of Is This It? features a girl below the waist wearing a black leather glove, strategically positioned to hide her modesty and, at 15 was the type of album cover I hid from my mother! At 15, the album sleeve was shocking and like nothing I had ever seen on the cover of a CD before (and had never expected to) but now, at almost 26, I understand and appreciate the controversy, erotica and bold statement that the carefully positioned exhibition of the female body carried and it never fails to remind me of being 15 and discovering something great.

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

To me, Amy Winehouse had a raw talent and rare gift that was showcased perfectly through her sound and style. I love the simplicity of Back To Black album cover – no arty photography or symbolism – just Amy, before her drug addiction ravaged her looks and health. I think Amy could pull off such a straightforward album cover because the songs featured on Back To Black spoke volumes all by themselves. Back To Black has undoubtedly become more prominent since Amy’s tragic death last July with millions snapping up copies and sending it back to the top of the UK album chart, however for me, having bought it shortly after its 2007 release, I can always look at it and see a healthy, happy Amy poised and ready for big things to come… that she unfortunately didn’t live long enough to experience.

U2 – The Joshua Tree


Growing up to a U2 soundtrack was impossible to avoid in my house as a youngster as my family were fans and their music was always present. The Joshua Tree was released the day following my first birthday and was (probably) the first U2 album I ever heard – albeit I was a baby snoozing in my cot oblivious to what I was missing. Long before I was old enough to appreciate the music of The Joshua Tree, I always admired the cinematic style photography that graced the album cover. Its easy to predict the future when it has already happened, but looking at The Joshua Tree always gave me a sense of a young band on the cusp of something huge, which is what they were. Anton Corbijn captured the band in a way that no-one had previously and haven’t since – and the inside shot of the solitary Joshua Tree, highly unusual as they are known to grow in groups, always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Jo Cox

Nanci Griffith – The Last of the True Believers

Nanci Griffith - Last of the True Believers

The Last of the True Believers was the first Nanci Griffith album I heard, and I quickly realised that you can find references to various songs on the cover – the dancing couple from Love at the Five and Dime, for example (look closely, it’s Lyle Lovett). Looking at it now reminds me of road trips spent listening to that song over and over and over again, and it always makes me smile.

Melissa Etheridge – Lucky

Melissa Etheridge - Lucky

Even if I wasn’t a fan of Melissa Etheridge, I would probably still want a copy of Lucky just for Tavis Coburn’s brilliant illustrations. It seems really quite fitting now, that the album was released just before she was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2004. She came through it, and the relationships she was singing about obviously brought her a lot of strength.

I know it always cheers me up. This is my happy album and the cover is part of that.

Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill

Stornoway - Backcombers WIndowsill

I’m mainly interested in the vinyl version I got for Christmas last year. It has an old map on the back and intricately illustrated pictures of sea creatures on the inside covers. I always feel like getting this album out is like stepping into another world.