1 – Joy Division ‘Unknown Pleasures’
One of the most instantly recognizable album covers ever created, this image is striking for its simplicity. Peter Saville, the designer, took the pattern from a graphic of an Astronomical Radio wave image of a pulsar. The minimal black and white colour scheme, along with the haunting, angular and melancholic sounds and atmosphere of the Joy Division album it came to represent, charge this album cover with a great deal of cultural significance and style.
2 – Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of the Moon’
This artwork is a contender for the most iconic album cover of all time. Storm Thorgerson, the band’s designer, produced the image with the prism and light. The triangle is representative of thought and ambition, and was also a perfect symbol to visualise a prism. The light related to the light show that Pink Floyd used to accompany their music as they played.
3 – Black Sabbath ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’
Released in 1973, this iconic image fronted the infamous English Metal Band’s fifth studio album. The striking artwork is dark and menacing, and the simplistic colour scheme augments the sinister tone of the record. Black and red are always visually stimulating, and the artwork, just like the music, was designed to shake people up in the best way possible.
4 – The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’
One of their most critically acclaimed and successful albums, Abbey Road features the four members of the Beatles walking across the zebra crossing outside the studios. It was released in 1969 and the image has been recreated all around the world in many different guises, from tourist photos to even having been featured in the Simpsons.
5 – Radiohead ‘Hail to the Thief’
Created by Artist Stanley Donwood, the album Art draws its colours from the advertising of petro chemical companies. The words are taken from billboards, and the resulting artwork is unforgettable. The concept of the work links closely with the themes of the record, but even on a purely aesthetic level, one cannot doubt the captivating quality of the work.
6 – Sonic Youth ‘Goo’ 1990
Raymond Pettibon is a cult American Artist, and this simple, hand drawn cover is a fine example of his unique style. His artworks were often fragments of wider stories, and he took inspiration from comics, newspapers and other examples of everyday visual imagery. The simplistic work is stylised, confident and minimal.
7 – Kanye West ‘Graduation’
Created by Takashi Murakami, the colorful, pastel imagery captures Murakami’s fascination with anime. Murakami had some interesting words to offer about working with West. “It was difficult,” the artist said, “because every week, Kanye has new ideas — changing, changing, changing.” However, according to Murakami, their friendship remains intact. When asked if they had a close relationship, Murakami responded with a chuckle, saying, “I think so. I believe so. I don’t know — please ask him.”
8 – The Clash ‘London Calling’
Possibly the most iconic Punk record of all time, this Artwork is a striking image that deserves to be framed.
The text was created in pink and green letters in homage to Elvis Presley’s first self-titled album. The photograph itself is of bassist Paul Simonon, who destroyed his bass guitar in frustration and protest in 1979 in New York City when the bouncers at the Palladium would not allow fans to stand up out of their seats during the gig. This photograph has gone down in musical history, and the theme of a musician smashing his or her own instrument is now legendary within music. The combination of text and image, alluding to musical icons and iconoclastic moments, has in turn, made the album cover of ‘London Calling’ incredibly, and rightly, infamous.
9 – De La Soul ‘3 Feet and Rising’
A classic album cover for a historic hip-hop record. Released in 1989, the bright yellow background and optimistic, DIY cut-and-paste styling of the faces, flowers and text make this an album cover that looks great when framed. The synthetic Pop look was made well before the days of scanning and photoshop. The GO (Grey Organisation) who created the album artwork had inventive ideas about the image. They laid De La Soul down so that their heads formed a triangle then photographed them from above. This meant that the album didn’t have a strict top and bottom, and could be displayed whichever way people fancied.
10 – Dusky ‘Stick by This’
A simple digital pattern constructed from repeating the silhouette of a tree. The image deserves to be framed because it is so effective in it’s minimal characteristics. The stripped back, uncomplicated design mirrors the music of the album, and gives it a structured, lyrical mood. Dark on light, the branches interweave into a strange new pattern.