Let's take a break from all the black metal madness, shall we, and pay tribute to a sadly oft-neglected area of music—album cover art! I fear this is becoming a lost medium. Back in the day, when people still actually listened to albums, cover art seemed to be more important. Of late, album covers mainly feature cheap T&A and bling shots, over-designed logos, over-Photoshopped images and ugly pictures of the band. This is BAD. Because there are so few classic covers that have come out in the last 15 years, I've decided to make a list of the ones that caught my critical eye and didn't make me wish for the days of Sgt. Pepper and Houses of the Holy even more. Let's see how pretentious I can sound!
10. Renegades—Rage Against the Machine
Rage is one of those bands that never has a bad cover. First we had the burning monk, then the super-hero white boy and the graffiti "power to the people" guy. Now we have a brilliant send-up of that annoying "LOVE" stamp that everyone was slobbering over in the early '70s. Here, Rage has not only managed to create yet another great album art composition, they also succeeded in desecrating an American cultural icon. It's kind of like they shit on a box filled with Precious Moments figurines.
9. f#a#(infinity symbol)—Godspeed You Black Emperor
Good-bad photography goes a long way, and this cover art proves it. You're not sure what it is or what it all means, but this dark, blurry image immediately evokes some kind of feeling. It's art, man. Also notable here is the fact there there are no words on this cover—bands often go overboard with crappy fonts and too-long titles that overwhelm the album art and tack it way up. Even though this band has one of the best names ever, they left it off the cover and the result is subtle, but still impactful.
8. Angel Dust—Faith No More
Actually, this one would probably appear on my list for best covers of all time. Faith No More's first album had a cover that was just so early '90s...ooh, it's a drop of water with FLAMES coming out of it! This cover is the exact opposite of that cover and, hence, atypical of their stinky, smutty, alcoholic rock-boy persona. The swan image is kind of sad and trippy all at once. This is also a rare example of good font and title usage.
7. Deep Shadows & Brilliant Highlights—H.I.M.
Ville Valo is probably the most photogenic person on earth, not to mention the prettiest boy I've ever seen. Me and Lola want to kidnap him and make him our houseboy. And that has absolutely NOTHING to do with why I chose this cover as my lucky number 7. Nope, nothing at all.
Well, it IS a cool picture, right?
6. Rid Of Me—P.J. Harvey
P.J. is just so fucking cool and sexy and she has the most interesting-looking face. This picture is just so HER.
5. Get Behind Me Satan—The White Stripes
This cover art is not the opening of any new territory for the Stripes, but this look illustrates the bluegrass-y edge to this album really well. I like how rich the reds are and how Jack's work with Loretta Lynn seems to have influenced this cover, as well as the music on the album. Meg looks a bit like a young Loretta Lynn here, but Jack looks eerily like Korn's lead singer before he got all bloated. Must have been the fallout from his breakup with Bridget Jones.
4. The Libertines—The Libertines
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat are the kind of guys dads everywhere fear their daughters will go out with and they are really looking the part on this cover. In fact, they're kinda looking a little like modern-day Sex Pistols here. God save the waifish Brit supermodels. It's just a good, dirty picture of bad, dirty British boys.
3. White Pony—The Deftones
The Deftones went from the typical alt. metal odd-shot-of-a-sweaty-chick's-cleavage on their first album to this very simple outline of a galloping horsey. Again, no words here to junk it up. The basic gray and white colors diffrentiate from the usual black or uber-solar-flareout color found on alt. metal album covers—unexpected and impactful. Hey, remember that song "if you wanna ride...ride the white pony"? Nevermind...
2. R—Queens Of The Stone Age
Remember when you were a kid and you went to the movies and all the previews showed the ratings like this and then there was that General Cinema trailor where the GC logo ate up film like it was a projector? Or am I a raving lunatic that just made all that up? Anyway, oh my god, this album cover TOTALLY reminded me of all that from when I was little and going to the movies with my folks (probably to see one of the Muppet movies). It's an awesome homage to a small piece of Gen X childhood and simply a great idea.
1. I Get Wet—Andrew W.K.
This is my very favorite cover from the last 15 years. It's simple, it's straightforward, it's kind of gross and it's kind of awesome all at the same time. This CD is perfect to casually leave on your desk at work to make all the annoying Longaberger salesladies at your job go, "Eww!" and avoid you. You'll never get an invitation to a basket party again! It's also very fitting for Andrew W.K.'s party-metal style—'cause even though you like him (and admit it, you kind of do), you still want to punch him in the fucking face. What other album cover gives you the pleasure of seeing the aftermath of someone kicking the ass of the annoying singer? Because of it, I kind of like him more.
So...what are yours?