The worst album covers of all time

153010__dead_lPitchfork‘s lengthy photo feature on the 100 worst examples of record cover art seems unfair for a number of reasons: First, as the introductory essay notes, the CD and the iPod have all but killed the genre that flourished when an album was a tactile, 12-inch by 12-inch visual object, not a palm-sized coaster or a string of digits with no physical presence. It’s not like anyone even tries anymore to make good album covers (save Madonna, whose new cover art is striking).

Second, some of Pitchfork’s selections are hapless, no-name acts without clout or budget; it hardly seems fair to rank them with popular, well-funded groups that actually paid design firms good money and still came up with something hideous.

Then again, these lists are never fair, and it sure is funny to snicker at some of the eyesores on display here. Still, c’mon, guys, none of Roger Dean’s covers for various Yes albums? No mention of Led Zep’s Houses of the Holy or Blind Faith’s self-titled LP (both marred by embarrassingly kitschy and probably illegal exploitation of naked prepubescent girls)? The Dead’s dancing turtles (above)? Sure, the hipsters at Pitchfork have managed to find some admirably obscure bad album covers, but let’s give credit where it’s due. There’s ugly, and then there’s ugly.

Any of your favorites fail to make the list?


Comments (8 total) Add your comment
  • Marcus

    “Why do hipsters reject Genesis? Animal Collective couldn’t try any harder to mimic them, from the prog-jamming down to the stupid album art. In 10 years, Geologist & The Mechanics will top the charts with an inspirational ballad and Panda Bear will record a slick blue-eyed soul album for yuppies, write some songs for a Disney cartoon, and play a butler in a movie. Then your kids will make Animal Collective the butt of jokes, and you’ll be just like That Guy defending Genesis to anyone who’s born post-Bret Easton Ellis.”
    Such a statement is why I hate these types of magazines. A nonsensical argument that can not be tested for the sole reason that no right minded, non-pretentious person can make sense of it, due to its constant use of obscure and self promoting references! Animal Collective AND Bret Easton Ellis! No actual logical argument why the album cover sucks! I must have hit the self obsessed failed musician jackpot!

  • Jim

    Millie Jackson’s ‘Back to the S**t’ is the worst – cover – ever – by a very wide margin.

  • X-Philie

    Some of those album covers made me throw up in my mouth a little.

  • John

    Why the hate for the dancing turtles? I’ve always smiled when I saw that image. I mean, it’s silly but sweet and they seem to both be having a really good time. Makes me think it’s something out of the “Wind and the Willows” y’know?

  • AnthonySF

    I like “Houses of the Holy.” It shows the innocence of youth trying to attain “enlightenment” by getting to that next level. And the colors are brilliantly askew.

  • Nic

    I like how this column on Pitchfork was actually flanked by ads for ipod.

  • Dan Taylor

    If you’re going title something the Worst Album Covers EVER you better bring your A game. Frankly, I think some of the selections I’ve picked from my personal collection are FAR worse. Check ‘em out:

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