Wall of Vinyl Record Covers on Display at Record Store

17 of the Coolest Album Covers You Should Own

One of my favorite things about collecting vinyl is the album art. As much as I enjoy kicking back to enjoy the mahogany tones of a well kept record long after the sapphire tipped cutter has etched the sound into what was once a blank vinyl disk, the experience wouldn’t be half as engaging without the visual stimulation of the art.

Believe it or not, beautiful artwork did not always come with vinyl records. Before 1938 all records came in brown paper wrappers. Geeperz, that must have been boring! That was until 23 year old Alex Steinweiss – a designer working for Columbia records – had an idea to use art work as a way to encourage people to buy their albums.

Suddenly the record business changed and a whole new world was born: visual art covers, inseparable from the music they hold within.

Walk into any vinyl store and it won’t take long for you to realize there are an uncountable amount of albums, covers and art, something for everyone’s taste.

I own albums that have the most unappealing art but great music, then I have those with crappy music but orgasmic art work, and of course the ultimate pleasure: superb music and fascinating art work all rolled into one. Ahhh, bliss!!

So, I wanted to put together a list of favorites, of not just mine (although I am biased to some on the list) but those of family, friends, and online forum buddies. Where I could, I have added the designer’s name. This is a work in progress, I’ll be adding to it over time. Where I could I added links to the Amazon page where the album is available, and if you make a purchase through those links I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Here’s the final result, in no particular order, not even alphbetical! I hope you enjoy, and please comment your favorite album covers that are missing from this post!

17 of the Coolest Vinyl Album Covers You Should Own

 

Album art for Soundtrack to the movie Up in Smoke

Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke (Movie Soundtrack)

Release Date: December 1978
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Movie: Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke


 

Grateful Dead Anthem of the Sun

The Grateful Dead: Anthem of the Sun

Release Date: 18 July 1968
Label: Warner Bros. – Seven Arts
Producer: The Grateful Dead and David Hassinger


 

Sticky Fingers [LP]

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

Release Date: 23 April 1971
Label: Polydor Records
Awards: Grammy Hall of Fame Award
Album Sleeve Design: Craig Braun
Producer: Jim Miller


 

Led Zeppelin: Zeppelin III

Release Date: 5 October 1970
Label: Atlantic
Album Sleeve Design: Zarcon
Producer: Jimmy Page


 

Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill

Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill

Not readily available on vinyl as of this writing
Release Date: 15 November 1986
Label: Mercury Records
Album Sleeve Design: World B. Omes (David Gambale)
Producer: Rick Rubin, Beastie Boys


 

Alice Cooper: School’s Out

Release Date: June 1972
Label: Warner Bros.
Album Sleeve Design: Craig Braun
Producer: Bob Ezrin


 

Santana: Abraxas
Santana: Abraxas

Santana: Abraxas

Release Date: November 1970
Label: Columbia
Album Sleeve Design: From a Paining by Mati Klarwein
Producer: Fred Catero, Carlos Santana


Abbey Road

The Beatles: Abbey Road

Release Date: 26 September 1969
Label: Apple
Album Sleeve Design: John Kosh from Apple Records
Photographer: Iain Macmillan
Producer: George Martin


 

David Bowie: Diamond Dogs
David Bowie: Diamond Dogs

David Bowie: Diamond Dogs

Release Date: 24 May 1974
Label: RCA
Album Sleeve Design: Guy Peellaert
Producer: David Bowie


 

Depeche Mode: Violator

Depeche Mode: Violator

Release Date: 19 March 1990
Label: Mute
Album Sleeve Design: Anton Corbijn and Area
Producer: Depeche Mode, Flood


 

Depeche Mode: A Broken Frame

Depeche Mode: A Broken Frame

Release Date: 27 September 1982
Label: Mute
Album Sleeve Design: Martyn Atkins
Producer: Depeche Mode, Daniel Miller


 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Brain Salad Surgery

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Brain Salad Surgery

Release Date: 19 November 1973
Label: Manticore
Album Sleeve Design: Hans Rudolf Giger
Producer: Greg Lake


 

King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

Release Date: 10 October 1969
Label: Island (UK), Atlantic (US)
Album Sleeve Design: Barry Godber
Producer: King Crimson


 

Pet Shop Boys: Very

Pet Shop Boys: VERY

Release Date: 27 September 1993
Label: Parlophone
Album Sleeve Design: Daniel Weil
Notable information: The cover features 3D raised bumps
Producer: Pet Shop Boys, Brothers in Rhythm, Stephen Hague


 

Small Faces: Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake Tobacco

Small Faces: Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake Tobacco

Release Date: 24 May 1968
Label: Immediate
Album Sleeve Design: Nick Tweddell, Pete Brown
Producer: Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane


 

The Beatles: Revolver

The Beatles: Revolver

Release Date: 5 August 1966
Label: Parlophone
Album Sleeve Design: Klaus Voormann
Producer: George Martin


Frank Zappa: Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch

Frank Zappa: Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch

Release Date: 3 May 1982
Label: Barking Pumpkin
Album Sleeve Design: Classic Droodle depicting ‘Z A’
Producer: Frank Zappa


What is your favorite vinyl album art?

So, what do you think? Like them, loath them – leave a comment with your thoughts and own suggestions.

2 thoughts on “17 of the Coolest Album Covers You Should Own”

  1. The Emerson, Lake Amd Palmer album isn’t Brain Salad Food,but Brain Salad Surgery. Now then, I would have also had the Sgt. Pepper album cover because it had many firsts: The first single album to fold (now called a Gatefold), the first to have any sort of goodies inclosed (a cutout sheet featuring a moustache,stand up of the band and badge and stripes) and,before anyone else did it (and several decades before the PMRC demanded it be commonplace), had the lyrics printed on the back cover.

    1. Hi George,

      Thanks for correcting the my error! 😉

      And, yes I totally agree on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. I’ll add it! x

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