17 of the Coolest Album Covers You Should Own

how to buy used vinyl records - finding dealersOne 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 art.

But beautiful art work 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 mean I own albums that have the most unappealing art but great music, then I have those with shit music but orgasmic art work and of course the ultimate pleasure – superb music and fascinating art work all rolled into one – ah 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 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.

And here’s the final result…  They are in no particular order – not even alphabetical!  Hope you enjoy!

1979: Soundtrack to the movie Up in Smoke.

1979: Soundtrack to the movie Up in Smoke.

Release Date: December 1978

Artist: Cheech and Chong

Label: Warner Bros. Records

Movie: Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke


The Grateful Dead: Anthem to the Sun

The Grateful Dead: Anthem to the Sun

Release Date: 18 July 1968

Artist: The Grateful Dead

Label: Warner Bros. – Seven Arts

Producer: The Grateful Dead and David Hassinger


Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

Release Date: 23 April 1971

Artist: The Rolling Stones

Label: Polydor Records

Awards: Grammy Hall of Fame Award

Album Sleeve Design: Craig Braun

Producer: Jim Miller


Release Date: 5 October 1970

Artist: Led Zeppelin

Label: Atlantic

Album Sleeve Design: Zarcon

Producer: Jimmy Page


Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill

Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill

Release Date: 15 November 1986

Artist: Beastie Boys

Label: Mercury Records

Album Sleeve Design: World B. Omes (David Gambale)

Producer: Rick Rubin, Beastie Boys


Release Date: June 1972

Artist: Alice Cooper

Label: Warner Bros.

Album Sleeve Design: Craig Braun

Producer: Bob Ezrin

Release Date: November 1970

Artist: Santana

Label: Columbia

Album Sleeve Design: From a Paining by Mati Klarwein

Producer: Fred Catero, Carlos Santana


Release Date: 26 September 1969

Artist: The Beatles

Label: Apple

Album Sleeve Design: John Kosh from Apple Records

Photographer: Iain Macmillan

Producer: George Martin


Release Date: 24 May 1974

Artist: David Bowie

Label: RCA

Album Sleeve Design: Guy Peellaert

Producer: David Bowie


Release Date: 19 March 1990

Artist: Depeche Mode

Label: Mute

Album Sleeve Design: Anton Corbijn and Area

Producer: Depeche Mode, Flood


Release Date: 27 September 1982

Artist: Depeche Mode

Label: Mute

Album Sleeve Design: Martyn Atkins

Producer: Depeche Mode, Daniel Miller

Release Date: 19 November 1973

Artist: Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Label: Manticore

Album Sleeve Design: Hans Rudolf Giger

Producer: Greg Lake


Release Date: 10 October 1969

Artist: King Crimson

Label: Island (UK), Atlantic (US)

Album Sleeve Design: Barry Godber

Producer: King Crimson

Pet Shop Boys: Very

Pet Shop Boys: Very (also known as the Lego Album)

Release Date: 27 September 1993

Artist: Pet Shop Boys

Label: Parlophone

Album Sleeve Design: Daniel Weil

Producer: Pet Shop Boys, Brothers in Rhythm, Stephen Hague


Release Date: 24 May 1968

Artist: Small Faces

Label: Immediate

Album Sleeve Design: Nick Tweddell, Pete Brown

Producer: Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane


Release Date: 5 August 1966

Artist: The Beatles

Label: Parlophone

Album Sleeve Design: Klaus Voormann

Producer: George Martin


Release Date: 3 May 1982

Artist: Frank Zappa

Label: Barking Pumpkin

Album Sleeve Design: Classic Droodle depicting ‘Z A’

Producer: Frank Zappa

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

2 comments… add one
  • George Link Reply

    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.

    • Vinyl Girl Link Reply

      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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