There have been a huge amount of classic album covers , but there are some that you can't believe ever saw the light of day. And for the many budding artists out there, there is often the feeling that you could do better.
So, luckily, for us, a great number of them have decided to do just that, and create alternative covers for their favourite records.
We bring you 30 of the coolest: some are beautiful, some are clever, some are funny, and some have cats in (it's the internet: you're never more than a click away from our furry friends).
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Watch The Throne
Artist: Watch The Throne
Album: Watch The Throne
The real cover for the Jay-Z and Kanye West clash-of-the-titans collaboration Watch The Throne was, naturally, a bling-tastic gold affair. CueQuerido's alternative is far cooler, cuter, and sees a welcome return of Kanye's bear, looking suitably regal. 'King brilliant.
Artist: The Beatles
Album: Abbey Road
How do you improve one of the most iconic cover images of all time? Easy: by turning John, Paul, George and Ringo into supercool Gorillaz-style nu-punk cartoons, set the car on fire and stick an octopus on the side of Abbey Road, which is now a god-monster's beard. Of course.
Artist: Michael Jackson
Designer: Myriam Kühn
Looking back, the cover of Thriller should have been so much better. Why have Jacko in a white lounge suit when you could have something inspired by the greatest video of all time - the dancing graveyard of zombies and that red leather jacket? Why not, in fact, have something just like this beautifully illustrated affair instead? The campaign to make this the art for the 30th anniversary rerelease in November starts here.
Artist: David Bowie
Album: Aladdin Sane
What's better than one utterly iconic photograph of the Thin White Duke? Sixteen of them of course. This montage of the final cover shot (shown in colour) alongside black and white versions of alternate shots from Brian Duffy's photoshoot makes a fantastic alternative image for Aladdin Sane. If they ever release a remixed version, this should be the cover.
Artist: System of a Down
Designer: Marni Walker
Just one of three reimaginings of the seminal System of a Down trilogy of records - Toxicity and the followups Mezmerize and Hypnotize - these hand-drawn images are beautifully designed and realised. This is our favourite; a range of beautiful blues centred around a suitably mesmerising face.
Designer: Hanuko Clulow
Björk has never been an artist to shy away from the ethereal and eccentric, so she would doubtless approve of this beautiful reworking of the cover for her breakthrough album Post. Beautiful colours form the backdrop to the title made out of her hair - a natural tool that the Icelandic star has never been afraid of using for creative purposes.
Artist: The Beatles
Album: Rubber Soul
Designer FoolEcho has gone about re-imagining a host of classic Beatles record sleeves with this illustrated version of Rubber Soul being one of the best. The green backing gives the design a brighter and more, appropriately, psychedelic feel than the original, but the moody faces of the band's first 'grown-up' album remain.
Born This Way
Artist: Lady Gaga
Album: Born This Way
The real cover art for Gaga's pop opus Born This Way - featuring the singer's head stuck top of a motorbike - was certainly attention-grabbing but we prefer this alternate take, which takes a crop from an immensely cool photograph of Gaga in full flow (used for the artwork of a later single, Edge of Glory), taken by Nick Night, to make a far superior cover image.
Artist: Pet Shop Boys
This genius cover 'remix' takes the cover of the Pets' classic 1987 opus Actually and applies the classic Penguin book template of one colour (other than black and white), one image and a standardised framework to glorious effect. The iconic 'yawning Neil' is tailor-made for this; the Pet Shop Boys' fondness for literary references in their lyrics only makes it more appropriate.
Artist: The Clash
Album: London Calling
Designer: Mikhail Vartikov
Vartikov's alternate cover for The Clash's seminal record takes a radically different approach to the rock 'n' roll bombast of the original cover, as a lone 'fisherman' sits on the shores of the river namechecked in the title track and sits quietly in reflection, away from the noise and traffic above. We don't fancy the guy's chances of catching anything in the Thames though.
Album: OK Computer
Designer: Steven Bonner
This is a stunning alternate cover for Radiohead's dystopian turn-of-the-millenium classic, OK Computer; an all-encompassing pitch-black screen seeps out from the TV and into the room, evocative of a digital oil slick. Simple, but very cool, and very effective.
Album: Mylo Xyloto
Designer: Lliam Evans [Lluminus/Whitehawk]
A hand-painted, graffiti-style alternate cover, this takes inspiration from the original Mylo cover, the lyrics contained within and the technicolour extravaganza of Coldplay's accompanying tour to stunning effect.
Power, Corruption & Lies
Artist: New Order
Album: Power, Corruption & Lies
Designer: Gary Andrew Clarke (2009)
Whilst this alternative design for New Order's classic may on the surface look nothing like the original, designer Clarke has cleverly taken Peter Saville's minimal style and and reinterpreted the cover according to a more modernist feel. In addition, the 'N O' is also a nice tip-of-the-hat to a later New Order cover (Waiting For The Sirens' Call), also designed by Saville. Again, this would be a fitting, and very cool cover for a 30th anniversary rerelease next year.
Artist: Guns 'N Roses
Album: Chinese Democracy
It is unclear whether this design inspired, or mimicked, the eventual cover for the forever-delayed G'n'R comeback album; either way, it is a far superior effort to what eventually ended up on the cover, being more understated, simple and cool than the 'official' design. Mind you, understatement isn't really Axl's thing is it?
Artist: Michael Jackson
Album: Smooth Criminal
OK, so Smooth Criminal was never a Michael Jackson album, but after seeing this design, we really wish Bad had been retitled. One of Jacko's most iconic outfits, beautifully illustrated, together with an iconic hat-touch and outstretched hand pose, this is awesomely cool.
Magical Mystery Tour
Artist: The Beatles
Album: Magical Mystery Tour
The Fab Four are finally unmasked from their costumes in the original cover (although the artist admits two of them are mixed up - who cares though?) in this vibrant, energetic and thoroughly psychedelic and sixties illustrated alternative. Seriously fun and seriously cool.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Artist: Daft Punk
Album: Harder, Better, Faster Stronger
This is seriously one of the coolest things we've ever seen: Daft Punk lyrics set out in Soviet social realism-style artwork. Simply brilliant. C'est magnifique.
Madonna's first album set her on the way to becoming the undisputed queen of pop (at least, until a certain Ms. Gaga came along), and saw the songs on it define a decade. This brilliant alternate cover captures Madge's style at the time, together with the style of the era itself in the bold, 80s-style illustration. Retro-chic at its finest, and very, very cool.
The Final Countdown
Album: The Final Countdown
Designer: Colm MacAthlaoich
Produced as part of a project where 70 of Ireland’s leading creatives created their own one-off cover versions of favourite album covers, this is one of our favourites. A brilliantly clever interpretation of The Final Countdown, this - of course - incorporates a working clock into the design. We guess it would've been expensive to mass produce for a 'real' version, but wouldn't it have been brilliant?
Let It Be
Artist: The Beatles
Album: Let It Be
Yes, we had to have one in here. We all know everything is better when cats are involved, and record sleeves are no different. The Fab Four become the Furry Four in this uncanny feline version of Let It Be, with the John Lennon cat in particular being spookily brilliant. All-in-all a purrfect alternative.
Album: Plastic Beach
Designer: Mari Mihai
This crazy alternative cover for Gorillaz' epic opus fits perfectly with the graphic style employed by Jamie Hewlett on the group's artwork. The components of the design, however, are wonderfully original - Koi fish of the plastic beach emerging from the headphones as they serenade - of course - a Gorilla. Magnificent.
Artist: La Roux
Album: La Roux
Designer: Andrew Hodgson
This vector, abstract style version of La Roux's debut album is supremely cool, giving the sleeve an almost gallic feel, to go alongside the band's name itself. C'est chic indeed.
Album: The Man-Machine
Possibly the coolest of all the alternative covers on this list, this is simply stunning: a re-imagining of Kraftwerk's classic The Man-Machine, with the members of the band replaced by, naturally, man-machines, including Robocop and C3PO. Superb.
Album: In Rainbows
OK, we're allowed one cat one, and one funny one. Radiohead have become famous for their unexpected career moves: the jump from guitars to lo-fi electronica on Kid A and the pay-what-you-want scheme for In Rainbows. If only they'd given that album this artwork; it would have been worth it just to see the reaction from their fans - the internet would probably have imploded.
Artist: Iron Maiden
Designer: Stan W-D
The man behind Eddie and the famous Iron Maiden artwork is, of course, Derek Riggs, but if he ever retires, then Stan W-D is ready and able to take over. This astonishing fan-made cover is for Starblind, an album track from The Final Frontier but the artwork is good enough to grace a bonafide album in itself. A truly brilliant illustration.
Artist: The Beatles
A second helping of Beatles-inspired art from FoolEcho, this time with the Fab Four dressed in Evertonian blue, sporting a scarf of Liverpool colours. If they were found in either Goodison Park or Anfield in that attire, then they probably would need some help. A fun and cool alternative to the original.
Back In ABBlack
Album: Back in ABBlack
Designer: Gavin Beattie
OK, so not strictly speaking a real album - but it would be amazing on both a musical as well as artistic level if it did. Sweden's finest pop exports ABBA, meet Australia's finest rock band, AC/DC on Back in ABBlack. It would probably be a cold day on the Highway to Hell before you got AC/DC covering Dancing Queen but we can live in hope...
Album: Nevermind (20th Anniversary Edition)
An alternate design for the 20th anniversary release of Nirvana's commercial breakthrough album, this eschews the baby of the original to concentrate even more specifically on the name of the game: the filthy lucre of success which Kurt Cobain tried, in vain, to avoid. Subtle, but cool.
My Iron Lung
Album: My Iron Lung
Designer: Jennica Lim
An early classic track by Radiohead, and name of an early minialbum when they were on the verge of breaking through; this alternate design captures both a literal take on the title, and also the industrial and mechanical sound of the bursts of guitar on the record itself.
Is This It
Artist: The Strokes
Album: Is This It
A work of genius that only the internet could provide, this is a simple, yet dazzlingly effective idea: the recreation of classic album covers using just socks (a full gallery is here). Why on earth did no-one think of this before now? The finest example is the cover of The Strokes' debut; we'll never look at it in quite the same way again.