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20 Great Albums With Terrible Artwork

20 Great Albums With Terrible Artwork

20 Great Albums With Terrible Artwork
14 April 2014

When visionary musical artists spend months slaving away over a hot mixing desk to create stunning works of moving, heartfelt art, you'd expect the record sleeve designers to do the same.

Unfortunately, sometimes they just churn something out, say "that'll do" and head off to the pub, leaving an eyesore of an album cover for generations to try and ignore.

Here's 20 examples where great music was housed by woeful cover art - do not judge these albums by their cover.

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Regularly voted in the top 2 of the greatest albums ever made, this had one, rather noticeable, difference from its usual rival, The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - namely, the Fab Four had one of the greatest album covers ever and Pet Sounds had the Beach Boys awkwardly feeding some goats. Its constant presence makes it easy to forget how terrible this is. Fortunately though - what a record.

The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour

Speaking of The Beatles - it wasn't all plain sailing for them. Who on earth approved this day glo monstrosity, we have no idea.

Beck - Midnite Vultures

A small man wearing what looks like a James Murphy mask, a horrible pink and green colour clash, bizarre lightning bolts and terrible writing, this is a hot mess that let down the quality record that lies beneath.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

The second Chili Peppers career high point musically, as they simplified things, got John Frusciante back and just wrote great songs. Unfortunately, someone at the record label had just discovered photoshop and thought it would be, like, really cool, to swap the water and the sky over right? Wouldn't that be cool?

Cream - Fresh Cream

The world's first supergroup featuring three geniuses: Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, who produced a record that added up to the considerable sum of its parts. Unfortunately, for the cover, they decided to pose in flying goggles while the photographer aimed the camera too far to the left. Good grief.

Guns 'N Roses - Appetite For Destruction

Later replaced by the famous cross 'n skulls artwork, the original cover art for the magnificent Appetite for Destruction featured a robot rapist. Even for a rock 'n roll band this was too much and they were forced to change after stores refused to stock it. Thankfully, they didn't go with Axl's original idea - a photograph of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding, which the label Geffen - in a masterstroke of understatement - said was 'in bad taste'.

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye's crazy, epic, indescribable audio journey was, quite rightly, hailed as the high point of his career. Naturally, for someone in full control of his ego, he decided that the appropriate cover art would be a portrait of himself being straddled by an armless winged female, both nude. It looks like something that would fail GCSE art.

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III

Led Zep, the coolest band ever, and III was, like all their albums, fantastic. Just what fresh hell was this cover all about? It looks like a pinterest board gone wrong.

Lorde - Pure Heroine

One of the best debut albums in recent times - in fact, albums full stop - Pure Heroine catapulted the 17-year-old New Zealander into the big league from, seemingly, nowhere. Perhaps things just moved too fast but the cover looks like it took 30 seconds in photoshop. Maybe on iTunes nobody cares anymore? Either way it's a shame, an iconic cover could have added even more punch.

Mew - And The Glass Handed Kites

Mew are one of the world's hidden treasures with And The Glass Handed Kits being another triumphant excursion into otherworldly dreamscapes. Alas, this beyond horrific disaster is the cover. What on earth were they trying to achieve?

Neil Young - Zuma

The cover for Neil Young's Zuma was apparently sketched in less than 10 minutes by a Crazy Horse hanger-on named James Mazzeo, who was paid $2000 for it. Firstly, it looks like it took less than 10 minutes. Secondly, you got ripped off. Nonetheless, Young has since said that it's one of his favourite covers, as it was an antidote to the slickness that was abounding in music at that time. We get that - it still doesn't make it good though.

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

A modern musical classic, The Downward Spiral is perhaps the most important record in Nine Inch Nail's discography. But the cover, unfortunately, is rubbish. What is it? How does it relate in any way to the music? Disappointing.

Outkast - Aquemini

Outkast: hip hop pioneers. But also clearly fans of Microsoft Paint, clip art and mock lens flare. Atrocious.

Queen - The Miracle

Queen know a thing or two about great visuals and iconic looks, which makes it all the more surprising that this four-headed monster was allowed to slip through the net. Maybe it looked good at the time. It doesn't now. Which is a shame considering the brilliance of the record within. To be fair, if this was one monster, imagine how good it'd be at music?

Radiohead - Pablo Honey

Radiohead have often seemed a little ashamed of their early work, but there's no doubt that Pablo Honey remains a classic record. But what was going on with the cover? There were definitely shades of the Tellytubbies with the 'child in a flower' motif. And the cheap-looking logo wasn't great either. Mind you, the covers got seriously good after this (and the music got even better).

Santogold - Santogold

Cool album, terrible, terrible artwork. Gold, glittery vomit? Is that meant to be some sort of statement? Who knows, but it looks awful.

Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

An utter classic from The Boss' output: but sadly no iconic cover this time. Just the most boring out-of-a-car-windscreen photo ever. There's a bit of snow on it at least. Yep, that's the sole interesting feature. A bit of snow.

Steely Dan - The Royal Scam

A great Steely Dan album, marred by an unforgivable cover. It's not just our opinion either; in the band's own words, Fagen and Becker claim it to be "the most hideous album cover of the seventies, bar none (excepting perhaps Can't Buy a Thrill)."

Rolling Stones - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

A critically-acclaimed live album featuring Mick, Keith and the gang at the rip-roaring peak of their powers. So what do they adorn the front of the record with - Keith soloing like a boss? Mick hurtling around the stage? Charlie looking cool? No, they put a donkey and a jumping idiot pasted onto a picture of a runway. Of course they did.

The Mothers of Invention - We're Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: genius musicians, not particularly attractive men.