At one time, the cover of an album was almost as important as the music it contained. In order to entice buyers or to generate publicity, some musicians pushed the boundaries of good taste right over the edge. Here are arguably five of the most controversial album covers of all time. Yes, there are some worse examples from lesser known artists, but these album covers all graced the works of some of the most legendary names in the business.
The Beatles, “Yesterday and Today”
The original cover of this album, which was only released in the United States and Canada, had an image of the smiling Fab Four, wearing butcher smocks and holding bloodied baby doll parts and chunks of meat. While this album cover would probably not even raise a single eyebrow today, at the time, the image was very jarring, especially for such an influential band. Most of these album covers were either destroyed or had a more innocent image slapped over the top of the offending picture.
Many people find this album cover, which depicts a naked baby swimming towards a dollar bill on a hook, controversial, but often for different reasons. Some people find the sight of the naked baby’s penis offensive, while others didn’t like that the wee one was floundering around in a pool. Still others don’t like the message of a baby chasing after money.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Street Survivors”
At first, there was nothing controversial about this album cover, which depicted the band standing on a street, surrounded by flames. Unfortunately, only days after this album was released, a plane carrying the band crashed, killing three of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s members, as well as four others.
After the plane crash, the album cover was changed, at the request of family members, to one that showed the band standing against a black-coloured background.
If you think the “Electric Ladyland” album cover released in the U.K. that featured 19 naked women and a photograph of Jimi Hendrix was the artist’s idea, you’d be wrong. He had actually wanted this album cover to show the band members with their families. Instead, Track, the U.K. label, chose the naked ladies. The Hendrix estate considers the United States version, which features a blurry photo of Hendrix, the official album cover.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Unfinished Music, No 1: Two Virgins”
As the comedienne Jerry Seinfeld once said, “There is good naked and there is bad naked.” The cover of “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins,” which featured John Lennon and Yoko Ono standing nude and unsmiling was bad naked — or maybe, just uncomfortable naked. The back of this album featured the couple nude from behind.
It is, however, a good look at what men and women looked like before the Brazilian and man-scaping came into vogue.
Author Byline: Kerstin has a strong passion in graphic design. In between pinning her favorite graphics on Pinterest, she works for several Sydney printing services creating eye-catching marketing collateral for her clients.