25 Best Album Covers That Are Now Modern Works of Art

Album covers have always been an integral part of music culture, providing not only a visual representation of the music contained within, but also a platform for artistic expression and creativity. From the iconic photograph of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road, to the minimalistic design of The Velvet Underground’s debut album, album covers have become synonymous with the artists and their music. However, some album covers are so striking and memorable that they have inspired songs in their own right.

In this article, we will explore the top 25 about best album covers, delving into the stories behind these songs and the albums that inspired them. From Prince’s Purple Rain to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, these songs pay homage to the visual artistry and cultural significance of the album covers that have shaped music history. Join us as we explore the intersection between music and visual art, and celebrate the album covers that continue to inspire artists and music lovers alike.

1. ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ – Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is a timeless classic that has cemented its place in music history as one of the greatest albums of all time. The album’s iconic cover art features a simple, yet striking, prism design that has become instantly recognizable. With its progressive rock sound and thought-provoking lyrics, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is a concept album that explores themes of life, death, and the human condition. It’s an album that rewards repeated listens and continues to captivate audiences to this day.

2. ‘Beggars Banquet’ – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones’ 1968 album ‘Beggars Banquet’ is a masterpiece that blends rock, blues, and country with their signature style. The album’s cover, featuring a graffiti-covered bathroom stall, perfectly captures the band’s rebellious spirit and anti-establishment attitude. The album’s songs, including “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man,” are iconic and showcase the band’s ability to create music that is both catchy and thought-provoking. With ‘Beggars Banquet,’ The Rolling Stones solidified their place as one of the most influential and innovative bands in rock history.

3. ‘Bitches Brew’ – Miles Davis

Miles Davis’ 1970 release ‘Bitches Brew’ is a masterful jazz fusion album, and its striking album cover only adds to its allure. The cover features a vibrant, abstract painting by Mati Klarwein, which perfectly captures the album’s experimental and psychedelic sound. The painting is filled with swirling colors and surreal imagery, including a horned creature that seems to emerge from the center of the canvas. The album’s title is written in bold, graphic letters across the top, emphasizing the edginess of the music within. The cover of ‘Bitches Brew’ has become iconic, and has been imitated and referenced countless times over the years. It perfectly encapsulates the avant-garde nature of the album, and has become synonymous with the jazz fusion genre as a whole.

4. ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ – Bob Dyla

Bob Dylan’s second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” is considered one of his most influential and groundbreaking works. Released in 1963, the album features Dylan’s signature lyrical style and folk sound, with tracks such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” The album’s iconic cover, featuring Dylan and his then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo walking down a New York City street, has become an iconic image of the 1960s folk movement. The image captures the youthful rebellion and social activism that Dylan’s music represented, as well as the intimacy and vulnerability of his personal life. The album’s blend of political commentary, personal storytelling, and poetic lyrics continue to inspire generations of musicians and fans alike.

5. ‘Elvis Presley’ (Self-titled)

Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album is a classic rock ‘n’ roll record that showcases the legendary musician’s early sound. Released in 1956, the album features some of Presley’s most iconic songs, such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Tutti Frutti,” and “Heartbreak Hotel.” The cover art, which depicts a young and handsome Presley strumming his guitar, captures the essence of his rockabilly style and sets the tone for the album’s upbeat and energetic tracks. The image was shot by photographer William V. “Red” Robertson at the New York studio of RCA Records. With its irresistible blend of country, blues, and R&B, ‘Elvis Presley’ laid the foundation for the rock ‘n’ roll revolution of the 1950s and remains a must-have for any music lover’s collection.

6. ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ – David Bowie

David Bowie’s 1972 concept album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, explores the life of an androgynous, bisexual rockstar named Ziggy Stardust. The album cover captures the essence of Bowie’s alter ego, with Ziggy donning bright red hair, heavy makeup, and a skintight jumpsuit. The background features a vibrant blend of orange, yellow, and blue hues that evoke a sense of otherworldliness. The iconic image was captured by British photographer Brian Ward and has since become one of the most recognizable album covers of all time. The album itself includes some of Bowie’s most beloved songs, including “Starman” and “Suffragette City”, and helped to solidify Bowie’s status as a trailblazing artist in the world of rock and roll.

7. ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ – The Beatles

Released in 1967, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a landmark album by the Beatles that is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. The album cover, featuring the Beatles dressed in colorful military-style uniforms surrounded by a diverse array of characters and objects, is equally iconic. Designed by the British pop artist Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth, the cover was an innovative collage that incorporated elements of Victorian-era design, pop art, and psychedelia. The album’s concept and cover art were groundbreaking for their time and helped usher in a new era of music and art. The album itself was a departure from the Beatles’ earlier pop-oriented work, with more complex and experimental musical arrangements and themes. The album features classic tracks like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “A Day in the Life,” and the title track, which have become timeless classics in the world of music. Overall, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a masterpiece of both music and art that has had a profound and lasting impact on popular culture.

8. ‘Pet Sounds’ – The Beach Boys

“Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys is considered one of the greatest albums of all time, and its album cover is equally iconic. The cover features the band sitting with various animals, including goats, dogs, and llamas. The image is a nod to the album’s title and the themes of the songs, which explore complex emotions and introspection. The cover was designed by Capitol Records’ art director, Tom Wilkes, and photographer David Oppenheim. The juxtaposition of the band with the animals creates a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere that perfectly complements the album’s psychedelic sound. The cover has become synonymous with the album and has been referenced and parodied countless times. It captures the essence of the ’60s and the cultural shift that was happening at the time, making it a significant piece of album art history.

9. ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols’ – Sex Pistols

“Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” is a defiant and politically charged album that perfectly captures the spirit of punk rock. The album’s cover art features a bright pink and yellow background with bold, black text and an image of a young girl with the words “God Save the Queen” scrawled across her shirt. The song “God Save the Queen” became an anthem for the punk movement and sparked controversy with its anti-establishment lyrics. Other tracks on the album, such as “Anarchy in the UK” and “Holidays in the Sun,” continue the theme of rebellion and nihilism. The Sex Pistols’ raw and energetic sound, combined with their provocative lyrics and imagery, helped to redefine the rock genre and inspired countless other musicians to embrace a DIY, anti-authoritarian ethos. “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” remains a landmark album in punk history and a symbol of youthful rebellion and dissent.

10. ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ – The Velvet Underground

“The Velvet Underground and Nico” is a classic album from the 60s that has gained a reputation as one of the most influential albums in rock history. The eponymous album features songs that explore taboo subjects like drug addiction, sexual deviancy, and violence, all while pushing the boundaries of rock and roll music. The album also stands out for its iconic cover art, featuring a banana designed by Andy Warhol that is easily recognizable even today. The songs on the album showcase Lou Reed’s talents as a songwriter and lead singer, with tracks like “Sunday Morning” and “Heroin” showcasing the band’s versatility and willingness to experiment with different sounds and styles. “The Velvet Underground and Nico” is a must-listen for any fan of rock music and remains a testament to the band’s legacy and impact on the genre.

11. ‘Physical Graffiti’ – Led Zeppelin

“Physical Graffiti” is a sprawling double album by British rock band Led Zeppelin, released in 1975. The album features a mix of hard rock, blues, and folk influences, showcasing the band’s versatility and musicianship. The album cover features a New York City brownstone building with cutout windows that reveal inner sleeves featuring various artwork, photos, and other designs. The building on the cover is located at 96 and 98 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village of Manhattan, New York City.

The album includes some of Led Zeppelin’s most iconic tracks, including “Kashmir,” “Trampled Under Foot,” and “In My Time of Dying.” The songs are known for their complex arrangements and hard-hitting riffs, showcasing the band’s legendary status in the world of rock and roll. “Physical Graffiti” is widely considered to be one of Led Zeppelin’s best works, and has been praised for its technical excellence, production quality, and innovative sound.

12. ‘Sticky Fingers’ – The Rolling Stones

“Sticky Fingers” is the ninth studio album by the English rock band, The Rolling Stones, released in 1971. The album is known for its iconic cover art, which features a close-up of a male crotch clad in tight jeans, with a working zipper that actually functions. The album marked a return to a blues-inspired sound for the band, with hits such as “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses”. The songs on the album were written during a period of personal and professional turmoil for the band, but the album’s success helped the band solidify their position as one of the greatest rock and roll acts of all time. The album is also notable for featuring a number of guest musicians, including Bobby Keys on saxophone and Ry Cooder on slide guitar. The album’s raw and powerful sound, combined with its controversial cover art, helped cement The Rolling Stones’ place as one of the most influential bands in music history.

13. ‘Electric Ladyland’ – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

“Electric Ladyland” is the third and final studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in 1968. The album features iconic tracks such as “All Along the Watchtower” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. The album cover itself is also highly recognizable, featuring a photograph of a group of naked women in front of a black background with a blurred Jimi Hendrix in the foreground. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number one on the US Billboard charts and receiving widespread praise for its psychedelic sound and Hendrix’s exceptional guitar work. The album is considered a masterpiece of the psychedelic rock genre, showcasing Hendrix’s unparalleled musical abilities and experimental approach to music. The album was a significant contribution to the music world, influencing countless artists in the years to come.

14. ‘Nevermind’ – Nirvana

“Nevermind” is the second studio album by the American rock band Nirvana, released in 1991. The album’s iconic cover features a naked baby swimming underwater, grasping for a dollar bill on a fishhook. The album’s sound and themes marked a shift in popular music, with its grunge sound and introspective lyrics capturing the angst of a generation. The opening track, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” became an anthem for disillusioned youth and propelled Nirvana to worldwide fame. The album’s success also helped to bring alternative music into the mainstream, earning it a place in music history. “Nevermind” has since been ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time and continues to influence musicians to this day.

15. ‘The Queen Is Dead ‘ – The Smiths

“The Queen Is Dead” is the title track of The Smiths’ third studio album, released in 1986. The song is a classic example of the band’s distinctive sound, blending Morrissey’s sardonic lyrics with Johnny Marr’s jangly guitar riffs. The song is a bleak commentary on British society, with Morrissey bemoaning the lack of compassion and empathy in the world around him. The opening lines, “Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town / This town has dragged you down”, set the tone for the song’s melancholic atmosphere. The track features a sample from the film “The L-Shaped Room”, adding to the song’s cinematic quality. The song is often cited as one of The Smiths’ best and has endured as a classic of the indie rock genre.

16. ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ – Oasis

“(What’s the Story) Morning Glory” is a song by the British rock band Oasis and the title track of their second album released in 1995. The song starts with a harmonious acoustic guitar riff and slowly builds into a rock anthem, with punchy guitar chords and thunderous drums. The lyrics, written by lead vocalist Liam Gallagher, are cryptic and abstract, yet highly memorable, with lines such as “All your dreams are made, when you’re chained to the mirror and the razor blade” and “There’s a full moon in the sky, it’s getting late and the sun’s gone down.” The song was a commercial and critical success, peaking at number two on the UK singles chart and becoming an anthem for the Britpop movement. Its catchy melody and sing-along chorus have made it a staple at concerts and a fan favorite for years to come.

17. ‘Saxophone Colossus’ – Sonny Rollins

“Saxophone Colossus” is an iconic jazz album released in 1956 by Sonny Rollins. The album’s title is a testament to Rollins’ masterful skills as a tenor saxophonist, as well as his innovative approach to the genre. The album features four original tracks written by Rollins, including the well-known “St. Thomas,” which has become a jazz standard. The other tracks include “Blue 7,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” and “Moritat.” Rollins is joined by a talented group of musicians, including Tommy Flanagan on piano, Doug Watkins on bass, and Max Roach on drums, all of whom complement Rollins’ virtuosity on the saxophone. The album’s sound is characterized by its rich, warm tone, complex harmonies, and fluid improvisation. “Saxophone Colossus” is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time and a hallmark of the hard bop subgenre.

18. ‘Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde’ – The Pharcyde

“Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde” is the debut studio album by American hip hop group The Pharcyde, released in 1992. The album is known for its quirky and abstract lyrics, jazzy and soulful beats, and humorous interludes. The album’s cover art, designed by Fuct founder Erik Brunetti, features a whimsical cartoon of the group members riding a tandem bicycle. The playful and colorful design perfectly matches the album’s carefree and light-hearted tone. The Pharcyde’s unique style, marked by their effortless flow and unconventional rhymes, helped pave the way for alternative hip hop and has made them a revered group in the genre. “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde” is widely regarded as a classic of 1990s hip hop, and its influence can be heard in the work of many contemporary artists. The album’s innovative approach to songwriting and production, coupled with its iconic cover art, has cemented its place in hip hop history.

19. ‘Daydream Nation’ – Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth’s 1988 album, “Daydream Nation,” is a groundbreaking work of art that helped define the alternative rock movement. This double album contains songs that vary from dreamy and melodic to loud and dissonant. The album’s cover art features a photo of a burning Goo Goo Muck doll against a backdrop of New York City’s skyline, perfectly encapsulating the band’s experimental, boundary-pushing sound. The songs on “Daydream Nation” showcase the band’s unique blend of punk, noise, and avant-garde music, with dissonant guitar riffs, unconventional song structures, and poetic lyrics. Tracks like “Teen Age Riot,” “Silver Rocket,” and “The Sprawl” are standouts that have become classics in the alternative rock canon. “Daydream Nation” was hailed as a masterpiece upon its release, and it remains a landmark album in rock music history, inspiring countless musicians to push the boundaries of what is possible in music.

20. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ – Joy Division

Released in 1979, ‘Unknown Pleasures’ is the debut studio album by Joy Division. The album cover features a pulsar graph that the band’s bassist, Peter Hook, found in an encyclopedia. The cover art, designed by Peter Saville, has since become iconic and is recognized as one of the most iconic album covers of all time. The album itself is widely regarded as a seminal post-punk masterpiece and showcases the band’s innovative sound, which combines post-punk, new wave, and electronic music. The album’s tracks are marked by their atmospheric, introspective, and sometimes eerie soundscapes, which were created by producer Martin Hannett. Some of the standout tracks on the album include “Disorder,” “She’s Lost Control,” and “Shadowplay.” ‘Unknown Pleasures’ has been influential for generations of musicians, and it remains a cornerstone of post-punk and alternative rock music. Despite the band’s tragic end, ‘Unknown Pleasures’ continues to be celebrated for its innovative sound and hauntingly beautiful melodies.

21. ‘Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space’ – Spiritualized

“Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space” by Spiritualized is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends rock, gospel, and electronic music to create an ethereal and transcendent experience. The album is characterized by its mesmerizing soundscapes, soaring harmonies, and dreamlike lyrics, all of which are brought to life by Jason Pierce’s powerful vocals. The cover art, which depicts a capsule of medication, perfectly captures the album’s overarching theme of love, loss, and the search for meaning in a chaotic and often overwhelming world. From the haunting opening track “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” to the euphoric finale “Cop Shoot Cop,” this album is a true sonic journey that never fails to captivate and inspire.

22. ‘The Ramones’ (Self-titled)

The debut self-titled album by punk rock icons, The Ramones, is a raw and energetic collection of songs that defined the genre. The cover of the album features the four band members posing in a simple black and white photograph against a brick wall, wearing matching leather jackets and torn jeans. The iconic logo of the band, a stencil-style design of the band’s name, appears in bright yellow letters above their heads. The simplicity and attitude of the photograph perfectly captures the spirit of the band and the music they create. The songs on the album are fast-paced, short, and full of snarling vocals, catchy guitar riffs, and pounding drums. The album includes classics like “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Judy is a Punk,” which have become staples of punk rock. The Ramones’ self-titled album was a game-changer for the punk rock scene and has inspired countless musicians since its release in 1976.

23. ‘On the Beach’ – Neil Young

Neil Young’s 1974 album, ‘On the Beach’, is a hauntingly introspective record that explores the melancholy themes of loss, regret, and disillusionment. The album stands out for its stripped-down, minimalistic sound that relies heavily on acoustic guitars, piano, and Young’s signature reverb-laden vocals. The album’s cover art, featuring a desolate beach with a lone figure walking in the distance, perfectly captures the album’s sense of isolation and despair.

The album is widely regarded as one of Neil Young’s greatest works and is often cited as a masterpiece of the singer-songwriter genre. The album’s standout tracks include the emotionally raw “See the Sky About to Rain,” the hauntingly beautiful “Motion Pictures,” and the album’s title track, a slow-burning meditation on the futility of trying to escape one’s own demons. ‘On the Beach’ is a must-listen for fans of Neil Young and anyone looking for an introspective, soul-searching musical journey.

24. ‘Indestructible’ – Art Blakey

Art Blakey’s ‘Indestructible’ is a timeless jazz masterpiece that showcases the drummer’s unparalleled talent and his Jazz Messengers band’s virtuosity. Released in 1964, the album features a dynamic mix of hard bop, blues, and soulful ballads, all played with incredible energy and precision.

The opening track, ‘The Egyptian,’ sets the tone for the entire album with its driving rhythm and intricate horn arrangements. ‘Sortie’ and ‘Calling Miss Khadija’ are hard-hitting numbers that highlight the band’s tight interplay and soloing prowess. Meanwhile, ‘When Love Is New’ and ‘Sightseeing’ offer a more laid-back groove with beautiful melodies and harmonies.

The title track, ‘Indestructible,’ is a standout tune that features a thunderous drum solo from Blakey and showcases his remarkable ability to lead and inspire his band. ‘Mosaic’ and ‘It’s a Long Way Down’ are also excellent tracks that showcase the group’s dynamic range and versatility.

Throughout the album, Blakey’s drumming is front and center, driving the band forward with his signature hard-swinging style. The Jazz Messengers’ horns, including Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Curtis Fuller on trombone, and Cedar Walton on piano, are all on top form, delivering stunning solos and tight ensemble playing.

‘Indestructible’ is a testament to Art Blakey’s enduring legacy as one of jazz’s greatest drummers and bandleaders. It’s a must-listen for anyone who appreciates the power and beauty of hard bop and the timeless art of jazz.

25. ‘Jesus Use Me’ – The Faith Tones

‘Jesus Use Me’ by The Faith Tones is a Christian gospel album released in 1974. The album features a collection of uplifting hymns and original songs, all performed with the group’s signature four-part harmony and backed by a simple but effective acoustic band.

The album’s title track, ‘Jesus Use Me,’ is a standout tune that features a catchy melody and powerful lyrics that urge listeners to surrender their lives to God’s will. ‘In His Love’ and ‘I Believe He’s Coming Back’ are also excellent tracks that showcase the group’s vocal prowess and heartfelt devotion.

The Faith Tones’ harmonies are reminiscent of the classic gospel groups of the 1960s, but with a contemporary twist that makes the album feel fresh and relevant. The group’s lead vocalist, Terry Clark, delivers each song with sincerity and passion, bringing a sense of authenticity to the album’s message.

Overall, ‘Jesus Use Me’ is a heartfelt and inspiring gospel album that will appeal to fans of traditional Christian music. It’s a reminder of the power of faith and the transformative effect it can have on our lives. Whether you’re a long-time believer or just discovering the joys of gospel music, this album is sure to leave you feeling uplifted and inspired.


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