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50 Best Album Covers.
February 14, 2002 8:15 PM   Subscribe

50 Best Album Covers. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the covers chosen have less to do with artistic or photographic merit than the "statement" that Rolling Stone believes they show. And it might be interesting to see how they measure up to the 100 Best Album Covers.
posted by jacobw (42 comments total)

 
less to do with artistic or photographic merit than the "statement"...

i suppose you had this one in mind, jacobw?
posted by grabbingsand at 8:28 PM on February 14, 2002


and even less about good web design. are thumbnails so bloody hard of an interface to get one's brain wrapped around?
posted by machaus at 8:44 PM on February 14, 2002


Jesus, this reminds me why I don't go to the Rolling Stone site very often. Content/Editorial slant aside, the site is slow loading, has more gaudy ads than a stretch of interstate, and is painful to navigate. Sorry, I'm notgoing to flip through all 50 pages in order just so they can get more ad impressions. Why couldn't they set it up like this?
posted by hipstertrash at 8:48 PM on February 14, 2002


Isn't this more about the content of the album rather than the covers?
posted by riffola at 8:50 PM on February 14, 2002


What no Smell the Glove?

Actually, I always was partial to Rainbow Rising myself. And, I have to agree thumbs or at least a next button above the fold so I didn't have to keep scrolling down to flip through it would have been nice.
posted by willnot at 8:55 PM on February 14, 2002


Ok wait that was only the first couple of albums.
posted by riffola at 9:03 PM on February 14, 2002


Navigating that is painful. It was like a pop-up every two albums...damn Rolling Stone online is hurting I guess.
posted by Benway at 9:21 PM on February 14, 2002


has more gaudy ads than a stretch of interstate, and is painful to navigate.

Ditto my friend. And on a dialup.... sheesh. Gimme a break...

The first 5 covers, while representative of some of the most popular bands/popstars ever, really do nothing for me asthetically. C'mon. N'SYNC? What is so great about this? Madonna? A photo of her sitting down? What kind of an artistic statement is that. I just don't get it. And on top of it there was a Creed banner ad!.

I can only hope that Frank Zappa - "Were Only In It For The Money" is in there somewhere....

posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:22 PM on February 14, 2002


A reference to Rainbow in a MeFi thread? In 2002? Thanks a lot, riffola... now I have to eat my hat.
posted by goto11 at 9:27 PM on February 14, 2002


OK...NSync...and Blink 182?

And I've only waded through about twelve. What record company's paying for this anyway?
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:34 PM on February 14, 2002


To see all Fifty of these would take about three hours. What I don't get is the voting mechanism - how can you vote until you know what they've put in the pool?

Anyway, I LOVE album covers. It would have been nice to see some Zappa. I'll pretend to believe its in there somewhere.
posted by xammerboy at 9:38 PM on February 14, 2002


Where's Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass I ask you?

Is there no justice?!
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:41 PM on February 14, 2002


scottkramer-hey, in honor of your hat eating, I've just fired up my mp3 of "Man on the Silver Mountain"

**flicks bic, raises tallboy of Schaefer skyward**

"I'm a wheel, I'm a wheel, I can Roll I can feel, You can't stop me turnin...."
posted by jonmc at 9:44 PM on February 14, 2002


Zappa's in there.

Whipped Creame... now that was a great cover.
posted by MJoachim at 9:45 PM on February 14, 2002


I nominate Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Broadway the Hard Way, Sheik Yerbouti or really anything else by Zappa.
posted by frenetic at 9:46 PM on February 14, 2002


Went that route once today about the smartboy/crazymom story, not going there fifty times @ 2.16...Wonder if the big brother & the holding Co. by R. Crumb was there? A true classic, so probably not.
posted by Mack Twain at 9:58 PM on February 14, 2002


The endless "XX Best XXXXX" lists that Rolling Stone, VH1, MTV, ad nauseum trot out every year are nothing more than a cheap cash-in on nostalgia combined with some sleazy commercials for the record companies. They're worthless, and should never be taken seriously.

No serious music journalist would ever contribute to anything that claimed to be a definitive ranked list of any aspect of the music business. The entire idea is absurd, and I wish they'd kill it.

(Oh, and don't forget that Rolling Stone is as much about serious music journalism as the average issue of People Magazine.)
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:04 PM on February 14, 2002


Great to see some Zappa fans on this site. Weasels Rip my Flesh is a classic. Janis Joplin is there.

I want to know why Jethro Tull's Stand Up didn't make the cut?

The Rolling Stone site does suck!
posted by MaddCutty at 10:05 PM on February 14, 2002


Here's Rolling Stone greatest album covers of the 1970s (with thumbnails), judged in 1991.

I like Tortoise's TNT, Devo's Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, and Bill Frisell's Gone, Just Like A Train.
posted by waxpancake at 10:24 PM on February 14, 2002


I like Rainbow too, but it was willnot who mentioned them. :)
posted by riffola at 11:00 PM on February 14, 2002


My personal favourite is Def Leppard's Retro Active.
posted by riffola at 11:34 PM on February 14, 2002


I'm quite partial to the cover of Horses. A stunning photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe ... the composition is superb, and her expression ... so evocative of the moment in history from which the album came.
posted by hipstertrash at 12:12 AM on February 15, 2002


Some of these were obviously chosen because they happened to be on an influential album, not because they are great art. I hoped I wasn't going to get to the end of it without seeing Roger Dean, and I was not disappointed.
posted by kindall at 12:23 AM on February 15, 2002


Eat `Em and Smile by David Lee Roth gets my vote.
I remember the cover better than the music found within.
posted by dong_resin at 1:04 AM on February 15, 2002


With regards to the ads, lads, just use our very own skallas's handy dandy hosts file for no-frills ad-blocking!

(though some feel that ad-blocking is just plain wrong, I am not of that stripe)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:12 AM on February 15, 2002


..uhh...that goes for the lasses, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:22 AM on February 15, 2002


50 Best Album Covers. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the covers chosen have less to do with artistic or photographic merit than the "statement" that Rolling Stone believes they show. And it might be interesting to see how they measure up to the 100 Best Album Covers.

I'd say they're about half as good.
posted by vbfg at 2:21 AM on February 15, 2002


"music journalist"
military intelligence
posted by owillis at 3:14 AM on February 15, 2002


riffola - Whoops. Sorry 'bout that. Chewing on synthetic hat fibers apparently affects one's vision.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Hugh Syme's excellent Rush album covers. The Moving Pictures cover is of workers moving these paintings around. When you opened up the album, you saw the image from further back. The movers were being filmed for a "moving picture" and bystanders were weeping because the pictures were so moving. Well, I found it amusing anyway.

By the way, how did the White Album wind up on this list? Isn't this supposed to be about the covers?
posted by goto11 at 6:05 AM on February 15, 2002


Best find in this thread: Rolling Stone's top '70s album covers roster included Yes' "Relayer." Roger Dean forever!
posted by werty at 6:56 AM on February 15, 2002


What, no mention of Thick as a Brick? It was a newspaper, people! How much more fun can you get?
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:00 AM on February 15, 2002


what absolute nonsense. as tweebiscuit says, best of lists are so utterly futile anyway - rollingstone might as well publish a 'my 10 favourite sandwich fillings ever'.
some of these are infuriating. on fleetwood mac's rumours:

Probably the most significant thing about this cover is that it adorns one of the biggest-selling albums of all time
so why the hell is it one of the best 50 album COVERS?
and what happened to everything ever on ECM, blue note/prestige/atlantic jazz, miles' 70's stuff, warp, mille plateaux, 4AD? i guess they're a bit too obscure for rolling stone.
and what about all [self-link] these?
posted by nylon at 7:05 AM on February 15, 2002


As covers go, the White Album was basically a gimmick, not art.

I rather liked Traffic's Low Spark of High Heeled Boys cover, as well as that of Cream's Disraeli Gears.

Having disqualified myself as an art director or critic, I'll now sit back and feel the flames.
posted by alumshubby at 7:07 AM on February 15, 2002


You could start with a collection of Hipgnosis covers and have your first 21 right there.
posted by mikhail at 7:14 AM on February 15, 2002


dammit, what the hell was i thinking?
THIS has GOT to be the BEST. ALBUM. COVER. EVER
posted by nylon at 7:17 AM on February 15, 2002


Where's the Corporate Rock representation?

I nominate STYX "Kilroy was here"
posted by KnitWit at 7:42 AM on February 15, 2002


Glad they included "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". But the artist, Neon Park, also did all the classic Little Feat album covers. Some real classics, especially "Dixie Chicken" and "Sailin' Shoes".

Overall, the Rolling Stone selection sucked. Seemed to be based more on commercial rather than artistic success.
posted by groundhog at 7:45 AM on February 15, 2002


Thanks for the link, mikhail. I only knew Hipgnosis from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
I vote for the Dead's Terrapin Station and Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus--great covers, great content (and I'm not really a Deadhead).
posted by StOne at 7:48 AM on February 15, 2002


Where's the cover to Who's Next? How could you not list that among the top five?
posted by Holden at 8:25 AM on February 15, 2002


licensed to ill is about the only one of these that i truly agree with. as for jets crashing into living rooms...
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 8:35 AM on February 15, 2002


"music journalist"
commercial art
posted by jfuller at 5:14 PM on February 15, 2002


I've always considered the cover of Pearl Jam's No Code to be fascinating... the collage of Polaroid photos is rather non-sequitur, but when the gate-fold cover is laid flat, the images form the symbol used for the album's title. It's the first use of what Robert Silvers calls "photomosaics" that I can recall.

I also want to note the crude techno-masks of Talking Heads' Remain In Light and the stark symmentry of Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik as some of my favorite and most memorable album covers.

And the UK version of Fatboy Slim's You've Come A Long Way, Baby has never failed to make me laugh every time I see it.
posted by Down10 at 12:35 AM on February 16, 2002


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