There are plenty of great albums that also have great album covers — Dark Side Of The Moon and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band immediately spring to mind. But not all albums are so lucky, and today we’re shining a light on some great albums that were done a disservice by their decidedly weak album covers. Starting with the most recent…
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
I’ve stared at the cover of the new Tom Petty album dozens of times now, and I just don’t get it. Did he just find out about those magic eye pictures where if you stare at them long enough you’re supposed to see something? Weren’t those big like 20 years ago? Plus, it looks like he’s trying to throwback to early 60s album covers, where the song titles were listed on the front, but the fonts he uses are modern. Really, the whole thing is one big mess. But if you can get past the dubious artwork, this is actually Petty’s best album since Wildflowers.
Elton John – Caribou
This is one of many great albums Elton John made in the 70s, and it featured two of his biggest singles ever, “The Bitch Is Back,” and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” Unfortunately, when it was time to pick the album art, Elton’s campier tendencies got the better of him. He’s one of the most enduring artists of the 20th century, but here, he looks like a flash-in-the-pan, representing everything questionable about 70s fashion.
Jeff Beck – Emotion & Commotion
Jeff Beck is one of the most respected guitar players of all-time, and this album is fine example of why. His intricate playing shines throughout, particularly on the instrumental “Hammerhead.” But who could have possibly thought this cover was a good idea? It’s so corny it would make Ugly Kid Joe blush. This album has sadly become primarily famous for its lame artwork, but the music found within is some of the finest work Beck has ever done.
Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel Of Love
Springsteen is the type of guy who would value the music over the artwork, but while Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge of Town, and Born In The U.S.A. all have iconic covers, this one just seems uninspired. You see it in a record shop, and it just looks like a dull, 80s Adult Contemporary album. Of course, some critics might claim that that’s exactly what it is. But if you get past the admittedly cheesy production, this album features some of Springsteen’s deepest musings on love and loss, as it was made in the midst of his divorce from actress Julianna Phillips. Sure, the Boss looks like a yuppie on the cover, but he had a lot to say here.
Sugar – File Under: Easy Listening
Sugar, the band Bob Mould formed after Husker Du broke up, are one of the best and most under-appreciated bands of the 90s. Unfortunately, the cover art of their second — and final — album does not do their music justice. The album features killer tracks like “Your Favorite Thing,” “Gee Angel,” and “What You Want It To Be,” but the artwork looks like something I would have made with ClipArt in my third grade computer lab class. Ah, the 90s….