Tell kids today that we used to buy our music in the form of large circular black plastic discs that got sticky in the sun and they won’t believe you. Even CDs have seemingly had their day, shunted aside for the convenience of digital downloads and streaming.
A part of the music business that digital downloads have not cast aside, however, is the humble cover art. It might not adorn the front of a battered single or LP anymore, but we still love having the cover art show up while our tracks are playing through whatever media device or service we happen to be using. And that means there is still the possibility of an album art shocker.
Throughout time there have been some quite simply, mind-bogglingly bad covers of albums, some new, most not, and we’ve decided to round up the funniest, weirdest or those are just downright wrong in a gallery above for you to flick through. These are the images that you will most definitely not want gracing your iPhone or Android device when travelling on the tube.
We also warn you, some aren’t quite suitable for work. All, though, are suitable for mirth.
Kevin Rowland – My Beauty
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Is this what happens when a musician really loves themselves? Kevin Rowland’s album was certainly an eye-opener if nothing else.
Wolf – Wolf
This weird and wonderful album cover is from an album released in 2000 by a Swedish heavy metal group. We’re not quite sure what it’s meant to represent but it seemingly shows a werewolf with angry birds for fingers.
The Handsome Beasts – 04
This striking album cover comes courtesy of a heavy metal band from Nuneaton, England that originally formed in 1972. The band had quite a heady existence and were local heroes at the time. it wasn’t until 32 years later that this album was released for everyone to enjoy. Sadly, the lead singer, Garry Dalloway, passed away a year after this album was released, but the band continued on in his memory.
Gerhard Polt – Leberkäs’ Hawaii
Gerhard Polt is described as “a German writer, filmmaker, actor and satirical cabaret artist from Bavaria.” He’s now over 77 years old, but back in 1981, he released this gem – Leberkäs’ Hawaii. A comedy album with an equally comedic cover.
Swamp Dogg – Rat On!
This classic soul album by Swamp Dogg is a vision of what things were like in 1971, maybe. Or at least a vision of what life might be like if rats were huge and you could ride them about like a horse.
Riot – Fire Down Under
It seems that heavy metal bands have a thing for unusual album covers. This one comes from Riot – a hard rock band from New York City that formed in the mid-1970s. We’re not sure what it’s meant to represent. Is that a cat or a rat with a man’s body? Who can say. Fire Down Under was one of many albums released by the band between 1977 and 2019 though and on that basis alone it’s impressive.
Scorpions – Lovedrive
Scorpions is a hard rock band from Hannover, Germany who originally started bashing out tunes in 1965 and released this gem in 1979. Maybe listening to this album will make her stick to you like glue?
Knorkator – Hasenchartbreaker
Another classic coming out of Germany. Knorkator is a hardcore metal band who are apparently something very special to see perform live. As much is clear from this striking album released back in 1999.
Deathkorps – Metal Tit
What if wars were fought not with landships but with metal mammaries? That’s seemingly the question Deathkorps asked when coming up with the artwork for their album. Certainly a good way to surprise and shock the enemy.
Paddy Roberts – Songs for Gay Dogs
Paddy Roberts was a British songwriter and singer who released several albums during the 1950s and 1960s. This is one of the classic gems, an album seemingly well ahead of its time that released in 1963. The album cover might be hilarious, but the man himself was interesting – having been a lawyer previously and a pilot for the Royal Air Force during World War II. We wonder what gay dogs made of him.
Argentina Coral – Cante Gitano
Our eyes hurt looking at the presentation of this album by Argentina Coral released in 1967. The Spanish artist had a talent for producing interesting Latin music, but apparently not the artwork to match it.
Maddy Genets – et son ensemble
This work of wonder by Maddy Genets is actually a 7-inch single rather than a full blown album and boasts some pretty inoffensive old-timey French melodies that you can enjoy here. The cover of this one actually fits the vibe quite well.
Sherwood Singers – Something Special
Matching outfits and smirks aside, there’s no denying this is indeed, “Something Special”. Another classic from England – this time from a British folk band who are (unbelievably) on Spotify if you wish to enjoy their delights.
Elna Fredhey and Rigmor Odum – Hep 178
There’s a lot to be said for simple album covers and this one is, well, simply terrifying. Just take a closer look at the disturbing grins on their faces if you don’t believe us.
Quim Barreiros – Recebi Um Convite (À Casa Da Jóquina)
Quim Barreiros, a Portuguese musician, regularly appeared on his various album artworks with his favourite instrument on display and that’s not a euphemism. This might be one of his best. Though there are many greats to choose from, dating back all the way to 1971.
Brainstorm – Smile a while
Prog Rog band Brainstorm were progressive in more than just their music it seems. The band members were not to shy to appear in women’s undergarments for their debut album.
The Faith Tones – Jesus Use Me
Beverly Beecham, Marie Samuels and Vivian Wyler made up the American folk and gospel group who released this album in 1964. We’re not sure what Jesus would use them for but those big hairdos are certainly amazing.
Gary – Getting down to business
Gary, now Dr Gary Solomon, released this masterpiece in 1978. The big trousers and striking pose clearly weren’t enough to keep him in the music industry though he is still getting down to business. That business now involves medical treatment by “Cinematherapy” the art of watching films for therapy reasons.
Norberto de Freitas – Trapalhadas do Balbino
If this album cover doesn’t disturb you sufficiently, then maybe you’ll raise an eyebrow when you learn that the album title “Trapalhadas do Balbino” literally translates into English as “Buggerdown”.
Camilo Sesto – Entre Amigos
This album cover by Camilo Sesto makes us think the same result would be achieved if someone was trying to recreate the Homer Simpson meme where he’s seen disappearing into his hedge.
Wayne Cochran – Goin’ Back to Miami
Soak in the beauty of Wayne Cochran and his magnificent hair. This legendary album artwork comes from an American soul singer, songwriter, and producer who was also known for his bonkers outfits as well as his striking hairstylings. He started out making tunes in the 1950s before retiring in the 1970s to become an evangelist minister. Sadly Wayne Cochran passed away in 2017, but at least we can still enjoy his presence through his tunes.
Mija Aleksic – Seks I Keks
Mija Aleksic was a much loved Serbian actor who certainly had an interesting life. As a young man, he managed to escape and survive one of the worst atrocities of World War II as the German army massacred nearly 3,000 people in his home town. After the war, he went on to pursue a successful acting career that included several albums. This one was entitled Sex and Biscuits, everyone’s favourite things.
Dragan Antonijević Arlekino – Srećko Odžačar
A sexy sailor themed album coming out of Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s. We’re lost for words with this one.
Tozovac – Jeremija
Is that a cannon between your legs or are you just pleased to see us? It seems that Yugoslavian artists have a thing for uniforms.
Svetlana Gruebbersolvik – My lips are for blowing
Boots might be made for walking, but these lips are made for blowing. Svetlana Gruebbersolvik is a master of wind instruments, but perhaps not album covers.
Millie Jackson – Back To The S..t!
Millie Jackson is an American R&B and Soul singer-songwriter who’s been crafting music since the early 1960s. She has made a name for herself with long, humorous and explicit spoken sections in her music as well as some striking album covers like this gem.
Rolf Harris – Sings Mary’s Boy Child with some unusual songs
We’re not sure we should include Rolf Harris on any list any more and after recent news, this album cover is as inappropriate as it is awful.
Uncle Les and Aunt Nancy Wheeler – Do You Know Jesus?
This disturbing album cover comes from the late 1960s and is obviously is a Gospel album, but why a ventriloquist dummy is involved is beyond us.
The Singing Richey Family – I’m going home to watch the flowers bloom
A whole family of gospel singers smartly dressed and happily posing for a family photo apparently works for an album cover as well.
The Friends – Songs that Mum and Dad Taught Us
The Friends were a gospel band from the US producing various albums one of which was this nice tribute to their parents that included a wonderful cover photo of the old folks in their full glory.
The Handsome Beasts – Beastality
Another classic, over-the-top album cover from The Handsome Beasts. One man, a pig and a highly inappropriate album name.
Foster Edwards’ Orchestra – What’s Next?
We are honestly wondering what’s next. We’re also curious what sort of tunes a band made up of elephants would sound like. Presumably there would be a lot of trumpeting?
W.A.S.P – Animal (F**k like a beast)
W.A.S.P., unsurprisingly, is a heavy metal band with attitude that rose out of Los Angeles’s glam metal scene in the 1980s and obviously enjoys some striking album covers that are bound to grab your attention.
Los Wanka’s – Dile Si!
Los Wanka’s is a folk and country group from Peru who clearly mean business. Those are some seriously swanky outfits for sure.
John Bult – Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday
Discogs tells the story of this album best:
“His one and only LP, Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday should have been his calling card to country music stardom. Instead the album has been singled out as the best of the worst – not for Bult’s singing abilities, but for its unfortunate cover art.”
And, in case you’re wondering:
“Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday tells the story of Jim, a guy who hangs out in bars, and enjoys a drink, or two, a little more than he should. He tells his friend Lou that he can’t stay at the bar long tonight, because his daughter Julie is turning 16 that very day, and going out on her first date. But Jim loses track of time, (and the number of beers he’s had), and proceeds to get behind the wheel of his car, where he hopes to speed back in time to see Julie off on her big night. As he reaches for a bottle of booze under the seat, he slams into an oncoming car. In the hospital, Jim learns that a young man was injured, and a teenaged girl died.”
Orion – Reborn
Orion, also known as James Hughes Bell was an American singer who was producing music in the 1970s. He famously had a voice that was incredibly similar to Elvis Presley’s to the point that many people mistook him for the King of Rock and Roll.
Kjell Kraghe Och Ricke Löw’s Orkester – Vind I Seglen
Imagine being such a magnificent musician that you could emerge from the horizon out of the ocean like a giant sea monster.
Dick Black and his band – A taste of Dick Black
We can’t help but think this album name was no accident. Dick Black and his band hail from West Lothian Scotland and are made up of no less than two accordion players. So you can imagine the tracks these chaps are cranking out.
Country Church – Country Church
It seems that gospel music is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to awful album covers. Praising the Lord doesn’t need amazing artwork we suppose.
The Ministers Quartet – Let me touch him
Calm yourself, we’re fairly sure they’re talking about God.
Rudy Ray Moore – This ain’t no white Christmas
Rudy Ray Moore was also known as Rudolph Frank Moore, a famous actor and musician who was well-known for Dolomite character and Blaxploitation era movies. His album covers often featured images of naked ladies and various daft settings that certainly made them stand out from the crowd if nothing else.
Tino – Por Primera Vez
You’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that this album was released in the 1980s. A sexy pose and a get up that wouldn’t look out of place at a casual tennis match. Lovely.
Devastatin’ Dave (The Turntable Slave) – Zip Zap Rap
Devastatin’ Dave’s classic 12-inch cover from 1986 means some serious business. As do those fonts.
Johnny Guitar Watson – A real mother
If you were a musician, but also had a passion for racing soap box cars, why not combine both your loves to create something truly special? That was clear the ethos of Johnny Guitar Watson. He even made enough room for his guitar in the car.
The Cooper Family – I’m God’s Child
Gospel bands seem to love roping their entire family into their bands and the album artwork often resembles awful and awkward family portraits as a result. This is just another in a long line of examples.
More of the same from the Christian Crusaders. Worshipping the Lord requires some serious dress sense and awkward posing.
Freddie Gage – All my friends are dead
Freddie Gage was a Baptist evangelist preacher, recording artist and writer. This rather sad album cover tells a sad tale of loss. We wonder if it was the inspiration for the dark comedy book of the same name.
Manowar – Anthology
While Christian bands are lovingly crafting album artwork with their families, the Manowar heavy band is taking to prisoners with sexy shots of them in their smalls. A heavy/epic metal band best known for their fantasy lyrics based on Norse mythology and more. Which goes some way to explain the getup.
Heino – Liebe Mutter…
The title of this album literally translates to “Dear mother, a bouquet never blurs” – we’re not sure what that means, but we do know Heino was a big deal in Germany in the 1960s. He was, in fact, one of the most famous artists in German Schlager. And his albums leapt off the shelves thanks to his striking blonde hair and dark-rimmed glasses.
Ken – By request only
Ken would probably request that we didn’t show off this image of his magnificent 70’s porno moustache and equally magnificent outfit.
Mike Adkins – Thank you for the dove
We’re not sure if “the dove” has a hidden double meaning or Mike Adkins just really loves winged creatures. We’ll probably never find out.
The McKeithens were made up of Angelina McKeithen, Tim McKeithen, Dixie McKeithen and Robert McKeithen. You’ll likely be unsurprised to hear they were a Gospel band – keeping it in the family and praising the Lord the only way they knew how.
Boned – Up at the crack
We wouldn’t recommend trying to keep a guitar in your trousers. That’s bound to be uncomfortable.