Design: The 50 Worst Popular Album Covers

This would be easy to fill up if you were to include every bad Heavy Metal LP or half-assed Christian DYI record but the chore here is to award those with a bit of fame who should have known better. Also not included are those that were cool in their time but haven’t aged that well – *see almost every New Wave LP with special attention to the Duran Duran Patrick Nagel Albums. Apologies as this will probably be  super cynical, bitchy and judgmental but there you are. Please send your nominations for this prestigious honor.


1. Kevin Rowland – My Beauty  1999
Kevin’s solo effort between Dexy’s Midnight Runners LPs (Come On Eileen). What in Christ’s name was Kevin thinkin with this slice of ugly drag. The LP sunk like a stone, selling only 20,000 copies worlwide and KR’s been living it down ever sense.


2. Rolling Stones – GRRRR! – 2013  When in doubt put out another greatest hits package, but a happy gorilla with Stone logo lips and fangs?
3. The Cranberries – Bury the Hatchet – 1999    Hey Cranberries Pink Floyd wants their album cover back.


4. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – 1973   A classic.  A boring over used shitty classic
5. Nirvana – Nevermind – 1991     I just can’t get behind this cover, no matter how hard I try. Great LP, bad cover art.


6. Pearl Jam – 10 – 1991  Folds out to the awful “We’re in this together” pose. The ultimate high-five by a bunch of stand-up bros.
7. Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs – Mosquito – 2013  Ironic? Weird? Crazy? – Dumb!


8. The Strokes – Angles – 2011 – The Strokes are a bit dancier now – which is fine but this 80’s throwback cover is not.
9. Michael Jackson – Hits – Whatever

10 Black_Sabbath_Paranoid_coveralbum - Copy

10. Black Sabbath – Paranoid – 1971
I guess Sabbath just couldn’t be bothered. The most evil band in the world uses a triple exposure of someone’s’ fat uncle with a toy sword and motorcycle helmet. Laughs instead of screams.


11. Frank Black – The Cult of Ray – 1996  After the breakup of the Pixies, Frank Black aka Black Francis nee Charles Thompson recorded 2 great LPs w/ equally great covers then along came this. Terrible cover, terrible album.

12. Iggy Pop – Beat Em Up – 2001  C’mon Igg, what were you thinkin’?


13. Joe Henry – Trampoline – 1996  Joe Henry is a great singer/song writer and producer. His LPs are all consistently good. I don’t know what this one sounds like because I refused to buy it because of this cover.

14. Neil Young – Fork in the Road – 2009  “Hey guys, just woke up from my nap, lets do an album.”


15. Ron Sexsmith – Blue Boy – 2001   Another great singer/songwriter. Loved by many, championed by Elvis Costello. So why the naïf drawing and scrawled type?

16 Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggy Style – 1993  Jeez man, just look at this thing! Beware the Dogg!


17. Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla – 1985   Starship was the remaining dregs of the 70’s band Jefferson Airplane who became Jefferson Starship and then simply Starship. Even though this was the design wasteland of the 80’s there is no excuse for this.

18. The Who – by Numbers – 1975  Oh look, it was drawn by the bassist – nice work John.


19. Queen – The Miracle – 1989  Pretty good Photoshop V1 work.

20. Europe – The Final Countdown – 1986    They’re Swedish. ‘Nuff said.

20 Take-A-Look-At-Those-Cakes-cover

21. James Brown – Take a Look at Those Cakes – 1978   “Goodness sakes. Take a look at those cakes.” Thanks James, you look good on that couch.


22. Body Count – Body Count – 1990  Ice T’s heavy metal outfit. The cover says Cop Killer which coincidentally is the song T caved in on and took off the LP at Time-Warners request.

23. CS&N – Live it Up – 1990  Hot dogs on the moon means…?


24. Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon – 1970    Ok first album design jitters.

25. Elton John – Capt. Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy – 1975   The title as well as the creepy drawing of Elton make this # 25


26. Velvet Underground – 1969 Vol 2 – 1974  Not really offensive or bad, just kind of …unh?

27. Mike Watt – “Hyphenated-Man” – 2010   He of the Minuteman, respected session player and collector of unexplainable ‘art’. Oh and nice use of Comic Sans type face.


28. The Roots – Rising Down – 2008   Really?  I mean really!?

29. Pantera – Metal Magic – 1983  Sweet pinkish panther thing with a wicked sword,  reflective hand drawn type and a stormy dark landscape. Beautiful.

30_600_millie jackson

30. Millie Jackson – Back to the S@#t – 1989  Voted the worst album ever on many polls (I just made that up). Millie took a chance, not only w/ an LP full of swearing and dirty songs but an appropriate cover to match. There is no other way to think of Millie Jackson than her on this cover holding that one shoe and in pain(?).


31. Scorpians – Lovedrive – 1979   The famous Gum-Boob cover.

32. Megapuss – 2011   Devendra Banhart and some other smelly hippy are Megapuss!


33. T Rex – Futuristic Dragon – 1976  Marc Bolan and T Rex’s last LP, before he crashed into a tree and died. A great artist w/ a terrible swan song cover (the music however is Bolan back to form).

34. Ted Nugent – Love Grenade – 2007  Thanks Ted – You dick!


35. Talking Heads – True Stories – 1986  Bored guys? Thanks for trying.

36. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light – 2011  Ditto


37. Marvin Gaye – In Our Lifetime – 1981  Heaven and Hell, blah, blah, blah. C’mon Marvin get back to the sexy stuff.

38. Joss Stone – Color Me Free – 2009    This is truly, truly bad. Is this a coloring book for serial killers?


39. Gin Blossoms – No Chocolate Cake – 2010    Didn’t you guys have a couple hits back in the 90’s? Oh wait, it’s the Loverboy cover with cake.

40. James – Hey Ma – 2008   They are the band that had one US hit w/ a song called Laid – remember? Me neither.  This is their come back album.


41. Rush – Hemispheres – 1978   God help us. Stupid Metal-Prog bullshit design that makes no sense. Did every Prog band in the 80’s see the same Dali painting or something.


42. Rolling Stones – Dirty Work – 1986    Hey it’s The Stones again! Good to see you boys.

43. Prince – For You – 1978  It’s all about the hair – and the girly type face.


44. Guns & Roses – The Spaghetti Incident – 1993   I really don’t understand the point of this cover. Is there a reference I’m missing or something? Plus it’s hard to read and the spaghetti looks awful

45. The Kinks – Low Budget – 1979  Low budget indeed. The once great Kinks take a taste break.


46. Whitesnake – Lovehunter – 1979  Kind of a typical Hair-Metal album but extra bad.

47. The Black Keys – Brother – 2011   Bad type choice on a lazy cover.


48. Hall & Oates – 1975  If you were to buy this LP because of the cover you’d expect a gay cabaret act – like Soft Cell or something. What you got was sweet boring MOR Philly soul.

49. Phish – Billy Breathes – 1996  Fuck these guys


50. Kenny Loggins – Return to Pooh Corner – 1994  Ok, this is a kids LP but c’mon. A unicorn! And why isn’t the child-like reflection Kenny Loggins wearing a serape. And why … oh never mind.


Posted on July 16, 2013, in Graphic Design, LPs, Music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Some serious contenders, some puzzling inclusions.
    Is there some confusion between artist-music-cover?… not sure what you are critiquing with some of the comments.
    In passing, have you checked out

  2. That really carutpes the spirit of it. Thanks for posting.

  3. Thanks for including the Kenny Loggins cover. I’d never seen it, and I never wish to do so again. Why, indeed, the unicorn when there are already two horses in the background? I’m turning diabetic just looking at the thing.

    And The Spaghetti Incident cover always made me feel like I was missing out on some inside joke the band shared. Or, perhaps the joke was on us because the awful cover on the outside symbolizes the forgettable covers on the inside?

    And I’m sorry, but Nevermind doesn’t belong on this list. It may be overrated, but it’s by no means awful (I mean, just look at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover right below it — that’s awful).

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