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Image Gallery: 12 Radical Guitar Album Covers
Album covers can say a lot – or very little. They can be veritable works of art, or a fairly boring picture of the guitarist with his name printed on it in boring block letters.
Of course we care the most about what’s on the inside – the music, and even more so in the “digital music” age, the album cover is less important and garners far less attention.
But I remember – as I am sure you do, a time when the album cover was one of the exciting parts of buying an album – when it was important and wasn’t just a 300×300 px side note on a site like Amazon or iTunes.
I like an album cover that becomes familiar to you quickly – something that ends up evoking an emotion once you start to associate it with the music inside. So that is the basic criteria for this list.
Let’s appreciate the art for a while – the art that wraps the music, and look at 12 Radical Guitar Album Covers.
Steve Vai – Flexable
One thing that made this album so badass, and keeps it that way today, was the fact that Vai recorded and produced it on his own, and a tiny budget (it cost $3,000), and it took him 8 months to record it. He borrowed equipment from Frank Zappa, and used friends as the other musicians on the record. It ended up selling 400,000 + copies (over time). Thats a success story! At $4.50 – $7.50 each that’s between 1 and 3 million dollars.
The art is refreshing by today’s standards, just like the music, and features a painting of Vai that actually looks like Vai, and an alien zooming by that actually looks like an alien. I think. At any rate, it is one of the most recognizable album covers I have in my collection, and I think – one of the best.
Marty Friedman – Introduction
On top of this being – in my opinion – one of Marty’s best albums, it also has a cover that really matches the vibe of the music. The cover is tasteful, and leaves space for imagination, yet has a good amount of texture without really depicting a specific scene. You might think I’m nuts for choosing this one, but it’s just so damn tasteful, I gotta love it.
The Aristocrats – Self Titled
The Aristocrats resorted to a stylish caricature of the trio in a turn of the 18th century type fashion with formal wear, monocles, and cigarette holders (how come people don’t use those anymore?) for their debut self-titled album. It’s a simple, good looking picture that strives for nothing more than to present cool artwork… and that the band is more sophisticated than us.
Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl
The vivid artwork from Joe Bonamassa’s 2011 release Dust Bowl features black clouds swallowing almost half the cover with a tornado branching out and playing a game of chicken with a rickety wooden shack. It’s named after a series of dust storms that ravaged various regions of America ranging from Illinois through the New England area in the early to mid 1930s. To say the least it was a contributing factor in making the Great Depression that much worse since it destroyed so much along the way. The artwork is inspired by a photograph taken by a certain Arthur Rothstein featuring a similar setting only without a tornado. The addition oaf the tornado at the very least gave a much more foreboding look to the end result.
Jeff Beck – Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop
Jeff Beck’s 1989 release Guitar Shop featured a creative and detailed depiction of an auto shop-styled place for working on guitars. Big ones. The kind that would get OSHA all over you if they were to fall and hurt an employee. Either that or maybe it’s Beck’s way of saying he has a shop of miniature people that work on his guitars when not in use all around the clock.
Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien
Satriani’s interest in the Silver Surfer seems too appropriate making Surfing With the Alien pretty much the poster for all you need to know about Satch (apart from the stuff it doesn’t reflect). In fact the artwork was so good they turned it into the finish on one of Satriani’s signature guitars. Now that I think about it as I’m writing this I’m also wearing a Silver Surfer shirt. That spells great album artwork to me.
Opeth – Heritage
Heritage, possibly Opeth’s most divisive album in terms of fan reception at the very least had very intriguing artwork littered with symbolism. In the very least offers a lot to observe and contemplate while still being a good looking album cover without the pretension.
King Diamond – Abigail
What would King Diamond be without fitting artwork to accompany the horror themes of his music? And what better album than Abigail? A visual portrayal of the fabled dark and stormy night it set the mood for what most would argue is the pinnacle of King Diamond achievement.
Alice In Chains – Greatest Hits
I feel like an album cover of a guy’s face rippling from the impact of a heavyweight boxer-class punch warrants bringing this one up in conversation alone. Perhaps it’s a tad rudimentary, but just look at that blow. Can you imagine what pound like that would feel like?
Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
As eclectic as Pink Floyd’s album covers have been Dark Side of the Moon has certainly been the most memorable and iconic. While Pink Floyd has had a several very imaginative covers Dark Side of the Moon pretty much managed to have the same effect little more than a prism. Sure the Wall had an equally minimalistic cover, but Dark Side of the Moon was the sort of cover that could say much without using words.
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Honestly I think any Iron Maiden cover would do. The artistic style is similar throughout and they’re all of great quality. So why Poweslave over the rest? Egyptian themes kick ass. Done.
Immortal – At The Heart Of Winter
Immortal has established a musical career in writing about frozen fantasy worlds and the artwork for At the Heart of Winter made for an appropriate visual to accompany the premise of their music. It also contrasted nearly every other album cover of theirs by offering artistic merit over pictures of the members standing around with medieval weapons.