Since the advent of digital music distribution, the once-ubiquitous album cover seems less and less important. What used to be a twelve-inch artistic mission statement has largely been reduced to a postage-stamp sized jpeg that nobody bothers to look at.
Let's take a look at some of the most controversial album covers of all time.
5. Guns 'N' Roses – Appetite For Destruction
Initial pressings of this record featured a painting by controversial artist Robert Williams. The image depicted what Wikipedia terms "a robotic rapist about to be punished by a metal avenger." After several chain stores refused to stock the record, the label compromised, changing the cover to the now-iconic skull and cross logo.
Fun Fact: The Williams cover was also a compromise. According to a recent interview, Axl Rose initially wanted to use an image of the Challenger Shuttle explosion. Geffen Records deemed it "in bad taste."
4. The Residents: The Third Reich & Roll
One of the weirdest groups in the history of Rock n Roll took things a bit too far with their second album. The cover depicts TV impresario Dick Clark dressed in Nazi regalia while holding a carrot, surrounded by impish dancing Hitlers.
Fun Fact: In order to be sold in Germany, a version had to be created with a "censored" stamp covering all Nazi references. This version is highly collectible among Residents enthusiasts.
3. The Beatles – Yesterday and Today
The infamous "Butcher Cover" features The friendly mop-tops in white coats, surrounded by raw meat and bloody dolls. This was, to put it mildly, not well-received in 1966. Rather than destroy the initial pressing, Capitol Records decided to paste a more family-friendly image over some copies of the album. People who bought the record quickly discovered the pasteover and set about revealing the true cover.
Fun Fact: Original copies of the album that somehow made it out of the pressing plant without being pasted over can fetch upwards of $50,000.
2.Jane's Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual
This record made the list not so much for the offending content (it's actually pretty tame), but for the group's awesome reaction. Forced by their label to change the cover so that Wal-mart and their ilk would stock it, the band decided to make a statement by issuing a new cover featuring the album title and the First Amendment on a stark white background.
Fun Fact: The back cover of the "clean" version reads: "Hitler's syphilis-ridden dreams almost came true. How could it happen? By taking control of the media. An entire country was led by a lunatic… We must protect our First Amendment, before sick dreams become law. Nobody made fun of Hitler??!"
1. Mayhem – Dawn of the Black Hearts
A semi-official live album, Dawn of the Black Hearts is only notable because of what the cover said about the band. The photograph was taken by the group's guitarist, Euronymous, immediately following the suicide of the group's lead singer. According to various sources, upon discovering his friend's body, Euronymous posed him in a number of different ways and took dozens of photos before calling police.
Fun Fact: Euronymous was murdered by the group's bass player in 1993.