The Ten Worst Album Covers Ever

My friend Brad recently posted a truly horrific album cover on his Facebook page, inspiring me to create this list of the top (or bottom) ten. I found many similar lists online, none of which contained all of my examples. To finalize a list of ten, I ruled out a few categories of covers that appear on many other lists.

OBSCURITIES: With one exception, I ruled out covers by truly obscure artists. They tend to be awful for a variety of reasons (low budgets being the primary one) but seldom sink to the level that big-budget performers can achieve. This one is weirdly charming but serves as a good bad example.
BAD TITLES: I disqualified albums that had truly horrific or badly conceived titles but not really awful covers. My favorite example is this howler.
NUDITY: There are waaaay too many covers that feature nude performers, most of which are just weird or sad rather than truly horrifying, so I eliminated this category. The one example that might deserve dishonorable mention is this unfortunate Prince cover.
BARBARIANS AND DOMINATRICES: Again, there are simply too many of these to pick a single one that is worst enough to be on the list. Here are three great examples out of dozens.
Now that you’ve seen what didn’t qualify, I hope you’re ready for the winners…
10. Born Again by Black Sabbath. Bad colors, cheap graphic, paint-on claws. Scary, yes, but not in the way they intended, I suspect.
9. No More Mr. Nice Guy by Pat Boone. Setting aside the fact that this racist homophobe was never really a nice guy, the leather gear and the weird eye glint earn this one a place of dishonor.
8. Bubbling Over by Dolly Parton. I love Dolly, but this was a colossal mistake. Scary floating head fountain? Which she seems to be enjoying (from a safe distance)? Nooo!!
7. Weasels Ripped My Flesh by the Mothers of Invention. Yes, I know this is inteded to lampoon 50s advertising images, but it’s just too visceral for me.
6. Satan Is Real by the Louvin Brothers. Is he? Not based on this picture. And dig the cheap TV preacher outfits!
5. Life In A Tin Can by the Bee Gees. This one belongs on the “worst titles” list, too. One question: Why did anyone pull the top off this can?
4. Live It Up by Crosby Stills & Nash. Forget the frying egg, kids. This is your brain on drugs.
3. Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday by John Bult. This is the one obscurity that I put on the list. It was just too creepy not to include.
2. Back to the S­­_ _t by Millie Jackson. This is the cover that Brad posted. He put it best, simply asking, “What was she thinking?”
1. Send In the Clowns by Sarah Vaughan. Another favorite artist making a terrible mistake. This one gives me nightmares. It’s also the only one on the list that was so bad the label replaced it on later releases.

There you have it. It was fairly easy finding 25 or so covers. Once I filtered out the handful of broad categories, getting it to 10 wasn’t too hard. I’m sure I overlooked something, though. Feel free to comment with your favorites!


all contents © Robert Hulshof-Schmidt

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