10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Cece Wyldeck of MassiveMusic

Kate Bush, The Kills, Oscar D'Leon and more

My love for music, records and album artwork all find their roots in the harmonious fusion of Latin and country. The rhythmic beats of Latin music, a gift bestowed upon me by my Colombian father, dance in tandem with the storytelling tunes of country, a preference passed down from my English mother. I was lucky enough to have all their vinyl treasures passed down to me from a very young age, a collection that has stood the test of time while preserving the echoes of my familial musical heritage. When curating my list of favorite album artwork, I found myself embarking on a nostalgic journey through my vinyl sanctuary—carefully selecting gems that weave the threads which so delicately connect my past to the present.

For me, the act of placing then playing a record is a sacred moment; delicately removing the sleeve then carefully placing it on the turntable like a precious artifact. The gentle sweep of the cloth to remove dust like a feather to your skin, ensuring a smooth voyage into the realm of sound. The slow lowering of the needle ignites a bubble of excitement before the imminent first note, allowing me to experience the rich sound that flows forth. There is a magical quality when it plays. Every time I put one on (always when cooking) I feel instantly at ease, in my comfort zone, with a full feeling of contentment. A happy place, I believe, for many others also!

Patsy Cline
Showcase (1961)

My first introduction to country came courtesy of Patsy Cline, and woah, what an introduction. I was baffled as to how this sweet looking woman could possibly have such a voice and speak such lyrics was almost heartbreaking. Though the album cover might not boast the most visually striking design, its significance to me, as a young girl, transcended aesthetics. It was a thread that wove the fabric of my parents' union—the colors from the Colombian flag mixed in with this country music artist. Whenever I hear "Crazy," it takes me straight back to sitting on top of the washing machine in the tiny kitchen of my parents' house, listening to this record as my dad cooked. And for that, I'll always love it.

Oscar D'Leon
Con Dulzura (1983)

This album is a source of immense joy for my soul, a cherished haven for Latin music that perfectly captures the essence of one facet of my cultural identity. In my opinion, Oscar D'León, embodies a vibrant presence with his infectious smile and oversized facial hair, navigating the intricate jungle of life with exuberance. This album is a rhythmic masterpiece, boasting incredible melodies and harmonies that instantly captivated me, while also securing my unwavering love for my Latin heritage.

Joni Mitchell
Blue (1971)

For me, this was—and still is—an extremely striking album cover. It's hyper-focused during a pure moment of performance, while still managing to capture the journey this album is about to take you on. The intensity, the romanticism, the pain. It is, quite literally, perfection.

This album served as my introduction to folk, and it was a mind-blowing experience for me as a songwriter myself. Joni's incredible talent shines through in her ability to weave a multitude of stories into a single song through her intricate arrangements. It was a revelation—just realizing that there were no rules and you could create music with such depth and complexity.

When I got to "River," I fell into a deep, deep well. It is truly one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The synergy between the visual and auditory elements creates a profoundly powerful experience.

Coming From Reality (1971)

Where do I start with this man? I was first introduced to Rodriguez by my father with this very record. It had newspaper cuttings inside that he had saved with articles about the man—the legend—from 1972.

The album itself unfolds like a narrative in two parts. The sketch behind the central image reveals a drawing by Hal Wilson, portraying Rodriguez amidst a collage of images representing American peace and war. Notably featured are the phrases "Blood Bank," "Your Power" and "16MM." Rodriguez's songs echo with profound political resonance, offering a poignant voice to marginalized Mexican Americans. His music was a call to action, urging listeners to reflect and also catalyze change.

The George Benson Quartet
The George Benson Cookbook (1967)

I always loved this album cover as a kid, mainly because it was four dudes leaning on kitchen appliances, which I thought was both wildly weird and wildly wonderful. What was I about to listen to? The copy on the back mirrored this strange spectacle: "One ingredient that runs through all the recipes in The George Benson Cookbook is a good groove. The rest of the elements may vary, the seasoning may change, but that good groove is always there, sending out all kinds of enticing musical aromas."

The album itself takes you on a fantastic journey, as it weaves through the realms of erratic Jazz, velvety bossa nova, blues, and a hint of rock 'n roll. It's a musical escapade that mirrors the eclectic and unpredictable essence of its cover, making the entire experience both stupidly enjoyable and undeniably good.

Siouxsie And The Banshees
Hyaena (1984)

This album is striking for multiple reasons. Marta Penn, the illustrator, expresses her take on surrealism, incorporating a clash of colors that creates a visual punch while showing there is beauty within chaos.

Hyaena operates on multiple levels, revealing new nuances with each listen. The intricate layers unfold like a musical tapestry—from the haunting allure of the 27-piece orchestra on "Dazzle," ushering listeners into an ethereal realm, to the sonic influence of Robert Smith, which is evident in tracks like "Belladonna" and "Swimming Horses." It's a record that consistently surprises, making each rediscovery a delightful journey into its rich, nuanced musical landscape.

The Rolling Stones
Some Girls (1978)

Absolutely iconic and incredibly clever! But I also know that this album caused so much controversy when it first came out. Designed by Peter Corriston, who went on to design the Stones' next three albums, combining pop art with old '50s newspaper advertisements. The inner sleeve pulls out to reveal the Stones, along with many high profile celebrities who never actually agreed to license their image, including Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Lucille Ball, Liza Minelli and many more. It's a rebellious, entertaining testament to the spirit of rock 'n roll—bold, unconventional and oozing with a sense of fun.

Kate Bush
Lionheart (1978)

Kate Bush is by far one of the most incredible songwriters and producers of our generation. Her musical landscape is a fusion of experimentation and eccentricity, a delightful blend of fun and freedom, combined with spirituality and groundedness, all underscored by a steadfast dedication to her art. This is not one of my favorite albums but it is one of my favorite album covers.

In this visual masterpiece, the incorporation of the essence of the lion is a stroke of artistic brilliance. It symbolizes Kate's prowess as the "king of the jungle" in her own musical domain, mirroring her wild, fearless approach to production and melodies. The cover, with its oddity, quirkiness and sheer fantastical quality, encapsulates the essence of her unique artistic identity. It's a visual delight that complements the unconventional spirit of her music.

The Kills
Little Bastards (2020)

This album cover serves as a visual embodiment of the band's entire creative journey. It not only stays true to their identity but also acts as a nostalgic journey, reminding us of their undeniable coolness. For me, it's a testament to the powerful connection between art and music, a lesson imparted very well by The Kills themselves.

Within the realm of alternative music, they were the voice that resonated with every emo, indie and alternative kid. The cover encapsulates the essence of their simplicity as poets—not overly complex, yet always striking the perfect chord. It also echoes their musical philosophy: Never overcomplicated but consistently hitting the right notes. It's a visual ode to the enduring impact and effortlessly cool aesthetic that defines their artistic legacy.

Yagana (2021)

I was drawn not just to Pigeon's music, but captivated by the narrative behind the artwork of their debut EP. The cover is a visual hole-in-one—an arresting image that marries a '70s-inspired font and color palette with the intense gaze of a pigeon adorned with purple-hued neck feathers. It's a striking composition that immediately grabs attention.

The backstory only enhances its allure. As they've told it, the band stumbled upon this image after they chose their name and conducted a simple Google search. The first result, featuring this piercing stare, became the face of their EP. The straightforward yet brilliant approach to selecting this artwork, along with the photographer's generous permission, adds a layer of charm to the visual experience. It's a showcase to the power of simplicity and resourcefulness, making it one of my most recent favorite album covers.

Art of the Album is a regular feature looking at the craft of album-cover design. If you'd like to write for the series, or learn more about our Clio Music program, please get in touch.

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