12 Concept Album Cover Artworks

Music is one of the most powerful forms of art, with it comes a counterpart, a realm of visual art that accompanies the power of music; be it stage sets, music videos or album covers. Artist and designers come together to create timeless pieces of art around music. Below are a few concept album artworks that tried something refreshing, some are iconic and instantly recognisable, others may be fairly unknown. You decide. We’ll also throw in a reference track for good measure… because we can.

12. News of the World (1977) | Queen

Queen
Queen

A step away from their deep shadow group shots, this painting is by Sc-Fi artist Frank Kelly Freas. After seeing the original painting on the cover of a 1953 science-fiction short story magazine, the band contacted Freas and asked him to adapt the image for their album, which he agreed to do. | Track 1: We Are The Champions

11. The Mouse and the Mask (2005) | Danger Doom

Danger Doom
Danger Doom

Simply put, Danger Mouse and MF DOOM came together to create a cross-over album. The cover turned out to be a modern masterpiece. The cartoon inspired artwork appropriately represents the music with effortless simplicity. | Track 2: Sofa King

10. Disraeli Gears (1967) | Cream

Cream
Cream

This psychedelic art piece was created by Martin Sharp for the legendary Disraeli Gears cover, captures a young Bruce, Rogers and Clapton looking beyond the fluff of the flower power era. | Track 6: Tales of Brave Ulysses

9. Nevermind (1991) | Nirvana

Nirvana
Nirvana

The naked baby in water; certainly a great piece of photography. It also stands as one of the most recognisable album covers ever. Cobain came up with the idea after watching a documentary on water births and set out to capture something special. | Track 3: Come As You Are

8. Midnight Marauders (1993) | A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest

A subtle yet evocative album cover, featuring everyone’s face and fronted by the “Low End Theory” woman. If you didn’t make the ‘Marauders’ cover then you weren’t down in ’93. An instant classic and has been repeatedly replicated for the past two decades. | Track 8: Electric Relaxation

7. Bitches Brew (1970) | Miles Davis

Miles Davis
Miles Davis

German artist, Mati Klarwein was responsible for this Dali-esque surrealist piece. The music is also very conceptual, Davis was certainly searching. Rumour has it that he had booked studio time with Hendrix just before Jimi’s sudden passing. We can only imagine… | Track 3: Spanish Key

6. The Best of: (2000) | Blur

Blur
Blur

Blur’s greatest hits album art had no text or anything for that matter. It is as straight as it comes. One of our personal favourites. Great concept and simple execution. | Track 2: Song 2

5. Zombie (1976) | Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti
Fela Kuti

Another controversial piece; created at the height of a battle with the military government. This was Fela’s middle finger to the establishment. The album beautifully juxtapositions two very different scales, yet achieves a synergy between them. Definitely one of the most iconic symbols of African music. | Track 1: Zombie

4. Houses of the Holy (1973) | Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin

This piece of art was inspired by a book about little kids climbing up to the ends of the earth. At first glance, you think “hmmm?!” but then it grows on you. Once again, the image speaks for itself and Zeppelin boldly left the cover blank. | Track 2: Rain Song

3. Three Feet High and Rising (1989) | De La Soul

De La Soul
De La Soul

“The Daisy Age” – De La Soul burst into the hip-hop scene in the late 80’s, proceeded to sample Disney music and refused to comb their hair. They were rooted in Jazz and Calypso, pioneering a counter culture to the hardcore rap that was prevalent at the at the time. This bold, vibrant yellow album cover must have raised a lot of eyebrows at the time  |  Track 20: Me, Myself & I

2. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) | The Beatles

The Beatles
The Beatles

Both legendary and controversial, this famous collage has been copied repeatedly for the past 50 years. It featured everyone, from Marlon Brando to Jesus. Brando made the cut, Jesus didn’t. Considering Lennon had just claimed that they were bigger than Jesus, was probably too soon. | Track 3: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

1. Dark Side of the Moon (1973) | Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd

This prism insignia is synonymous with Floyd. Ask anyone to pick the “greatest album cover” and they will probably pick this one; ask them why, and no one really knows. It’s graphic is extremely simple yet so powerful. It certainly feels like a colourful spectrum when this album is on. | Track 4: Great Gig In The Sky