Best Album Covers to Hang on Your Wall
In the process of creating an album, designing the album artwork is one of the most important and most memorable steps for many reasons. Oftentimes, the album artwork gives the listeners a visual preview of what to expect from the album. Album covers also have a way of communicating what an artist is experiencing in a specific period of their lives, which allows listeners to relate to the contents of the album as well.
Over the years, there have been countless well-crafted albums from start to finish with remarkable album covers. However, we’ve taken note of the best album covers that deserve a place on your walls, making them an easy and affordable home decor option. Keep reading to discover the best album covers at a vinyl store to hang on your wall at home.
Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
Starting off this list is no other than Bob Dylan’s second studio album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. In the album cover, Dylan is seen walking with Suze Rotolo holding on to his arm on a cold, brisk day in West Village, New York City. While Rotolo is bundled up, holding Dylan’s arm, and resting her head upon his shoulder, Dylan is in a light jacket with his hands in his pocket seemingly trying to keep warm.
The significance of this album artwork is just that, the simplicity of the photo itself. Prior to this album, creating album artwork was its own process which was very much staged. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was one of the first to break the norm for standard album covers by using an authentically captured, day in the life picture as an album cover. This casual romantic picture aimlessly taken by Dan Hunstein is now a staple which shaped album covers in the music industry, even to this day.
The Beatles - Revolver (1966)
When the Beatles were in the finishing stages of completing their album Revolver, they knew that they wanted a sketch drawn album cover. In that, they reached out to German-based artist and a great friend of The Beatles over the years, Klaus Voormann.
In preparation of the album cover, Voormann asked The Beatles to send him pictures of themselves from years prior. With a combination of line drawings and picture collages, Voormann created a masterpiece of an album cover. In the cover art, you can see the four faces of The Beatles are all intertwined by their hair with smaller pictures of themselves pasted and scattered throughout. Not only did the album itself see a great deal of success itself, but Voormann was also awarded a Grammy for Revolver’s album artwork as well.
Ramones - Ramones (1976)
One of the most well known album covers to date is the Ramones debut studio album Ramones. In this album cover, Johnny, Tommy, Joey, and Dee Dee are standing in front of a brick wall in New York City, dressed in worn jeans and leather jackets. Little did the Ramones know, this album cover would soon become one of the most popular pieces of album art of all time, influencing countless album covers to follow in its footsteps.
While this album cover was undeniably successful, initially the band wanted something completely different. In fact, the Ramones had a photoshoot aiming to remake an album cover similar to Meet The Beatles! in which they were unsatisfied with the results. Instead, they chose a previously taken photo for the iconic cover of Ramones which was previously seen in the magazine Punk.
The Clash - London Calling (1979)
In the late 1970’s The Clash released London Calling with a loud and memorable album cover. With London Calling written in pink and green font over a photo of bassist Paul Simonon hitting his bass on the ground, listeners can literally feel the energy of the album simply by admiring the album artwork itself.
The photo of Simonon smashing his bass was an authentic photo of his reaction to a crowd being much too quiet. Captured by Pennie Smith from a New York City show at the Palladium, little did she know she was capturing one of the most iconic and monumental pictures in rock and roll history.
The album cover is also an ode to the late Elvis Presley. In fact, Presley’s debut album presented the same green and pink writing over a black and white picture of him and his guitar. This tribute sought to demonstrate another side of rock and roll, a slightly more energetic, forceful, and blatant version of the genre itself.
Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
This list simply would not be complete without the workings of Nirvana’s second studio album Nevermind. If there is any cover art that has made its way consistently through generations without fail, it is Nevermind. The iconic album cover features a naked baby swimming in a pool towards a floating dollar bill on a fish hook, which surprisingly only took a few shots before they got the perfect picture.
For many, the symbolism behind the album cover is what makes the album so iconic and stand out amongst others. From a young age we are conditioned to fall into the mindset of the American Dream, where we are caught up in a constant headspace that chasing money will bring us success and therefore happiness. This is clear on the album cover where the baby is reaching for the dollar bill that is just out of its reach. Further, the dollar bill is out of the baby's control as it is attached to a fish hook and ready to be pulled further away at any given second.
Capitalism and materialism are two key notions at the core of the album Nevermind’s symbolic meaning. With a tracklist that compliments the album artwork beautifully, it is no wonder why the album as a whole resonates with a wide range of listeners across genres, even to this day.
The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die (1994)
Moving into the hip hop genre, The Notorious B.I.G. presented one of the greatest album covers at the time, and even contemporarily. Upon the release of Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G. stood out with album artwork that was minimal in composition, yet deep and rich with meaning.
On a blank white canvas in between the album title and the artist name is a picture of an infant resembling The Notorious B.I.G. as a baby. The concept of this album cover is to tell the story of The Notorious B.I.G.’s life from birth to death. The infantry of the baby picture and the notion of death with the album title “Ready to Die” seamlessly compliment one another and give way to a tracklist full of stories that The Notorious B.I.G. has experienced in between his own life and death.
Nas - Illmatic (1994)
Lastly, another album released in 1994 with an incredibly impactful album cover is Nas’ Illmatic. In hues of warm and deep reds, oranges, and browns, the Illmatic album cover shows an overlay of a childhood picture of Nas and the projects of Queensbridge, New York.
In this album cover, Nas sought to give listeners a glimpse of life as he has experienced from the perspective of a young child growing up in the projects of New York. The transparent layered pictures on top of one another further exemplify this as the editing turns two different pictures into one - essentially demonstrating that Nas and Queensbridge, where Nas grew up, are intertwined. Meaning, the projects are a part of Nas and Nas is and always will be a part of his hometown as well.
While many people can resonate with feeling that they are a product of their environment, this album cover and the album’s contents also allow listeners to feel submerged in a world outside their own. The iconic cover of Illmatic itself is monumental in the sense that it acts as a portal into the artists mind, world, and soul.
Don’t Just Hang and Decorate, Listen and Enjoy
Although the list could go on and on, the seven album covers listed above remain exceptionally iconic in the world of album artwork. Each album has its own story to tell and the album artwork made for these records helps listeners visualize and better understand the messages embedded within each individual album.
In order to embrace each album to the fullest, you will want to do more than simply showcase the album covers on the walls of your home. With a Victrola vinyl record player, you can be sure to make the most out of each record by embracing top tier sound quality that transforms any music listening session into a fully immersive experience.
From contemporary modern designs, to timeless wooden record players, Victrola is home to a vast selection of vinyl record players that will match the aesthetic of any home. So while you are filling your walls with some of the best album covers over the years, you can guarantee that a vinyl record player is the perfect way to compliment the retro room decor!