21 Controversial Acts Of Album Cover Art

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland (1968)

The intended artwork for the UK version of the album did not arrive in time to press the album, so a cover of naked women lounging in front of a black background was issued in its place. The US cover by Karl Ferris, which Hendrix had intended, has since become the official cover of Electric Ladyland internationally.

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The Strokes – Is This It (2001)

The original cover art featured a photograph of a woman’s nude bottom and hip, with a leather-gloved hand suggestively resting on it. Copies of this album were banned and the cover art was changed to a microscopic close-up of particle collisions.

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Scorpions – Lovedrive (1979)

This LP features a photo of a man and a woman in the back seat of a car. The woman’s chest is exposed, and the man is pulling a large wad of bubble gum off of her breast. Apparently this cover offended some, as there is a version that features only lettering on the cover. The photo cover is the more common cover.

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Roxy Music – Country Life (1974)

The cover features two models, who lead singer Bryan Ferry met on holiday. They appear wearing translucent underwear, with their pubic hair and nipples on one of the models visible whilst the other, who isn’t wearing anything over her breasts, is covering them with her hands.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers – Mother’s Milk (1989)

The album cover features a black and white photograph of the band sprawled across the arms of a proportionately larger naked woman. A rose conceals one of her nipples while Kiedis’ standing body conceals the other. Several national chains refused to sell the record because they believed the female subject displayed too much nudity. A stricter censored version was manufactured for some retailers that featured the band members in far larger proportion than the original.

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Killing Joke – Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! (1992)

The cover features a priest blessing Nazi soldiers, which resulted in the band being prevented from playing in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)

Anticipating censorship, two versions of the disc packaging were created: one cover featured artwork by singer Perry Farrell including male and female nudity; the other cover has been called the “clean cover”, and features only black text on a white background, listing the band name, album name, and the text of the First Amendment (the “freedom of speech” amendment of the U.S. Constitution). The “clean cover” was created so the CD could be distributed in stores that refused to stock items with nudity on the front cover.

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Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)

The original cover for Appetite for Destruction, based on a Robert Williams painting of the same name, featured an opened-shirt woman, who had clearly been raped by a robot rapist, about to be crushed by a metal avenger. When every music video programme refused to play any music videos because of the cover, it was changed to show a rendering of a tattoo Axl Rose had on his forearm of the band as 5 skulls on a cross.

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Dio – Holy Diver (1983)

The original cover offended churches because it looks as if the monster on the album was killing a Roman Catholic priest.

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Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles

The albums original artwork, a black and white image of Madonna with a black eye with ‘c/r/y/s/t/a/l c/a/s/t/l/e/s’ written across it, was originally going to be cover art of the bands debut album but the artist who created the image sued them because they did not have copyright. Instead an image of both members of the band standing in a street, leaning forward so their faces cannot be seen was hastily taken and used for artwork. However the Madonna image already featured on band merchandise and as the art for their first single “Alice Practice” so they were forced to buy rights to the image.

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Marduk – Fuck Me Jesus

Fuck Me Jesus was banned in seven countries following its CD release, due to its explicit cover art.

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Slayer – Christ Illusion (2006)

The cover depicts a mutilated, stoned Christ in a sea of blood with mutilated heads. For stores who refused to sell the album with the original cover, an alternative cover was provided instead. In India, Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Mumbai Christian group Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), took “strong exception” to the original album artwork, and issued a memorandum to Mumbai’s police commissioner in protest. As a result, all Indian stocks were recalled and destroyed.

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Slayer – God Hates Us All (2001)

The cover depicts a Bible spiked with nails, covered in blood and “Slayer” burnt across it, while the liner notes feature Bible verses crossed out with a black marker. The cover art was deemed “too graphic” by some audiences. so a slipcase was placed in front of the cover.

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The Beatles – Yesterday and Today (1966)

This album is remembered primarily for the controversy surrounding its original cover image, the aptly named “butcher cover” featuring the band dressed in white smocks and covered with decapitated baby dolls and pieces of meat. The album was recalled after an outcry and had an alternate picture of the Beatles cover pasted over it.

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Paris – The Devil Made Me Do It (1990)

The album cover originally showed a picture of a police officer choke-holding a young black male, it was later replaced with a face shot of Paris, himself.

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Paris – Sleepin With the Enemy (1992)

The original album cover showed Paris hiding behind a tree with a gun (while then-president Bush was waving to the crowd) waiting to assassinate him. Like his previous album, the final release showed another regular face shot of him.

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Dream Theater – Live Scenes from New York (2001)

This is a 3 disc live album originally released on September 11, 2001, but when it was noticed that the cover artwork depicted the twin towers of the World Trade Center in flames, it was recalled and re-released a short time later with different artwork.

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The Coup – Party Music (2001)

The original cover art, designed in June 2001, depicted Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress appearing to detonate the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. After the September 11 attacks, the album’s release was delayed until November 2001 to allow new cover art to be used.

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The Beautiful South – Welcome to the Beautiful South (1989)

The album cover originally depicted two pictures, one of a woman with a gun in her mouth, and another with a man smoking. The cover was banned by Woolworths because they thought it might cause people to take up smoking; the picture of the woman with a gun in her mouth also offended. As a result, a second cover was made, depicting a fluffy rabbit and a teddy bear

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James – Hey Ma (2008)

The album cover was promoted on billboards, although all billboard posters for the album were banned less than a month before the album’s release because of fears concerning that the baby is depicted with a gun in the cover image. Despite the controversy, the band refuse to replace the image.

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Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Soon after publishing by Twitter cover image from his new album, the singer Kanye West said that retail stores will refuse to sell their album in the United States. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, the image was not censored. A source told the newspaper that there was only an effort to convince Kanye West to use another image, since some stores could boycott the album’s release.

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