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 Seventies' Greatest Album Covers

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Seventies' Greatest Album Covers

he forced retirement of the vinyl LP in the mid-Eighties brought an end to a dynamic era in rock art in which the marketing needs of the record industry and the renegade aesthetics of rock & roll came together in a remarkable, often spectacular visual marriage. Cover design was already an art, especially in the jazz field, long before the explosion of rock in the Sixties, but with the meteoric success of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came a power shift from the record companies to the musicians themselves, who assumed greater control over the visual presentation of their work.

Beginning in the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies, rock album covers ran the gamut of themes, styles and portraiture, from the sublime sky blue cover of Plastic Ono Band's Live Peace in Toronto 1969 to Robert Mapplethorpe's enduring photograph of Patti Smith for Horses to the anti-art of Never Mind The Bollocks... Here's The Sex Pistols.

In November 1991, Rolling Stone magazine surveyed a panel of distinguished art directors, designers, photographers and editors for an admittedly highly subjective list of the 100 greatest album covers of all time. Below are their 54 selections from the 1970s, with commentary by the albums' designers on the first 28.

The twelve-inch album cover that graced so much of our favorite music in the Seventies may be all but history, but its artistic legacy endures to this day -- even in miniature on compact disc.

  1. Never Mind The Bollocks... Here's The Sex Pistols - The Sex Pistols
  2. Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones
  3. Exile on Main Street - The Rolling Stones
  4. Hotel California - The Eagles
  5. Hejira - Joni Mitchell
  6. Into The Purple Valley - Ry Cooder
  7. Abraxas - Santana
  8. Candy-O - The Cars
  9. Relayer - Yes
10. Sailin' Shoes - Little Feat
11. Playing Possum - Carly Simon
12. Look Sharp! - Joe Jackson
13. Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
14. Horses - Patti Smith
15. Live Peace in Toronto 1969 - The Plastic Ono Band
16. Weasels Ripped My Flesh - The Mothers of Invention
17. Ooh La La - The Faces
18. Breakfast In America - Supertramp
19. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
20. The Slider - T. Rex
21. London Calling - The Clash
22. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
23. Fear of Music - Talking Heads
24. Catch a Fire - The Wailers
25. Metal Box - Public Image Ltd.
26. Country Life - Roxy Music
27. Aladdin Sane - David Bowie
28. Houses of the Holy - Led Zeppelin

29. Cats Under the Stars - The Jerry Garcia Band
30. American Beauty - The Grateful Dead
31. The Ramones - The Ramones
32. Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants - Stevie Wonder
33. Brain Salad Surgery - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
34. The Parkerilla - Graham Parker and the Rumor
35. There's A Riot Goin' On - Sly and the Family Stone
36. Self-Portrait - Bob Dylan
37. Diamond Dogs - David Bowie

38. The Idiot - Iggy Pop
39. Cosmic Slop - Funkadelic
40. Bitches Brew - Miles Davis
41. Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin
42. The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys - Traffic
43. Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. - Bruce Springsteen
44. The Joker - The Steve Miller Band
45. Hardcore Jollies - Funkadelic
46. Honey - The Ohio Players

47. Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd
48. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
49. Never A Dull Moment - Rod Stewart
50. Eat A Peach - The Allman Brothers Band
51. Welcome To My Nightmare - Alice Cooper
52. One Step Beyond - Madness
53. Some Girls - The Rolling Stones
54. Who's Next - The Who

"Seventies' Greatest Album Covers" was excerpted from the Nov. 14, 1991, edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

Not only do all of these albums have great covers, many are also important achievements in rock 'n roll music. All of the albums listed would be a great addition to anyone's record collection. Purchasing all the original pressings of these records may be more expensive than a residential dumbwaiter cost would be, but for some collectors it is well worth the investment.

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