Graham Reid | | 4 min read
There are any number of books dedicated to the art of the album cover, and at Elsewhere we've indulged ourselves in articles about 10 Shameless Record Covers I'm Proud to Own (four columns, see here) as well as an article on 10 Good Albums in Bad Covers.
You could fill a handsome coffeetable book with parodies of Beatles covers alone (hmmm, that's an idea), especially Please Please Me, With the Beatles, Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road.
So for the most part we'll just offer a couple of Beatles parody covers (right and below), and will sensibly ignore everything by The Muppets, Lego characters and Weird Al . . . but will throw the spotlight on parodies -- or perhaps homages? -- of covers you should know.
Here goes nothin' as they say. And at the end I will throw in another oddity.
But we start with a work of genius . . . not only do these likely lads get the whole concept of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds spot on they almost make you want to hear the music. Almost.
And out of South Korea they came . . . the cover for Queen II was, like With the Beatles, one of those concepts which just cried out for a copy.
And that's exactly what this hard rock band did.
Most people looking at Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother cover must have have had a similar thought: what if that cow . . .?
This deathgrind band Cattle Decapitation took it one step further with their cover for the 2004 album Humanure. It ain't pretty.
Herb Alpert's famously sensual cover for Whipped Cream and Other Delights in '65 has inspired a number of homages and parodies, but few more funny than this for a pizza shop.
Okay, it's not an album cover, but it should be.
The circulating story behind this Beatles' parody was that the band made it as a tribute their (Jewish) manager Brian Epstein's mother Queenie.
Of course none of that is true, but this is the inspired cover to a collection of Rubber Soul outtakes and interviews on a bootleg label which also offered Withered Beatles (With the Beatles, but them as old men as per Alan Aldridge's artwork for When I'm 64) and The Little Red Album (Maoist chic).
You don't have to look far to find parodies of a few Springsteen covers (never spotted one of Nebraska though, ho ho ho) but this one leaps out because it has that virtue of any successful album cover. It is eye-catching.
Back when he was a cheeky wee fellow Nick Lowe spotted an opportunity for the cover concept of his new EP when David Bowie released the album Low. And so it was that the most commonly used letter of the alphabet disappeared and gave him the title.
Bowie has inspired many a career and some of his album art was so distinctive -- think Alladin Sane, Pin Ups etc -- that inevitably people were drawn to pay tribute, or take the piss. Constantine is actually a DC Comics character and the inspiration for his look was apparently Sting.
And finally, you'd have to think Andy Warhol might have enjoyed this, even if Lou Reed didn't. Dead Milkmen from Philly are a satirical rock band and on their album Metaphysical Graffiti they parodied Led Zepp's Physical Graffiti. This is funnier though. It's their Smokin' Banana Peels album.
And doubtless we'll be back at some other time with more such nonsense for your amusement. By the way, Evolver at the top wasn't an album (should have been) but a t-shirt design.
Oddly enough this (above) was an actual album cover.
It was the Russian version of Revolver but if you compare it with the original it isn't just the title which has been rendered into Russian.
All the cut-in photos of the Beatles are actually different.
You wonder why anyone would bother . . . and that "anyone" is the artist/designer who inserts himself in the middle on the far right edge of the cover, just as Klaus Voorman did on the Beatles album.
And don't get us started on why the Russians had a different cover for Help!
That too defies commonsense.
Is that thing a parody?
Or is it a homage?
Or is it just bloody stupid?
Still, the Americans did their own absurd mischief on Beatles' album too . . . so who among us would cast the first stone?
Well, anyone with a brain, perhaps?