Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally made it. We’ve finally arrived. It’s the tenth and final installment of my series on my 50 Favorite Rock Album Covers of All Time. I want to thank each of you who have read all of the first nine parts, and landed here with me.
Together, we’ve gone 5 entries at a time, from The Subways’ Young for Eternity at #50, all the way up to the cover of The Police’s Synchronicity album at #6. So here we are. At the very top. Without any further fanfare, let’s take a look at my five favorite album covers, ever.
#5: Hüsker Dü – Land Speed Record
Much, much later in their history as a band, this Twin Cities trio would find themselves playing radio-friendly rock love songs on the Joan Rivers talk show. But here, back at the very beginning, they were at the least in the running for the loudest, fastest, angriest, most abrasive punk outfit ever. So the image on this cover – a black and white version of a photo of coffins with dead soldiers returning to the U.S. from the Vietnam War, was a perfect match to the band’s sound. It’s still impressive that this one image can say so much, about injustice, corruption, slavery to dogmatic ideas and beliefs, and the cost and insanity of 20th Century war.
#4: Drive-By Truckers – The Dirty South
This band, since its beginnings, has been such a unique group, impossible to duplicate. So their partnership with the artist who did this amazing cover, and a great deal of other artwork for the band, is a perfect match. The intricate and involved imagery here is everything one hears on the record – foreboding, whimsical, heart-felt, fun, and straight-up powerful.
#3: Drivin N’ Cryin – Fly Me Courageous
I love art that aims for size, not for the sake of “bigger is better,” but to use its opportunity to create the most profound impact possible on its audience. To me, this cover screams big and loud. The highway pavement and massive steering wheel broadcast tales of a big journey with big possibilities. The whole composite picture has all the sublety of a Louisville Slugger-wielding mailbox-basher, hanging out the window of a Ford Mustang, doing 90 miles an hour.
#2: Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
If you want to see what a lot of my first few years in New York City felt like, just gaze at this deceptively simple black and red cover for a few minutes. Better yet, listen to the sharp, haunting, smartass, arrogant-with-every-right-to-be-so songs on the record while you do. One look at this cover, and a whole film reel of my most wonderful NYC moments flashes through my mind.
#1: Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade
I love all the covers on this list, but I really ought to have a 10-foot-by-10-foot print of this one hanging above my bed. It somehow evokes all the essence, power, rebellious spirit and wonderful creativity that punk, true Indie, DIY, and underground rock has brought into the world. As I continue to study it, it pulls me in different directions from moment to moment…silly and joyful at one point, sad and morose the next, hopeless alienation in one instance, and exhilarating freedom the next.
That’s it, folks! All 50 of my favorite rock album covers of all-time. Thank you again for visiting my blog here, reading my thoughts and impressions, and looking over these fantastic works of art. I hope you’ve had some fraction of the fun and excitement I’ve felt sharing all of them with you. I suppose this was inevitable, but I feel incredibly excited about whatever my own next album cover will look like. I think among many things, these 50 covers show what a powerful and meaningful form of art they can be in their own right.