The story behind an album cover is almost as good as the story on the cover itself. Here at Flavorpill, we’ve got a mild fascination with the album art that didn’t make the cut, whether it was rejected by the record label, by the artists themselves, or a fluke released by the band to make us laugh. If you ask us, sometimes the one that wasn’t chosen is even better than the official version, and that only adds to the mysterious allure of the covers that could have been. After the jump, check out seven of our favorite vulgar, funny, and creative rejects, and be sure to throw your contributions of lovable losers in the comments.
Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland
Hendrix was clear: he gave his label hand-scrawled instructions to use the above picture of him surrounded by kids at Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland statue as the art for his 1968 album. Instead, they went with a gaggle of naked ladies. It was replaced before it was released in the US by a fiery red headshot. Two rejected covers in one go! We side with Hendrix’s original choice; it’s a pretty cool image, if you ask us.
The Lonely Island, Great “Friends”
The Real Thing: Turtleneck and Chain
For weeks leading up to their actual cover announcement, The Lonely Island released an impressive number of hilarious rejected covers: Keep It Simple, Hunks! In Da Mix, Ballin’ On Da Moon, and many more, including Great “Friends,” our favorite, above. (You can see the rest here.) But we think everyone can agree that Turtleneck and Chain actually takes the cake.
Spinal Tap, “Smell the Glove”
The Real Thing: Smell the Glove
This Is Spinal Tap, one of our favorite movies and the world’s favorite ’80s rock mockumentary, famously parodied artist-record label tensions when the band’s original album art depicting a “a greased, naked woman on all fours” sniffing a man’s glove was too sexist to go to print. The final product? An all-black album cover that was forced on them, which they eventually came around to: “There’s something about this that’s so black — it’s like, how much more black could it be? And the answer is none.”
The Beatles, Yesterday and Today
The Real Thing: Yesterday and Today
Who knew the Beatles were so creepy-weird? Robert Whitaker took shots of the Fab Four in butchers’ outfits, covered in meat and holding chopped-up plastic baby dolls for a conceptual art piece titled A Somnambulant Adventure. They submitted it as pretty in-step with their black humor, but McCartney later revealed it was a comment on Vietnam. After some controversy, the new cover was pasted over the old.
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The Real Thing: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
George Condo made five different covers for ‘Ye, with his eventual pick being the now-ubiquitous image of Kanye “chilling on the couch with my phoenix!” Many US stores rejected the image as vulgar and the compromise replaced it with one of the other four (the ballerina image). All five covers were included with every album, though. Us? We’re pretty partial to Kanye as decapitated king.
The Strokes, Is This It
The Real Thing: Is This It (US release)
Colin Lane, photographer of the above original Is This It cover, took some sexy shots with his girlfriend and ended up using them on The Strokes’ cover. The naked woman was replaced for the US release with a picture of particle collisions in the Big European Bubble Chamber.
The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
The Real Thing: Beggars Banquet
Not at all scandalous by today’s standards, the yellowed, graffitied wall now synonymous with Beggars Banquet was the Stones’ original choice for the cover, but it was rejected in both the UK and the US and the album was delayed for a few months while they dreamed up a new cover, the simple RSVP card cover. A 2002 reissue revived the original bathroom image.