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Most Controversial Album Art of All Time

There are so many reasons to love vinyl but one of the best things about it is the album art. There is no other medium that provides such a large image that is so clear and visible, and this is definitely one of the greatest rewards for most collectors.

There are so many terrific album covers that will stand out in the annals of history, but, let’s face it, the controversial ones are the ones that are truly memorable. So, let’s take a trip back in time to look at the album covers that made our grandmothers blush.

The Beatles Yesterday and Today

One of the earliest signs that The Beatles were digressing from their goodie two shoes image, the Yesterday and Today album cover originally featured the Fab Four covered in blood and guts that presumably came from the dismembered dead babies they were holding on to. Once Capital records felt the backlash, they were quick to retrieve the albums and have them sent out again with a new, more PC album cover.

Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland

Electric Ladyland would mark Hendrix’s third album and it was a Billboard chart topper. The album was originally released with a cover that showed no less then 19 nude women. However, Hendrix himself decided to update the artwork claiming he found it distasteful.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins

Perhaps this fun-loving couple didn’t know what TMI was all about but they were certainly letting it all hang out when they posed for the cover of this album completely nude. The album provoked the appropriate amount of shock and outrage causing distributors to sell it in a plain brown wrapper. It also had limited pressings of a mere 5,000 copies in the U.K.

Scorpions: Virgin Killer

It’s possible The Scorpions thought there would be no more appropriate way to illustrate the title of their fourth album than to feature a barely legal girl on the cover nude. But whatever their intentions may have been, they were not appreciated by the masses. As a result, the album was re-released with a different cover in certain countries.

Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols

This album cover featured words only, yet it managed to be one of the most offensive releases in rock n’ roll history. The contention was over the word ‘Bollocks’ which was prominently featured in bold letters. Another word for testicles, its use caused the album’s obscenity to reach legal courts as one Nottingham based record retailer was arrested for showcasing the sleeve. Richard Branson, owner of Virgin records, hired a skilled lawyer to defend him and the charges were eventually dropped.

There have been so many thought provoking and controversial album covers throughout history and it’s interesting to think about which would still raise eyebrows today and which would be dismissed without a second thought. In any case, if you are lucky enough to own original pressings of any of these albums, you may have an item that’s worth a pretty penny. Which one of these do you have in your possession?

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