Having posted here the lamentable news that 2014 will go down as the first year with zero platinum-selling albums since the inception of platinum certification, I think it worth pointing out that as the album’s importance diminishes, something else is lost: the emphasis on great cover art.
Since the era of the Beatles, when the LP first gained preeminence, iconic album art has played a major role. It grabbed your attention on the record store shelf. It summed up a record’s message, style or attitude. It could convey one more layer of meaning, beyond music and lyric. Great album covers became emblematic of the great works within.
Album covers were routinely perused, often while the music played, as fans gazed at images of their heroes, or searched for additional clues as to the music’s meaning, or simply lost themselves in a fanciful alternate reality.
Here are a few contemporary examples of striking album artwork: